Buzzwords are annoying aren’t they? Our industry is full of them. “Think outside the box,” “sysnergize,” “content is king,” “SEO is Dead,” “next-level,” Etc.
But sometimes, no matter how annoying the buzzword, how overused, it’s still useful and important. Thought leadership is one of those words.
You might be rolling your eyes already. I’d like you to stop mid-roll and listen for a moment. Thought leadership fulfills the demands of today’s audience more than ever.
Both businesses and customers demand authenticity. They’re tired of being shilled by countless media moguls, politicians, and businessmen. They want to know that you not only deliver what you promise, but you are who you say you are.
How does thought leadership do this? Today you’re going to find out. Keep scrolling to learn more.
What Is Thought Leadership?
If you could bring every customer into your business and train them on your products, you would, wouldn’t you? Those inside your business should know your business better than anyone outside. They know how you operate. They know your product like they know their own finger.
Why not utilize that knowledge for marketing?
Thought leadership is exactly that. Using in-house knowledge to answer your customer’s biggest and most pressing questions. Your team knows the answers and they’re the best resource for your customers.
81% of C-Suite executives say their trust of a company increases when they see thought leadership exemplified. If you’re a B2B, the respect of executives among your biggest clients and customers is something you should be worried about.
They want to know that those in charge of your company are experts. They also want to know that those in charge are passionate.
Thought leadership communicates both these things. And it positions your company as a leader in your industry. This is especially true if your thought leadership content gets published in respected publications.
And on top of all of that, it gives your company leaders an opportunity to network and make connections. But all of this doesn’t come naturally to most people. Creating thought leadership content takes skills most people don’t have.
How do you create such content? Here are a few suggestions.
1. Know Thy Audience
Alright. It’s cliche. But it’s true. Just because you know your product and it sells well doesn’t mean you know your audience.
If your leaders are engineers, they might assume everyone is fine reading technical documents about their work. They’ve been writing technical and dry content for so long that anything they write is dry and technical automatically.
Even engineers prefer to read something both well-written and lively. They also want relevant content.
Deliver content that’s both educational and interesting to read or watch. Which brings me to my next point.
2. Hire Someone to Help
Sometimes, no matter how much you try, you won’t create good content. Your skills aren’t there. Yes, you can build a bridge if you wanted, but you couldn’t write a 500-word article to save your daughter’s life.
That’s ok. There are people out there like the experts at Motion who can help you craft the best content in your industry. You bring the knowledge and they bring the skill.
3. Do your Research
While you or your team already know so much about your industry, you can’t risk sounding ignorant. Do you know the latest trends in your industry? Are you up to snuff on the latest techniques?
There are other experts in the field. While it’s true that you are an expert, paying homage to other experts is only polite. It shows that you’re connected within the industry and that you are aware of your industry. To do otherwise would make you seem like you’re riding with blinders on.
4. Answer All the Questions
Thought leadership is all about answering the most pertinent questions your customers and clients have. When they finish reading or watching your content, they should come away satisfied.
How do you do this? Treat it like an interview. If you’re working with a five-point article, then gather five questions and answer them to the best of your ability.
Send out a survey among your most loyal customers. It can be as simple as one question: “What are your most pressing questions about our product or our common field of interest?”
Mine the resources at your disposal. Databases, expert connections, and your customers/clients.
5. Be Specific
A generalized overview of your field might be useful for the top of your funnel. It’s not appropriate for a thought leadership piece.
Thought leadership is about the details. Remember, you’re giving your audience some quality expert information. If you’re giving them a general overview, you won’t answer their acute questions.
Industry jargon is hard to avoid. In an attempt to do so, it’s tempting to be shallow in your content. But it’s entirely possible to be detailed and present valuable information without resorting to confusing language.
This goes back to knowing your audience. Will your audience know industry jargon? Or are they used to using it themselves? Likely, if you’re a B2B who sells to similar companies, they’ll be familiar with industry jargon.
Give real-life examples.
You’ve experienced some incredible things in your career. There has to be an experience that connects to your main point. Nothing says expert better than experience.
Create Thought Leadership That Drives Results
What drives results in your industry? Most would say knowledge. But if you focus solely on knowledge, you miss all the other skills necessary to drag your customers to a purchase decision.
You must entertain as well as educate. Inject some humor into your pieces. Make them remember that they’re human even in the most technical of industries.