We often hear the expression that “content is king.” While the phrase has certainly been overused to the point of sounding trite, it’s still an important creed that every brand and business needs to take seriously. In our hyper-paced 24 hour digital world, consistent, properly thought out and relevant content is still one of the keys to making your brand stand above the competition.
Not all content, however, is created equal. While a glitzy Super Bowl worthy commercial, a funny Tik Tok video campaign, or a massive ad buy may attract eyeballs and increase sales, it may fall short in addressing the real needs and wants of your customers. Especially in the world of 2022.
Today, people from all walks of life still face stress and uncertainty from the fallout of the pandemic, rising prices, the breakneck speed of change, and other fronts. People no longer want to be hammered over the head with messaging. They do not want to be told what to do. They want guidance, they need things put into perspective, and they seek answers. In other words, people want empathy.
How exactly does a brand show empathy and gain the lasting trust of its customers and clients? One way to build real empathy with your target audience is to engage in a content strategy focused on thought leadership.
Thought leadership describes a person or a company/organization that has, over time, established themselves as an expert in a particular field. Through lived experiences, and the use of timely and consistent custom content, thought leaders have demonstrated leadership and unique vision. They are someone others look to for guidance, insights and answers in a fast-changing world.
Tony Panaccio, former journalist and Director of Brand Management at RedChip Companies, aptly points out, “First, and there is no way to understate this, a prospective thought leader must be someone who has overcome serious obstacles to achieve a modicum of success. To teach lessons to others, one must have learned them on their own.”
The benefits of being a trusted thought leader are immense, and can have more positive implications for your brand than traditional advertising. As a thought leader you will get noticed by others in your field. As an authority figure, you will command attention and become someone others look to for leadership and vision for the future.
One of the biggest benefits of becoming a thought leader is that you will be quoted by the media when they write about the latest trends in your industry. When this happens, you will now have become someone not just selling a product or service. You will have become a sought after expert that people can trust.
It’s important to note that any campaign of thought leadership must be undertaken with genuine motives. Pumping out content for the sake of clicks will not establish you as an expert. Becoming a thought leader in a particular field takes time, patience, and a well-planned, laser-like focus on what messages and profile you want to convey.
The key is to be authentic and truly be the thought leader you set out to become. Read, study and write about relevant topics. Always be open to listening and learning from others. Thought leaders are not stagnant and they don’t take shortcuts. They are constantly learning and thinking about broader issues.
Start by understanding your company or organization and what it is you want to say. Next find out about your target audience and proceed with empathy in mind. Try to understand the latest issues, problems and questions of your customers and clients and others in your industry.
Develop and disseminate well thought out content to your audience. You use your experiences, along with the past and present trends in the industry, to paint a picture of where the industry is at, and where it is headed or needs to go in the future.
Blair Nicole of Media Moguls PR explains, “Always offer up your own experiences and original research first. There is nothing more compelling than someone offering their own experiences in a field. However, keep in mind that you are doing this not to shine the spotlight on yourself, but to genuinely help people.”
Produce varied content like articles, blog posts, videos, white papers, and make speeches. Not everything has to be highly produced, like a glitzy video. As long as the content is genuine and compelling, the message will get through.
Remember, the path to becoming famous and trusted in your industry is to meet people where they are. Genuine and authentic thought leadership helps others better understand their world, allows them to see clearly the problems and issues they face, and offers them a clear vision and solutions for the future.