Although thought leadership is one of the hottest buzzwords in content marketing today, it’s also a somewhat misunderstood term. While many companies are familiar with what it is (if you’re not, click here), there remains to be some confusion revolving around its overall benefit. So, we’ve decided to clear things up and break it down so you can utilize it effectively and competitively.

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What Makes a Great Thought Leader?

Successful thought leaders have three major strengths:

  • Expertise. They don’t just talk the talk: great thought leaders have the skills and knowledge to back it up. Having this edge allows them to craft meaningful content that consistently delivers value.
  • Passion. To be an effective thought leader, you must be passionate and excited about what you do, with a healthy dose of purpose and drive. This also helps with authenticity in your pieces.
  • Authenticity. The best thought leaders have a strong and unique voice that sets them apart from the competition. Everything they say and do reflects their values and what they stand for – so make sure you’re prepared to do that.

What’s in It for Me?

Done right, thought leadership content can reap multiple rewards for your brand. Take IT solutions provider Logicalis. They used a thought-leadership approach when they launched a new marketing campaign in the form of an Ebook, scrapping the typical sales-y stuff and focusing on helpful information. It then promoted the Ebook through a series of emails to share that information. By the end of the 12-week campaign, Logicalis had gained $8 million in new business.

Interested? I’ll bet. Effective thought leadership can help with:

  1. Content Marketing: Position your business as a leader in your field, and you will find your other content marketing efforts benefit as well. Yep, you can reap the rewards of good thought leadership content long after a piece is published. It’s the gift that keeps on giving.
  1. Conversions: Thought leadership content that’s rich in value can help you better connect with potential customers. Not to mention it could lead to a significant boost in conversions.
  1. SEO: Authoritative content reigns supreme in Google-land when it comes to SEO ranking. Consistently publishing quality content with your byline attached to it is crucial to building a great online presence for your brand. And, the Google gods will reward you appropriately.

I Can Do This. But, How?

Now that you’re convinced that your brand needs to jump on the thought-leadership bandwagon, you need to ensure you’re doing it right when you craft your content. That means next-to-no mistakes. According to one survey, 94% of respondents thought less of a company that shared poorly-written content. Here’s a few tips to boost engagement:

  • Simple language: Keep your writing jargon-free, and stick to brief, yet meaningful sentences. If you go on and on without a clear message, readers will think you lack substance.
  • Real solutions: Ok, so you’ve talked about a problem or issue in a meaningful and authoritative way. But, then what? Your readers need to know what to do next. Hot tip: try writing the end of the piece first so you can pack a powerful punch (and a solution).
  • Competitor awareness: Consider subjects that your competitors are talking about. It could be an opportunity to bring a fresh perspective to a pressing issue – further establishing your authority in your industry.
  • Free and easy sharing: Don’t be selfish with your thought leadership content; it should be freely available and easy to share among consumers. Think of it as knowledge-base pieces that educate, inform and deliver value.

A Little Authority Goes a Long Way

There’s no doubt that thought leadership – one of the most powerful aspects of content marketing – can be hugely beneficial to a business; that’s why nearly half of content marketers list it as their top business success goal. A strong combination of authentic, passionate and expert content will go a long way to enhancing your company’s reputation, taking your brand to the next level.