Updated: Oct 28, 2021
There you are. You know you’re on to something good. You can feel it. You’ve been mulling your ideas. From talking to people and reading and writing, you know that your thoughts about your niche subject are something your audience needs and craves.
You are like a magnet. But you’re only attracting those who are already close to you.
How will you reach your audience on a wider scale?
There are so many voices out there. They’re loud. Hogging the microphone. There’s only one reliable way to stand out. You’ve got to approach the story in the right way and tell it like a journalist would. You need to write like a thought leader.
Whether you’re independent or work for a company, you'll need to do so-called content marketing. If that short-form content is going to be any good, it should not be all about you.
It should share your best ideas, your best practices, your methodologies, your reasoning, your personal stories.
It should fall in the “around my business” category, not the “about my business” category.
Articles written in the thought-leadership style (see Figure 1) have many characteristics but two of greater importance:
You must give away your knowledge for free – e.g. you must really say something to bring the conversation forward and not be worried that you’re going to harm your own business by giving away too much of your knowledge
And you must keep all commercial offerings separate from your content
Although I deplore the term content marketing, the idea is pretty smart because once you’ve invested in good writing, or created multimedia with the right storyline, your content can continue to live on and generate lead after lead for your business. You can scale your audience (and your revenues) around your good content, without always having to create something new over and over again.
But here’s a warning: If your content is not of high quality – if your writing is stale and convoluted, and if you’re not imparting knowledge – you won’t attract any interest or start any conversations with your efforts.
After a short while, your audience will understand that your stories don’t deliver on your headlines or that you’re simply regurgitating others’ ideas.
Eventually, your whole content marketing strategy will collapse like a three-legged stool that has lost one leg.
That’s why I say you’ve got to write like a thought leader.
What does that mean for short-form, first-person articles?
Articles written in the thought-leadership style explore solutions for a problem that plagues your audience. The problems you address and the solutions you discuss are informed by the thought leadership niche you have articulated for yourself.
Your writing is not salesy, dry or academic. It’s personal. Conversational. Journalistic.
And most of all, your commercial offering is separated from your story. The writing shows the breadth and depth of your experience and shares the best you have with your audience, while leaving the selling for later.
Figure 1: Three Steps to Thought Leadership Writing
Want to know more?
-Rhea Wessel is the Founder and Head of the Institute for Thought Leadership. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org