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Imagine you’re putting together a content marketing strategy. You might be faced with a serious question. Would you rather be a leader or a follower? For brands and marketers, the goal is almost always content marketing thought leadership.

Who wants to come across as a copycat, or as a brand that can’t even come up with its own powerful stories or content that establishes authority?

Content marketing thought leadership focuses on using the expertise and experience of the people behind your brand to address or answer any questions or concerns your audience or customer base might have. With content marketing thought leadership, your brand has the chance to stand out from the crowd, and to become a go-to source of useful information for people all over the world.

Thought leadership in content marketing is unique, but it should also be more than that. When your brand is a thought leader and provides content that reflects its thought leadership, it’s offering content that provides the best option or result. If a customer is looking for information on how to fix a problem they have, they want the best answer, not necessarily the most unique or original one.

What Content Marketing Thought Leadership Can Do for Your Brand

Why bother establishing your brand as a content marketing thought leader? One big reason is that content marketing thought leadership helps to build trust between your brand and its desired audience.

Who do you trust more: the company that can plainly say, “Here’s the best way to solve X problem?” or the company that offers a lot of platitudes but no real information?

When people consider you to be a thought leader, they are putting their trust in what you have to say. That’s a big obligation for brands, but the payoff — having a customer that believes in you — is also big.

Another way embracing thought leadership in your content marketing can help your brand is that it helps bring in customers early on. By putting out useful, expert content that people can access early in their buyer journeys, you have the opportunity to connect and develop a relationship with your customers from the beginning. They get to learn about your brand, and, more importantly, you get to learn about them.

Is Content Marketing Thought Leadership Just for B2B Brands?

Perhaps because the phrase “thought leadership” brings to mind an image of a person in a suit, there’s a common misconception that content marketing thought leadership is just for B2B brands.

The truth is, B2C brands can and should use content marketing thought leadership too. Experts exist in the consumer sphere — just think of fashion stylists, video game reviewers, and beauty gurus. They are all thought leaders in their own way, and they can all provide brands with content that is extremely useful for an audience.

Content Marketing Thought Leadership Examples

What does content marketing thought leadership look like? Check out these examples:

LinkedIn Content Marketing Thought Leadership

LinkedIn – The Sophisticated Marketer’s Guide to Thought Leadership.

We don’t mean to get meta here, but LinkedIn Marketing Solutions’ guide to thought leadership is a pretty darn good example of thought leadership. The PDF provides an expert look at what thought leadership is, why it matters, and how brands can use thought leadership on the networking platform. The content concludes with tips and advice from a group of 30 thought leaders.

Content Marketing Brands American Express

American Express Open Forum

Amex’s Open Forum website is chock full of thought leadership content from business owners and experts. It has not only established American Express as a thought leader when it comes to running a small business, it has also allowed numerous managers and business owners to establish their own thought leadership.

Toms Content Marketing Thought Leadership

TOMS Shoes Ted Talk

Here’s an example of B2C content marketing thought leadership. Blake Mycoskie, the founder of TOMS shoes, presented at TED in 2015, sharing his experience as a business owner and his business philosophy with students.

How to Put Content Marketing Thought Leadership Into Practice

Ready to embrace content marketing thought leadership with your own brand?

Here’s a step-by-step guide:

Set a goal.

Why are you embracing thought leadership? What do you hope to get from it? Do you want to establish your brand as an expert or leader in a particular area? Do you want to increase brand awareness, boost traffic, or get more leads?

Having a goal gives you the “why” when it comes to your content marketing.

Identify topics.

Think about the topics your brand is “expert” in. If you’re a fashion company, it could be the latest trends, and ways to wear them. If you’re an education company, it could be using technology in the classroom.

Next, think of the concerns or questions your audience is likely to have about those topics. How can you go about answering them?

Identify thought leaders.

Once you’ve identified the topics and questions that your brand can tackle, think about who can best address them. Your thought leaders can be the executives at your company, or an outside person who’s a special guest (such as a fashion editor who “guest posts” with a clothing brand, or a teacher who creates videos for an education company).

Create the content.

Have the thought leader create the content that addresses the issue and, most importantly, answers the questions your audience is asking. Ideally, the content will also help your brand reach the goal you set in step one. Another option is to curate content from across your industry that’s relevant to your audience.

Measure and track your content marketing thought leadership.

Pay attention to how your content marketing thought leadership performs. Are people reading or viewing it? Has your traffic gone up? Are people clicking through, but leaving right away — a sign that your content isn’t as useful or helpful as expected? What are your content marketing KPIs?

Measure clicks, site visit length, new followers, likes, and subscription sign-ups. These give you an idea of your content marketing thought leadership. It can also help you identify things that need adjusting for the next time.

People want to trust your brand. Using content marketing to establish your brand as a thought leader in your niche not only helps establish trust, it can also build up feelings of goodwill between you and your target audience.

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