How to be a thought leader

Content marketing has put organizations under pressure to generate fresh output on a continuous basis. But not just any content will do: audiences are looking for thought leadership to guide their strategies and decisions.

While that creates an opportunity to deliver richer-value content and elevate your brand, coming up with “leading thoughts” can be anxiety-inducing — especially if you’re deep in the weeds and not sure which of your thoughts qualify as “leading”.

Here are six secrets to help you generate solid thought leadership content:

1. Small insights are still insights.
You don’t need to have big, “paradigm-shifting” ideas. Offering a fresh spin on a familiar topic or focused perspective on a common issue is authentic and valuable to your audience.

2. Got feelings? Then you’ve got topics.
The most powerful thought leadership emerges from what matters most to people — what stirs emotion. That includes the people inside your organization. Unpack those feelings and you’ll find gold: raw material that will give you something authentic to talk about.

3. It’s OK to join an established conversation.
Being a thought leader doesn’t mean you have to be the first to say something. You can add to a dialogue that’s already underway in your industry. Check third-party sources, social media and other forums to see what’s on the minds of your audience. Consider how your perspective maps to those topics to keep your content current and sought-after.

4. It’s not about you.
Thought leadership is about perspective: seeing the world in a unique way, especially the challenges and opportunities facing your customers and stakeholders. People want to know how your insights relate to what they care about. Look beyond your own walls and context.

5. The best ideas come from collaboration.
Get out of your own head and bounce ideas off your colleagues to ensure your thinking will hold up to the scrutiny of your audience. Consult, collaborate and take whatever constructive feedback you can get.

6. You don’t have to say everything.
Once you know what you want to say, invest time and energy in communicating it effectively. Focus on what’s relevant to your audience and make it complete enough to advance the dialogue, but don’t feel you have to be exhaustive.