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The seven R’s of thought leadership

Resonant.  Rather than diving in and producing a piece on what seems to be the latest hot topic; pause.  Speak with as many people in your market as possible.  What are their pressures and priorities?  What interests them?  What information would they bite your hand off for?  This will ensure your chosen angle is valuable and in demand.

Rare.  Before committing to a particular route take each of the subject areas identified in your discussions with the market and identify competitors for similar mind space (remember, these are competitors for share of mind not necessarily direct competitors, e.g. trade bodies).  Then audit everything already published, map out the angles taken and identify areas of white space.  This will ensure that the thought leadership you produce is not only in demand, but unique.

Road mapped.  Unique and compelling angle in hand, a thought leadership strategy is needed.  At its core should be a theme which will guide all of your activity in a coherent manner and allow a series of complementary pieces to be created.  This gives focus, establishes you as an authority in the subject area and ensures marketing of each subsequent piece benefits from investment in the last.

Robust.  The temptation now is to leap in and publish a paper detailing ‘our view on…’.  But nowadays readers demand more.  They expect real substance.  Conducting an exclusive survey is a great tool in this respect, but remember that B2B audiences are likely to be research savvy so settle for nothing less than a reliable, representative and solidly executed piece of work.  Likewise, be careful not to turn the outputs into an explicit sales pitch that a smart audience will see straight through.

Rounded.  The best thought leadership goes the extra mile in delivery.  Each piece in the series contains not only exclusive insights, but other content which gives flavour and facilitates action.  Ask yourself if the reader would value best practice guides.  What about case studies?  Would video or interactive content add another dimension?

Rooted.  To become known as the ‘go to place’ on a subject, you need to give people somewhere to go.  Develop a separate brand for your thought leadership programme and a micro-site to call home. 

Re-used.  You’ve invested a lot of effort in producing highly valuable content.  To ensure as high a return as possible it needs to be packaged in a way that appeals to diverse consumption preferences.  Publish reports, create video, produce infographics, develop sales tool-kits, run seminars…quite simply, milk the content dry. 

So there we are; a few thoughts on thought leadership (an expanded version of this post can be found here: Thought leadership – the seven R’s).

Share your golden rules or examples of great thought leadership below.