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Why Thought Leadership Isn't What You Think

Why Thought Leadership Isn't What You Think

‘Thought Leadership’ means producing articles, white papers, blog posts, even giving talks, all aimed at establishing you as a ‘thought leader’ in your industry. Many people consider thought leadership to be one of the fundamental principles of inbound marketing. What if you’ve got a great business that does good work but you’re not your industry’s Steve Jobs or Bill Gates? Does it matter?

The short answer is no. It’s easy to get hung up on the phrase ‘thought leadership’ and worry that you need to be some kind of visionary genius; but the term itself is the problem here, not your expertise.

If you’re like most people in a business, you’ll have some kind of specialist area. Let’s say you know a lot about marketing. But there are hundreds of companies out there with people who know a lot about marketing, right? And maybe a few of them are even more knowledgeable and qualified than you. But thought leadership isn’t about genius, it’s about targeting, curiosity, perspective and growth - and more than anything, engagement. Firstly, you need to know what the objective of your thought leadership strategy is.

Objective: As you’re here, let’s assume you want to have issue-centred conversations with prospective customers. And in the longer-term, you’d like those conversations to create interest in the products or services your business sells. This will be your starting point.

Targeting: Now we need to work out who you need to have those conversations with. This is critical because what you’re also doing is laying groundwork for the sorts of content will resonate with your desired customers. You can do this with Buyer Personas.

Positioning Content: Your Buyer Personas will tell you who you want to speak with and what they’re interested in (i.e. what their business pains are). Now you’re going to create content that showcases your expertise, but - and this is the important part - in response to their pains. It’s all about having a compelling point of view on what matters to your clients.

Quick Content Tip: Don’t forget, you can interview other subject-matter experts in your business and industry to get their take on the problems your prospective clients face. If you’re going external, make sure the content stays relevant (refer back to your Buyer Personas) and try to pick people who are active on social media and will share the finished article with their followers.

By working in this way, you narrow the field required in which to establish your visionary status. Now you’re sharing specific knowledge with people important to your business in a way that is very relevant to them. This is the essence of thought leadership for inbound marketing.

Of course there’s distribution of content, promotion, curation, inbound strategy, Social Media, measurement of thought leadership success and many other considerations that you will find explored in this blog; but start with the three points above and you’ll be on the right track.

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