If you want to make an impact with your content, don’t sell — educate. This is the basis of thought leadership.
Taking a thought leadership approach to your content development strategy will set you apart from competitors, establish your brand as the authoritative figure in your niche and create trust between you and your audience.
Let’s talk about how your brand can benefit from implementing a thought leadership strategy.
What is brand thought leadership?
A thought leadership approach to content creation is rooted in educating your target audience. Rather than trying to sell your product or service, you’re providing valuable insights to your readers. Not only does this content educate them but it positions you or your brand as the expert on this topic.
Here are just a few of the benefits of establishing thought leadership content for your brand:
- Brand Awareness: A good thought leadership strategy will help your brand become the “go-to” for information within your industry and help build brand awareness. This is accomplished through publishing high-quality content and doing that consistently. As more people read and share your content, even more people will discover it. This cycle brings visibility to your brand and draws in a bigger audience.
- Greater Engagement: Content that resonates with your audience will encourage them to engage with your brand. This could be in the form of blog comments or social media interactions, whether liking, sharing, or commenting on your posts.
- Builds Trust with Your Audience: When you provide your audience with content that resonates with them, you will build credibility and trust with them over time. Your brand will become their source of trustworthy information, and ultimately they will share that will their audience, extending the reach of your content.
Brands that use thought leadership effectively
We’ve discussed the benefits but now let’s look at some examples of thought leadership. Draw inspiration from the brands below and see how you can incorporate these ideas into your brand’s content.
American Express has geared its Business Class blog specifically to professionals and business owners. The information provided is to help its audience run and grow its businesses successfully. The blog includes a mix of content types besides blog posts, such as podcasts and videos, appealing to various readers. American Express sends a weekly newsletter targeted toward small businesses that they label as “handpicked inspiration and insights.”
Deloitte’s Insights Blog provides content around innovation, technology, and leadership. Like American Express, Deloitte doesn’t only provide articles, there are videos and podcasts and a call to action to subscribe to the blog and receive this content directly to your inbox. Deloitte’s blog is sectioned into different areas, making it easy to scan and find exactly what you need.
Microsoft’s “Story Labs” serves its audience with insightful stories about its culture, including a look at upcoming projects, the Microsoft hiring process, and accessibility. Microsoft Stories is an example of how brands can let their readers into their company’s culture, providing an authentic look into the business.
REI’s Expert Advice is another great example of a brand that is sharing its knowledge with its readers. REI’s blog posts content relates to outdoor knowledge like how to choose the right gear, tips for picking up new skills, and how to fully prepare for your adventures. The blog makes it easy to find the topic you need by categorizing all content on different activities, such as watersports, snowsports, camping, and more.
Patagonia’s “The Cleanest Line” uses the tagline, “Some stories to get you out there.” This powerful line is a great example of the type of content Patagonia provides for its audience. The blog provides stories about activism, adventure, nature, and more. With a visually stunning blog that highlights the brand’s articles and content like short films, Patagonia succeeds in showcasing its authentic voice and core values.
How to Apply a Thought Leadership Strategy in Your Content Marketing Efforts
To establish your brand as a thought leader, you’ll need to understand the core challenges of your audience and understand how to solve those challenges. This is why a good thought leadership strategy begins with market research. Once you understand your audience’s needs, you can move forward with creating your content marketing plan.
In doing so, remember that people consume content in different ways. Some prefer to read in-depth articles, others would rather watch a quick video or listen to a podcast. To meet the various needs of your target audience it’s important to provide a mix of content. An effective content strategy will include a mix of blog posts, videos (like webinars or how-to videos), and white papers and eBooks. Take advantage of the power of social media and share this content with your followers while encouraging dialogue.
Take it a step further by pitching content to industry publications. This will further establish you as a thought leader by showing that other experts see you as an authoritative voice in the industry. It will also get your brand in front of a larger following, resulting in greater reach and more visibility.
Establish a Following of Loyal Readers with Your Content
Establishing your brand as an expert in the industry with thought leadership content is not an overnight solution. It takes time and consistency. It also demands that you continually listen to the market and understand the needs of your audience and how those evolve.
Once you’ve done your research and know the types of content your target audience is looking for, you’ll be able to create a thought leadership content strategy that will keep readers coming back. Connect with a content strategist to get started today.