As part of our series to help businesses with digital marketing, today we are presenting Winning Content Strategy for 2022: Thought Leadership. As a top digital agency with two decades in the business, there has been one constant in marketing online; Content is King. It was true when Bill Gates said it back in the 90’s and is still true today as top content drives interest and engagement.
One of the most powerful methods for creating top content is by leveraging thought leadership as part of an overall content strategy.
What is Thought Leadership?
The idea of thought leadership starts with a thought leader who has a unique authority within a specific field and offers guidance and inspiration based on that knowledge and expertise.
A perfect example would be the late Professor Stephen Hawking in relation to theoretical physics. When Hawking would speak on matters related to physics, he was always taken seriously and his views, opinions, or ideas would be sought out because people trusted his expertise and advice.
Thought leadership arises when you have such a leader in charge of a business where the expertise of the person then carries over to the entire organization to help build a reputation along with creditability. Current examples of thought leadership would include Elon Musk and SpaceX, Warren Buffett and Berkshire Hathaway, or venture capitalist Chris Sacca and Lowercase Capital.
Becoming a Thought Leader
There is not a simple way to become a thought leader. It is something that takes time, effort, and a history of quantifiable successes which then creates credibility. But that doesn’t mean a person cannot actively work towards becoming a leader or effectively build a brand into a position of thought leadership, which has become significantly easier in today’s digital world.
Here are some specific areas to focus on when building a thought leadership presence in your field of expertise.
Become a Pioneer
This can be a challenge to accomplish depending on your area of influence. Those involved in more creative enterprises have an advantage although some thought leaders have become pioneers by finding solutions to problems in their everyday lives.
As an example, Richard Branson started Virgin Airlines because his flight from Puerto Rico to the Virgin Islands was canceled. Innovation can occur when there is friction with products or services, how a process is used, or even how an organization is structured.
Increase Peer Reputation
Thought leaders are often highly thought of by their peers, primarily because they are willing to help, collaborate, teach, and mentor. By taking the time to help others, collaborate, share ideas, and work together, a brand can increase their standing among competitors.
Go to Live Events
One of the best ways to share innovative ideas and highlight unique knowledge is at live events. Encounters between peers allow for experiences to be shared and discussions to take place that allow authentic, sustainable connections.
Taking that one step farther — hosting events allows you to set the stage and craft a message that showcases you or your brand.
Regular blogging that provides consistent value to readers helps display authority. Seth Godin, who has authored 18 best-selling books about marketing and strategy, has one of the most popular blogs in the world and posts almost daily. While the blogs aren’t always long, they consistently provide value to readers.
The best content strategies are built around great blogs, videos, and podcasts disseminated to interested people though posting, email, and newsletters.
Create White Papers and Case Studies to Showcase Expertise
White papers, case studies, and research papers have always been a source of knowledge within industries. Authoring papers with new insights and ideas that both customers and peers can utilize will increase your position as a thought leader in your industry.
Launch a Podcast
Podcasts are an inexpensive version of a talk show where people can share thoughts and ideas, interview other experts, and generally highlight knowledge and authority in a way that benefits their audience.
There is so much easily accessed technology available today, that you can produce, record, and edit right on your laptop or phone.
Become a Judge
For industries that have annual awards, such as the Webby Awards for web design, judging your peers is a feather in the brand’s cap. It reflects that person’s knowledge and skill within their field and creates a mystique where others seek out their expertise.
Author a Book
In today’s digital age, self-publishing a book is straightforward. The book can then be offered as a thought leadership piece and is still one of the strongest ways to showcase ideas and establish credibility and trustworthiness.
For those who already blog or host a podcast, ideas and topics are most likely already available and simply need to be compiled into a singular narrative.
Be Active on Social Media
Creating a following or community on social media can also highlight authority on subjects and provides an opportunity to interact and discuss ideas and thoughts. An added bonus is that this can also build brand awareness.
Getting involved in causes that affect our humanity and try to make the world a better place will earn respect from other like-minded people both in and out of your industry. By having your brand focus on social responsibility, it showcases your character and values.
Relating Thought Leadership to Marketing
Thought leadership, once established, can then be applied to your content marketing strategy. Once experience, passion, and credibility have been recognized, a business can start to focus on creating content that provides the best, most thoughtful answers to customers’ biggest questions.
It’s not just talking about products or services that you can provide and how they are better than the competition. Instead, it is analyzing the challenges your customers face and taking a deep-dive using knowledge and expertise only you have to then provide information and solutions.
This type of content marketing can be effective for consumer-facing businesses as well as B2B companies. Consider this three step approach:
- Find a topic or topics that you are an authority in that is associated with your brand. It is important to realistically evaluate the level of authority and continue to grow that authority as your thought leader role continues to expand.
- Top customer questions need to be identified, listed, categorized, and then prioritized. Start at the top of the list, creating content that answers those questions and solves those issues always looking to provide the best, most innovative solutions. It is perfectly acceptable to provide both informative and opinionated content, as the opinions of thought leaders are highly valued.
- That content then needs to be posted in the most auspicious ways, whether that is to blanket social media platforms or individualized email lists or the dozens of other ways to reach your audience.
The Bottom Line
The bottom line is that thought leadership in marketing can help a brand in numerous ways from attracting top talent, increasing brand value and reputation, increasing sales, and providing more business opportunities.
It should be a goal for most brands to develop a level of expertise and authority within their industry and community. This, in turn, allows for the creation of a winning content strategy for 2022 and beyond.
Be sure to check back every week for great new 1 At Bat Media blog articles or contact us directly to learn more about our services.