20 May The Power of Thought Leadership Content
We’re naturally circumspect in dealing with salespeople; we know they often have motives beyond just helping us make up our minds. Presumably, we have more reason to trust the engineers of a product, those with intimate knowledge of a product. But knowing how a product works, and knowing how best to communicate that fact aren’t the same. As an organization grows, the tasks of making a thing and marketing a thing necessarily diverge. How do we continue crafting effective messages when that happens?
The key is managing the audience’s emotional reaction to your story. Sales-speak puts people on the defensive, and overcoming the trust gap can take time. Meanwhile, meticulous adherence to technical specifications is too dry an approach, only exciting consumers who are already excited. What either style lacks is information that is both inspiring and useful. The strategy that corrects these deficiencies is called Thought Leadership.
In thought leadership, education rather than selling is the aim. This content can take the form of blog posts, trade articles, interviews, or instructional videos, as long as it is informative and relevant to the audience. The topics covered by this authoritative content can focus on a very specific feature of a class of products, or take a big-picture look at an industry, but the information has to be novel and professionally presented. The primary goal is to build a case that you and your organization are the experts in your field. Everything else being equal, people prefer to buy from an expert.
Traditional marketing means being able to opine on your own product, but why should that impress a consumer? Thought leadership requires proving your mastery and understanding of an entire industry’s past, present, and future, both locally and globally. If this sounds like a tall order, it ought to, but the results are worth it. The sales bump from an advertising campaign is fleeting, but the loyalty you build by positioning yourself as an authority can be the foundation of incredibly durable customer relationships.
In addition, thought leadership content is an eminently shareable format. Consumers and bloggers don’t like posting links to blatant advertisements, but they will promote interesting, controversial, or funny articles and high quality content. Similar social motivations affect how people converse with one another. Everyone likes to appear knowledgeable in front of friends. If the authoritative content you put out facilitates this kind of positive social experience, those sharers will continue seeking out your content, and eventually your services.
Thought leadership marketing also opens up avenues for greater strategic partnerships. As you become recognized for your expertise, you will be called upon to give more interviews to the general public and presentations to others in your field. This is the kind of PR that’s hard to buy but yields fruitful business leads and opportunities. In the same way that people prefer to buy from experts, they prefer to work with them, too.
More than just a marketing tool, it is worth developing thought leadership content even just for your own benefit. Forcing yourself to think about the concepts that lead to success will help solidify them in your own mind and propel your organization forward.