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13 Steps In Creating Your Thought Leadership Strategy

thought leadership strategy - In recent years thought leadership has evolved from a fashionable term to a serious strategy for building a business and personal brand. Thought leaders' views are trusted and useful to others, and they enable them to position themselves as the go-to individuals in their respective sectors.

With a plethora of opinions easily available on social media, demonstrating your position as an industry influencer with ACTUAL VALUABLE INFORMATION is the most efficient method to stand out in a crowded market.

Although becoming a thought leader takes time, implementing these four techniques will set you on the right track.

What Is Thought Leadership Strategy?

How do you envision the future of your industry? Does your organization contain people who assist develop your industry? What unique insights does your company have into its market? What is your vision for the future of your customer?

A thorough thought leadership approach should be used to answer these issues.

A thought leadership strategy gathers together an organization's finest thinking so that it can be strategically used to develop brand equity, drive demand, strengthen customer connections, and create new sales and collaboration possibilities.

The foundation of an inbound marketing approach is thought leadership. It is far more likely to stimulate organic search than emerging products or established products in highly competitive areas. With the trend toward greater buyer research prior to sales interactions, thought leadership is becoming the entrance through which businesses welcome people in quest of knowledge.

With the trend toward greater buyer research prior to sales interactions, thought leadership is becoming the entrance through which businesses welcome people in quest of knowledge.

How To Build A Thought Leadership Strategy

13 Steps In Creating Your Thought Leadership Strategy

Below are the steps to create an effective and amazing thought leadership strategy.

Define Goals And Align With Strategy

Thought leadership objectives frequently represent aim and ambition. They can be as high as raising stock prices or improving views of innovation or brand trust.

Thought leadership approach should be aligned with company strategy in order to choose the appropriate goals. If a company wants to be renowned for providing innovative items, it should start by sending new products.

Then it should explain the tale of how that innovation came to be. If a company wants to be regarded as the top Internet of Things provider, it should provide functional goods and share a market vision that shapes the fledgling industry and lets consumers see themselves in the future.

Thought leadership objectives generally fall under the following categories:

  • Position the firm such that it appears appealing to investors.
  • Create reputation in a new market.
  • Show the viability of new technology or new applications of old technology.
  • Increase faith in the organization's capacity to [execute, collaborate, create, etc.]
  • Improve the reputation of an organization, a leader/executive, or a group of leaders/executives.
  • Project the company as a leader in...innovation, a new market, a new method, and so forth.
  • Increase your sales and revenue.
  • Increase brand awareness
  • Create a new audience [for example, on a social media platform, becoming a trusted source for the broad target audience]
  • Recruiting: Make yourself appealing to potential workers.
  • Make a context for the organization...
  • Place its activities or products in a distinctive context in relation to current/future social, technical, economic, environmental, or political conditions.
  • Demonstrate intelligent leadership, logic, and humility in the face of adversity.
Choose Target Audience(s)
Choose Target Audience(s)

Choose Target Audience(s) 

Thought leadership information should typically be free, allowing everyone to access it. This does not imply that it should be written for a wide readership.

Each piece of thought leadership should communicate to a certain audience as much as feasible. Saying the material is for a “CXO” isn't specific enough because CIOs, CMOs, CHROs, and CFOs all focus on very different aspects of the business.

This is not to say that every thought leadership content should address the same audience or that thought leadership should only offer ideas along one path.

Organizations may opt to provide thought leadership for market positioning as well as technology leadership. Ideally, material that spans the business and technical (or human resources and financial) spectrums will be synergistic, but each may and should provide significant insights to the target audience.

Each piece of information should be tailored to a certain demographic. The program's target audience list should be made explicit.

Collect Existing Thought Leadership 

Many companies cultivate thought leadership in an ad hoc manner. It is never too early to begin gathering the organization's previous thought leadership. This might take weeks or even months in large businesses.

Regardless matter how difficult the task, it must be completed since the company must guarantee that a consistent narrative is created once the plan is in place.

Previous thought leadership content that was not properly reviewed may reflect outdated ideas that no longer match with business goals or be produced by employees who no longer work for the firm.

Consider revising the material and republishing it under the new look and feel of the thought leadership program if the concepts remain relevant.

Determine The Thought Leadership Program Approach 

Thought leadership is more than merely publicizing thought leaders' thoughts. Every firm hires thought leaders to represent the company in the marketplace.

Those thought leaders, however, may not be properly aligned with the thought leadership program's specified strategic objectives.

Programs that involve thought leaders will necessitate the identification and development of thought leaders in order for them to effectively convey a coherent narrative (see items 5 and 6 below).

Thought leadership may also involve research-based programs that use third-party research to help the company make a point.

This gives the business the benefit of being regarded as modest since it asks questions about which it does not know the answers, as well as affiliating itself with a respectable third-party research agency that brings its own thought leadership aura to bear on the issue.

Organizations may also select position-based thought leadership, in which the organization as a whole takes a stance rather than any individual(s) representing the organization.

Position-based thought leadership is frequently created by advocacy groups and trade associations to promote, for example, the adoption of a technical standard on behalf of member businesses in commercial marketplaces and among government lawmakers and regulators.

Large businesses will almost certainly develop hybrid thought leadership initiatives that mix the voices of business and technical experts within the organization with supporting research and participation in trade associations and other organizations

Identify Thought Leaders
Identify Thought Leaders

Identify Thought Leaders 

If the plan will incorporate internal thought leaders, it is critical to developing a talent pool. Conduct an interview with each thought leader to ascertain the following:

  • specialization
  • special credentials
  • membership in associations
  • publications and other content
  • activities on social media, including video
  • level of presentation ability
  • level of skill in writing beyond their peers
  • any backstory that may make him or her fascinating to the press

Gather a recent headshot and a brief biography for everyone.

Nurture Thought Leaders 

Thought leaders may be subject matter specialists who have been widely published in academic or trade periodicals. However, they are not always specialists in sharing their ideas with the intended audience for a thought leadership approach.

Artificial intelligence (AI) specialists may consult with researchers and academics on a regular basis, but they are unlikely to consult with CIOs.

When asking individuals to represent the business as thought leaders, it is critical that they be provided with the essential tools for success. Organizations should provide their thought leaders with the following resources:

  • coaches for writing, presenting skills, and handling interview questions
  • a stylist
  • Presentation and interview assistance (backgrounders and notes for audiences and industries)
  • Technical assistance with social media and webinars
  • legal assistance with disclosure clearance

Select A Content Management System 

In most situations, a company's thought leadership content management system or systems will be the same as those used for other types of web-based content management.

That is, it may employ a publication platform like WordPress or Squarespace, as well as a marketing automation tool such as Marketo, HubSpot, or Act-On to handle interactions and landing pages, and social media management tools such as Hootsuite.

The content management system should ideally integrate effectively with all forms of material created and all channels offered. To ease workflow, the content management system should also have collaborative tools.

Design Content Formats 

Thought leadership information comes in a variety of formats. Every consumer interaction should be planned. The most frequent type of thought leadership content is the white paper.

The material of a white paper should be accessible in a format that allows for PDF viewing and printing. However, white papers are not the only format that needs design.

Design is also required for consistency and clarity in infographics, press releases, ebooks, case studies, original research, and other media.

A strong thought leadership approach considers design before rushing to publishing. It is OK to generate content concurrently with design, but designs should be finalized far before the need to feed material into them.

Create An Editorial Agenda 

The editorial agenda (also known as the editorial calendar) provides a series of themes that are linked to publishing dates. Brainstormed concepts should be organized in such a way that they build on one another. To generate a fuller story and more possibilities for participation, original research and/or positioning should be followed by commentary and insights.

Successful thought leadership initiatives publish on a regular basis and plan material weeks to months ahead of time. The following items should be on the editorial calendar:

  • topic
  • author: Who is in charge of authoring the content?
  • the deadline
  • chief editor
  • target market
  • primary structure
  • primary and secondary channels, as well as
  • duties and deadlines for search engine optimization (SEO), subedits, and conversion to various channels and formats

The editing agenda should be regarded as the content manufacturing strategy. On the content, the lead editor will collaborate with the thought leader or third-party author. The managing editor or content manager is in charge of the timetable.

Thought leadership represents the credibility of the company, and its development and management procedures should conform to the same quality standards as goods or services.

Create A Content Marketing Strategy
Create A Content Marketing Strategy

Create A Content Marketing Strategy

A major piece of thought leadership material, such as a research report, white paper, or webinar, must be promoted. Marketing may use earned placements such as public relations and social media, as well as paid marketing such as advertising.

The publishing process must determine which channels best correspond with the intended audiences for publishing and publication reinforcement.

Publication channels might include the organization's blog, a Facebook post, a webinar platform, LinkedIn's SlideShare, or other sites.

The editorial staff must plan ahead of time to publish on the optimal platform for a specific piece of content by creating accounts, designs, and metadata guidelines that optimize those platforms.

The core material should be reinforced through social media as part of the content marketing strategy. Twitter, the organization's Facebook page, Pinterest, Snapchat, Instagram, and other social platforms that link to the original material are examples of reinforcement platforms.

Social media platforms should not be limited to just disseminating material via links. Great thought leadership tactics investigate how a bigger piece of material may be reused and utilized across many media.

A “Ten Ways...” blog post might wind up as 11 tweets, each beginning with a link to the main piece and ending with summarized points in their own tweets with a connection back to the source.

Great thought leadership techniques investigate how a bigger piece of information may be used across many platforms such as Twitter or Instagram.

Insert calls to action. While the thought leadership material should not be sold, readers will not be startled or turned off by a call to action that asks for an e-mail or provides a link to a sales website. Even non-profits make requests.

The content marketing strategy should incorporate the following elements:

  • Who is the content intended for?
  • Channels: How will you distribute and market your content?
  • Positioning: What distinguishes this piece of content?
  • Call to action: What do you want the person reading the content to do?

Additional dates for these supporting actions related to the editorial agenda will be required by the content marketing plan.

Publish And Manage Content 

This stage inserts the copy into the content management system. In order to adequately display charts, tables, lists, pictures, or other items outside the primary content, web layout skills may be required.

Copy editing or sub-editing is also required in publishing to catch mistakes and better correspond with desired reading scores. It also necessitates SEO.

SEO may be used on either modified or unedited text. Serious Insights recommends SEO on the final text in order to integrate any copy adjustments based on the content reflecting the final title when headline authoring is part of the subedit process. (For a more in-depth explanation of SEO, check ExpressText's What Is SEO article.)

Because thought leadership frequently contains remarks on sensitive subjects, many companies want a legal signature to guarantee that the material does not include any corporate secrets and that copyright law is appropriately applied to quotations and pictures.

Internal Marketing

It is insufficient to communicate thought leadership outside. As part of the broader strategic alignment, organizations must sell the concepts internally.

Thought leadership is frequently the most effective approach to express an organization's stance. Employees will not only be given a clear articulation of the organization's stance but they will also be given it in a manner that is tailored to certain audiences.

The many versions and channels will not only reinforce the messaging but will also demonstrate the organization's dedication to the underlying concepts expressed through their thought leadership material.

Measure Impact
Measure Impact

Measure Impact 

One of the most challenging challenges connected with thinking leadership strategy is measuring the impact of thought leadership. Many of the advantages of thought leadership need measuring measures that are beyond most businesses' attention spans.

The most straightforward metric comes from direct sales linked to thought leadership. Whether the thought leadership strategy is focused on lead generation and sales or not, the sales team must include thought leadership campaigns in their CRM sources so that the source of a lead can be ascribed to the thought leadership investment.

Even excellent sales reactions to thought leadership should not be allowed to hinder the capture of more subtle data.

Larger consequences, such as market perception or brand equity, need surveys, which are frequently best done and confirmed by third parties. This can be costly and is most likely outside the scope of the thought leadership program.

Many organizations, on the other hand, perform brand tracking or other types of surveys. Adding a question or two to an existing survey is frequently less expensive than starting a new survey.

Other techniques include social media sentiment analysis, in which social media and media coverage are used as input to provide insights into how effectively messages are playing out.

Previously, newspaper mentions were sufficient; but, knowing the social media reaction is now an excellent measure of how well the message connects with the desired audiences.

Furthermore, unlike conventional trade magazines, information about audiences is much easier to obtain through social media, making the measure more specific and useful. Reputation management can benefit from similar technology.

Organizations should avoid using content views as the key metric for success. It's not that people reading material are bad; it's simply that a content-centric measuring strategy, rather than a perception-centric measurement approach, may lead to generating content merely to keep the content views metrics high. Views don't matter if the correct individuals are reading the material and the reading doesn't translate into another measure (revenue or perception).

The transition from push to pull is the strongest indicator of thought leadership.

The best measurement for thought leadership is the shift from push to pull. Organizations publish, advertise webinars, put out PR announcements about research, and aim to build buzz using social media early in the plan. They also fill out conference speaker request forms or purchase sponsorships to secure a speaking slot.

If thought leadership is effective, requests for lectures, quotations, articles in trade journals/websites, and other activities will begin to pour in.

When a company is known as a thought leader, both people and the company begin to get requests for deeper or larger dialogues. Rather than the organization attempting to force its messages into the discourse, the market pulls the organization into it.

Another form of pull comes from the emergence of advocates, or fans, as they are known in some industries. The thought leadership approach is regarded as effective when a company can offer a combination of products, services, and thought leadership that inspires enough loyalty in consumers to advocate for an organization, not simply a product or service, to friends and colleagues.

Google Questions
Google Questions

What Is The Purpose Of Thought Leadership?

Thought leadership isn't about prioritizing your own needs - the goal is to educate your audience, challenge the existing paradigm, and establish yourself as a reliable source of knowledge. And this great marketing ammunition will help you achieve your company objectives.

When Should You Consider A Thought Leadership Approach?

When Should You Use a Thought Leadership Strategy? Deep study on your issue is one of the finest methods to create expertise on it. You must demonstrate a breadth of expertise that no one else possesses. You must also describe all of your client's problems and the best approaches to solve them.

What Makes A Great Thought Leader?

A thought leader is someone who provides direction and insight to others around them as a renowned specialist in a certain firm, industry, or society. In other words, a thought leader has a favorable reputation for sharing their expertise and insight with others.

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About The Authors

Keith Peterson

Keith Peterson - I'm an expert IT marketing professional with over 10 years of experience in various Digital Marketing channels such as SEO (search engine optimization), SEM (search engine marketing), SMO (social media optimization), ORM (online reputation management), PPC (Google Adwords, Bing Adwords), Lead Generation, Adwords campaign management, Blogging (Corporate and Personal), and so on. Web development and design are unquestionably another of my passions. In fast-paced, high-pressure environments, I excel as an SEO Executive, SEO Analyst, SR SEO Analyst, team leader, and digital marketing strategist, efficiently managing multiple projects, prioritizing and meeting tight deadlines, analyzing and solving problems.

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