According to a recent Edelman and Linkedin study, 65% of B2B decision-makers say a piece of thought leadership significantly changes their perception of a company for the better.
Furthermore, 64% of these top sales and marketing managers also view leadership content as more trustworthy than marketing materials and product sheets when assessing a vendor’s capabilities and competency.
But here’s the problem: most (71%) of these decision-makers believe less than half of the thought leadership content they consume provides valuable insight.
So how do you become a thought leader who provides value?
You can be a better thought leader when you leverage your subject matter expertise and share original thinking backed by quality data. By striking a balance between authentic and authoritative, you can better engage your target audience on issues that matter most.
In today’s world, standing out from your competition is more important than ever. Thought leaders do this by positioning themselves as experts and sharing their unique perspectives.
You can give your readers, listeners, and viewers something worth consuming by following these high-impact actionable strategies:
1. Highlight Emerging Trends (But Stay Grounded in the Present).
For business decision-makers, staying on top of industry trends is essential. The business landscape is always changing, so you must be proactive about keeping up with the latest developments.
Now, not all thought leadership content is created equal. Only 38% of marketers prefer speculative content, while most (62% of respondents) want discussions that analyze trends.
So you must strike a balance — show that you are forward-thinking and can anticipate future changes. But also address current affairs and how they affect your audience.
2. Back Up Your Findings With Data.
No matter what form your content takes, support your claims with evidence. This shows your audience proof and that you do research.
It’s no surprise that 80% of buyers would rather read an article with third-party data from trusted sources instead of only insight from your own findings.
So quote experts to support your content.
3. Cover Blind Spots Within Your Space.
When thinking about the topics to cover, focus on areas ignored by other thought leaders.
Your providing insights into these blind spots show you think outside the box and see different perspectives.
To find blind spots, consider surveying your target audience or reach out directly and ask for topic suggestions.
You can also look at social media platforms such as Twitter and LinkedIn to see questions asked by people in your industry. These can provide great ideas for blog posts, articles, or even speaking engagements.
And keep an eye on your competition. See what other thought leaders in your space talk about and discuss different angles.
4. Be Smart. But Also Be Fun.
According to the Edelman study, 87% of decision-makers say thought leadership content can be both intellectually rigorous and fun. Furthermore, 64% prefer a more human, less formal tone.
So for your tone, approachability matters. You want to come across as an expert who is relatable and down-to-earth.
5. Challenge Conventional Thinking.
Thought leaders challenge the status quo and push boundaries. So get comfortable going against the grain and thinking outside the box.
In fact, 81% of decision-makers welcome fresh perspectives, preferring content that offers new, provocative ideas that challenge assumptions.
6. Beef Up Your Byline.
According to Linkedin research, 67% of buyers prefer leadership pieces featuring perspectives from credible industry players.
Your byline should include more than just your name and title. Include a brief description of your background and what sets you apart from prominent figures in your space.
Think of your byline as an elevator pitch for why someone should read your work.
7. Avoid Being Sales-y.
Many people dislike when thought leadership focuses too much on driving sales. In fact, a whopping 46% of respondents cite this as an issue.
Your content should educate, not sell.
Provide useful insight and inspiration to position your organization as an industry leader.
By providing value and helping your audience solve their problems, you build trust while allowing them to make purchasing decisions at their own pace.
8. (Bonus Tip) Understand Your Customers’ Specific Needs.
Remember, almost half (47%) of buyers surveyed say most thought leadership content isn’t created with them in mind.
This means you must go beyond general research about your industry or buyer. Get into the nitty-gritty details about what they struggle with on a daily basis, their pain points, and their desired solutions.
When you can connect with your target audience on a deeper level, you position yourself as a trusted advisor who can help them overcome challenges — making it more likely that they do business with you down the line.
Conclusion: A Final Word on Becoming a Better Thought Leader
Thought leaders carve out advantages for themselves, attract more business opportunities, and build wealth. They also demonstrate what makes them different from everyone else.
With buyers taking a more active role today in researching solutions, sales and marketing managers turn to high-quality thought leadership content to help prospects make better buying decisions.
Being a better thought leader, however, does take effort. The good news is, you’re well on your way now with our action items for creating a thought leadership content strategy.
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