Winning Content Strategy for 2019: Thought Leadership
As part of our series to help businesses with digital marketing, today we are presenting Winning Content Strategy for 2019: 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, which is defined as a person who commands authority in a specific field based on 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 requested as people trusted his knowledge 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 for helping 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 being a thought leader, which has become significantly easier in today’s digital world.
- Become a pioneer – This is not always easy to accomplish depending on the niche you are in. 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 such as when Richard Branson started Virgin Airline because his flight from Puerto Rico to the Virgin Islands was cancelled. Innovation can occur with both products and services, the process 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, sharing ideas and working together a brand can increases their standing among competitors.
- Go to live events – One of the best ways to share ideas and showcase knowledge is at live events. Connections can be made with peers, experiences shared, and discussions can take place that allows an authentic sharing of thoughts. Hosting events can also showcase a person or brand.
- Write blogs – Regular blogging that provides consistent value to readers helps showcase 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.
- Create whitepapers – White papers or 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 standing.
- Launch a podcast – Podcasts are an inexpensive version of a talk show where people can share thoughts and ideas, interview other experts, and generally showcase knowledge and authority in a way that benefits their audience.
- 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 cap. It reflects that person’s knowledge and ability in a field if they are then considered able to judge it effectively.
- Write a book – In today’s digital age this is a bit of a throwback, however it is still one of the strongest ways to showcase ideas and establish that your views are trustworthy. 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 showcase 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.
- Demonstrate compassion – Getting involved in causes that affect our humanity and trying to make the world a better place earns respect from other like-minded people both in and out of a niche. By having your brand focus on social responsibility, it will showcase 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 has 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.
- First – 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 you have as the competition that will be faced is not only competitors but also anyone else who publishes content on that topic.
- Second – 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.
- Third – That content then needs to be engaging and then posted on the proper channels your customers frequent most often.
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 goal for most brands to develop some level of authority and become the brand which people want to learn from. This in turn allows for the creation of a winning content strategy for 2019 using thought leadership.
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