What is it and how to use it

Every brand wants to be considered a thought leader, but few can define what exactly qualifies as thought leadership.

When done correctly, thought lead marketing can help your business retain authority in your industry.

but it is a acquired strategy.

Your content marketing teams should only pursue thought leadership if your brand has the successes, attitude, reputation, and innovation to back up your claims.

If your brand has earned the trust of your industry, here’s how to get started with this specific type of content.

What is thought leadership?

When a brand or individual is recognized as a thought leader, others in the same industry continually look to them for insight.

Thought leadership material may include research, opinion, personal anecdotes or predictions of the future.

It can reference current events, evaluate industry trends, or spark debate among other thought leaders.

It can also take many forms, including:

  • E Books.
  • White paper.
  • article information.
  • webinar.
  • podcast.
  • Op-Ed.
  • original research.
  • even more!

The reality is that most of the content on the Internet is quite repetitive and does not reflect the original ideas.

So, what differentiates thought leadership content?

Brand-specific insights that shape the big conversation happening in your industry,

When Should I Get Started with Thought Leadership Content?

New businesses or brands will not be ready to pursue this type of content marketing.

Why? Because other people in your industry are less likely to trust your insight if the depth of experience doesn’t back it up.

Successful thought leadership requires a strong foundation in content marketing.

It also requires public relations, social media and reputation management.

If your brand actively engages in the above efforts, you are paving your way to a future as a thought leader.

Benefits of Thought Leading Materials

Like all content marketing, it takes time and resources to create high quality thought leadership.

So, what are the benefits?

earns customer loyalty

Thought leaders have already done the work of building credibility in their industry.

Because they have earned the trust of customers, they can use their thought leadership to gain customer loyalty.

In an Edelman and LinkedIn survey, nearly 60% of respondents claimed they found brand thinking leadership content more relatable than their traditional marketing materials.

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And, thought lead content doesn’t only impress customers.

It helps competitors, journalists, influencers – or anyone interested in your space – see your brand as an authoritative industry voice.

SEO brings value

Idea lead content that stays on your website permanently can rank for relevant keywords and drive organic traffic.

Off-site thought lead content that includes backlinks to your website, whether in author bylines or within content, sends link equity to your web pages, improving your domain authority and your overall ranking ability.

Unlike traditional guest posting, thought leadership can help you get backlinks from authoritative domains which are a bit difficult to achieve otherwise.

lead generation

For B2B brands, in particular, thought leadership can help secure qualified leadership.

Most B2B customers are highly knowledgeable in their field. Many people regularly engage with Thought Leadership to stay abreast of industry trends and innovations.

If they find that your brand idea is a source of leadership, they are more likely to pursue you as a service provider or solution.

How to Develop an Idea Leadership Marketing Strategy

Creating thought leadership is very different from simply contributing guest posts on an industry website or offering a how-to on your own domain.

Thought leaders use their vast expertise and knowledge to deliver exceptional value to their audiences that no one else can.

Identify your areas of expertise

When developing your thought leadership strategy, it is important to consider what sets you apart from other thought leaders.

Think about the unique angles and perspectives your brand can take advantage of:

  • do you have one differentiated product or technology,
  • what do you do differently Compared to other brands in your location?
  • have you done original research or reporting on industry topics?
  • have you found new solutions Well-known for industry problems?
  • what challenges or setbacks Is your brand lost?

These are just a few questions that will help you brainstorm, as many topics can be used for thought leadership.

Remember that your unique perspectives may not necessarily be limited to your products and services.

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Your workplace culture, company mission or values, growth strategy, and more can be leveraged to create impactful thought leadership.

Forbes thought leadership articleScreenshot of Forbes.com taken by the author, August 2022

choose your thought leaders

Your byline of thought leadership materials should be from someone in your company who has the knowledge, experience, and expertise to speak with authority.

This often means officers, founders, directors or major stakeholders of the C-suite in your organization or business.

Titles are important in the world of thought leadership.

Your audience should be convinced that the speaker is closely tied to the acquired secrets of your brand.

Determine where your thought leadership material will live

Idea lead content can be a valuable asset that stays on your website permanently.

You may want to leverage this content in email marketing, lead generation or other parts of the customer journey.

Like the guest posting strategy, you can attribute thought leadership to other publications featuring commentary from expert voices.

Expert Contributors section of the builtinScreenshot from the Expert Contributors section of Buildin.com August 2022

To get started with off-site thought leadership, prepare a list of publications that want to feature industry experts.

google sheetsImage by author, August 2022

Then, contact the editors or content managers.

Ask if they are interested in publishing original content from your brand.

Your outreach goals should have a higher domain authority score than your website and display strong SEO signals.

create high quality content

The most time consuming part of any content marketing strategy is the time and effort to create high quality content.

But unlike other content on your website, thought leadership must meet certain requirements in order to be classified accordingly.

To create content that truly has the reputation and quality of thought leadership, you must meet the following standards.

real world examples

Because thought leadership is all about acquired secrets, your claims must be supported by real-world experience.

ProductHunt.com Manufacturer StoriesScreenshot from ProductHunt.com Maker Stories, August 2022

Your audience should feel that it is looking at your business and the strategies or approaches that have made you successful.

personal expert voice

Although your brand name can carry the weight of the byline, the best idea leadership content has a real, engaging voice, name and face behind it.

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You want your audience to feel like they are getting personal access to key decision makers and stakeholders in your business or organization.

short term and long term value

Thought leadership content should be actively involved in the conversations taking place in your industry.

But your thought lead content should also contain evergreen elements that help that content rank organically in search.

You want your marketing team to be able to take advantage of thoughtful leadership content to make the most of the week that other brands are looking hot on social media.

The best idea leadership will have long-term value, giving your team evergreen content for future marketing efforts.

informed by your products or services

Ultimately, thought leadership is still a content marketing strategy, and you can use it to earn new leads and customers.

Nevertheless, the actual products or services that your brand provides best inform thought leadership.

This doesn’t have to mean a front and center sales pitch. The presence of your products and services should be more subtle and seen as a major source from which your expertise comes.

Promote your content and thought leaders

Building a thought leadership presence means creating content and sharing it on social media sites with the loyal audience your organization has worked so hard to earn.

Most thought leaders are active (and verified!) on websites like Twitter, where real-time conversations take place in response to industry events.

Journalists also look to thought leaders to provide insight or expert sourcing when reporting on industry news and prefer to cite material that can serve as strong evidence in their reporting.

You can use your thought leadership materials to increase your PR outreach, as journalists would prefer to feature prominent thinkers over less reputable sources.


It will take time and proven success to reach the status of a thought leader.

But, once earned, thought leadership in marketing is a great way to enrich all other areas of your digital strategy.

Apply this strategy consistently, and you’ll earn the loyalty of industry professionals who are always waiting to hear what your brand will say next.

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Featured Image: Andrey Zstroznov/Shutterstock