Content Marketing Insights

Don't follow the leader be the leader: Why thought leadership is important

Don't follow the leader be the leader: Why thought leadership is important
A man on a mountain with a flag look out towards a sunset

Content creation has undergone a seismic shift. The rise of artificial intelligence has ushered in an era where content can be generated at a scale and speed never seen before.

Everything from news articles and social posts to marketing copy can now be produced with the click of a button. The sheer amount of content being unleashed on audiences is staggering; the quality in many cases, not so much.

A report from Hubspot found that just under half of marketers were using generative AI to create content (although just 5 percent use it to write copy entirely from scratch). Hubspot also found that 75 percent of marketers said generative AI helps them create more content than they would without it.

Inherent in AI-generated content is the fact that it often relies on existing data and information, which can lead to key points being simply reiterated, diminishing the value it presents to audiences looking for true insights.

That’s why we believe thought leadership content is growing in importance.

Thought leadership content, crafted by seasoned experts who offer deep insights, unique perspectives, and genuine expertise, will stand out with its authenticity and credibility. 

While AI can churn out vast amounts of text, it often lacks the nuanced understanding and personal touch that thought leaders bring to the table.

In a world where information is abundant but genuine insights can be hard to find, thought leadership content not only cuts through the noise but also builds trust and authority.

In a saturated and crowded market, we believe that thought leadership is the most important tool you can use as a B2B company to stand out. 

Don’t follow the leader, be the leader.

A key differentiator

But don’t just take our word for it.

According to research conducted by FT Longitude, one of the leading agencies in thought leadership content production, 75 percent of C-suite executives say that branded content improved their perception of the brand's ability to meet their needs. Seventy-six percent of C-suite executives say high-quality branded content helps them make better decisions.

Thought leadership works because it uses a distinctive, authentic perspective to establish trust and authority with your audience that leads to changes in perception or behavior.

By using thought leadership, you can position your organization as a leading authority in your field. It involves creating high-quality content that addresses your target audience’s pain points and aspirations, fostering a loyal audience that sees you as an indispensable source of wisdom and guidance.

In a crowded market, thought leadership can be a key differentiator. If potential customers find your thought leadership content interesting, it creates a lasting impression, making them think of you in the future.

Beyond mere differentiation, thought leadership is also crucial for brand building. Even if you’re within the B2B space, you should recognize the importance of brand as a valuable asset.

Thought leadership helps build a brand around key areas that you want to be known for. It creates associations between your brand and the messages you want to communicate to your audience.

Address problems and provide insights

Great thought leadership must be distinctive and aligned with the brand.

For example, in the banking sector, many banks produce similar market outlooks and forecasts. They might call it thought leadership, but if it’s indistinguishable from competitors’ content, it doesn’t truly qualify.

At the same time, it’s important to focus on the audience’s needs rather than the company’s message.

One hallmark of effective thought leadership is that it addresses the audience's problems and provides genuine insights. It's not about communicating what the company wants to say, but about solving the audience's problems.

To achieve this, great thought leadership requires input from across the organization and must have a clear marketing and communications rationale. It's not just an academic exercise but a crucial part of brand building.

There are five aspects to keep in mind if you want to make good thought leadership content:

1. Make it visual

Make it insightful, readable, and digital. Infographics are one of the top three preferred types of thought leadership among audiences. Good infographics are a concise way of getting a message across.

2. Make it relevant

73 percent of business leaders say they want content that is specific to their sector. Create sector and region-specific content based on, for example, future market trends. Cross-sector content is often diluted, and the real factors driving opinion become blurred as a result. 

3. Keep it brief

Audiences say that overly long reports are the biggest weakness in thought leadership. Time-strapped audiences want shorter articles, not lengthy reports.

4. Use real-life examples

Case studies are one of the top three preferred types of thought leadership among audiences. Focus on the real-life needs of your audience. Audiences want stories that resonate with them, not abstract theories. Case studies are a great way to achieve this.

5. Have an opinion

Good thought leadership gives an evidence-based point of view on the topics that keep clients awake at night. It should be balanced, authoritative, and succinct. Opinions are often the basis of the best and most valuable content.

An essential part of content marketing

Thought leadership should be an essential part of every content marketing strategy. 

If you’re not already producing and posting this type of content, you need to be. It’ll set up your brand to be a trendsetter in your industry, increase your authenticity, trust, and brand loyalty, all while differentiating you from competitors.

By consistently providing valuable insights and knowledge, you’ll build trust, foster customer loyalty, and expose your brand to new audiences.

Thought leadership content has the potential to reach potential customers who may not be familiar with your brand. If your content is solving problems and answering questions, you’ll reach potential customers who find value in your content and might be more likely to explore your products or services.

In an age where we have an abundance of information but a lack of valuable expertise, thought leadership content can be what sets you apart.

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