Thought leadership articles provide a tried-and-true method for establishing your credibility, raising awareness of your brand, and positioning yourself as a trusted figure within your field.
But what makes for a persuasive thought leadership article? Expertise is certainly part of it; to be seen as a thought leader, you really do have to know what you’re talking about. That’s just one part of the equation. Clarity of communication is also key. And there’s no substitute for point of view. To be seen as a thought leader, you’ll need to bring a perspective that’s appreciably different from the industry consensus.
As you prepare to write a thought leadership article, here are a few steps to make it as compelling as can be.
How to Write Effective Thought Leadership Articles
1) Know your field.
First and foremost, recognize that you’re not an expert in everything, but you probably are an expert in something. Think through your core business value proposition, and about the ways you make life better for your customer and clients. Also think through your distinctives: What separates you from others in your field? A careful self-assessment should reveal some insights regarding your true expertise.
2) Research your industry.
One way to hone your point of view is to get a better sense of what others are saying. Research leading publications within your field. See what people are talking about on social media. Interview some of the people you identify as thought leaders. Get to know the lay of the land, so that when you articulate your unique point of view, it will be more than just a rootless opinion.
3) Provide a clear thesis.
A good thought leadership article takes a stand. For example, say you’re writing an article about the use of PPC ads in small business marketing campaigns. Your article should state, relatively early on, whether you think PPC ads are a wise investment or an unwise investment for your target audience. In short: Pick a side! Let your audience know that you stand for something.
4) Articulate benefits.
What will readers gain from your article? What kinds of actionable insights will you provide? Good thought leadership articles are clear in expressing value. This may mean breaking down a complex idea into easy-to-understand terms. It may mean listing specific recommendations for your readers to follow. Or it may mean enriching your reader’s perspective by offering a unique or contrarian point of view on a familiar topic.
5) Share anecdotes and experience.
To establish yourself as a credible thought leader, you need to offer plenty of evidence that you’ve wrestled with the issues you’re writing about, not just theoretically but in the real business world. Make sure you weave in plenty of specific stories and examples from your personal or professional life.
6) Include data points.
Anecdotes are invaluable, but when possible, it’s also wise to include actual numbers. Again, the goal is to show that your thought leadership isn’t just baseless opinion. Cite trustworthy publications or your own in-house findings.
7) Attach a bio.
Finally, good thought leadership articles can be bolstered by a brief yet impactful professional bio, simply reiterating your credentials. If nothing else, a link to your website or LinkedIn profile can go a long way.