What is thought leadership? Look it up and you get this definition: a type of content marketing where you tap into the talent, experience, and passion inside your business, or from your community, to consistently answer the biggest questions on the minds of your target audience on a particular topic. At IPB we put it
What is thought leadership? Look it up and you get this definition: a type of content marketing where you tap into the talent, experience, and passion inside your business, or from your community, to consistently answer the biggest questions on the minds of your target audience on a particular topic.
At IPB we put it even simpler: “sharing original thinking”.
What it certainly isn’t, is regurgitating someone else’s thoughts, rewording long established ideas or just a thinly veiled sales pitch.
Here are some basic rules for the foundations of any thought leadership piece, whether written, spoken or filmed.
Stick to a subject you know, inside and out – Thought leadership is about giving insight and you’d be surprised what you know about your subject when you put your mind to it. It is about putting forward an alternative perspective or idea that your audience won’t have thought of or won’t be able to find online
Be authoritative – This comes through knowing your subject. It makes your piece credible. Readers don’t want to hear from someone masquerading as an expert, they want the expert’s opinion. You should be aiming to ensure the reader takes away a gem of a quote and repeats it back to a colleague “I was reading a piece by an expert on …. And they said…..”
Stay relevant – Making your ideas and views relatable makes your piece so much more interesting. Use real examples to illustrate your points. It may be a problem you have solved through innovation or a piece of legislation you are measuring the impact of – talk the approach through and the end result.
Don’t exaggerate (avoiding overselling) – We’d all like to think of our work as unique, but it’s highly unlikely anything in your business or organisation really is. Be original instead. Original could be something new, derivative of earlier works or ideas. The term unique is a lazy term. If you are truly doing something different, then just explain what and it will resonate.
Ease off on the jargon and acronyms – Understand your audience. If you are aiming at a niche audience a smattering of acronyms can work, but if you are going beyond your sector don’t lose people through terms that they need Wikipedia to understand.
Press record – Thought leadership certainly does not need to be restricted to the written word. Video and podcasts are great ways of getting your ideas and approach out there – think of them as your very own TED talks. They don’t need to have Hollywood productions values, nor do they need to be epics.
Keep it punchy – Maximum impact in minimum time – that is not to say you limit yourself to a few paras or 30 seconds. You can still give depth and insight in around 400 or 500 words – and three or four minutes
And, on that point, we’ve reached our word limit. Don’t hesitate to get in touch if want to get your original thinking out there.
Here’s a few examples of great thought leadership – all written for their sectors