It can be easy to take thought leadership for granted as part of any marketing and communications programme. It has become such a core component that there is sometimes little consideration for its objectives beyond ‘creating something interesting’.
This is a missed opportunity. With the right strategy in place, thought leadership can build credibility for the brand and its leaders by establishing them as experts in not only their field, but on the pain points they help their customers overcome. In turn, this content can enhance customer relationships, generate demand and spark new opportunities for sales.
No matter what your medium – blogs, video, podcasts, research or earned media engagements – there are five key steps that will ensure your thought leadership is creating real value for your business.
Define your goals
The best thought leadership strategies align with the business strategy. Do you need to establish credibility in a new market? Educate the market on the problem you solve? Promote innovation to attract investment? Only when you understand what you need to achieve can you start on how you will do it.
Understand your personas
Have you ever read or watched a piece of content and felt like it really speaks to you? That is the goal of thought leadership, and just because it is typically available to a general audience, that doesn’t mean it should be created for one. After all, the message you want to land with a C-level executive will typically be very different to the technology user. Identify your key personas, then how and where you can best engage them.
Listen to the market
Your business doesn’t operate in a vacuum – and neither can your thought leadership. You are not only competing for airtime with your direct competitors, but those with an equal claim to the challenges your customers want to overcome. Map out who the dominant voices are, what topics they are engaging with and what their opinions are. This will help you understand what your opportunity space is in the market. Don’t be afraid to quote other experts and link to their work – this will all help with the pick-up of your content.
Have a point of view
You can’t be a master of every topic. But based on your goals, target personas and market opportunity, by now you should have a good idea of those you want to have a voice on. The next step is to determine what your point of view is on that topic. Host messaging sessions with key stakeholders across the organisation to create the narratives – and don’t forget to have opinions! Your audience won’t engage with old ideas just because a new person is saying it. So, make sure you are bringing something new to the table.
It’s not just what, but how you say it
It’s not enough to have something good to say if no one hears it. So, the final step of any thought leadership strategy is working out how best to take it to market. What publications are your customers reading? What podcasts are your investors listening to? What influencers are your talent watching? Then work out the best ways to meet your audience there.
Want help building a successful thought leadership strategy? Reach out to us on [email protected] and we’d love to help!