However, in this rush to fill the content marketing bucket, what is often overlooked is the impact thought leadership can have in shaping brand and audience perceptions. Whether as an integrated component of your content marketing strategy or as a dedicated marketing/PR/communications campaign, thought leadership creates opportunities for marketers to go outside of their four walls, increasing their brand’s distinction among key stakeholders ranging from customers to investors to employees.
Thought leadership by its nature should have a sharp point of view and clear sense of purpose, personified by company leadership or subject matter experts with a viewpoint that leads, rather than follows, topical industry conversations. It’s about surfacing perspectives, opinions, and problem/solution insights that only you, as a market leader, can have, staking your claim in an environment filled with copycats.
One trap that we as marketers routinely fall into is diluting a thought leadership strategy to the point where it becomes self-glorifying, promoting a brand or product and adding little true value to the audience. We establish rigid guiderails with the intention of balancing on-brand accessibility with what we perceive to be provocative messaging, hoping to elicit a positive reaction. Instead, we should be asking ourselves: Will the audience even read a piece with little new interest or value-added insights? Instead, our goal should be to challenge the status quo, identify trends, or propose unique solutions that enable stakeholders to make sense of the future.
Opportunities for amplification range from bylined articles, op-ed pieces and “What we believe” mission videos, to participation in editorial roundtables, sponsored interview sessions or whitepapers. Add rocket fuel to your thought leadership campaign through promoted posts, CRM and even native advertising. Your thought leadership campaign can, and should, take on a life of its own with a narrative thread that runs throughout, advocating your brand’s thought leadership POV at each touchpoint.
To get started, look inward and outward to find sources of inspiration that can be leveraged to craft meaningful perspectives based on proof-points that inform and stimulate discussions and reactions.
When executed successfully, thought leadership can go beyond a “featured in” social media post. It can become a force multiplier in which thought-provoking initiatives can have more impact and ROI than simply running more paid media. More important, it can become a rallying cry for your brand, crystalizing its mission, promise and identity in a way that’s authentic, relevant, and engaging. The result: increased brand credibility, uniqueness and trust in a marketplace that’s quickly becoming saturated with content marketing all competing for your customer’s attention.