Customers and clients stopped paying attention to quick ‘how to’ posts or 10-point listicles long ago. 2016 is around the corner, and the need of time is Thought Leadership, a term that very few marketers understand and pay heed to. And the confusion is acceptable as there are multiple definitions and very few detailed guides on the concept that is changing how content marketing is practiced.

Let’s try to understand what Thought Leadership is all about, and why it needs to be the guiding light of your content marketing strategy in 2016 & years ahead of it:

Basics of Thought Leadership

Most blogs and resources have explained the concept of Thought Leadership from marketing point of view. Thought Leadership is ticked off as a business jargon used to represent influencers that introduce new ideas, shape opinions, and mould perceptions.

I think it is much broader in its scope, and sometimes isn’t even practiced with the thought of marketing mileage. Thought Leadership is addressing market challenges, and answering questions that sometimes don’t even exist.

Why Thought Leadership is Such a Big Deal Now?

Thought Leadership has become the buzzword of content marketing circles because of the long term benefits it can generate. Companies across the world want their team members to become thought leaders and gain edge in terms of business & branding.

In modern times, there is no marketing pitch that customers cannot see through. This is another reason why companies want their brand representatives to address customer queries and answer real questions rather than just screaming ‘BUY FROM ME’.

Now the important question is ‘What makes you a thought leader?’

How Thought Leaders Are Born?

Thought leaders have keen understanding of their area, and are consulted for their opinions on diverse matters. They are heard and followed for their vast experience, unique thoughts, and transparent approach to solutions.

Thought leaders can emerge from the lowest strata of a company or can be someone sitting behind the biggest mahogany table in the office. Customers, designers and sales professionals also carry the potential to become thought leaders. In short, there is no secret formula, and anyone can be thought leader.

Thought Leadership Marketing

Marketers consider Thought Leadership as the way to push sale of products, services, and expertise without actually selling them. Thought Leadership marketing is usually accomplished through content (blogs, videos and even graphics), and positions the company, individual or brand as a market leader. It is of special importance to B2B businesses. Here are some stats and facts to prove the fact:

  • Around 50% marketers specializing in B2B consider Thought Leadership an intrinsic part of content marketing strategy.
  • Besides search and peer recommendations, B2B buyers consume content from thought leaders when they have to make a purchase.
  • Becoming a thought leader is one of the primary goals of content marketing.

For companies, Thought Leadership is clearly the art of positioning themselves as market leaders and opinion makers. But it is easily said than done. Next sections will help you create Thought Leadership driven content marketing strategy for 2016.

Before Strategy, Let’s List Skills

Thought Leadership focused content marketing requires more insights and knowhow than regular marketing. In addition to in-depth understanding, one also needs various other skills to become a thought leader. Here are few of them:

  • Credibility – Thought leaders are accepted by customers as well as critics because they have proven their expertise over the years.
  • Influence – Thought leaders have vast following on multiple channels including publishing platforms and social media.
  • Unique perspective – Stories and opinions shared by thought leaders are like no other, and put forward distinctive angles.
  • Charisma – Most thought leaders also have magnetic personalities and traits like humor, wit and creativity.

Here are 4 traits of Thought Leadership content marketing from Danielle Capriato.

Tips & Ideas to Create Thought Leadership Strategy

Every organization wants to portray itself as a thought leader but the task can be demanding as well as tiring. I bring for you tips and ideas that will help you in creating superior content strategy that will establish you as a thought leader:

Answering unanswered questions – Customers have a lot of questions. While most marketers address the same questions again and again, thought leaders identify queries that haven’t yet got much deserved coverage. This can be accomplished through market research, data mining, and direct customer conversations. If unique questions are hard be find, then, thought leaders focus on perspectives.

Engagement and participation – Thought leaders realize that followers are the source of their influence. That’s why they always spare time to interact with their followers. Be it through social platforms or comment section, they never shy away from sharing their opinions and building personal relationships. This makes them approachable and hence influential.

Forever hungry – Thought leaders are never satiated when it comes to their reach. They are always looking for new platforms with fresh audience to share their opinions and thoughts. Guest blogging, media coverage, and also offline work is how they keep growing their popularity and follower base.

Repackaging – When you are competing with thousands of content creators and marketers, it sometimes become difficult to always come up with new ideas. This is why thought leaders are also repackaging specialists. While doing that, they don’t forget to give additional insights to their audience for retaining their authority.

Thought Leadership is bigger than Content Marketing but it is one of the outcomes of a solid Content Strategy. So, if you want to become a thought leader, then, taking a closer look at your content strategy in 2016 would be a great way to start. Also, it would be best to consult an experienced team of marketing strategists to get the perfect brand pitch and channels.

This was my personal take on Thought Leadership which obviously doesn’t cover its every aspect and detail. Tell me what else is critical for Thought Leadership in the comments section and let’s make this resource the go-to post for Thought Leadership insights!

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