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Five things to consider when planning your next thought leadership campaign

Being a thought leader isn’t just about sharing ideas, it’s about shaping the future. It’s about consistently providing innovative insights and solutions that will help your industry face the challenges of today and tomorrow.  

Sounds exciting, but exhausting, right? Creating quality thought leadership requires considerable resources and doing it alongside other commitments risks burnout. However, if you focus your efforts by aligning thought leadership with your core business purpose, kapow! Be ready to not only produce amazing thought leadership but also deliver ROI (yes, we know your boss is breathing down your neck to achieve this KPI).

To deliver on this, we’ve put together a list of five things you should keep in mind when creating thought leadership. Consider this a blueprint to effectively carry out your next campaign.

1. Industry conversations

Before you start your next thought leadership program, ask yourself a few questions. What’s going on in your industry? What are the factors influencing your industry now and in the future? Are there any fresh insights that your organization can add to the conversation?

Do you have expertise in driving business growth in times of economic instability? Have you been effective at encouraging a more diverse and inclusive workforce? Are your tech innovation skills going to help solve the next major challenge facing the world?

Don’t worry if you don’t have the exact answer to this question. Getting help from a thought leadership specialist can help you identify and narrow down your thinking on this answer.

At the same time, it’s important to evaluate whether you should be including thought leadership in your plans in the first place. Jennifer Smith, B2B marketing leader and Former CMO of MarketingProfs, told us on our podcast, ”The first thing I would ask is, should we be doing thought leadership? Do our customers care about this? Will they read it? Do we have a unique point of view, all of those things? And then if the answers to those are yes, then you absolutely should be doing it, if it’s going to be impactful for your brand.”

2. Communications strategy

Before you start developing your communications strategy, it’s essential to identify your objectives. Do you want to increase brand awareness, generate leads, enhance customer loyalty or influence policy for real-world impact? Once you have clear objectives, it becomes easier to create a plan. Second, what are the key themes and topics where you can add value? Do these align with your company sales strategy? You can then focus on these themes in your thought leadership approach.

3. Differentiation

Before we delve into what kind of assets you can produce, let’s take a deeper look at what is going to make you stand out from the competition. Your most valuable asset is going to be primary research. A survey of your customers and representatives of your client base will generate insights of value to your industry. But this could also be an opinion generated from years of experience and expertise. Having a thought leader/face to a brand can help emotionally connect with your audience. Some of the key questions to ask are:

  • Is our insight original?
  • Will it add value?
  • Is it going to affect my industry five years down the line?

Also, no one is a know-it-all. Collaborate and consult with other experts in your industry and across your own organization, who can challenge your ideas and thought processes and add to the mix with expertise and ideas of their own.

4. Your thought leadership assets and the vehicle

Thinking about what assets you should produce? It’s important to consider where your prospects fall in the customer journey before deciding.

“Consider your funnels and what stages you are at with your clients. Factor in all marketing activities and how they blend with thought leadership. Have a balance. This could be focusing on sustained campaigns and leveraging thought leadership through different activities, which can be through digital activations, events, partnerships, and so forth.” says Shabnam Gangar, Vice President of Marketing at iResearch Services.

Whatever assets you choose to produce, certain nuances can maximize the results of your campaign. As a guest expert on our podcast, Ali Ahmed, Director, Thought Leadership, Fidelity Investments, rightly put it, “It’s about approachability. The way I would probably say those three bullet points is really about approachability, accessibility, and then a call to action. Is this work easy for me to understand? Is this work clear enough that I know what’s going on? Do I have a full context of what’s happening? Do I know what to do after I’ve read this piece? Is the piece strong enough to stand on its own without you there to explain it? And if that can be done, then you are in a good standing of what’s going on.”

Most digesters of thought leadership, i.e. those that actively engage with it, are seeking thought leadership on digital media (59%) and online events (49%), according to our latest survey results, so disseminating your thought leadership through these platforms is a good idea.

5. Measure, analyze, pivot

Measure and collect data on your previous thought leadership campaigns. Apart from online content, you need to be able to track each interaction to thought leadership whether that is through an in-person event or conversation or reading a report.

Don’t know where to start? Try out our 3-minute thought leadership assessment tool!

Analyze the data and act on what you find out, even if it might mean turning around some of your carefully laid plans.

Good Luck!

Beginning work on your next thought leadership program? Refer to these five essential pillars to create and deliver a successful campaign.

Need some help? Learn how you can maximize your thought leadership investment in our latest ThinkWise guide.

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