Say the phrase, “thought leadership,” at a business convention and you might drum up some resentment from more than a few people in the room. After all, it was once voted one of corporate America’s most insufferable buzzwords. While the phrase itself may stir up some sour feelings, it represents much more than just annoying corporate jargon.
When thinking of modern thought leaders, famous influencers – like Richard Branson, Founder of Virgin Group, or Sheryl Sandberg, COO of Facebook – often come to mind. Though the world’s most influential people can certainly fill those shoes, individuals not in the public eye can also build a reputation as a thought leader.
If your business is thinking about crafting thought leadership articles, here’s everything you need to know to get started.
What Is A Thought Leader?
Not only experts in their fields, thought leaders are people who are on the cutting edge of their industry. They can be executives, product managers, designers, sales people, customer service reps and other professionals who exhibit a great deal of knowledge, talent and passion about certain topics of interest.
In the business world, thought leadership is used as a type of content marketing. Harnessing the expertise and influence of people in their company, both individuals and businesses are able to garner greater exposure and establish trust and authority in select areas of specialization. In return, the individual or business becomes a go-to source of information.
Anyone can be a thought leader, regardless of social media followers, where they graduated from or how famous they are. If you’re still not convinced that a thought leadership strategy is the right move for your company, check out some of the benefits.
Is Thought Leadership Worth The Effort?
Maybe you're already putting time, money and talent into a marketing strategy. You might already be pressed for time to create blog posts. Is diving into thought leadership really worth your time? We say yes, and your potential customers agree. Here's why.
1. Thought Leadership Bolsters Publicity
While every company has different content marketing goals, a biggie is increasing brand awareness. When your business achieves thought leader status, more doors will open up for your ideas to be featured on major news publications and other blogs. With more exposure comes greater brand awareness.
2. Thought Leadership Fuels Content Creation
To keep your content strategy running, you need ideas, and thought leadership articles make it easy to continue developing fresh topics. For instance, you might provide your interpretation of a particular news event or write an in-depth how-to guide that offers solutions to your audience that they were never able to access previously.
3. Thought Leadership Helps Build Credibility
Perhaps the most substantial benefit, thought leadership articles help you earn rapport with others in your industry, as well as with your audience. Thought leadership is also a great way to build authority, helping your business rise in the ranks on SERPs while positioning you as a trusted brand.
4. Thought Leadership Demonstrates Value
Like other types of content you display for free on your website, thought leadership provides something of value to your audience. It’s similar to putting a chapter of a textbook online at no charge – individuals gain helpful information from your articles, and down the line, they may even become paying customers.
The Dos and Don’ts of Thought Leadership
Being crowned a thought leader won’t happen overnight. It takes a lot of time and research to build up credibility and authority. Let’s first discuss what you shouldn’t do when crafting thought leadership articles.
Thought Leadership Don’ts
The first rule of thought leadership revolves around self-promotion. Don’t do it. Promoting products and services is A-OK on landing pages and even sometimes on your blog, but you’ll never become a thought leader if readers think you’re trying to push an agenda.
Secondly, if you’re not personally going to be doing the writing, don’t make just anyone on your team a thought leader. Thought leadership requires expertise and passion, and if your candidate doesn’t share those two ideals, your audience will be able to sniff it out a mile away. That doesn't necessarily mean you have to do the writing yourself – more on that later – but that you do need to tap someone who has a high level of excitement for your industry and business.
Lastly, it’s important to recognize the difference between the good, the bad and the just plain awful. Material that’s too generic, lacks original ideas or doesn’t address your audience’s needs won’t do anything to help establish you or your business as a thought leader.
Thought Leadership Dos
Before you begin writing thought leadership articles, arm yourself with industry knowledge and a comprehensive understanding of current trends and events. Remember: you’re trying to present a depth of knowledge that no one else in your industry has. Read a book. Follow the news. Look at data.
When it comes time to write your first thought leadership piece, remember: this is not the time to stand in neutral territory. Thought leadership requires you to take a stance, whether you lean heavily to one side or just slightly. However, it’s important that you support your claim using data or quotes. Make a statement, provide an example and then analyze it.
Lastly, you have to acknowledge that your purpose is to offer something of value to your readers. What will they get out of reading your article? What are their challenges and how will you help them to overcome those obstacles? While being a thought leader may seem self-serving, it’s not. Every article you write, you write to help your audience.
Don’t Have Time To Write Thought Leadership Articles?
As a busy professional, it can be difficult to find the time to conduct in-depth research about industry topics. It can be even more taxing to actually sit down and write the article. Here's something to keep in mind: you don't necessarily have to do the writing yourself. In fact, when you hire a copywriting agency, you bring the insight and passion, and they provide the content creation know-how to make your vision a reality.
At Virtucom Group, we have more than a decade of experience writing for industries across the board, including automotive, agriculture, construction, education, financial, healthcare, manufacturing, legal and much, much more. Our general knowledge and research capabilities allow us to write compelling thought leadership articles that can help position your brand as a go-to resource for information and push you toward thought leader status.
Contact us today or schedule a free 30-minute consultation with one of our strategists to learn how you can increase brand authority and trust with thought leadership writing services.