How to Launch Your First Thought Leadership Campaign

Remy Bernstein

Before you can begin generating leads and qualified sales opportunities, you need to focus your marketing efforts on building brand awareness in your industry. The best place to start is a multi-channel thought leadership campaign.

Thought leadership is about more than just elevating your personal brand — it’s an opportunity to demonstrate what truly separates you and your company from the competition. When you flex your personal expertise and insert yourself into the larger conversations happening in your industry, you also show potential customers the value your company/product/service can bring.

In fact, did you know that 60 percent of B2B buyers say thought leadership has swayed them to purchase a product or service they weren’t originally looking for? Simply put, the bottom line is that thought leadership done right affects your bottom line.

But how do you get started? Let’s walk through the key elements of your first campaign.

1. Identify Your Niche

The more you can zoom in on a specific set of topics and narratives, the better. With so many competing brands producing their own content, any story that’s too broad or lacking in tangible takeaways will fail to gain traction. Of course, finding your niche is easier said than done, but a few good places to start include:

  1. Identify the gaps in industry media coverage: What’s something you think is newsworthy, but no one is talking about? You could be the one to start the conversation.
  2. Segment your audience: Not everyone in your industry is going to care about what you have to say. Find the 50,000, 5,000, or even 500 people who will. 
  3. Tie it back to your business: At the end of the day, the topics you choose to write about should be completely aligned to your marketing strategy. If you’re selling accounting software, don’t write about sales KPIs.

2. Pick Your Angle

Once you’ve carved out a more focused direction for your thought leadership campaign, it’s time to plant your flag. Writing generally about a topic without taking a strong position is a recipe for lacking engagement, low ROI, and a lot of wasted time and energy.

You need to be original, too — no one’s interested in your article about how remote work is here to stay. Leverage your own data or dedicate the time to review what other companies and media outlets have published to craft a unique perspective that’s also specific to your area of expertise. People might be a tad more interested in your white paper showing how accounting teams at tech companies have cut down waste by X% since the Pandemic started thanks to remote work. 

3. Start Writing

Now comes arguably the hardest part: You actually have to write something! This might be a good time to phone a friend for help, but if you’re set on going it alone, there are a few things to keep in mind. 

For one, the point of writing thought leadership content is not to promote yourself or your company, but to actually inform and educate your readers. Keep the focus as much as possible on the problems and/or solutions you’re identifying and as little as possible on yourself and your business.

Another key thing to remember is that you’re positioning yourself as an industry expert, and your writing should demonstrate as much. Make sure you’ve checked your facts and can confidently back up any stances you’re taking.

Finally, don’t let yourself get stuck on every last word. Nothing you produce (especially early on) is going to be perfect, but as long as it’s clear, concise, informative, and interesting, you’re on the right track.

4. Build Up Your Library

With your first piece drafted, your challenge is to keep up the momentum and keep publishing more content. One story is great, but a truly integrated thought leadership campaign requires a range of different stories and media to reach your audience on as many different channels as possible.

Find the industry publication that’s willing to publish your next byline, or consider a pay-to-play opportunity if budget allows. Plan out a follow-up series on your company blog or personal LinkedIn page and map it all out in a content calendar. Test out different media like newsletters, Twitter threads, and podcasts (but be prepared to put in the work they all require).

Diversifying your content mix and consistently pitching articles to external publications will begin to drive that wider awareness your brand needs. And as you expand your reach, you can start to implement a full-funnel marketing program that engages audience members, nurtures relationships, and encourages potential customers to learn more about your business.

5. Turn to a Proven Partner to Accelerate Your Publishing

If you don’t feel like you have the bandwidth or experience to get your first thought leadership campaign off the ground, have no fear: Thunderfoot has the expertise you need to bring your ideas to life. What’s more, we know what it takes to not just create great content, but deliver transformative marketing results for the world’s most innovative companies.

Interested in seeing us in action? Check out how we launched Healthline’s first thought leadership campaign and reached millions of marketers in a matter of weeks.

Remy Bernstein

COO

Directs agency operations and client strategy across creative, sales, and marketing teams on two continents.

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