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Thought Leadership

Crafting a Distinct Brand POV: Strategies for Thought Leadership Content

Crafting a Distinct Brand POV: Strategies for Thought Leadership Content featured image

Marketing trends and industry best practices change at a moment’s notice. However, thought leadership content has stood the test of time, with almost everyone agreeing on its credibility.

Just to back up our claims, here are a few studies that prove how essential this type of content can be for your business:

  • 49% of decision-makers said that thought leadership content has a direct impact on their purchase decision.
  • 42% of decision-makers will pay a premium to work with a company that produces thought leadership content.
  • 66% of brands have increased their investment in thought leadership content. 
  • 87% of buyers find thought leadership content fun to consume.
Graphic representation of 87% of buyers find thought leadership content fun to consume

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On that note, let’s explore how to create thought leadership content. And to make this piece a tad bit more exciting, we’ve sourced some valuable insights from subject matter experts (SMEs).

Why create thought leadership content: Building authority and attracting audiences

Any content you produce for your brand (thought leadership or otherwise) essentially forms an image of your brand.

A classic example is the Animalz blog—it’s perhaps one of the leaders in the content marketing industry known for its top-notch essays and interesting posts, and this image was only possible through the quality content it creates.

Ronnie Higgins thoughts on the Animalz blog

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But that’s not the only benefit of creating such think-pieces.

In a way, thought leadership content also can make your target audience feel more empowered whenever they read your blog post. This is mainly because, in the words of Jimmy Daly, ex-Content Marketing Director at Animalz and current CEO of Superpath, “thought leadership content tells people how to think, not what to do.”

Michelle Cadx thoughts on thought leadership content

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These‌ benefits might not be tangible, but that doesn’t mean creating thought leadership content doesn’t have tangible benefits either.

We previously discussed a study that proved 49% of decision-makers said that thought leadership content had a direct impact on their purchase decisions. The same study also proved that:

  • 59% of them also agreed that thought leadership content is a trustworthy basis to judge a brand’s credibility and competency. 
  • 89% of the same folks believe such content impacts how they perceive the brand.
  • Almost 50% consume thought leadership content for over an hour a week.

This type of content also creates an opportunity for likes, shares, engagement, backlinks, and brand mentions. 

How to build your voice and craft compelling thought leadership content

Before we get into the nitty-gritty bits, it’s worth mentioning if you’re creating thought leadership content, you’ll need to identify your target audience first. Have a thought leadership strategy in place and decide which type of content structures you want to lead towards.

Ideally, at this stage, it might also benefit you to know which channels work ‌best for which content pieces (blog posts vs. social media posts). You’ll need to plan for which topics you’d like to explore and what long-term goals you want to achieve. 

Now, let’s get into some valuable insights from thought leaders or those who write thought leadership content.

1. David Hoos: Go against the grain

David Hoos is a thought leader and marketer with over 10 years of industry experience. When we asked him how to create ‌thought leadership content, he said:

“If I were to simplify the most basic way to create thought leadership, it’d be this:

1. Accumulate the most common ‘best practices’ for your industry. 

2. Dig deeper into those best practices and look for areas where you might disagree or would suggest more nuance that goes beyond the best practice.

In my experience, the best thought leadership will come from folks who have made the conscious decision to specialize. I’ve found it’s harder for generalists to be able to dig deep and move beyond best practices.”

As an example, he also shared a social media post wherein he disagreed with an industry best practice. 

David Hoos social media post where he disagreed with an industry best practice

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2. Magee Clegg: Use data to prove your point

Magee Clegg, the CEO and founder of Cleartail Marketing, a digital marketing agency with a 100% success rate on Clutch, says social proof is an important component in creating thought leadership content.

He says, “My experience in crafting thought leadership content is rooted in demonstrating tangible results driven by innovative marketing strategies.

For instance, when we increased a B2B client’s revenue by 278% in just 12 months, we documented the process meticulously, transforming it into a case study that highlighted the power of cost-effective marketing strategies.

This not only showcased our expertise but became a valuable piece of thought leadership content that others could learn from and apply in their own initiatives.

To put the point across clearly, it’s crucial to connect abstract marketing principles with concrete actions and outcomes.”

3. Brandon Towl: Overturn the common assumptions

Brandon Towl, the chief writer at Words Have Impact and an expert with more than a decade’s worth of experience creating content, shares his thoughts on the topic.

“There are many ways to come up with ideas, but one of my favorites is simply to overturn a common assumption. So poll some experts about your area and see what they agree on, then imagine how the opposite could be the case.

For example, many marketers will claim that content is a ‘long game’ and that you have to produce huge volumes to get results. But this isn’t obvious at all—good results can be achieved quickly with a few key pieces if you bother to discover what those are.

A similar tactic is one I borrow from academic philosophy: Review current articles in your field and look for places where the author uses a word like “clearly,” “obviously,” or something of that nature. Then create a piece arguing that the claim so labeled actually isn’t obvious, and there are many exceptions to it.”

4. Zoe Kaplan: Keep an eye out for the opinions of others

Zoe Kaplan, the senior writer at Forage (a position that requires her to routinely create thought leadership content) and an expert with more than 8 years of experience in the content space, says:

“One of the best ways to come up with thought leadership content is to learn what other leaders in the space are saying. It may sound counterintuitive, but you need to know what’s out there to find the space for your voice.

I personally subscribe to many newsletters in the industries I write about, follow prominent voices on Twitter, and regularly check the news for any recent op-eds or thought pieces. This work will give you a sense of what topics are regularly coming up, what people are concerned about, trends, etc.

Find a common theme around what these conversations are missing and what the problems are that these thought leaders are talking about but not solving.

For example, if you write in the careers space, giving advice to current college students. So many professors, employers, and career experts talk about how college doesn’t prepare students for the workforce. If you keep reading statistics about lack of preparation, but no solutions for helping students prepare—boom! That’s where your thought leadership comes in.”

There was also another common denominator in the advice of these thought-leaders: Always have an authentic voice and try to create content that genuinely adds value to the lives of your readers, as opposed to it being something you can “show off.”

Other experts have also shared a couple of ideas you can consider when it comes to creating thought leadership content:

  • Doing an industry or topic analysis based on personal reflections or expertise
  • Sharing your personal story or a unique perspective
  • Getting SMEs to share their thoughts on your topic

If you’re interested in exploring the “how to create thought leadership content” aspect further, there’s also an excellent course on How to Write Thought Leadership Content by Ryan Law, director of content marketing at Ahrefs and ex-CMO at Animalz, that you can explore.

Course on How to Write Thought Leadership Content by Ryan Law

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You might also benefit from the insights of Cassandra Naji, CEO of Campfire Labs and someone with years of content marketing experience under her belt.

Insights of Cassandra Naji

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Lastly, while we’re on the topic of creating thought leadership content, there was another piece of advice from an SME, Vladislav Podolyako, worth mentioning. Vladislav is the founder and CEO of both Belkins and Folderly, and he uses LinkedIn to share thought leadership content.

He says that while you need to have interesting topics for thought leadership content, it’s also important to show your credibility if you wish to be taken seriously as a thought leader. Ideally, this should happen before you distribute your content.

How to do this, you ask? He’s got some tricks up his sleeve.

In his own words, “If you are active in your position, sharing your own updates is more than enough already. You can announce your participation in events and collaborations on YouTube, podcasts, webinars, or live. For example, revealing my upcoming talk at WebSummit 2023 instantly sparked engagement from my audience.

Vladislav Podolyako revealing upcoming talk at WebSummit 2023

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Another strong component is sharing your own bootstrapping journey and conclusions based on it. One such post is my opinion piece, where I say that achieving the first ten paid customers is a vital point for every SaaS.

Vladislav Podolyako opinion piece saying that achieving the first ten paid customers is a vital point for every SaaS

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Furthermore, celebrating company achievements also positions you as a leader and innovator. For example, I shared Folderly’s nomination for the Golden Kitty Awards 2023.”

Thought leadership content examples

While multiple companies have perfected the art of thought leadership content, here are a few that stood out to us (and why):

  • The Superpath blog has interview-style thought leadership pieces that push the personal narratives of industry leaders in the content marketing space who managed to earn $100k or higher.
  • ForHers often writes (and medically reviews) thought leadership content on mental health topics that are commonly spoken about among its target audience yet medically under-addressed (e.g., “How Long Do Intrusive Thoughts Last” and “Why Am I Crying For No Reason”).

Hotjar is another company that does thought leadership content really well by conducting never-done-before experiments on industry-relevant topics and then sharing results.

Hotjar never-done-before experiment of woman vs machine in content marketing

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  • Other companies, such as Fusion Auth, use thought leadership content to showcase their unique expertise and to add to the discussion (e.g., in its “What is OIDC” blog post, the author shares technical insights based on their industry expertise).
  • Foundation Inc. is another company nailing thought leadership content by sharing case studies and breaking down the other companies’ successful content marketing strategies.

Mixing thought leadership and SEO: Make sure your content is seen

While it might be tricky to rank well for thought leadership content, it’s also worth noting that SEO best practices don’t start and stop at just keyword integration.

Semrush’s SEO checklist, although published in 2021, is just as helpful as ever, and the boxes beyond the “Keyword Research” section are also worth your attention. 

Semrush’s SEO checklist

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Semrush published updated checklists for 2024, and if you want to dive deeper into SEO, check out their On-Page SEO and Off-Page SEO checklists. These will help you optimize your website, social media, and more if you’re so inclined.

Some experts also suggest writing on SEO-friendly topics but adding your own expert insights or unique perspectives to make the piece rank well for SEO while still creating thought leadership content. 

Measuring success and refining your approach

Unfortunately, creating thought leadership content isn’t as cut and dry as just writing about your thoughts on a topic and calling it a day.

Much like other content pieces, these also need to be reviewed, analyzed, and optimized (e.g., what if there’s been a shift in the industry that no longer holds your previous opinion valid?).

At this juncture, content optimization tools might become your best friend. 

For example, solutions like AccuRanker might become essential in tracking search engine results page (SERP) rankings and backlinks.

In contrast, other AI-powered content generation and proofreading tools might become essential in actually producing and refining the content.

Some tools might also help you analyze website traffic and determine how readers consume your content. With the help of these tools alone (and by keeping a finger on the pulse of industry trends), you’ll be able to refine your approach and optimize your content performance.

How Omniscient can help with your thought leadership strategy

Just to recap, in this blog, we discussed the benefits of creating thought leadership content, how to create such content (with the help of a few expert insights), how to mix SEO and thought leadership content, as well as a few examples of companies that are killing it with their thought leadership strategy.

While thought leadership content is empowering, it’s also challenging to create.

We know because we’ve been there. 

If you’d like Omniscient to create your thought leadership content so you can focus on other key business tasks, we’re here to help. Simply fill out our form and book a free strategy consultation.

We look forward to hearing from you or reading your next thought leadership post. To your success!

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Cassandra Rosas

Cass is the Head of SEO Outreach and Link-Building at Omniscient Digital, she loves writing about topics such as Search Engine Optimization (SEO), content operations, e-commerce, and social media marketing. In her spare time she likes listening to music, doing oil painting and watching SciFi movies.