By John Baird

Content marketing is a great way to get your message out to your audience while increasing your brand recognition in the process. However, it is important to remember that not all content is created equal. Content comes in many forms and varies in quality substantially. Churning out reams and reams of badly thought out, rushed content has the potential to do more harm than good when it comes to your company’s reputation and marketing efforts. Instead you should ensure your content strategy is highly considered and adds something of value to the conversation. A great way of doing this is to create what is known as ‘thought leadership’ content.

What is thought leadership content?

Thought leadership content is written by an expert in a particular sector or industry. A thought leader typically has in-depth knowledge on a niche subject and is able to provide credible, trustworthy and reliable answers to the questions its customers are asking.

Benefits of thought leadership content

Imparting your knowledge through thought leadership driven content not only helps your customers, but it also does wonders for the reputation of you and your company. Thought leadership content can help build your brand in a way other marketing simply cannot. Not only do you get your brand name out there, thought leadership content can help position your brand as one which is dependable, and one which knows what it is doing.

It does, however, take time to get to this level. Submitting one article, no matter how good it may be, will not qualify you as a thought leader. You need to write regularly and build up a relationship and a level of trust with your audience. This does not happen overnight but the results are well worth the effort.

Who can be a thought leader?

 Look around your organisation – what areas of expertise do you have there? What about yourself? What are your areas of expertise? Although it may seem scary, positioning yourself as a thought leader does not have to be an intimidating process. Remember, you are talking about what you know and what you are passionate about.

Being a thought leader doesn’t have anything to do with your level of education, or the size of company you are working for. It is about having something meaningful to say to your audience and answering their questions in the best way possible. To do this effectively you need to have more than just superficial knowledge on the subject you are discussing. In order to make your content worthwhile you need to dig a little deeper and give your audience something worth reading. This could mean adding your own real-life examples to illustrate your point, or even just presenting the information in a different way.

Sounds great, how do I get started?

Your first task is to keep abreast of trends, popular topics and upcoming changes within your sector which have the ability to affect your audience. To create effective thought leadership content, you should ensure you focus on what is important to your audience rather than what you would necessarily prefer to discuss. After all, you are there to suggest solutions and provide insight into their questions. There is very little point putting the time into answering questions that your audience are not asking. Engage with your audience; respond to comments on your articles and engage in debate. Find out what is important to them and let them lead the direction of your content.

The most important thing is to create good content. Make sure it is meaningful and that you have something to say. Don’t be put off by writing about popular topics where you might think all that has to be said has already been said. You don’t necessarily have to say something new, you just have to say it in a way which is interesting and engaging. Also, don’t be afraid of writing opinion pieces. While your audience will be reading your content primarily to understand the facts, they are also leaning on your expertise and will be interested on your view on a particular subject.

Experiment with different ways of presenting your information; although blog posts are effective, there are other ways of approaching content creation. If you have a lot of stats to presents, these may work better in the form of an infographic, perhaps you could also consider filming a short video clip, or experimenting with audio if you feel the information is better understood this way. The key is to keep your content fresh and interesting to your audience. Not only will this give them an incentive to come back for more it also helps you differentiate yourself from others in your industry doing a similar thing.

John Baird is a personal finance expert from Scotland Debt Solutions, part of the Begbies Traynor Group. He advises individuals on money-related issues such as saving, attaining credit, and both formal and informal debt solutions.