Establishing Thought Leadership

We talked in our last post about the need to invest quality time if you want your company to be seen as a thought leader. But what about the quality of the content required to achieve that? What should you do and shouldn’t you do?

Thought leaders are happy to share their insight and their expert perspective. So you always want to make sure what you are delivering to your customers, potential customers, and other fans is worth their time.

What you say doesn’t have to be profound, or put forth a unique idea (although that’s great if you can manage it). But as a baseline, it needs to educate, to inform, and to demonstrate to people that you and your company really know what you’re talking about. That builds trust, and customers happily buy from companies they trust.

For example, you might discuss a technology trend or regulatory trend in your industry. What does this trend mean to the people reading your thoughts? What issues should they consider as they form an opinion about these developments? It is best to provide at least a little balance in what you say, but if you have strong opinions, state them.

Providing balance shows you understand both sides of an issue, and helps to sway those who may not initially agree with you, since they see you’re not totally dismissing their point of view.

What shouldn’t you do? Promotion. Not company promotion nor self-promotion. Humility is always a positive, letting your expertise speak for itself. And do think carefully before ever letting one of your salespeople author a thought leadership piece. But if that happens, review it carefully. Salespeople are wonderful folks, but their orientation is typically toward pushing a product or a service, not a broad perspective.

Thought leaders don’t have to overtly sell things in their writing. By the sheer force of their personality, their persuasive arguments, and their valuable perspective, they establish themselves as experts. And if you’re an expert, customers like me are certainly more inclined to want to take a close look at your products – without having to be sold on them.

Promotion in a thought leadership piece is the equivalent of a nagging, irritating pop-up ad. Or an internet troll. It really ruins the mood.

We have worked with numerous clients in their thought leadership initiatives, and have seen the benefits that it can yield. Done right, it is well worth the effort.