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Is “thought leadership” one of those empty phrases used by companies to invoke the perception of power? Or is there actual substance behind these words? Thought leadership is more than just business jargon. It’s an opportunity to differentiate yourself from the competition, establish your brand, and stand out in the crowd. Most importantly, it’s an avenue to earn the trust and confidence of your audience in your field.

What is Thought Leadership?

Thought leadership is a type of content marketing that uses your expertise to connect with a target market. It’s not about self-promotion, although it does effectively promote your business. This is done by providing answers to your audience. They are seeking information, and you’re giving it to them with authority. When someone from your company shares insights and analysis, the audience gains trust and sees your brand as an expert in the field. Thought leadership is self-defining: it puts you on the cutting edge, leading with your ideas.

Impart Knowledge, Gain Followers

Nearly half of the C-suite says they vet an organization by its thought leadership with 81% showing an increase in trust after engaging with relevant content. When you establish yourself as a thought leader, others will come to you for your expertise. This includes bloggers, the press, influencers, and others. Each of these connections expands your influence and recognition.

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Establish your brand as the one with the answers

Content that qualifies as thought leadership shows and supports your expertise in the field. It allows you to build trust and a following. You want people to think of your brand when they think of your industry. For example, when you think of a healthy grocery store, what comes to mind? If you answered Whole Foods, it’s probably because the brand has worked very hard to be associated with healthy offerings. They have an entire educational platform with custom content that includes discussions of sustainability, animal welfare, and GMOs. Their thought leadership content is shared via blogs and other formats on social media. This allows people to find their content, engage, and share. The word is spread that they are experts on the topic of healthy, organic food.

What to Include

So where and what should you be posting to build a reputation in thought leadership? First of all, make sure your content is seen. All that engaging, thoughtful, knowledgeable content isn’t going to do you any good if nobody sees it. Post on your website, social media, and YouTube. Send content through email, covering trends and topics that influence your industry.

When it comes to the content of your content, give it gravity. Forgo the fluff and invest in research. Thought leadership content should educate or solve a problem. It should establish your brand as one to look to for industry knowledge. Good, consistent content adds up to a depth of knowledge that makes a brand trustworthy. Even one really good piece of content can pay off when it’s visited over and over, which especially the case if it’s evergreen.

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Stand out from the crowd with original ideas

When you’re thinking about content, avoid being generic or trite. Along with self-promotion, these are the top reasons executives ignored thought leadership content. Instead, strive for an original take on something related to your industry. A post that’s essentially wallpaper won’t earn you any respect. And leave the promotional material for another application.

The Expert Within

A CEO isn’t the only person who can be a thought leader. Chances are, you have a number of SME working within your company. Ask them to share what they know and give them a chance to impart their knowledge. The audience will benefit from their expertise and you’ll benefit when the audience draws a direct line between the expert and your brand.

Video Spreads the Word

Thought leadership comes in many forms, although we’d argue that video is one of the best delivery methods.  When 79% of consumers prefer watching video to reading about a product it’s easy to see video works. Imagine a potential customer looking for the best way to peel an apple. They search Google and your video pops up with the founder of your company talking about all the uses for apple peels. After watching the video, this viewer has learned something new and also knows the name of your company. Maybe the next time they buy an apple-related product, your company will come to mind. Thought leadership videos can position you as a go-to in your industry in an engaging and easy-to-consume format. Call us today for a free quote.

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