The importance of thought leadership

3 Minutes
Show your audience that you're ahead of the game

Thought leadership is not a new phenomenon, but it somehow feels like it. Up until this digital age, thought leaders wrote books and held seminars. Some still do; but many simply blog or vlog. Whichever platform they use, the effort is only worth it if there is a ROI.

What's the purpose?

Thought leaders talk about topics important to their audience (customers). Let us be clear, there is never any altruism here: all thought leaders have something they want to sell—be it their brand or themselves. A word of warning, though. Although ultimately the aim is more money in the till, thought leaders must not come across as sales people and litter their content with product. For example, Richard Branson never writes a blog which ends: “Oh, by the way, we have 20% off flights to Barcelona during May.” If customers like what they read, they will come to you of their own free will.

Effective thought leadership achieves 3 things:

  1. It allows businesses to relate to problems their potential customers face (drives traffic)
  2. It inspires readers to want to further investigate the topic discussed (drives engagement)
  3. It makes customers think more highly of your brand (drives loyalty)

An example of thought leadership

An HR Director writes a blog about how talent are choosing companies based on their personal values. The purpose is to sell the fact that their company has strong values, which may well align with the reader’s, and are oh-so-handily displayed on a vibrant talent attraction portal.

It’s all a bit rope-a-dope; you appear to be discussing the problem... yet magically already have the solution elsewhere!

Top 7 tips for your thought leadership strategy:

  1. Be confident—you don't get the girl (or boy) unless you try
  2. Display that you're forward-thinking—don’t just add weight to a conversation; start one
  3. Discuss a single topic, associated with something your customers may need
  4. Be honest—don't pretend you have a solution if you don't
  5. Invite your audience to be part of the solution
  6. Educate your customers, do not ‘sell’
  7. Have a single end-goal in mind—what do you want the customer to do after reading?
If done right, thought leadership can be an effective part of your content strategy, which helps tell your brand story. It personalises your brand and lets customers have a one-to-one conversation with you. This emotional connection can lead to the most important ROI of all: sales.

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