Thought Leadership isn’t a tactic, like a press release, but a time-tested strategy to help companies build or boost their credibility, trust, and authority among various audiences such as potential investors, consumers, industry analysts or the media.
Often referred to as a program, Thought Leadership consists of well-orchestrated communications and marketing activities that work together to support a larger integrated plan to achieve specific business objectives. It’s different from advertising because most Thought Leadership activities are not paid placements, but owned or earned opportunities. At the center of a Thought Leadership program is identifying and leveraging relevant leadership voices to highlight various aspects of a company’s value proposition. These voices don’t always have to be from the c-suite either, although it can be helpful. A thought leader can be a mission critical director, vice president or employee who has specific expertise and can offer new and different perspectives on topics that matter in their industries. The best Thought Leaders are also considered disruptors because they compel their audience to consider alternatives or provide evidence to rally behind something truly innovative.
The reason why so many companies fail at doing Thought Leadership is because they lack patience or resources to navigate influencing their industry. You can’t just put-up one blog post and think a reporter for The New York Times is going to a) find it and b) consider you a credible source for a future article. Without learning more about who you are, seeing more and gaining confidence in your content over time will they conclude you are authentically an expert in your field. This is why it’s very hard for random, one-off executions to fulfill the ultimate goals of Thought Leadership programs. Credibility is earned. Having a compelling narrative – something beyond interesting to say – proprietary research findings or case studies that can validate your perspective or claims helps too.
Don’t let the long-game dissuade you. With the right plan in place and earmarking budget for content creation and creative execution, Thought Leadership programs can be a highly effective marketing strategy to grow a business by influencing your audiences through knowledge sharing and inspiring content. It checks the boxes for also helping to expand awareness, complement sales efforts and extend reach if your content gets reshared by others.
If you’re intrigued by what you read and want to learn more about Thought Leadership, let us know. Our experienced team can help you navigate next steps.
Written by Fiona Hamann.