Thought Leadership Marketing

How to Develop Thought Leadership Assets

Our Thought Leadership Marketing Process follows five key steps. This post will explore step 3: Developing thought leadership assets. 

Step 3 Objective: Create a library of content that will serve as a foundation for your entire Thought Leadership Marketing Strategy.

With your vision for the future clear, now it’s time to begin creating high-quality content that will provide opportunities to broadcast that vision into the market and begin conditioning your customers to buy into your ideas. 

High-quality content is the core pillar of your entire Thought Leadership Marketing strategy. Good strategic content is the key to unlocking opportunities to reach more people and spread your awareness. 

In a world where journalists prefer to do their own research over being cold emailed by one of the 50,000+ startups out there, content is how you get discovered and found.  

As you go through this process, don’t think of this as simply “creating some content.” You are investing in and building long-term assets that will help you raise awareness, increase trust, and establish credibility with your target customers. 

Best Practices for Creating Thought Leadership Content
  • Write your content from the lens of your Future of POV (previous chapter page X). 
  • Get clear on the exact target audience, then speak your audience’s language. 
  • Determine what exactly each piece should make someone do.
  • Tell a story that draws them in and makes them relate, empathize, or get passionate about the problem presented.
  • Have a clear thesis statement that tells your audience exactly what you want them to know.
  • Use data and statistics from trustworthy sources to support your claims (especially early on), and cite your sources.
  • Focus on teaching, not selling.
  • Be interesting and teach people something they don’t already know.

Example

For our client Hallo, we set out to establish the CEO as an expert on the lack of Black founders receiving funding. Every quarter for the past year, we’ve published a “Black Founder Funding Report” that collects all the venture capital funding data, analyzes the numbers, then puts the findings in context. Here’s how that went down: 

Report released on their blog. 

Three months later, WIRED sees the blog while doing research and sends this to Hallo’s CEO:  

WIRED interviews him, then writes an article titled “Yet Another Year of Venture Capital Being Really White” citing the research and featuring him throughout the article. 

Playing the Long Game With Inbound PR

This WIRED opportunity didn’t come until over three months after the research was published. When you release a piece of content, don’t get too focused on the immediate impact. Instead, strategize and plan around how you can develop the content into an asset that will bring value over an extended period of time.

What Makes Good Thought Leadership Content?

Types of Thought Leadership Assets to Develop

There are dozens of different types of thought leadership assets you can create but these are the four most important types of content to begin with. 

  1. Evergreen
  2. Actionable Guides
  3. Resource Centers
  4. Benchmark Studies

Thought Leadership Asset Type 1: Educational Evergreen Content

Client Example: OpsCompass’s market category is called Cloud Security Posture Management or CSPM. Through a series of content, we’ve shared their founders’ insights on best practices, challenges, and other actionable tips. This educational, non-promotional content was then pitched and placed at targeted outlets read by their target customers. 

Thought Leadership Asset Type 2: Actionable Guides 

Overview: Create a long-form guide that shares with your target audience best practices, challenges, and actionable insights they can use to better understand the topic.

Client Example: Raydiant is creating the category of In-Location Experience Management. To support these efforts, we created and published long form guides for each of their core verticals. These guides covered everything readers would want to know about the new category.

Thought Leadership Asset Type 3: Resource Centers

Overview: Create a 101 resource center that covers everything your audience needs to know about the topic.

Client Example: When the HIVE Blockchain went public in 2018, investors had a hard time understanding what they did. So, after speaking with several of their investors, we took note of the top questions we heard them ask about their industry and built a resource center that answered 30+ questions that investors had about their market.

Thought Leadership Asset Type 4: Benchmark Reports 

Overview: Conduct surveys to identify unique and interesting findings that are relevant to your customers.

Client Example: After WordProof won 1 million euros from the EU for their solution to combat misinformation, we were brought on to help establish the founders’ thought leadership. To support these efforts, we conducted a major study on the state of misinformation online. In total, we surveyed more than 5,000 consumers, then produced reports that analyzed the findings. These are reports that can be repeated year after year to measure the progress. 

Impact of Thought Leadership on Different Stages of the Marketing Funnel

Awareness: Thought leadership drives top of funnel awareness to your brand by inserting your ideas into the conversations that your target customers are having and ranking on Google for organic keywords and phrases. This makes you more discoverable. 

Consideration: Thought leadership indirectly highlights your core features and value prop by discussing them with your customers in an educational and non-promotional way. 

Decision: Thought leadership helps build more trust with your customers through third-party validation — social proof that demonstrates you are a credible expert they trust to deliver more than your competitors. 

Retention: Thought leadership demonstrates to your existing customers that you have your pulse on where your market is heading, shows you can help them prepare for the future, and gives you a reason to be in touch on an on-going basis. 

Next Step: Pushing Your Vision Out Into the World

Having an exciting vision and a clearly articulated manifesto puts separates you from some of the noise out there but simply having these two things in place is not enough to guarantee your success by any means.

You need to generate awareness around your vision for the future. You need investors, customers, partners, and perspective talent to hear about your vision and to feel excited about it.

Developing high-quality content is the #1 way to do that and that’s exactly what we’ll cover in the upcoming article.

Read: How to Develop Thought Leadership Assets 

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