5 Ways to Put the Thought Back in Thought Leadership

Aug 17, 2023

According to the recent Thought Leadership Report by the Harris Poll, executives have conflicting opinions when it comes to the value of thought leadership content. The findings show that 9 out of 10 executives believe thought leadership is a critical strategy for building authority, but only 20% of executives believe their organization’s thought leadership is highly effective in terms of results.  

The main reasons for content falling flat are a lack of variety and innovation, with two-thirds of executives agreeing that the market is oversaturated with uninteresting content.  

From the lens of a content writer, we wholeheartedly agree. When it comes to thought leadership, there is an excess of content and a distinct lack of thought. Businesses are more concerned with saying something, than putting thought into what is being said.  

Thought leadership should be the USP of your organization’s content strategy, layering personal experience with industry expertise to present a point of view that is unique to your business. Here are five tips to breathe some personality and perspective back into your thought leadership content: 

1. Be an Expert, Not a Salesperson 

Thought leadership aims to build authority by leveraging your knowledge and expertise to create valuable, insightful content. It is a long-term strategy that favors building trust by informing, rather than persuading. Instead of convincing consumers that your product or service is great, you’re establishing yourself as someone who knows what they are talking about and, therefore, would likely have a quality product or service. Content that is too promotional or salesy won’t work.  

2. Bring Your Opinion and Back It Up  

It’s not enough to give your opinion; you must explain why your opinion matters. Whether you’re arguing for or against an industry trend, readers need to know why you, the expert, think this way. Are you coming from a particular perspective? What experiences shaped your point of view? Do you have any niche expertise that gives you unique insight?  

 3. Write With Readers in Mind 

 Readers look to thought leadership in search of specific information. They have questions, and providing the answers is your opportunity to gain mind share. But you can’t tailor those questions to fit your talking points; it’s the other way around. This is where the importance of research comes into play. Tools like Google Trends and SEM Rush’s Topic Research use search data to reveal what topics readers want to know about most and inform your content. 

 4. Provide a Well-Rounded POV 

 Part of being an expert is presenting a well-rounded view of a subject and empowering readers to inform their own decisions. This is especially important in B2B thought leadership, where readers are often trying to decide what is best for their business. Your solution may not be the answer, but being straight with the facts may keep your business in mind for a future referral. 

 5. Use Research from Trusted Sources 

 Facts and statistics are an excellent way to add weight to your content, but your source is critically important. The internet has made it easy to access information, but that doesn’t mean all of it is accurate. You should always trace a piece of information back to its original source, especially if it’s a stat about the current market or industry. Stick to reputable outlets like professional organizations, academic journals, and industry reports. 

 There are dozens of articles with titles like “50 Facts About the State of B2B Sales for 2023” or “25 Stats You Need to Know About Digital Marketing.” They make for good clickbait, but when you look at the linked source (and if there isn’t one, don’t use it), you’ll often find the information is outdated, misrepresented, and links back to a competitor or another listicle.  


Thought leadership doesn’t have to be ground-breaking or contrarian to be effective, but it does have to be yours, and it’s a story only you can tell.