Thought leadership marketing has established itself as one of the most effective and powerful ways to market your organisation in 2023 – both to new customers as well as loyal existing clients.
In today's crowded and competitive business landscape, it's more important than ever to stand out from the crowd and showcase your expertise.
But coordinating and executing an effective thought leadership marketing campaign that delivers real, measurable results is not easy. It requires thought and strategy, planning, the ability to create compelling and engaging content, as well as the marketing channels to promote that content.
In this article, we unpick the benefits of thought leadership marketing and provide strategies for developing and executing a successful campaign.
Let’s start with the simple stuff: just what is thought leadership marketing? Thought leadership marketing is a strategy to establish your company or yourself individually as an expert in your field and attract potential customers or clients by sharing their insights, knowledge, and ideas with their audience.
It can also be used by other organisations, such as charities, membership organisations, and lobby groups.
The objective is to establish the company or individual as a trusted source of information.
It involves creating and sharing content, such as blog posts, articles, videos, or podcasts, that demonstrates the company's or individual's depth of knowledge on a particular topic, area, or niche. The objective is to establish the company or individual as a trusted source of information, which can help to build credibility and influence among potential customers or clients.
Over recent years, we have also heard a lot about authority marketing. So, how is that different to thought leadership marketing? While the two approaches share a lot of similarities, they are also subtly different.
Both involve creating high-quality content to establish an individual or organisation as a leading and respected entity within their field. But thought-leadership generally requires you to come up with completely new ideas and perspectives within your industry – while authority marketing may simply require demonstrating your knowledge of an industry, perhaps through teaching a course or otherwise.
Authority marketing seeks to establish a company or individual as a trusted authority in their field. This can be achieved through various tactics, such as creating high-quality content that demonstrates expertise, teaching courses, building relationships with industry influencers, and using social media and other online platforms to reach a wider audience.
Thought leadership, on the other hand, is a type of content marketing that involves creating and sharing insights, ideas, and knowledge with the goal of establishing oneself as a thought leader in one's field. You need to find a fresh perspective in your sector that genuinely moves the discussion on in a new way. Thought leadership content is typically more in-depth and analytical than other types of content, and is designed to demonstrate the company's or individual's expertise and thought leadership in a particular area.
Over recent years, more companies and organisations have put in place thought-leadership strategies to help grow their businesses. This is because of the demonstrable positive effects that these strategies have on the businesses:
Attract and retain customers. By demonstrating your expertise and thought leadership, you can attract potential customers who are looking for high-quality, reliable information and guidance.
Build brand awareness. Effective and tailored thought leadership marketing can help to increase the visibility of your brand and raise awareness of your products or services.
Differentiate your business. You can differentiate your business from competitors and make it more attractive to potential customers.
Generate leads. Sharing valuable, informative content can help to generate leads and nurture potential customers through the sales funnel.
Enhance customer loyalty. By providing valuable insights and information to your audience, you can build trust and loyalty among your customers.
Increase website traffic. Sharing thought leadership content on your corporate website or personal social media can drive traffic to your site and increase visibility. This will also have the positive knock-on effect of boosting your website’s performance in search engines.
Establish partnerships. Sharing your insights and expertise can help you to build relationships and establish partnerships with other businesses and industry influencers.
But, implementing a thought leadership marketing campaign is not all plain sailing. Not only does it require real thought and resource, but it also presents its own unique challenges to individuals and companies:
Time and resource intensive. Developing and creating high-quality thought leadership content can be time-consuming and require a significant investment of resources. One of the most important components of a successful thought leadership marketing campaign is consistency over time, and this will require carving out real long-term resource.
Competition for attention. The amount of content produced on the Internet in a day outstrips what most humans can read in a lifetime. There is a real battle for people's attention in this day and age. There is a lot of competition for attention online, and it can be difficult to stand out and get your content noticed among the vast amount of information available.
Risk of oversaturation. If too many companies or individuals in a particular industry are attempting to establish themselves as thought leaders, it can lead to oversaturation and make it difficult for any one individual or company to stand out. This is why it is so important to find an area of expertise or perspective that is both fresh and distinctive.
Effective thought leadership marketing requires you to produce a blend of different, valuable content that positions you as the go-to expert within your industry, sector, or niche. As you start to pull together your plan, you might want to consider how you can use the following forms of content.
Blog posts. Blog posts are a short-form articles, which are usually posted on your own or your company’s website, which can be used to share insights, ideas, and knowledge on a particular topic or industry.
Articles. Articles, which are usually published in trade or industry publications, can be used to delve more deeply into a particular subject or issue.
White papers. White papers are in-depth, research-based, longer-form documents that are used to present information and arguments on a particular topic.
Webinars. Webinars are online seminars or presentations that can be used to share knowledge and insights with an audience. These webinars can also be recorded and posted online afterwards for posterity.
Podcasts. Podcasts are audio recordings that can be used to share information and ideas on a particular topic. These could take the form of discussions about topics of interest, or interviews with other leading figures in the industry.
Infographics. Infographics are graphics that capture data or information in an easy-to-understand format. They usually perform very well on social media.
Videos. Videos can be an effective way to share information and ideas, and can be used in a variety of formats, such as educational videos, interviews, or demonstrations.
Case studies. Case studies are in-depth, real-world examples that demonstrate how a product or service has been successfully used to solve a particular problem. Or proof of how an idea or insight has worked for other people.
When you start to pull together your plan for thought leadership marketing, it is important to have a clearly defined process in place, which enables you to manage all the moving parts as well as know when you need to draw on the support of external specialists or other team members when needed.
You need to have your eye on the process because your goal should be to create high-value, useful content for your audience.
You need to have your eye on the process because your goal should be to create high-value, useful content for your audience. It is worth investing double or even triple the amount of time to produce a very good piece of content that will create long-term value for your audience than lots of shorter, less value pieces of content.
When you are starting to put pen to paper, they are some general steps that you can follow.
Identify who you are trying to reach with your thought leadership content, and consider their needs and interests.
Get into their shoes and try to understand the issues and challenges that they are facing on a day-to-day basis. What type of questions do they search online? Do you have the expertise and knowledge to provide an answer. That can be a very effective methodology to start to think about your audience.
Where can you truly add value? Identify what you or your company is an expert in, and focus on creating content that demonstrates your knowledge and thought leadership in those areas.
It is important to try to identify a subject or niche that isn’t very well covered by other experts at the moment. Often, it makes sense to start with a very niche topic – such as a very particular area of accounting or the law – where you can quickly establish yourself as the leading voice.
Try not to pick a subject that is overly broad, general, and expansive. Try to find something this is much more specific and manageable.
Create a plan for producing and sharing your thought leadership content. This should include the types of content you will create, the frequency with which you will publish, and the channels you will use to share your content.
Usually, you will want to produce a blend of different types of content – not only articles, but videos, podcasts, and social media graphics as well. The other secret to an effective thought leadership marketing campaign is regularity: you need to establish a cadence for the publication of your content.
Try to aim to prepare and push out at least one piece of high-quality content every week, and stick to the timeline religiously. While it might not get a huge response in the first month or two, you will soon start to see pick-up over time.
Now it’s time to actually start creating. If you have put together an effective strategy, this will require producing a diverse blend of different content: an article one week and, perhaps, a video the next.
This will sometimes require you to draw on external support, perhaps in the form of copywriters, podcast producers, videographers, and much else besides.
Every piece of content will need to be approached in a different way, but ultimately they should all follow the same rough principles: put your insight right at the heart of the content, make it easy to follow, and make it quick and simple to consume. Finally, ensure that it’s actually interesting.
One of the biggest mistakes that people make is to believe that as soon as you create your content, you will be flooded with an captive audience. You need to put such as much effort into promoting the content as you have producing it.
Use various tactics, such as social media, email marketing, and outreach to industry influencers, to promote your content and reach a wider audience. You can also reach out to the media to see if they might publish you articles, videos, or promote your content in other ways.
If you want to speed along this process, you might also want to consider using paid tactics, such as social media or online advertising. These can often accelerate your progress very quickly.
Finally, look at how well your content has performed. Use analytics and metrics to track the performance of your thought leadership content and make adjustments to your strategy as needed to optimise its effectiveness.
Some of the lessons that you can learn from this evaluation process include the topics that are especially popular with your audience and the channels that work best for promoting your thought leadership content.
Alongside the conventional approach to thought leadership marketing, there are a number of additional thought leadership tactics that you might want to consider – both to amplify your content as well as position yourself as a thought leader in new ways.
Participating in speaking engagements and conferences. Find a list of industry events to find opportunity to speak and network with your peers. This can include presenting at conferences, workshops, or other events, or giving interviews or webinars to share insights and knowledge with a wider audience.
Building relationships with industry influencers. The best way to get your content into the hands of your audience is to develop a robust and influential network. Connecting with influencers in your industry can help to increase the visibility and credibility of your thought leadership content.
Leveraging social media and other online platforms. Build your audience and followings on various social media platforms, such as Twitter, LinkedIn, and Instagram, and start sharing your content to reach a wider audience and increase engagement.
Collaborating with other thought leaders. Partnering with other thought leaders in your industry can help to increase the reach and impact of your thought leadership efforts. If you both have the same size audience, it can often double your reach.
Creating engaging and visually appealing content. As the saying goes, a picture is worth a thousand words. Using compelling graphics, images, and other visual elements can help to make your thought leadership content more attractive and engaging to your audience.
Creating and promoting the content will take up a significant amount of your effort and time, but it is also important to track the effectiveness of your campaigns – and understand if they are delivering strong business and personal benefits.
You might want to consider tracking and monitoring the following metrics to understand the impact of your efforts.
Website traffic. Are you getting new people to your website? Tracking the number of visits to your website and the sources of that traffic can give you an idea of how well your thought leadership content is performing and how effectively it is driving traffic to your site. You might want to particularly focus on the number of new visitors, the number of repeat visitors, and the amount of time they stick around on your website.
Engagement metrics. If you’re promoting your content on social media, you should track metrics such as the number of likes, comments, and shares. You can also track levels of engagement on your own website by looking at the number of times your content is shared or downloaded.
Lead generation. Many thought leadership marketing campaigns are focussed on prospect generation, so tracking the number of leads generated from your thought leadership content can give you an idea of how well it is helping to nurture potential customers through the sales funnel.
Conversion rates. Tracking the percentage of leads that convert into customers can give you an idea of how effective your thought leadership content is at driving conversions. It might also prompt you to reassess your strategy if you’re not pulling in the right audience.
Sales. Tracking the sales generated from your thought leadership campaigns can give you an idea of the overall impact of your efforts on your business.
Thought leadership marketing has become very popular amongst business-to-business (B2B) companies, as it’s a way to demonstrate and showcase industry expertise to peers, colleagues, team members, supports, and partners.
But, running an effective B2B thought leadership marketing campaign means understanding how it is different from B2C marketing – and sometimes companies can end up getting this wrong.
B2B thought leadership content is typically aimed at decision-makers or influencers within businesses, and is designed to demonstrate the company's expertise and thought leadership in a particular industry or topic.
B2B thought-leadership content is often more technical and in-depth than content that is targeted at individual consumers.
As a result, it is often more technical and in-depth than content that is targeted at individual consumers, and may focus on topics such as industry trends, best practices, or case studies that demonstrate the company's expertise and knowledge.
In contrast, B2C thought leadership is focused on creating and sharing content that is targeted at individual consumers. This content is typically more general in nature and may focus on topics such as personal development, wellness, or lifestyle.
Profile is a leading thought-leadership agency. We create visible leader. If you would like to discuss kicking off a thought-leadership campaign for your organisation, book in a no-obligation strategy call today to find out more.
Thought leadership is used to establish you and your company as a leading, credible source of insight on a particular topic. This is a powerful marketing strategy, as it helps raise both the profile of your brand as well as its trustworthiness.
Customers often buy from companies and individuals that they trust. Thought leadership is a powerful way to establish yourself as a trusted and credible source of information and services.
In the B2B sector, companies are more likely to make purchasing decisions based on thorough background research rather than impulse. Thought leadership is a powerful way to demonstrate your credentials as an individual on company in this context.
Some synonyms for thought leadership might include intellectual leadership, strategic thinking, visionary thinking, or visible leadership.