What Is Thought Leadership?
Thought leadership is a content marketing method centered on providing audiences with educational, demonstrative and, in some cases, provocative messages and ideas that engage customers, buyers and prospects at the strategic level. As a marketing function, thought leadership’s main purpose is to build a brand’s authority and prove a level of expertise in either your industry, your product or within your organization.
For marketers, thought leadership is a term referring to materials and activities that boost an organization’s unique viewpoint and emphasizes the company’s authority and expertise on a given issue, topic or field. The goal of thought leadership marketing is to position a brand as a trusted resource and an advisor to practitioners while supporting a brand’s value proposition and competitive difference.
While thought leadership is ultimately a form of content marketing, it stands apart from other initiatives as it’s always running, is highly interactive and often reinforces a brand’s unique perspective on an issue or topic through a personal voice, whether that voice is a subject matter expert or a company personality.
Audiences seek out thought leadership content to find solutions to everyday problems, build cases for a particular strategy or tactic or to find answers. These questions and topics can range in complexity from very simple and rudimentary to intricate and theoretical. But by providing such content, brands not only position themselves as a resource for knowledge, but they also create an opportunity to provide services and solutions to would-be customers should the need ever arise.
In fact, according to the 2020 Edelman-LinkedIn Thought Leadership Study, thought leadership has a heavy hand in influencing purchase decisions, with 52% saying the content brings a brand into the consideration stage; 48% saying it influenced a purchase; 53% saying it led to up an upset opportunity and 54% saying it led to the purchase of a new product or service.
Fortunately for marketers, thought leadership lends itself to a variety of marketing channels and mediums. Webinars, blogs, social media, podcasts, videos and more are all powerful ways to reach audiences both known and unknown. These channels also provide an opportunity for thought leaders to interact with one another, test theories and identify content that resonates with target audiences.