The Power of Thought Leadership

Over the years, I cant count the times I have heard people say - “We must be seen more as thought leaders”.  And the marketing plans I have read where the key objective is to - ‘Develop more thought leadership’.  But what do we mean by thought leadership, what is the importance of it and how is it best deployed and exploited?  What are the other benefits of quality thought leadership?

Thought leadership is the content created and published by a thought leader.  According to Wiki, a thought leader is "an individual or a company that is recognized as an authority in a specialized field and whose expertise and view is sought". The term was coined in 1994 by Joel Kurtzman, editor in chief of Booz & Cos (now part of PwC) magazine and was used to designate interviewees who had business ideas which merited attention.  

To me, it needs to be thought provoking with a point of view and some new thinking - not just the same old story rolled out again!  Generally thought leadership points to solving business problems; for example reducing cost, increasing margins, providing a better level of service  something that drives real return on investment and better business outcomes.

Before the rise of the Internet, thought leadership used to be published as white papers or shorter thought pieces, often being written and published as advertorial content in the key trade magazines and journals.

However, since the explosion of on-line content, there is growing need for quality content by on-line journals, and industry websites.  Therefore, it is more important than ever to ensure that whatever you write is insightful, well written and up to date.  Then the opportunities for publication are almost endless, across both the virtual and physical world.  Once a paper or article has been published, well-run businesses will use PR and social media to promote their content online, driving up relevant target readership and as a result building communities of readers with similar interests and business needs.  These target readers a captivated audience.

The result of this process, when done well, is simple - it generates huge interest, and where a solution is provided to a business problem, it generates a pipeline of new clients and helps generate additional follow-on business.  In addition there is a high additional benefit for the author.  Their profile is raised and their value in the market increases.

What makes good content?  For me, it needs to be well written, short, simple and clear.  Diagrams and pictures add value and help to cement the content and outcomes in the readers mind.  When creating thought leadership, the content must be fresh, the key points clearly presented and above all it must demonstrate the value the solution brings to the target business or issue.  

Once created quality thought leadership can be used to generate a number of marketing assets.  I will cover this topic in a future blog.  What is absolutely key - is to make the most of your quality thought leadership and use it to help spread your messages across your target audience.  Use integrated PR to help drive readers and interested parties to your thought leadership across all the different multiple channels and multiple media types.

So the benefits are clear - thought leadership generates interest in your ideas and solutions, it can create a pipeline of new opportunities, capture on-line target audiences and remember it also promotes the profile of the author.  This explains why so many want to create it, and why it is so difficult to write!

© Tim Brew 2019