Incorporate The Seven T’s Of Thought Leadership Into Your Content

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Incorporate The Seven T’s Of Thought Leadership Into Your Content

Written by: Yogesh Shah, Forbes Councils Member

CEO of iResearch Services, a global end-to-end thought leadership company that focuses on evidence-based research and insight-led content. 


“Thought leadership” has soared into popularity as a marketing tactic in recent years. The value seems clear — about 88% of C-level decision-makers say that thought leadership influences their perceptions of a company and its leaders, according to an ongoing study by Edelman and LinkedIn. Evidence-based, timely information can capture attention and lead to “foot-in-the-door” traffic while improving sales and fostering relationships. In fact, I’ve seen some well-written thought leadership initiatives open conversations between brands and their potential clients, resulting in proposals worth more than $100 million. 

But just as important, only 17% of decision-makers say the quality of the content they read is “very good” or “excellent,” Edelman and LinkedIn reported. Poor thought leadership can lead to negative attention and a decline in sales. This discrepancy becomes a nerve-wracking proposition for leaders and executives who want to disseminate their ideas but don’t want to do it incorrectly.

Luckily, research, surveys and new data analysis tools have provided insights into the modern consumer’s journey, especially what type of information decision-makers seek, and have created better guidance for producing content effectively. Think about these “7 T’s” as you craft your next piece:

1. Thoughtful

The first step of thought leadership seems evident given the fact that “thought” is in the term itself, but this is still the most common mistake I see with my clients. I understand this — it’s easy to dash off a quick idea when everyone is busy, and content feels like another item on a never-ending task list.

However, our readers are smart, and they’ve consumed enough fluffy information. Instead, they’re craving fresh ideas that they haven’t seen before and that provide insight about the topic they’re researching. When you keep the audience and their needs in mind, you can share thought-provoking ideas that add to the conversation.

2. Thorough

When you’re truly focused on creating thoughtfully, you’re also able to go deep to explain the nuances behind your ideas. We’ve all read the surface-level posts that touch briefly on a topic or cram too many top-level ideas into one place. I’ve also seen clients publish thought leadership content without aligning it to their products or services, which can ultimately defeat the purpose.

Instead, it’s important to be specific and relatable. Explain a framework or process, and provide actionable steps for your audience to follow. When you’re able to create depth and understanding, people can take action. Once they notice transformation based on your advice, they’ll come back for more.

3. Truth

Not everyone wants to hear the truth about a particular idea or industry, but if you speak up about it, you’ll gain credibility as an authority. If you offer advice and action steps around this truth, you’ll also be seen as someone with a solution. Even better, if you’re able to talk about your actions and results, you’ll become someone with influence.

Remember the old saying, “Fortune favors the bold,” so be bold and speak up. This principle is probably the toughest one to follow because it can feel risky to take a stand. But the rewards can outweigh the risks if you say what people need to hear — not what you think they want to hear.

4. Trustworthy

This, by far, is the most important and my favorite of the “7 T’s” because thought leadership is all about building trust. You want people to see you as someone they can look up to and follow. Show different points of view and all sides of a situation, especially when your audience is from various industries. Talk about the pros and cons, and yes, the limitations and struggles, too.

As part of this, I remind my clients to talk like they’re sharing stories with friends. Use different content formats for different audiences. Give anecdotes, explain lessons learned from a mistake and ask for feedback. When you share your unique voice and your own life experience, it generates loyalty.

5. Testimony

When you share your ideas, don’t forget to include the voices of others. None of us exist in a bubble, and it’s helpful to include the data, sources and context that generated your great idea, whether from your research partner, a client or an enthusiastic survey respondent who had a relevant opinion to share.

Keep in mind others’ comments and reactions can demonstrate the reach and value you provide. Case studies, quotes and transformation stories all add to the well-rounded picture of the real-world results that you offer.

6. Timely

The shelf life of content is like that of a box office release — your analysts can predict it somewhat ahead of time, but you’ll know the full reaction only when it’s out. Timing can make the difference between content that garners a handful of views or tens of thousands of reactions and comments.

Pay attention to the questions that people ask, what’s developing in your industry, and what the news industry is covering, and develop some thoughts that can contribute to that conversation. As a primer, share other articles with your audience before you “go big” with your own.

7. Together

Ultimately, thought leadership is about having a conversation, so it’s important to speak to others as though they’re part of your close-knit group with a shared problem. Think about your internal stakeholders, product teams and decision-makers. Use phrases that indicate your thoughts are meant to serve them — and are not about you.

This sense of community creates engagement and social listening. When people know you want to share ideas and feedback, they’re more likely to respond in turn. Business is all about relationships, and you can foster those connections by sharing your ideas.

When you keep these seven principles in mind, no matter which industry you’re in, you’re sure to create effective communication that will highlight your expertise and reach new people. You may become the new voice for a group that didn’t know how to express their thoughts and desires before — and now you can be the thought leader.

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via Forbes – Leadership

July 29, 2020 at 10:37AM

Dr. Sharon Lamm-Hartman