Thought leadership.

What it is and why you should be using it in your digital marketing

Thought Leadership may bring up images of evil scientists carrying out mind control experiments, and as a term, I always feel a little silly using it in client meetings, but Thought Leadership is a powerful tool to keep in your digital marketing arsenal.

In very simple terms, Thought Leadership is the process by which you leverage yourself (or your company) as an expert and authority within your industry. The goal of thought leadership marketing is not to create sales heavy content, but to provide an entry point to your business by branding yourself as an expert. There are still opportunities to highlight your product or service, but first and foremost you want to be viewed as knowledgeable and importantly, willing to help.

How do we use it in digital marketing?

Well, firstly you need to identify the questions your target Demographic or audience is asking. Once you have the questions, you can then build your TL marketing strategy around the answers to those questions. Generally speaking, when someone is looking for the answer to a question, more often than not, they’ll type that question, or a string of words similar to that question, directly into Google.

Once you have your question you can begin crafting your content in such a way as to answer them in the best way possible. A good place to start is to consider what problem your product or service solves for your target audience.

Let’s look at a Thought Leadership example in action.

We have a building client who specialises in building extensions in Hertfordshire and Bedfordshire. They’ve been in the industry for roughly 10 years and have noticed it getting increasingly competitive recently. They’re experts in getting their clients plans through the planning permission process and work closely with architects to ensure that this happens, ensuring all relevant specifications are adhered to etc.

The planning process can be a tricky one, and failing to get planning permission can mean going back to the drawing board and reapplying multiple times before the local planners are satisfied. All of which costs money, time and hassle – which puts a lot of people off.

Our client is/has:

  • An expert with many years experience.
  • Built over 20 loft conversions and 50 extensions
  • Significant experience working with the local planners
  • A significant amount of happy customers

Our first task was to define the questions that their target audience were asking. So rather than start with Keyword planner and other online tools, we sent an email to the clients they have worked with in the last 3 years, with a questionnaire. Once we had the results we looked through and found the top 5 clients who most matched our clients preferred client type – young professional couples, who were cash rich and time poor (our client does high specification work).

With these results, we began crafting content that best answered their questions. Which revolved around planning difficulties, luxury extensions, best use of space and low-impact building work. We were able to write a series of blog posts that leveraged our client’s planning expertise, filled with useful information and linking to trusted architect partners. The copy refrained from being overtly salesy but linked to our client’s most recent projects at several points in the article.

The results were excellent. Our client was leveraged into a position of ‘trusted expert’ in the local area and they have a steady stream of work.

One of the key takeaway points is that thought Leadership marketing is an ongoing process. In order to get the best from it, you need to keep doing it to build on your results. In the case of the builder, they continue to create articles addressing planning issues in the area and presenting case studies of their work with in-depth information about the build process.

Going beyond the company blog.

One of the great things about well written, engaging TL copy is that it can be shared across multiple channels and isn’t just restricted to the company blog. Social Media is TL’s best friend. By sharing engaging, well-written content and providing value on an SM channel like Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn or even a niche forum community you are answering timely questions and showing people your company is an expert in the industry, and there to help.