Developing your thought leadership strategy

Thought leadership can drive awareness of your technology company — a necessity in today’s competitive technology industry.

Who should drive the thought leadership strategy?

Your thought leadership strategy should sit squarely with the chief marketing officer. The content authors can be various members of the executive team, but the CMO must drive the content development and strategy. This is important so that the thought leadership will align with other messaging and content being developed. Without this holistic approach, there can be a disconnect, which would dilute the power of the thought leadership itself.

Developing thought leadership content

Below are six key elements to consider when developing thought leadership content that will create a meaningful difference in the market.

1. Survey the landscape: Understand the kind of thought leadership that has already been put forward for your product and industry. This will help ensure you are not distributing content that is too similar to something that already exists and help you identify potential “whitespace” opportunities where new thought leadership content could be unique and impactful.

2. Market relevancy: Ensure the thought leadership content you are creating is relevant to your target market. This may seem obvious, but sometimes content is mistakenly created to prove a point or solve a problem without ensuring it’s pertinent to the target audience. You could have the best idea ever, but if it’s not something your target market will appreciate or understand, the content is almost worthless.

3. Unique perspective: Critically important and probably one of the most challenging elements in producing thought leadership today is creating a unique point of view (POV). Current technology buyers are very informed and well researched — they will be able to quickly see through content that is simply a rehashing of existing content in the industry or marketplace. Although the CMO should be driving the process, content development needs to be a team effort across all groups at the company to ensure the perspective is as unique and thoughtful as possible.

4. Visionary approach: Thought leadership content should take on a visionary type of approach — that is, if a prospect were to follow the path outlined, it would be the best way to solve their problem or achieve the desired benefit. A visionary approach suggests that your expertise, experience and POV can help you work with a prospective client within a partnership rather than a simple vendor–customer relationship. This creates trust and confidence in the proposed solution and can help separate you from your competitors.

5. Validation: Creating thought leadership without having some form of validation or proof becomes an almost academic exercise. There needs to be a mechanism to substantiate why this is not just an opinion but an informed, proven point of view that your market needs to pay attention to. This validation can come in two primary forms.

  • Company-driven: Clearly demonstrate that your company has full licence to be credible in this space. This evidence can come from executive bios that show tenure and experience in the area or the number of unique solutions that have been developed to solve the problem. Through its people and solutions, the company needs to demonstrate that its thought leadership is credible and informative, and should be taken seriously.
  • Client-driven: Create a customer case study that ties into the thought leadership piece. The idea is this: A prospect found our approach and thought leadership unique, and was drawn to our solution. Once it was purchased, they were able to fully realize the value in the vision that had been articulated to them and gained these benefits: X, Y and Z. This kind of case study helps other prospects clearly see that in following your company’s vision and leadership, they can achieve the same benefit

6. Alignment with solution: It is important to remember that in the marketplace, the single most important reason to develop thought leadership content is to drive credible awareness of your company’s solutions. All content must point back to how your expertise and leadership in the industry has driven the associated set of products or services your company offers. This translation is critical — you have the most informed and best POV in the industry, and this expertise has driven you to create the best products in the industry.

In using all the elements outlined above, you will be able to create credible thought leadership material that will draw prospects to your company and distinct solutions.