Thought Leadership Marketing Strategy in 2023
Thought leadership marketing—the practice of positioning your company as an industry leader by creating and distributing expert content—is extremely powerful. There are significant benefits to adopting a thought leadership approach:
- Attract talent: Industry leaders have the benefit of pulling from the most skilled applicant pools because of their reputation.
- Increase press exposure: Offering original research and insights into a market makes your content attractive to journalists, generating media attention, increasing brand recognition, and supplementing your organic marketing efforts.
- Lower customer acquisition costs: Being known as a thought leader attracts audiences to your website and social media channels, and the links your content attracts will compound the effectiveness of your SEO efforts. Utilizing organic channels like thought leadership and SEO for lead generation drives down cost per lead, lowering your customer acquisition costs.
- Earn new clients and speaking opportunities: Industry leaders have more opportunities to partner with other high profile companies and consultants. Your experts will also become sought after keynote speakers at industry events.
To help you make effective use of thought leadership, this guide outlines how to craft a personalized strategy and create effective content.
Identify Your Thought Leadership’s Target Audience
While you may be tempted to base your thought leadership strategy on your foremost area of expertise, it’s more important to know what your target audience of customers is seeking. (There will no doubt be an overlap.) You should begin by determining your audience, paying particular attention to high level decision makers at your customers’ companies.
To identify your target audience, look at existing clients and note commonalities, particularly in decision makers. Ask:
- Are your clients mostly in the same industry?
- Are they in similar positions in their company—entry-level, middle management, or executive?
- Do they face similar challenges in their position that your product or service helps with?
These questions will define the direction of your thought leadership content. Once you’ve answered them, the next step is to get more granular, identifying different profiles within your target audience via customer personas. Personas are descriptions of archetypal individuals that represents the values and needs of your target audience.
Here’s an example of one such persona:
Armed with personas for your audience, your content team can create new pages geared specifically toward their problems & desires. For example, Jenna likely would be impressed by reports on the expected ROI of popular marketing channels commonly used by the engineering industry.
When you know who you’re targeting, it’s time to produce the thought leadership content itself.
Create Insightful, Original Thought Leadership Content
The core of thought leadership marketing is great content. Your articles must provide readers with deeper insights than others in the industry do. These insights are what attract readers to your page and what keeps them coming back in the future. Effective thought leadership must be:
- Succinct: In addition to providing insights, your content should provide them quickly. Doing so signals that you respect your audience’s time and know what you’re talking about.
- Original: Your ideas should feel unique and not remind readers of ideas they’ve encountered elsewhere.
- Engaging: Using skimmable elements in written content such as lists, tables, and graphs keeps the content feeling dynamic and interesting.
- Actionable: Provide your audience with clear next steps to learn more about a topic or solve their problem.
As a note, thought leadership is meant to be educational and shouldn’t include explicit sales copy. However, placing a subtle mention of your firm in the midst of an article or a CTA at the end of a piece of content is acceptable.
Distribute Thought Leadership on the Right Marketing Channels
With your content created, the next step is to ensure people see it. The most effective thought leadership marketing channels are listed in the table below.
Excellent reach and helps establish your reputation as a thought leader.
|Time confusing and requires a specialized team.
Requires content crafted with SEO in mind.
|Public Speaking||Reputation||Provides an in-person connection with your audience.
High profile events add greatly to your reputation as a thought leader.
|Requires a skilled speaker and existing prestige to book high-profile events.|
|PPC||Distribution||Excellent reach and immediate results.||Poor long term ROI due to expense.
Content behind ads is seen as much less trustworthy.
|Webinars||Content||Provides an in-person connection over a longer period than other channels.
Allows for efficient content repurposing.
|Difficult to draw in a crowd and requires use of other channels to promote the webinar.|
|Podcasts||Content||Can reach an audience that is engaged in other activities.||Saturated market, with high competition for attention.
Requires a charismatic personality in addition to an industry expertise.
|Distribution||Relatively inexpensive when repackaging content.||Takes time to build effective mailing lists.|
|LinkedIn Organic||Distribution||Baked in audience of business-minded professionals.||Takes time to build traction on social media|
The relationship between thought leadership and SEO is worth exploring further. SEO is an exceptionally high ROI channel, but only when executed correctly. Proper SEO execution combines thought leadership content with the processes of SEO, particularly search intent analysis and the Hub & Spoke content organization model.
Implementing Your Own Thought Leadership Marketing Strategy
Carrying out an effective thought leadership marketing strategy requires a substantial amount of time, energy, and resources. In addition, teams unfamiliar with the best practices of digital thought leadership can make mistakes that hamper the value of the investment.
As a result, many companies choose to work with an experienced partner to manage their thought leadership marketing. Our agency pioneered the practice of combining thought leadership marketing with SEO and will not just organize your team but ghostwrite the content itself. Feel free to contact us if you’d like to learn more about working together.