November 14, 2023
In the ever-evolving landscape of content marketing, thought leadership has become a driving force behind building trust, authority, and engagement with your audience. But what's the secret formula for creating great thought leadership content that truly stands out and resonates with your target audience?
Here are six key steps to uncover the equation behind great thought leadership.
1. Harness the power of Subject Matter Experts (SMEs)
When you start creating thought leadership content, your first and most crucial step is to tap into the wealth of knowledge possessed by Subject Matter Experts (SMEs). These experts should always be consulted during the production of thought leadership content. Without their insights, your white paper or evergreen guide risks losing its credibility – and originality.
SMEs bring industry insider knowledge to the table, helping you understand not only the sector at large but also how your organisation fits within it. If you don't have SMEs internally, don't worry. You can connect with key individuals in your industry and interview them instead. This not only demonstrates your connection to leading thinkers in the relevant space but also has the potential to expand the reach of your content through their circles.
Whether you're already an SME looking to become a thought leader, or an in-house marketing team aiming to maximise and communicate your organisation's expertise, SMEs are your new best friends.
2. Conduct thorough research before writing thought leadership
Once your topic is finalised and SMEs have been consulted, it's time to fill any knowledge gaps. Depending on your target audience, you may need to delve deeper into contextual details about the contemporary landscape of your topic or audience.
For instance, a guide targeting Chief Technology Officers will differ significantly from one aimed at warehouse operatives. These audiences have distinct roles, priorities, and areas of expertise. Ensure that your content caters to their specific needs and preferences.
Incorporating contemporary contextual details, such as industry news or current events, can also help position your content in the present moment and highlight its relevance. This is particularly important for topics like the climate crisis and ESG (Environmental, Social & Governance) matters, which are continually evolving.
3. Create a bullet-point outline
Before diving into the full draft, it's wise to create a bullet-point outline. This outline will help identify and resolve any issues without getting bogged down in multiple iterations. It also aids in understanding the flow of your guide's information and arguments.
4. Draft (and refine)
Once your outline is approved, it's time to start writing. Perfecting a final draft usually involves a couple of rounds of revisions, so invest time in the writing and editing process.
It's crucial to have others, both within and outside your industry, read your content to gain diverse perspectives. You want your guide to be understandable to everyone, regardless of their existing knowledge. However, be cautious not to fall into the "too many cooks" situation, where too many clashing opinions stall progress.
5. Pay attention to design
For white papers and evergreen guides, design is as critical as content. It's the design that captures the reader's attention first. Ensure that the design reflects your brand, is eye-catching, and, most importantly, is accessible to all readers.
6. Share your thought leadership
Producing thought leadership content is just the beginning; it shouldn't languish on your website. To establish yourself as a thought leader, maximise your reach across various channels. Consider:
• Social media: Share your content on social media platforms to engage with your audience directly.
• Email campaigns: Use email marketing to reach your subscribers and keep them informed.
• Video content: Create videos that introduce and discuss your thought leadership topics; video content often garners more attention.
• Media pitching: Pitch articles to industry-specific media outlets or conferences for keynote sessions. This can help amplify your message and reach a wider audience.
• In-Person opportunities: Distribute physical copies of your guides at conferences, exhibitions, or even on coffee tables in your office to pique visitors' interest.
Remember, it's not just about having expertise, it's about what you do with it. By following these steps and staying committed to your thought leadership strategy and content, you can unlock the equation behind great thought leadership and establish yourself as a trusted authority in your field.