What if I told you that the most precious and sought-after commodity in the world isn’t money? That it isn’t even something tangible?
Pretty radical, right? But the most valuable commodity in existence is information and knowledge. Information is something that everyone wants more of and no one can ever get enough of. Being in possession of information relevant to your field is your golden ticket to greatness. What you know, but your competitors don’t is what gives your business the competitive edge.
Content marketing has become such a ubiquitous and overused term that it’s often quite difficult to discern where the value ends and the baloney begins. But the concept of content marketing is actually built on one of the simplest principals in the world: give your customers something they value, something that solves their problems, and they’ll keep coming back.
If you’re out there solving real-world problems with your content, then you’re doing content marketing right.
For exactly this reason, it’s of fundamental importance that thought-leadership forms an integral part of your content marketing strategy.
What is thought-leadership content?
As the name suggests, thought-leadership content is any content that positions your brand as an authority or expert in a given field. Forbes gives the following two definitions for the term: “A thought leader is an individual or firm that prospects, clients, referral sources, intermediaries and even competitors recognize as one of the foremost authorities in selected areas of specialization, resulting in its being the go-to individual or organization for said expertise”.
Quite a mouthful, but it pretty much sums it up.
However, it’s the second part of the definition that is of particular interest to us as content marketers. Forbes goes on to say that a though leader is “an individual or firm that significantly profits from being recognized as such”.
If your brand is regarded as the go-to for expertise in a certain field, you already have a considerable advantage over the competition. In addition, it means that you have established two fundamental and indispensable relationship components with your customers: namely trust and rapport.
Below, I’ve listed some tips for establishing yourself as a thought leader in your area of specialization:
Start a blog
It may sound silly or presumptuous, but blogs are fast becoming the foremost repository of though-leadership content.
Think about it, where do you go when you want to gain knowledge of a specific subject? The information super highway that is the World Wide Web has not only made information easily accessible to consumers, but it has made it easier than ever before to establish yourself as a thought leader in your field. Hey, it worked for me, am I right? Moving swiftly along…
As it turns out, this isn’t just taking a screenshot of a blank word processing document and uploading it to your website. That would almost have been too easy.
Again, a whitepaper gives an individual or organization the opportunity to offer their opinion or advice on a certain matter and in so doing position themselves as an expert or authority on said matter.
My favorite definition comes courtesy of Investopedia: “A white paper is an informational document issued by a company to promote or highlight the features of a solution, product or service. White papers are sales and marketing documents used to entice or persuade potential customers to learn more about or purchase a particular product, service, technology or methodology.”
What’s important to note, however, is that a whitepaper is not an ad or a sales brochure, so try to write as objectively as possible, in a similar style to that of a press release.
Distribute an email newsletter
Newsletters represent a ridiculously simple means of communicating thought-leadership content to your customer-base. Put together useful tips, tutorials or opinion pieces that solve real problems related to your field. If you own a website, integrate it with a bulk email system such as Mailchimp to prompt visitors to your site to sign up for your newsletter.
Host a webinar
The webinar is another thought-leadership strategy that is rapidly growing in popularity and is producing some remarkable results.
For your webinar, talk about the latest innovations and developments in your field of interest, bring in other industry experts, discuss divergent opinions and, most importantly involve your audience by answering questions and gathering input.
While I strongly believe that thought-leadership is indispensable to content marketing, credibility and sincerity remain key. If you don’t feel that your brand has attained thought-leadership status as yet, spend the time doing research and fieldwork until you are comfortable enough to make such a claim. It’ll be so worth it.