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Your Guide to Starting Thought Leadership Marketing

April 3, 2023   Posted By Laura Schreiber

How often do you hear, "you need to create thought leadership content" or "you need to position yourself and the company team as thought leaders"? Chances are a lot. From your marketing agency to online marketing articles, experts point to thought leadership as a way to make your company stand apart from the competition and accelerate the sales process.

But how do you do that? Where do you start? Here is a primer on thought leadership: what it means and how to start your company’s journey to a thought leader.

What is Thought Leadership?

First, let's define thought leadership. Thought leadership is creating content around your company colleagues' expertise in a certain industry, topic or field. For example, a CEO can provide insight into industry trends, future outlooks, and more through interviews, industry conference speeches, and white papers. An applications engineer can talk about new technology, standards, and even basic how-to information in application notes, blogs or webinars. Or, a seasoned sales representative can talk about the best techniques and solutions at a roundtable discussion or case study.

Positioning Yourself as an Industry Leader

First, build the base for your thought leadership marketing. Before jumping in, give yourself the foundation to make the most of the content to come.

  1. Build a profile. How robust is your expert’s LinkedIn profile? Have they attached any articles or blogs in the "featured" section? How many different industry groups are they part of? How about your company profile? Does it have their experiences and expertise on it?

  2. Start your plan. Starting small is fine. Not everyone is ready to get up on stage and give a presentation to 5000 people. We've helped everyone from the CEO who went on Bloomberg to the engineer who got a bylined article in a trade publication. So, let's start your plan where you'll best fit and at your comfort level.

Even better: Let us do a leadership audit on your company and your executives. You'll be amazed at how much leadership is in your company that you're not yet promoting. We can help your company with completing profiles, link building, and planning outreach efforts.

thought leadership marketing

Liftoff for thought leadership marketing

10 Thought Leadership Content Ideas

Here are ten thought leadership content ideas to get you started. Of course, you'll have to take into account what you are comfortable with – a large industry presentation, a pre-recorded podcast or a thought-out blog. You might have to push yourself a little, but it will be worth it.

  1. Blogs. Blogs have many uses, including SEO strategy, campaign content, and social media promotion. But you can also use the blogs for your thought leadership strategy. Ask your expert to write about something they are passionate and enthusiastic about. The byline can be directed to their profile on the company website or their LinkedIn profile. They can also attach the blog to your featured section or send it out to your prospects.

  2. Conference/event presentations. Don't skip over this too fast - you don't have to stand up in front of 1000 people. Many events have smaller forums and informative discussions. This is a great opportunity to give a presentation and get listed on an event schedule.

  3. Join the conversation. Monitor groups that relate to your industry on Facebook, LinkedIn, Quora, Reddit or any other social media platform. Ask your expert to join a discussion, give advice or ask a question. Social platforms are a great way to find out about trends and topics to write about.

  4. Create long-form content like a white paper or a Primer. This one is going to take some time and dedication, but if you're passionate about a topic or have a lot of knowledge, then this is for you. Ask what makes you excited to tell someone something about your job? What is it that they find fascinating about their field? What do they go out of their way to research or learn more about? The answers do most of the work.

  5. Webinars. Some webinars are roundtable discussion forums where your expert discusses a topic with peers. Others are flying solo, where you’re the expert. Remember to promote the webinar via email to your list. You can do webinars on your own, but we advise clients to sponsor a webinar with an industry publication. This builds thought leadership beyond your own list and brings in new contacts, which tend to be more qualified than other leads. Promote it on YouTube, your company's video library, an industry website, and social channels.

  6. Conduct a Q&A session. Ask the company representative who answers emails and the telephone to write down questions they hear, and go to town on creating great customer-focused FAQs! You can also have your SEO specialist find a list of PAA (People Also Ask) questions people search on in Google. Then, write your expert’s answers into a blog, a podcast or a webinar.

  7. Guest blogging. Many websites and publications have the opportunity for guest blogging. This is a great way to start building a reputation as an industry thought.

  8. Articles. Some trade publications and websites will accept contributed, bylined articles written by industry experts. An excellent place to start is through the different publications and media sites where your company advertises. You can also search for publications/sites that take submissions.

  9. Case studies. Hey, your company solved a problem - that's great. Write about it! Think about a challenging case and what were the creative solutions that only your team could think of to meet the needs of the customer. Was it logistics? Material acquisition? Staff shortage? Everyone loves case studies. They are clear examples of how your company succeeded and went the extra mile for your customers.

  10. Podcasts. There is a definite podcast audience, so use this to your advantage. Have an interesting angle, and people will listen. Many publications offer podcast opportunities. A PR professional can help you get an interview spot.

Even better: Let us help identify and schedule opportunities to showcase thought leadership. We know the editors, sales reps, and journalists at many different publications. Sometimes, they'll even come to us looking for a quote or an interview with a thought leader on a certain subject or item of interest. Learn more in our blog on media contacts. We can also help write any of the above or create the scripts and presentations.

Repurposing content as part of your thought leadership marketing

Here's the really cool part. You recall that recent presentation from your CEO? It's going to be everywhere. How? You're going to repurpose it so you can get it in front of your prospects - industry publications, websites, web search results, social media and more. You may not personally like all of these or use them yourself, but you want to be in front of your prospects wherever THEY are going for information. Depending on their habits, or even their generation, they may depend on networking, YouTube, Google or a daily review of Yahoo Finance for their information. So let's use one large piece to become multiple pieces of thought leadership content.

So now that presentation your CEO gave one time is instead going to be syndicated and re-purposed as a:

  • Webinar

  • Video

  • Blog

  • Press release

  • White paper

  • Thought leadership article

  • Infographic

Yes, even an infographic. Don't dismiss infographics right away. There are many different types of infographics these days, from graphic storytelling (great for case studies!) to interactive eBooks. Visual Capitalist has excellent examples of business/financial infographics.

Even better: Offer valuable information for which prospects will trade their contact information. White papers and webinars are great examples of "gated" assets that prospects will fill out a form to receive. Now you have a contact database you can use for other marketing efforts.

thought leadership content

 Repurpose one piece of thought leadership content across many different platforms.

Getting the team behind the Thought Leadership Brand

We've all worked with an executive team that was hesitant or downright reluctant to do any of our 10 thought leadership ideas above.

How to get the executive team's buy-in? One good way is to tell them why thought leadership and the following content is essential to your growth strategy.

  • Thought leadership builds credibility, transparency and trust.

  • The average prospect will read 5-7 pieces of content before they reach out for a consultation.

  • More and more people are doing their own passive searches to get their information.

  • Content on your website will help SEO efforts and lead generation.

Even better: Every marketing team has had trouble scheduling time with an executive team member. We get it, they're super busy, and their schedules are filled with appointments. Here are a couple of ways we can help.

  1. Schedule a 30-minute meeting. If there isn't a PPT presentation or conference speech available, all hope is not lost. A 30-minute Zoom meeting will give us their expertise and experience, which we'll supplement with industry research.

  2. Talk with your sales representative. Good salespeople love to talk, and they love to promote themselves. This is where case studies will most likely come from and will be turned into blogs, infographics and social media postings. After getting enough case studies, we can create a resource guide that will add to lead generation efforts.

And if your case studies involve technical products and services, don't worry. One of our specialties at GGC is marketing to engineers with technical copy.

Ready to start your thought leadership marketing strategy? Schedule an appointment with Goldstein Group Communications, and let's talk about potential thought leadership marketing and how we can help you get there.

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