Thought leadership content – do you need it?


Does thought leadership content still have a place in your 2022 marketing strategy?

First up, let me explain what  thought leadership content is.

According to the Edelman LinkedIn Report:

Thought leadership material refers to thought pieces, essays, videos, webinars, live presentations, PowerPoint slides, and research reports — that companies make available to the public for free (or in exchange for registering or giving them your contact information).

In the real world, this looks like an e-book or white paper where you exchange your email address for a piece of juicy content.

Chances are you’ve thought about creating thought leadership content yourself.

These days, anyone can be a thought leader. We have our own publishing channels and aren’t afraid to use them. But have you noticed that not all thought leadership content is very good?

During COVID and multiple lockdowns there was an influx of thought leadership content floating around the web as B2B companies rushed to find a way to get in front of their ideal customers now face to face meetings were off the table.

It seemed like a good idea. The quickest and easiest way available was utilising your own website, email list and social channels.

But I agree with Edelman and LinkedIn’s latest research,  71% of people thought what they downloaded was crap.  Which doesn’t really support thought leadership does it?

47% of B2B buyers said thought leadership content led them to make contact and ultimately purchase from the company that offered them insights.

Creating whitepapers and thought leadership content is a valid tactic

There’s room for quality thought leadership material because there are many benefits to your business. It helps you:

  • get noticed for what you want to be known for
  • builds authority in your field
  • change perception of your brand
  • earns trust
  • generates leads
  • and can help you recruit great people

Business leaders still want to read thought leadership content, they just want it to be good!

The research tells us that quality thought leadership is all about helping people with valuable insightful content.  Execs and decision makers want to be kept up to date with the latest thinking, want their minds to be stimulated so ideas flow into their work,  they seek insight into trends or opportunities so their business is ready for change and love discovering new products/services that will make thier jobs (and the people who work for them) easier and more profitable.

So, what can you do to create insightful content people actually want to read?

Great content is born when you start with your ideal customer or client in mind.  
The biggest question to answer before you write one word is:  What will my clients value and how will your content help them do a better job or meet their goals?  

Remembering it’s more about what your customer needs to hear than what you want to say. 

The research showed readers want to consume content that:

  • challenges their assumptions. draws them in from the start. 
  • has research from trusted sources to back up claims.
  • has the point of view from business subject matter experts over a glossy overview without substance.
  • remembers they are human and ditches the corporate-speak and complicated language.
  • guides them through the reading experience with a good content design that calls out the big statements and facts.
Do you have a big idea that would position you as an expert?

Coming up with a big idea stumps a lot of people, often because they are too close to the genius that’s within their business they can’t see why other people would value it.

Consider running a session with your team and posing these questions designed to uncover ideas you can work with. 

  • What do your customers need to know to help guide a decision?
  • What do you believe in that most people in your industry would disagree with?
  • What do you see in your crystal ball? 
  • Predictions for the future?
  • What trends are you seeing? What research have you read that made you think?
  • Where’s the industry headed?
  • What questions in your industry are people afraid to answer?
  • Do you have a contrarian view?
Brainstorm framework for Thought Leadership Content
If you’re selling to B2B thought leadership does have its place in your marketing strategy for 2022

When your goal is to reach more clients and build trust and credibility in your offers, thought leadership content will support your story.

It’s a great way to help people understand what you do, how you may help them and what it may be like to work with you.

But don’t rush it. Otherwise, you may be part of the 71% of content downloads that get binned immediately.

I very much look forward to seeing what you create. 

This article was inspired by and makes reference to the great research presented in the Edelman/LinkedIn Thought Leadership study 2021. 


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