Thought Leadership: How to Achieve the Holy Grail of Content Marketing


Many successful business marketers view thought leadership as the Holy Grail of content marketing. Buyers today seek out people and brands they view as experts as they skillfully tune out other interruptive and less credible marketing messages. In fact, 92% of B2B buyers report that they are happy to engage with a known industry thought leader.

Unlike the quest for the Holy Grail, however, anyone with the right plan and resources can achieve thought leadership status. You do not have to be a CEO or a famous personality. One of the most important things you can do to achieve thought leadership status is to publish excellent content that speaks to the needs of your consumers. It is all about becoming “the best answer” to your consumer’s questions, wherever they might be influenced.

To help business professionals on their journey to becoming a thought leader, our client LinkedIn Marketing Solutions has published The Sophisticated Marketer’s Guide to Thought Leadership.

This eBook provides a clear turn-by-turn directions to help brands and individuals alike create a top-notch thought leadership strategy. It combines tips from marketing thought leaders with expert advice on how to design the right thought leadership strategy for you as well insights from the professionals at LinkedIn.

We’ve combed through the eBook to find answers to your most pressing questions about thought leadership. From these quotes, you can begin to learn how pursuing a thought leadership strategy can make an impact on your marketing and what you need to know to become known as a leader in your industry.

Why should you put effort into becoming a thought leader?

“Business buyers don’t ‘buy’ your product or service; they ‘buy into’ your perspective and approach to solving their problems.”
– Jeff Ernst @jeffernst
Principal Analyst at Forrester Research

“Brands that develop trust and authority through thought leadership content earn the kind of success that’s near impossible to copy.”
– Lee Odden @leeodden
CEO at TopRank® Online Marketing and author of Optimize

“To gain true competitive advantage, it’s not enough to sell a great product, you need to gain people’s trust and touch their hearts. You need to get them to believe in your purpose and create a movement around your mission.”
– Ekaterina Walter, @ekaterina
Marketing Innovator and author of Think Like Zuck and The Power of Visual Storytelling

How do you produce content that will make you a thought leader?

The key to being a Thought Leader is to… well, lead. What does that mean for you? Have an undiluted point of view—don’t just tell me what’s going on, tell me how you feel about it, and why I should care. Thought Leaders sift through content mess to give context and perspective; because we don’t need more content, but we do need more true insight.”
– Ann Handley @annhandley
Chief Content Officer at Marketing Profs and author of Everybody Writes

“True thought leadership starts with empathy. Can you tell me the top ten problems your audience has at any given time? How about the top ten aspirations? Are you thinking through where your audience wants to be, compared with where the market is going?”
– Brian Solis @briansolis
Principal at Altimeter Group and author of What’s the Future of Business (WTF)

“It’s important to make sure you have ideas to share on a consistent basis that are valuable to your target audiences. Ask yourself: What’s your special sauce as a leader? What unique experiences or areas of expertise do you have to share?”
– Shannon Stubo Brayton @sstubo
Vice President of Corporate Communications at LinkedIn.

“Thought leadership needs to be educational and ideally provocative; content marketing can simply be fun or entertaining”
– Jon Miller @jonmiller
Vice President of Product Marketing at Marketo

What is important to know about thought leadership?

“Thought leadership requires patience. Very few people have said one thing or written one post that thrust them to the front of the line. Anyone looking to fold thought leadership into their program should give it at least a year before deeming it a success or a failure”
– Joe Chernov @jchernov
Vice President of Marketing (Content) at HubSpot

“If you want to remain ‘top-of-mind’ in your industry, you must regularly provide relevant content to a niche audience. When you consistently deliver value to the right people, they will share your content, evangelize your products and services and in many cases become your best customers.”
– Michael A. Stelzner @mike_stelzner
Founder at Social Media Examiner and author of Launch

“Ultimately, Thought Leadership is one of the outcomes of a solid Content Strategy. And content is bigger than marketing. Leaders are everywhere. Expose your thought leaders and you begin the process of becoming a social business—real people with real faces talking to real customers and buyers.”
– Michael Brenner @brennermichael
Head of Strategy at Newscred

Even though thought leadership is often viewed as the Holy Grail of content marketing, it is a goal that anyone can begin to achieve with the right strategy. To dig even deeper into the topic of how to become a thought leader in your industry, check out LinkedIn’s The Sophisticated Marketer’s Guide to Thought Leadership.

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