British polymath and humanist Bertrand Russell once said, “Some people would sooner die than think, and most do”. The same can be said about content. Great content requires thought. Without it, your content will pass away unnoticed and without impact. So, the more thought, the better.
What’s the most thoughtful of content? Thought leadership – it’s in the name.
Using it well, by putting forward your best research and insights, will build a strong brand, outlasting any single product or solution you currently offer. It will generate significant organic impact and is one of decision makers’ most read forms of B2B content.
Here are three reasons why you should start using thought leadership content in your campaigns:
Thought leadership content is an opportunity to showcase the research, thinking, and innovation that goes on in your organisation. It is a chance for your best and brightest people to share their insights and understanding with your customers. Because of this, thought leadership helps to build your brand reputation and authority. Research has shown that 89% of decision makers report having enhanced perceptions of a brand because of its thought leadership content. In fact, 90% say their respect for a brand increases, 89% say their perception of a brand’s capabilities increases, and 88% say it builds their trust in a brand.
Thought leadership content focuses less on solutions, and more on an opinion or insight from your subject matter experts. This often makes it more engaging for a customer, which is why thought leadership content is good for generating traffic and engagement – 81% of thought leadership results in more organic traffic, while 65% of organisations see a boost in social media following and engagement because of the thought leadership content they share. What’s more, half of organisations say their thought leadership content generates them leads.
Most of your marketing content follows a similar pattern of showing your customers why and how your product can help them, either by removing a pain point or making their work more efficient. Great stuff – it’s an essential part of your campaigns.
Thought leadership can add an extra dimension to this by showing your customers that you have the solutions to tomorrow’s problems too. It gives you the chance to speak beyond your current solutions; to talk about future pains, future efficiencies, and how you are ready to address them too.
To make sure you’re crafting good thought leadership content that is compelling, meaningful, and well-written, you should engage the support of a professional writer. Along with that, there are several other things you should include to make your thought leadership… leading.
Thought leadership content doesn’t need to be a “hot take”, it’s not a Tweet. You do need to offer a perspective though. And, that perspective needs to be justified, you need to give reasons – backed by research, data, or experience – for the perspective your organisation takes.
It’s not good enough to identify trends. That’s just watching the weather. Great thought leadership content gives insight into why those trends are happening. It shows an understanding of the forces shaping a sector, and it shows decision makers that you get the bigger picture.
Along with “what” and “why”, you want to often show your potential customers “how” to do something. Whether that’s deal with an upcoming problem, e.g., a change in legislation, or the best way to improve a process.
There are many people in your organisation, and some are better thought leaders than others. This isn’t because they’re more “thoughtful”, it’s because they’re more willing to engage with the process from start to finish – like interacting and promoting it on social media and engaging with PR opportunities that come from it. Good thought leadership can come from any job title, from CTO to product manager to VP.
Use research, preferably your own. Not only does this show customers you’re the kind of company that is actively pursuing a better and deeper understanding of the problems you’re trying to solve, it also stops you from falling into the trap of simply regurgitating other people’s ideas.
Note: often you’ll hear people say that your thought leadership needs lots of data or stats to use as research. That’s a narrow understanding of the term “research”. If your CEO has spent 25 years in your sector, they’ve accumulated enough “research” to have insights useful for your customers. The content will have a slightly different angle, but if it has the “what, why, and how” that your customers need, then it’s still valuable.
Above all else, you should keep your customer at the forefront of everything you make. Whatever research, expertise, or insights you have and want to write about, it MUST help your customer in some way. The best way to do this is leaning into your niche; focus on your specialist knowledge and how that can help your customers.
Our thought leadership starts with a conversation, so get in touch to start your journey crafting agenda-setting content.