The other day I published a post on social media about thought leadership content and after doing a quick poll of my audience, I realized something: quite a lot of you have no idea what I’m talking about.
So what the heck is thought leadership, anyway?
Well, you could say that there are two types of professionals in this world.
Those who attend conferences… and those who speak at them.
Those who read articles about trending topics in their industry… and those who are interviewed for them.
Those who listen to industry podcasts and those who are featured on them.
The first category is your typical professional. They may be doing good work and climbing up the corporate ladder, but they’re not being tapped for career-accelerating opportunities like public speaking, media features, and podcast interviews.
The second type of professional is the thought leader. These are professionals who’ve reached ‘expert’ status in their careers. They’re seen as authorities in their particular fields and are often sought out for their opinions, expertise, and unique point of view.
And I think I can take a pretty good guess that if you’re reading this, you wanna be in column B.
Of course, achieving thought leadership is no easy feat. It’s what separates people like Gary Vaynerchuk and Neil Patel from all the other entrepreneurs and marketing experts out there. But it takes time to reach a point in your career where people see you as a trusted expert. However, the keyword in that sentence is ‘see’.
If you want to become a thought leader, you need to be visible and these days, that means showing up online and on social media. If people can’t find you, then it can be a lot harder for them to notice your work and reach out to you for opportunities.
Enter: thought leadership content.
Why is thought leadership content important?
Picture this: you’re a mid-level professional at a corporation and you have to create a presentation for your department.
This is a pretty big deal. You’ve never gotten this kind of opportunity before so you pour your heart and soul into this project. The day comes, you give your presentation, and you feel pretty damn accomplished. But your work’s impact is limited to the people in the room. Maybe your colleagues might remember how great it was and pat you on the back, but that’s about it.
But what if you put that presentation online?
Now, your work could potentially impact hundreds or thousands of people. And chances are, a few of those people might work in media, at conferences, have podcasts … you get the idea.
This is one of the biggest benefits of thought leadership content: exposure. The more high-value information you put out, the more people will begin to associate you with a particular pain point or market.
It can also help you build trust with your readership. When other people see that you’re knowledgeable and capable, you earn their respect and attention. That can lead to partnerships, referrals, and even greater exposure.
If you’re a business owner, thought leadership content can help you meet your customers where they are. Depending on where they are in the customer journey, consumers will have different questions that need answering. If you can show up in front of them with helpful, educational content, then it will show your prospects and leads that you understand them and present your company as a solid option to invest in.
Last but certainly not least, it’s a great way to help your audience get to know you and your business a little better. If you’re consistently showing up online, then you’ll be top-of-mind for them when they’re ready to buy.
What makes great thought leadership content?
1. Know your stuff
Any content you produce needs to be based on real-deal industry knowledge. This is an absolute must. Think about the things you know that could be helpful to others, and use anecdotes from your career to reinforce your expertise.
2. Have a point of view
The best thought leadership content has a clear tone and voice. There is so much information available online so if you want people to come to you specifically, you need to make it compelling. You can do this by coupling your expertise with a unique perspective and style.
3. Focus on education, not sales
The goal of thought leadership content isn’t to get people to buy your product or service. But just because it isn’t sales-y doesn’t mean it can’t drive sales. Sound like an oxymoron? It’s not. You see, the goal of thought leadership content is to get people to see you as an expert. And I don’t know about you, but I would much rather work with and buy from a credible professional who knows what they’re doing than someone who’s pushy and looking to make a quick buck.
4. Understand your audience’s pain points
For your content to be useful to your audience, it needs to solve their problems. Which means you need to know what those problems are and how they’re impacting their lives. For example, as a content marketing consultant, I know that many people could benefit from thought leadership content, but as with any purchase, they need to feel confident that their investment will deliver results. So I serve up testimonials and educational blog posts like this very one you’re reading (woah, meta) to illustrate the value of this type of offering.
5. Avoid jargon like the plague
“But I’m speaking to a technical audience,” you might say. Nope. Doesn’t matter. Repeat after me: jargon is boring. With thought leadership content, you want to be as clear and direct as possible. Begone, business-speak.
6. Have a goal in mind
Do you want more speaking engagements? Media features? Educate your audience about your service offering? Thought leadership content can get you there, but you must know what you want to get out of it before you open up that fresh Google doc. Not only does this allow you to be strategic about the kind of topics you cover, but it also allows you to measure the impact of your efforts.
Case in point: since I use thought leadership content to market my business, I track the number of inquiries I get and how many posts I publish every week to determine if there’s a clear correlation between my efforts and the results. Spoiler alert: there is.
Now before I wrap this blog post up, I have a question for you: what’s holding you back from creating thought leadership content?
Because if you’ve made it to the end of this post and you’re thinking, ‘Dang, Jasmine knows what she’s talking about. Maybe I should get her to help me out with my content,’ then you, my friend, are literal proof that thought leadership content works.
And I’m always ready to help incredible founders, consultants and professionals create stand-out thought leadership content to boost their personal and professional brands.
If that’s you, click that button below, and let’s chat.