Thought leadership in its purest form involves original thinking that cuts through the noise and leaves a lasting impact on its audience. It is a call to action, enabling brands to engage with top-level decision-makers while supporting marketing and commercial goals.
Thought leadership means different things to different people. But if the content fails to connect with an audience, it cannot be considered thought leadership.
Despite investment and a successful campaign launch, even the most avid supporter of thought leadership as a marketing strategy should accept projects fail. And they must expect a challenge from business stakeholders that don’t see a return on investment or the expected spillover leading to new business.
Does that mean the organization should shelve thought leadership as a marketing strategy? No, but taking the right steps early on will increase the opportunity for success and avoid the following mistakes:
Mistake 1: An inside-out approach
The focus of content is crucial. After all, your audience is not interested in what is going on inside your company; they want to know what you can do for them. An ‘inside-out’ approach, focusing on internal jargon and growth plans, overestimates how much a potential client is interested in you. Instead, they want compelling content that shows innovative thinking and new ideas that lead to action.
The answer is to think outside-in, and it is more complicated than it sounds. Creating content that the audience wants to hear, rather than what you want to say, requires deep commercial and strategic insight.
The content must speak to the audience’s concerns and uncertainty while building on their plans and future strategy. Ultimately, the message and the delivery must inspire by stimulating audiences visually and cognitively.
Systematic research is required to create content that provides knowledge to customers that is compelling and actionable. Your brand must be seen to be a solution to their problems while realizing their opportunities.
Mistake 2: Thinking that a monthly article will do
If you think that an article published once a month is enough for customers to turn to you for new perspectives and expert advice automatically, you are mistaken.
Research shows that people need to have 20 to 50 interactions with your brand before achieving top-of-mind awareness. A firm producing only one content piece a month (= 1 interaction) would take at least 20 months to reach brand awareness.
Thought-leading firms understand that the faster you want to grow, the more interactions you should have, and the more content you need to produce. This is why 76% of thought-leading Firms produce at least six content pieces per month.
Ramp up your content production to a weekly production cycle. This way, you’ll ensure top-of-mind awareness with your audience. One way to quickly increase your content production is to repurpose existing content.
How do you do this?
- Publish on your website and post on LinkedIn – create an article that is essential to your audience. Publish it on your website, building credibility and enjoying the SEO benefits for Google rankings. Next, summarize the article and include the link in a LinkedIn post for extra website traffic.
- Repurpose existing content – without realizing it, you already own a great deal of content. So, repurpose it. Create a LinkedIn post from past presentations, articles, and marketing and include a few lines with your takeaway or opinion.
- Use a scheduler tool – tools such as Hootsuite or Buffer provide a way of automatically publishing posts. Carve out time to write, then schedule the posts for the week ahead.
Sometimes all you need is a refresh and repurpose of some of your existing content to give it new life on a different platform. With 91% of thought-leading firms identifying LinkedIn as the platform with the most potential to achieve their growth goals, you have a ready-made channel.
Mistake 3: Producing content without promoting it
Producing the best content is pointless if no one is going to see it. The way a brand presents their insights to the market is crucial.
Companies spending time and resources producing well-researched, original pieces of content offering genuine insight still fail. By not giving enough thought to how they will share their message and who their audience is, their content sits unnoticed on the company website.
A successful thought leadership strategy must be clear from the beginning. Its authors should have a deep understanding of their audience and how to make them think – combining input from people with diverse skills and areas of expertise.
Consider the answers to the following questions:
- How will you create content that educates, engages, and challenges?
- How do you reach your hard-to-reach audiences?
- How does your audience consume content?
- Do they have a preferred format or channel?
Use knowledge of your audience’s needs to build a clear activation strategy from the outset.
It is not enough to create and publish infrequent content that doesn’t inspire. To leverage thought leadership, it is necessary to have a clear and sustained strategy. You must focus on delivering relevant content to the right audience that inspires them to action.
Write well and publish often.