Leadership Pro Tip: The Case for Improving Thought Leadership Content

Today’s glut of thought leadership creates an opportunity to stand out by creating better content—including original research.

For leaders looking to make an impression through thought leadership, your message can guide the way. That’s especially true at a time when people may not be traveling long distances to see you speak at an event.

But since a lot of leaders are embracing thought leadership right now, you need to upgrade your approach if you want to stand out.

What’s the Strategy?

As a recent Edelman and LinkedIn study finds, there is an oversaturation of thought leadership content, with around 38 percent of decision makers saying that the market is producing more thought leadership than they can consume. Despite this, more than half of C-suite executives are reading an increased amount of thought leadership content.

That content, though, is often low-quality. Per the study, more than 70 percent of decision makers say that less than half of the content they consume provides valuable insights.

“Thought leadership remains critical to customer engagement but breaking through the noise is harder than ever,” the report states.

For association leaders, this actually presents an opportunity to kick things up a notch, by raising the quality of your thought leadership—either by deeper research, or by stronger presentation.

Why Is It Effective?

Building content with original research and insights can make your content and capabilities stand out among the crowd.

“Doing your own research rather than relying on previously published data makes your thought leadership distinct, giving you a competitive edge that helps you stand out from the crowd,” Boston Digital’s Samantha Davidson writes. “This is important because visibility is one of the key objectives for many who put out thought leadership content, and establishing a qualitative difference in your work will make it more salient, valuable, and visible, to prospective readers.”

The Alterra Group has a useful list of qualities that associations can follow when building their own thought leadership—including high relevance, strong credibility, a unique style, a persuasive argument, a timely focus, approachable writing, and informative content.

What’s the Potential?

Even with the challenges associations might face in raising their standards, it’s often worth it. Solid thought leadership can help increase awareness of an organization, lead to potential new business contacts, and even encourage the purchase of a new product or service—something the Edelman study says 54 percent of respondents have done after consuming thought leadership content.

It can also raise your association’s platform—64 percent of respondents say that thought leadership is used as a barometer when deciding whether to trust an organization’s overall capabilities.

“It’s no secret that high-quality thought leadership is far less common than attempted thought leadership,” Davidson writes. “With this discrepancy comes an opportunity to distinguish yourself from others, and original research can help you do that by transforming your work into effective thought leadership and you, a thought leader.”


(muchomor/iStock/Getty Images Plus)

Ernie Smith

By Ernie Smith

Ernie Smith is a former senior editor for Associations Now. MORE

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