Arguably, every piece of content you create should involve some form of thought leadership – otherwise what’s the point? You’re simply regurgitating someone else’s work.

The best place to start is to consider WHY you want demonstrate thought leadership in the first place. Perhaps you have a new technology you want to showcase, or a new use for something that already exists…

Or maybe your brand is all about challenging the status quo and you want to disrupt the market by disproving something that others hold to be true, or placing enough doubt in someone’s mind that it forces them to consider an alternative point of view…

Some companies are dedicated to educating their market, investing in new research and studies to further the learning of their peers…

While others want to help by sharing their skills knowledge and expertise.

Traditionally, I was taught that thought leadership content needs to involve new research that no-one’s ever seen before. But experience has taught me that while new research is good, there’s other information that’s equally valuable.

When you hired your team, you offered roles to some pretty clever people. It’s why your clients pay you – for their skills, knowledge and experience.

The insights that your subject matter experts can share are equally valuable to the insights derived from a statistically valid sample in any piece of research. In fact, there are occasions where their insights are more important, particularly when it comes to sharing lessons learned to help others avoid the same pitfalls.

Once you’ve got your ‘why’, the format for your thought leadership content becomes a lot easier to determine:


White papers

The jewel of thought leadership, white papers are viewed as the ultimate authority content. Out to explore a specific problem in depth, it shares recommendations on how to tackle the issue alongside research and real-world examples to build a well-rounded argument.

82% of B2B buyers use white papers to help them make decisions.


Guides

Guides provide your audience with practical guidance on things they can do in their business today. Often structured in a ‘how to’, ‘step-by-step’ or ‘Q&A’ format, they succinctly provide context, clearly identify what organisations need to do to move past a challenge, or take advantage of a new opportunity.

69% of execs turn to corporate content, rather than traditional media sources, for practical solutions to their business challenges.


Reports

Focused on primary research that you’ve performed yourself (perhaps through a survey or roundtable), reports are an important way of distilling the data down into lessons learned and then actionable insights your audience can apply to their business today.

Research reports are the third most preferred format for thought leadership content by senior execs, behind blogs and print magazines.


Case studies

The most powerful type of content you can share are client stories – real-life examples of the work you’ve performed but told through your client’s words. A third-party endorsement will always come across as far more credible than you simply telling the world why you’re amazing.

63% of B2B buyers read at least one case study during their research.


Blogging

And of course, blogging has its place too.

A far leaner and informal asset, blogs are an effective and timely way to share an opinion quickly, comment on the latest trends and get across the key facts that hook people in to want to find out more.

Marketers who prioritise blogging receive 67% more leads than those that do not.


You can’t go wrong with thought leadership content

Granted, I’m biased but:

If you’re serious about creating a strong brand – you need to invest in thought leadership content…

If you’re looking to engage your audience by educating them on your specialist subject – you need to invest in thought leadership content…

It you want to build trust with your target audience – you need to invest in thought leadership content…

Many organisations are taking the coming weeks/months to re-evaluate their offering and positioning. With that in mind, what better way to communicate what the ‘new normal’ looks like so that when we’re released back into the world, you’re perfectly positioned to help your customers?

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