Content marketing has gone through multiple waves and trends. From keyword stuffing and informative content, to guides and how-to’s, companies and products are constantly experimenting with different ways of filling their content marketing strategies. Of course, it is true that your content format very much depends on your audience, your product, and your service. If you are creating content aimed at generating traffic to your your SaaS product, that content is going to take on a different format to an educational institution seeking to attract prospective students to apply to their courses. However – there is one quality which every piece of successful content needs to reflect: thought leadership.
What is Thought Leadership?
Marketing Insider Group defines thought leadership as the act of tapping into “the talent, experience, and passion inside your business, or from your community, to consistently answer the biggest questions on the minds of your target audience, on a particular topic.”
In the context of content marketing and thought leadership in business, this translates to showing how you are the experts in your niche, and answering the questions your audience needs answered.
Why is Thought Leadership Important?
It all goes back to the psychology and driving force behind content marketing. Your blog, for example, provides an audience with valuable information – for free. When a user Googles a question or a query, the articles and search results are generated free of charge.
Thought leadership content is therefore important for two purposes. It educates and provides useful, helpful information to your audience, and it helps you to grow your brand.
Thought Leadership Content: Top 3 Examples
One thing’s for sure – leveraging thought leadership as a means of growing your business through content means you’re going to have to get creative with your marketing. Expertise in your field can manifest itself in many ways. Here are 3 examples of amazing ways by which you can express your thought leadership, and increase ROI, reputation, and customer loyalty in the long run.
1. Free Courses
A great way of showing your thought leadership in a certain field, is by creating a free course based around the product you are selling, or the industry you specialise in. This is especially relevant for companies in the IT, marketing, business, and creative sectors.
Google offers multiple free courses, as does IBM, Hubspot, Salesforce, Dell, and Udemy. These companies also offer paid courses, and customers are more likely to purchase these once they have had a “taster” of their thought leadership through free courses.
In turn, your customers are also more likely to look closer into purchasing your paid products, if they have already had a good experience with your brand and content through free courses. They are then more likely to recommend them then to a friend, and your company’s name will be more firmly established in their mind.
You will have opportunities during the course to impress your brand, and of course collect users’ emails in return, so you can keep in touch through your newsletter about future campaigns. This is very important for both expanding your customer base and monitoring your future marketing efforts.
2. Opinion Pieces on Trending Issues
You need to be able to respond immediately to breaking trends and news within your industry. If you’re providing relevant opinion pieces and reports on trending issues, and keeping your customers up to date in the process through email and on social media, this proves you are a thought leader in your area.
A great and easy way to stay on top of the latest news in by using Google Alerts. Find out how to make the most of Google Alerts (inbed link to Google alerts article) so that when something newsworthy crops up, your team can jump on it straight away.
Always try and include some thought leadership advice in your response. When GDPR was introduced, for example, many businesses felt as if they were flailing around in the dark. If GDPR is is your niche, a great way to portray thought leadership was to respond immediately with informative content, whether on your blog, monthly newsletter, or social media channels.
3. Content Hubs
Content hubs are like company blogs – except bigger. And better. There is no greater way of portraying your brand or company’s thought leadership and expertise than by creating and building a content hub.
So what exactly is a content hub? Let’s take Capital One and Ideo, for example. In an effort to stand out from the competition, Capital One started Capital Ideas, and Ideo created Ideo Stories. Smaller than a website, and bigger than a blog, Neil Patel defines a content hub as “a destination where website visitors can find branded, curated, social media, user generated, or any type of content related to a topic.”
What can you include in your content hub? The possibilities are endless, and are often determined by the type of content your audience prefers to engage with.
Articles, reports, blog posts – these formats are usually text-heavy, perfect for an Exec’s quick morning read over coffee at the office, or to flick through during the commute home. Interviews, infographics, videos, and shorter snippets are more suited for instant information and quick communication.
Interviews are an especially great way of communicating subject expertise on your content hub, if you manage to feature specialists. Interviews are often easier to digest than long form content, so make sure to strike a balance!
And don’t forget to have a nice, big, fat CTA (call-to-action) to sign up for your content hub’s newsletter, too – that way you can make sure your top thought leadership pieces reach the eyes of those who need them the most!
Top Tip: Enhance your thought leadership with supporting graphics, images, video, and gifs. Make it engaging and well formatted. If you are designing a course, make sure the UX and user flow is on point and seamless. No matter how smart your content is, if it’s clunky and illegible, then users aren’t going to be overly keen to read it.
Always remember that content needs to be useful and impactful in order for it to qualify as thought leadership!