How to Create Thought Leadership Content That Hits the Spot

Thought leadership is a core content category for many organizations. Showcasing your industry expertise is a great way to build trust and spark interest in your products or services. This type of content can also help you promote company experts and establish a positive brand reputation. 

And, yes, although thought leadership is part of a comprehensive marketing strategy, it also provides useful information to people who want and need it.

So why is it often so darned difficult to get right?

Many thought leadership pieces fall flat because they contain only one type of expertise. Either they’re written by subject matter experts (SMEs) who don’t enjoy and aren’t comfortable with writing, or they’re written by copywriters who have only superficial knowledge of the topic.

The trick is to balance both types of expertise: industry and content.

Take the Burden off Your SMEs

SMEs know your industry, business, and solutions inside and out. They’re perfectly positioned to connect with customer needs, explain the best solutions for those needs, and provide proof points that show how your organization can help. 

What SMEs aren’t always so good at—and what many of them simply don’t enjoy doing—is communicating that information through the written word. After all, they didn’t choose a writing career. And they probably have plenty of pressing tasks to complete in the field they did choose. 

As a result, you can end up with technically accurate content, full of valuable information, that performs poorly from a strategic standpoint.

Give Your Copywriters Something to Chew On

Trained content marketing writers know how to create content that targets specific audiences. Stages of your buyers’ journey, brand voice, SEO—professional writers know how to incorporate your SMEs’ know-how into these strategies. 

Professional writers can also identify and rectify content gaps, providing additional context if your target audience needs it. They can help you determine how thought leadership content fits into your larger content marketing strategy. 

Put It All Together

B2B thought leadership copy shouldn’t come off as gimmicky or smack of marketing efforts (even though the latter is an important part of your content marketing strategy). Whether content will run in an industry publication or on your organization’s website, it should meld powerful keywords and powerful insights to deliver real value—and draw attention to your company.

To deliver on the promise of this type of content, begin by providing your copywriter with a few important pieces of information:

  • Where will the piece run?
  • What are the publication parameters (e.g., desired word count, style, or brand guidelines)?
  • Who is the author/SME?
  • What is their role and expertise?
  • Who is the intended audience?
  • Which audience need will the piece address?
  • Aside from an SME interview, are there specific resources the writer can use for context or to fill in additional details?
  • Is this piece part of a larger campaign?

With these details, the writer can then speak with or write to the SME to gather information for the piece. Yes, you can outsource thought leadership pieces completely, asking the copywriter to do all necessary research on the topic to ghostwrite a byline. But the most successful approach enables the writer to get the SME’s individual take on the topic. That way, the finished piece will be more likely to reflect your expert’s voice and offer unique insights that readers—and potential customers—can’t get anywhere else.

Written by Writing Manager Lisa Péré and edited by Editing Manager Cynthia Williams

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