Ask 10 marketers their definition of thought leadership content and you will likely receive 10 different answers ranging from SEO marketing to social storytelling and everything in between. Thought leadership has become such an industry buzzword that its meaning has been lost in the vortex of marketing jargon. The lack of shared understanding among marketers causes confusion, resulting in diluted content that fails to engage B2B buyers.
Today’s autodidactic consumer is empowered via the digital world to make decisions without engaging with a representative from your company, which is why true thought leadership remains paramount to the customer experience. Savvy buyers are less interested in your products and services than they are the unique approach and philosophical framework you bring to solving their problems.
To effectively shape the thinking of your customers and potential customers and to bring a consultative approach to problem-solving, thought leadership content must take an ownable stance with a clear and compelling point of view on the issues that are relevant to your business and to your customers’ businesses. This point of view must be founded in a clear, compelling and consistent story that conveys how your point of view is different, the value your perspective brings to solving your customers’ challenges in unique and innovative ways and in a tone that engages the reader in a dialogue and encourages further exploration of the ideas presented.
While thought leadership content should ultimately lead a prospective customer to engage your services or purchase your products, the goal of the content is twofold: to educate and expand your readers’ thinking on the subject matter and to elevate your business as a leader in the industry.
Thought leadership is strategic and requires an intentional process for achieving business goals — a process that includes clearly defined thought leadership positions that anchor all content development, persona profiles that define your customers’ challenges and pain points, as well as the macro storylines your strategically sequenced content ladders up to. To be truly effective, a thought leadership strategy must be documented to ensure the execution of the strategy is implemented as planned and the plan is measurable, scalable and repeatable.