By Sogi Chukwuanu
Thought leadership articles can be an incredibly powerful tool for boosting credibility, establishing yourself as an authority within your niche, and building trust with your audience. According to the LinkedIn-Edelman 2021 B2B Thought Leadership Impact Study, 65 per cent of respondents said a piece of thought leadership significantly changed their perception of a company for the better.
That’s impressive! But these pieces of content are only effective and powerful when done properly. Today, the market is saturated with thought leadership articles that barely provide any valuable insight, much less meet the needs of their audience.
So, how do you create authoritative content that truly resonates with your audience and meets their exact needs?
It starts with understanding what thought leadership – at its very core – means.
What is a thought leadership article?
A thought leadership article is a form of writing that not only demonstrates your expert knowledge on a topic, but also aims to present a solution to your audience’s problems. They are REAL stories about problems and solutions that you’re highly passionate about because you’ve lived through those experiences before and want to help others avoid or escape from said scenarios.
This means, in order for a piece of content to qualify as a thought leadership article, it has to contain three important elements:
- Your purpose and passion
- Your lived experience and/or credentials relevant to the topic
- Your unique viewpoint/perspective on the subject matter
These components converge to create a powerful fusion of knowledge and insight, making your content credible, authoritative, and refreshingly original. Without them, you’d merely be creating a replica of the monotonous content your audience encounters day in and day out.
In the words of Chuck Palahniuk, “Everything is a copy of a copy of a copy.” Find your sweet spot – where these three elements meet in the middle – and create something unique and authentic for your readers.
Tips for creating authoritative content
1. Use solid, objective data
The best thought leadership content all begins with thorough and meticulous research. Today’s consumers expect that you have a firm grasp of current industry trends, statistics, and insights that can address their challenges effectively.
More importantly, they need sufficient reason to believe you and whatever theories you may be proposing. Why do your claims matter? What proof do you have?
More insights from the LinkedIn-Edelman study show that 80 per cent of decision-makers want thought leadership that includes third-party data from trusted sources rather than only sharing proprietary insights from the company publishing.
That’s why it’s so important to substantiate your claims with solid data. By incorporating empirical evidence, compelling statistics, and credible sources (such as other thought leaders), you provide your audience with a solid foundation upon which your ideas can thrive, thereby fostering trust and confidence in your expertise.
2. Write with your heart
While the facts certainly matter, there’s more to a credible thought leadership article than mere data crunching. What’s the story at the heart of it all? Why does the data matter to you – and more importantly, to them?
As our founder, Georgia Kirke puts it, “Dry and rational data might catch attention and ‘stop the scroll’, but what is going to be most memorable and continue the interaction is emotive and more colourful.”
Five years ago, marketing guru Neil Patel wrote a blog post detailing the benefits of corporate branding over personal branding.
This could have easily turned out to be a bland article riddled with stats, figures, and a few author notes sprinkled in-between. But Neil made it so much more!
He told the story of his branding journey, sharing his biggest mistakes and why he regretted building a personal brand. By sharing this heartfelt story (backed by figures and data, of course!), Neil was able to transform a blog about an overly saturated topic into something meaningful and impactful for his audience.
That’s the power of storytelling. This simple artform can bring your article to life and tap into your audience’s emotions, while driving home your unique message. Let your narrative be heart-felt, sincere, and true to you.
3. Avoid the hard sell as much as possible
The core purpose of thought leadership content isn’t to sell to your audience – it’s to inspire, guide, and provide a new perspective for them. One of the easiest ways to lose your readers and water down your credibility is to aggressively advertise your product or make them feel pressured into making a purchase.
If your article focuses solely on you and your company, rather than your audience, what then separates it from the thousands of marketing ads and sales pitches they see everyday?
An effective thought leadership strategy requires you to be in it for the long haul. Skip the hard sell and focus on crafting consistent, high-quality, valuable content for your readers. Ultimately, you’ll be able to grow your audience and leverage your thought leadership content to boost your business’ value and drive sales.
4. Challenge your readers’ beliefs
Is your thought leadership actually thought followership? Are you afraid to rock the boat by challenging your audience’s beliefs?
Here’s the thing: your readers aren’t in search of “vanilla” content that validates what they think or already know – they want thought-provoking articles that cause them to stop and challenge their assumptions, beliefs, and preconceived notions.
Don’t be afraid to get a little edgy and give your audience something to mull over by presenting fresh perspectives that push the boundaries of conventional thinking.
If you aren’t already doing this, now is a good time to re-evaluate your content strategy and start sparking meaningful conversations with your audience.
The bottom line
At the heart of every successful thought leadership article lies authenticity – your very own unique experiences and perspectives melded to form valuable insights and ignite new conversations with your audience.
If you’re ready to embark on this journey, why not book a free clarity call to find out more about how our team of experts can help you?