December 11, 2023

Daniel Kelly
Dos and don'ts of thought leadership content creation

If you haven’t done so already, now might be the right time to add thought leadership to your marketing mix. In a recent Edelman survey, 55% of decision-makers said that during an economic downturn, it is more important for suppliers who don’t offer products / services that are essential to operations to produce high-quality thought leadership if they want to win their business.

Equally, expectations are high. In the same research, 60% of respondents expected thought leadership to keep their brand and capabilities top of mind during a downturn, even among clients or prospects who cannot buy from them because of budget constraints.

That’s why it’s important to remember that thought leadership content isn't about direct sales pitches. It's about offering valuable insights, innovative ideas, and expertise that resonates with your target audience. Here are some essential dos and don'ts to keep in mind to get the most out of your thought leadership content.

DO: Think about your audience

One of the fundamental aspects of crafting successful thought leadership content is understanding your audience. Your content should speak directly to their interests, challenges and goals. This means going beyond generic marketing speak and diving deep into the issues that matter most to your readers. Thought leadership content should educate, inspire and provide solutions to problems your audience faces.

Remember, this isn't a marketing brochure or a product pitch. It should be informative and avoid overt sales language. Your audience should walk away from your content feeling enlightened, not pressured to make a purchase.

DO: Utilise the expertise of your team

Your organisation is likely filled with experts who possess valuable insights and experiences. Tap into this wealth of knowledge and showcase your team's expertise through thought leadership content. However, be thoughtful about your choice of authors. Avoid attributing every piece to the CEO, just because of their title. Diversify the voices within your organisation, as different perspectives will enrich your content.

Highlighting multiple voices within your company not only adds depth to your thought leadership content but also humanises your brand. It demonstrates that your organisation is more than just one individual, it's a collective of experts with diverse viewpoints and expertise.

DO: Define your content's purpose

Before you start crafting thought leadership content, it's essential to define its purpose. What are your business objectives? Are you looking to recruit top talent, enhance your reputation, or position your organisation as an industry authority? Having a clear goal in mind will guide your content creation efforts and ensure every piece aligns with your overarching marketing strategy.

By setting specific objectives, you can measure the effectiveness of your thought leadership content and tailor it to achieve your desired outcomes.

DO: Match your tone with your brand

While thought leadership content is focused on providing valuable insights, it doesn't mean it has to be dull and devoid of personality. Your brand's tone of voice should shine through in your content. Whether your brand is known for being professional, friendly, or innovative, your content should reflect this personality.

Remember that there's no such thing as a boring topic, it's all about how you communicate it. Engaging, well-crafted content can make even the most complex subjects interesting and relatable to your audience.

DON'T: Make your content sales-focused

Thought leadership content is not a platform for direct sales pitches. People engage with thought leadership to gain knowledge and insights, not to be bombarded with sales messages. Avoid turning your content into a promotional vehicle for your products or services. Instead, focus on providing value and building trust with your audience.

DON'T: Forget your audience

Creating one-size-fits-all content rarely leads to success in thought leadership marketing. Your audience is diverse, with varying needs and interests. Tailor your content to specific segments within your target audience, addressing their unique pain points and challenges. This might be people in different job roles or departments in a business, or at different stages in their career. Personalisation and relevance are key to capturing and retaining your audience's attention.

DON'T: Teach your audience what they already know

Patronising your audience by rehashing common knowledge is a sure-fire way to lose their interest – and your credibility. Respect your readers' intelligence and offer fresh, thought-provoking insights. Thought leadership content should stimulate new ideas, provoke discussions, and challenge conventional thinking within your industry.

Thought leadership content can be a powerful tool for establishing your organisation as a credible authority in your field. By following these dos and don'ts, you will create compelling, informative content that resonates with your audience, builds trust, and helps you achieve your business objectives.

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