Much is written about content marketing and thought leadership marketing, but they are not the same. The simple and the critical difference is in one word: insight.
Content marketing is about engaging content, thought leadership is about insights. The more useful and critical the insights, the better the thought leadership positioning in the market.
There are multiple ways that a brand can differentiate itself through thought leadership. For example, Forbes points to a survey that shows that business customers and high-value individuals are demanding advisory and educative insights as part of the sales experience. And the most effective, long-term strategy for this is to stand out from the clutter and provide thought leadership through fresh insights.
So how do you become a thought leader? Here are 7 simple ways to start:
1. Read more
You heard it right. Reading is important. “Evidence suggests reading can improve intelligence and lead to innovation and insight . . . Reading — whether Wikipedia, Michael Lewis, or Aristotle — is one of the quickest ways to acquire and assimilate new information. Many business people claim that reading across fields is good for creativity.” Make sure you and your team read established journals, publications and online platforms. They offer studies and insights which might be quite useful for your own business.
2. Share fresh insights on social media
Make sure that insights you share on social media platforms are relevant and useful. Some of it might be sourced from other publications, but connect it to your experiences and your customer’s needs. Provide value on social media, not just a rehashed version of old insight.
3. Become a storyteller
4. Leverage message sharing opportunities
Look to internal and external forums like tweet chats, events, conferences, trade shows and other platforms to share your company’s vision and brand message. Speak about what you want to be known for first and back it up with stories. You can even send interesting thought leadership newsletters to subscribers to add value and spark insightful conversations.
5. Be controversial and consistent
How do you stand out if your opinions are the same as everyone else’s? Controversy can be beneficial when backed up with facts, but be constant about the core message you want to convey.
6. Create and distribute quality content
A great way to build thought leadership is to reach an audience outside of your core customers and brand advocates. Identify targeted and high value websites where a) your target audience hangs out and b) industry conversations are prevalent. If they accept guest posts, create quality content of value and submit it. Also, public plenty of content on your website itself which can be referenced and receive backlinks.
Establishing thought leadership in a cluttered online environment can seem tricky, but if you are smart and follow some of the steps listed above well, becoming one might not not be as hard as it looks.
This article has been edited and condensed.
Sukanya Samy is a marketing professional; formerly head of thought leadership marketing at Wipro. She is an avid blogger and a published author on World Economic Forum, Women’s Web and others. Marketing, movies and sustainability are some of the areas she frequently writes on and words are her passion – she has the ability to see patterns, express them in writing and has been doing that since childhood. Connect with @sukanyasamy on Twitter.
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