Perspective and Solutions
Understanding the benefits that come from good thought leadership content starts with understanding that the best content is a product of the pain points and trends facing your industry. Our idea of what thought leadership is stems from understanding pain-points, and exploring unique perspectives, but this is not the only way to be a thought leader. Building rapport with your market can turn you and your business into a trusted resource for industry information. Your name will be squarely in the front of your client’s minds when pondering the biggest issues facing them. In a lot of ways, the goal of thought leadership content is association. If you keep showing up, providing relevant information, and thought provoking content, your market will begin to associate you with the solution. Afterall, that’s what service we’re all providing on a basic level; solutions. Association puts you on the tip of your clients’ tongues and makes you the most accessible place to find solutions. The majority of business leaders are using thought leadership content to vet organizations, so why not lead with your best foot forward?
Weaving in Narrative
Great thought leadership tells a story. By beginning with thinking through the goals of your thought leadership, how does your story reveal itself? Is it best told through anecdotes? Through a fascinating data point? We’ve found the most compelling form of thought leadership content to be a blend of statistical evidence and narrative. Data storytelling is an art of its own discussed further in a separate blog post, but the crux of good data storytelling begins with identifying both components of the equation. When laying out the framework for your piece it is important to consider which data points are most relevant to the story you’re trying to tell. Data is important, and more companies are investing in harnessing its power than ever (In fact, 99% of companies are). What are the most relevant statistical insights to best illustrate your positions? The second component is more personal. What is a relevant lesson learned from your experience in the industry? What was the piece of advice that you wish you’d heard earlier? What have you taken away from the trials and tribulations you’ve faced? Asking yourself these questions can help to correlate those statistical pieces into a narrative framework that allows them to flourish. Most importantly, how do you bend your story arc to touch upon each data point in both a pragmatic and fascinating way?
The best insights always come from asking the right questions. Knowing your market’s desires and challenges allows you to tailor solutions to them. Survey is a great tool to test the waters. Broad survey gives many data points, but most importantly it eliminates the need to assume. Often the assumptions we make are not far off from reality, but just ensuring that the language you’re using is congruent with your industry can make all the difference. Words matter! The ideas behind what you say to your market are important in terms of addressing issues they face, but how you convey those ideas controls how they are understood. When you’re able to take data and show that you have an understanding of your market’s perspective, then you can connect your product or service to a solution that makes sense in their terms. These insights benefit you twofold. Not only do you know where your market stands in terms of issues, but these data points you now have become building blocks for insightful content. Insight breeds intrigue. When you have a piece of content that boasts unique insights rooted in evidentiary claims, people want to know where they stand. It’s human nature to be curious about the experiences of those we share commonalities with. Is the issue that is most pressing to most of my industry also something I’m dealing with? How do my priorities compare with the average? When the content you produce brings together insights that create intrigue with a tactful narrative it becomes one of the strongest tools in your sales arsenal.
An often underappreciated complication of building brand awareness is how difficult it can be to reach a wider audience. A large part of the solution to this lies in how you leverage the content and insights you already have. Making use of multiple channels, and media formats ensures that you’re reaching your audience where they feel most comfortable. For example, the information included in a website blog post could often be distilled into the form of an infographic that may garner more attention on a social media site. 69% of B2C consumers prefer to hear brand pitches through video format. Though this particular statistic points to B2C trends, the lesson holds true that individuals hold diverse preferences when it comes to their consumption of media. Making sure you’re ticking the boxes of the classically prioritized media channels with your content such as email, and social media are important, but some focus should be directed towards diversifying the way you reach potential clients. Adapting your content to each platform is important as well. Studies have shown that longer form written content is what returns the best engagement on LinkedIn. On Twitter, by contrast, where content is limited by character count, posts that include photos gain on average 150% more engagement than those without. Casting a wider and more diverse net by just tweaking your content allows you to not only reach a larger audience, but reach that audience on terms that agree with their sensibilities.
Wrapping It Up
Thought leadership content can be one of your largest contributors to sales, and brand image if done effectively. Part of being an industry leader is walking the walk, and engaging with your market through a continuous discussion that shows your full circle perspective on their biggest challenges. Thought leadership content is not something that can be put on autopilot. It is dynamic and in a constant state of fluctuation, just like your industry. Beyond the vanity metrics, being a thought leader can have a significant impact on generating new leads, accelerating sales cycles, and raising awareness for your brand. Great thought leadership content is indicative of driven brands and individuals with a forward thinking outlook because of the time and acute attention it demands. So engage, ask the right questions, and prove to your market that you are an industry leader.