9 Pillars of Successful Thought Leadership in Tech and AI

Artificial intelligence is a tricky industry to navigate.

Many CEOs are aware AI can save time and boost productivity, but they have no idea how to implement it. Others are moving too quickly, automating far too much too fast. Still, others don’t trust AI enough to dive into an organization-wide launch.

McKinsey reports a massive gap between AI “power users” and those lagging behind adoption. This gap will only widen without guidance and leadership to pull businesses up towards AI success.

Thought leaders must walk a careful balance. It would be best to have the perfect combination of nuance, content, promotions, and research to pull off a successful thought leadership strategy.

The pillars of thought leadership below offer support for building a well-defined marketing plan.

9 Pillars of Successful Thought Leadership for Earning Trust and Recognition in AI

Do you expect AI to remove or create jobs? Well, your audience is torn.

One-fifth of businesses, mainly high-performers, expect AI adoption to create demand for new jobs. Meanwhile, one-third expect to cut jobs due to AI implementation.

Where does your audience fit into the equation? Which side are they on?

Different segments could need different things from your thought leadership. Some will need reassurance for implementation and expertise in training and hiring. Meanwhile, others will need your honest opinion on the latest and greatest.

These pillars of thought leadership are vital for constructing content around your unique audience and their needs. That’s how you meet them where they’re at, earn trust, and convert leads.

1. Consistency

Consistency is key to earning trust and maintaining your audience’s attention.

No industry is shrouded in uncertainty, fear, and confusion, quite like AI and related technology. Let your thought leadership content act as a rock for stability.

Whatever publishing schedule you choose, make sure to stick with it. Don’t miss anything. Anytime you skip publishing, you allow your competition to swoop in with solutions and answers.

Likewise, your leads and followers will come to expect a confident thought leader voice from you. They won’t predict what you’ll say, but they will come to trust your opinion and style.

2. Content

You can’t demonstrate your expertise and solidify your presence without comprehensive content to express yourself.

Leads at each stage of the funnel demand different types of thought leadership content too. Whitepapers, eBooks, podcasts, blogs, social media – they’re all part of the bigger game.

The key is to figure out what pain points your audience faces at each stage through research and goes for it. Make sure to put your ego aside and focus on your audience.

3. Trust

Why should people believe your opinions are better than others? How have you proved yourself in the past?

Storytelling is a great way to demonstrate trust by recounting mistakes you’ve made in the past and how you used them to grow into a better leader.

Write as if you’re speaking to a friend, you also trust and respect. Your thought leader voice will have consistency, and a conversational tone people can trust.

4. Thoughtfulness

It might seem evident since “thought” is right there in the title, but too many thought leaders are not the most thoughtful people.

Successful thought leaders analyze problems and material conditions thoroughly. They consider all possible angles, similar past situations, and evidence before arriving at an answer.

Think of yourself more as a journalist frequently in search of the truth.

5. Authenticity

The world has enough ego-driven CEOs and thought leaders. An authentic and down to earth thought leader’s voice is refreshing – especially in high-tech industries like AI.

For starters, don’t branch off into areas that aren’t your expertise. Stick with what you know. People can sense when you’re exploring new concepts to jump on the bandwagon. You’re much better off bringing on another thought leader who focuses on that expertise.

6. Metrics

Did you know 74% of B2B marketers have no strategy or data for attributing their thought leadership strategy to sales results?

Metrics are critical for ensuring your content is reaching the right audiences and leaving an appropriate impact. Bear in mind, thought leadership doesn’t promote products the same way content marketing does so your metrics will look different. Instead, you’ll track things like monthly return visitors, speaking engagements, and brand mentions.

7. Promotion

Every piece of thought leadership content should have a pre-built strategy for promoting it.

Which social media platform will you share? Whom will you tag in the post? Which influencers will you work with for cross-promoting content?

You must pre-plan both channels and tactics.

8. Research

Ongoing original research is the only way to connect the dots between your audience, competition, and company. Extensive qualitative/quantitative research gives you insight into your audience’s fears, problems, and wins surrounding AI.

In an industry where businesses are so divided, you can’t afford to skip this pillar of thought leadership. Your thought leadership will always be mediocre unless you gain deep insight into your audience and harness high-quality data.

9. Timeliness

Every journalist knows how important it is to time their stories properly. Publish on a busy news day, and you might get overlooked. Wait too long, and you risk someone else stealing your scoop.

Successful thought leadership is incredibly timely. It might sound smart to spend weeks working on each piece of content, but that also puts you at risk for running outdated material by the time it publishes.

Ideally, thought leaders create content to solve tomorrow’s problems. Always investigate your competition before hitting publish to avoid overlap – even if you already researched their content before writing.

Start Building Your Thought Leadership Pillars with an Effective Research Strategy

You can’t mimic your competitors’ thought leadership strategy – even if you target the same audience segments. How do you know the competition is making correct judgments based on research and data?

You can only trust your research and data. Without original research, you’re only guessing what your leads need – and you can’t afford that.

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