Steve Jobs, Richard Branson, Mark Zuckerberg, Bill Gates – names like these pop up as leadership role models for each next wave of visionaries. And whilst we need such inspirational folk, leadership is a generic concept and seen on many levels. SMEs, for example, find thought leadership content an excellent way to keep in touch with their customers as well as being an effective way to start industry conversations.
So, what does thought leadership content look like? Well, it doesn’t have to be long (remember, time is precious for everyone these days), but it does have to be clear. Your piece needs to persuade your readers that you have a very good understanding of your chosen subject or issue and that you have either a viable solution or a message that needs to be heard.
Alternatively, you may want to use thought leadership as a way to call for industry collaboration on a pressing problem. Yet again, it may simply be your thoughts on future trends and what your industry needs to do to be ready for what you believe will happen.
Thought leadership can take on a number of formats, including:
This is where you’re putting your case forward from a specific viewpoint. You’re identifying an issue and recommending a solution.
Such as LinkedIn posts or longer blog articles are a great way to share your thinking and views.
A monthly piece commenting on your industry, including latest developments, the effects of any changes to the law, market trends and so on is a great way to be seen as a leader in your field. Of course, you can link from your newsletter to the most recent thought leadership piece on your website.
These require a bit more effort to put together, but they’re very effective and encourage active participation. They’re also an excellent way to use graphics and data that could otherwise be hard to digest if simply sent out in written form.
No matter what format you choose, one of the key things to remember is that thought leadership isn’t advertising; it isn’t about spruiking your brand or your products and services, although recipients certainly will know that it’s generated by your business. It’s more about becoming an increasingly recognised voice that positions you as someone worth listening to.