Your Best Bet for Establishing Yourself as a Thought Leader? Content Marketing. Here’s How!

As both a consultant and someone who works with consultants to help them gain “thought leadership” status and new clients, I’ve watched the field of content marketing and content management grow exponentially over the past few years. Content marketing doesn’t show any signs of diminishing soon. Although, I do believe there will be a corresponding resurgence in the need for “gatekeepers” and “curators” to help both B2B and B2C consumers wade through the proliferation of messages that exist today. The field is becoming more and more populated by not-so-useful content, much of low quality and dubious accuracy.

Still, for myself and the clients we work with, we’re finding that a strategic combination of quality communication to key audiences, delivered across a wide range of channels (traditional and digital) can be a very cost effective way to build business. It’s also an effective way to stay connected with existing clients and customers while building and maintaining a visible brand presence.

It’s not difficult — but it’s not easy, either. As we monitor others’ activities it’s always interesting to observe the challenges that even some “legitimate” thought leaders have in building an online presence. It’s the yin/yang of the online world unfortunately–some “real” experts fail to gain traction online while some who convey a legitimate presence are ultimately found to be lacking in real substance. We run into this often as we’re looking for sources for various content creation activities. An attractive web site doesn’t necessarily mean the person behind the web site is a real expert. Conversely, a not so attractive web presence sometimes masks the real value of the expertise that might provide value.

While we don’t claim to have the entire recipe for the “secret sauce” of effective content marketing, we have identified some key best practices that seem to generate the results that we, and our clients, are looking for. They are:

  • Legitimately having something of value to say! No amount of expert content marketing will propel a poseur into thought leadership ranks.
  • Having a very clear idea of what your desired outcomes (goals/objectives) are, by audience.
  • Clearly identifying targeted market segments that you wish to influence, and being as specific as possible. It’s not about connecting with the masses; it’s about connecting with finely targeted niche markets.
  • Understanding those target audiences thoroughly.
  • Understanding your competition and determining how you will position yourself relative to them so that you can provide unique value to your audiences.
  • Identifying the appropriate communication channels and key messages that are most likely to resonate with these audiences.
  • Developing a strategy and plan for creating content and communicating across various channels on a regular basis. (This is one key area where we see many fail. The good news is that content can be multi-purposed in a variety of ways, reducing the burden of ongoing content creation.)
  • Measuring results and modifying strategies/tactics on an ongoing basis.

Consultants are fortunate when it comes to using content marketing. Good consultants tend to have a great deal of expertise that can be packaged, repurposed and shared regularly. In addition, generally, consultants’ best marketing channels tend to be less focused on traditional advertising and more on PR/media relations activities–like content marketing.

But, as with any other form of marketing communication, the audience connection is critical. You must understand them and you must be committed to providing them something of value. Content marketing is not self-promotion. If that’s the tack you take, you are doomed to failure. Importantly, once you’ve turned off an audience, it’s extremely difficult to capture their attention and engagement again!

Have you found other best practice means of leveraging content marketing to build thought leadership for yourself or your products and services?

Recommended Reading:

The Everything Guide to Customer Engagement


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