6003136440_58a82b8656_mBack before “content marketing” became the buzz word of the decade, “thought leader” was tossed around with pretty fair regularity. The idea was that your content would help establish you as the “go-to” resource in your industry. If someone had a question, they would eventually come to rely on your blog posts, your e-newsletters, or your webinars to learn more. As your company’s credibility increased, so the logic went, so would your sales. After all, people want to buy from companies that are on the up and up.

There are a few pitfalls that are involved with this type of strategy, unfortunately, and those pitfalls can have long-lasting ramifications. Our tips will help you avoid those!

1. Have a plan, complete with objectives

You’re probably tired of hearing this from us, but yes, even when you are planning to infuse your content with educational tidbits, a plan complete with objectives is of the utmost importance. There are several reasons for this. First, the temptation can be great to put all of your knowledge into the first couple of blog posts or e-newsletters and then you run out of steam a few posts or e-newsletters into your campaign. Additionally, you need to have realistic expectations for what this type of campaign will do for your company. Are you adding educational content because you want to nurture existing customer relationships? How will you measure that? These things all need to be considered before you get started.

2. Consider carefully how your audience wants to receive your content

Sometimes simply sending out a survey is the best way to find this out for sure. Creating educational content can be time-consuming and challenging, so you want to make sure that it actually benefits your customers and prospects. If your audience tends to be on the go, sending out your content via very long blog posts may not be the best thing. They might rather tune in to a webinar while they wait for their plane or read your white paper in between meetings. Find out how they want to hear from you and then show that you were really listening!

3. Make sure to include objective, third-party information

Content based on your experience is great, especially for something like an FAQ page. However, if educational content is truly your goal, and if you want to position yourself as, dare we say it, a thought leader, your information can’t all come from you. You need to be open to quoting other sources (maybe even on occasion a competitor). The more diverse your sources are and the more often you defer to objective third parties, the more credible you will seem.

4. Speaking of credibility, tag team with other thought leaders

Most industries can claim people who are unequivocal experts in that arena. In the healthcare industry there are clinicians, nurses, and physicians. In the manufacturing industry there are experienced engineers or operators who have been in the business for decades. Don’t be afraid to reach out to these people. Of course the ideal situation is to find a highly respected expert who also loves your product. Then their credibility can extend to your company as well.

5. Don’t give away the store

Even though you want to be predominantly objective, don’t forget to remind people that all of that education should inspire them to want to buy your products. It’s very easy to fall into the trap of being so objective that you don’t even mention your products. That can result in you educating people to ask your competitors about their products. Always be sure to incorporate a soft sell to tie the loose ends together. You’re the expert, but you also happen to have some great products to sell.

Using educational content can truly boost your marketing and/or PR campaign, but as with all things, you need to put some thought into it on the front end.

If you have any questions just let us know! We’ll be happy to help.

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