Thursday Thought Leadership Roundup: Types of Content, Do As the Successful Do, and Avoiding the Commodity Trap

Filed Under Innovation

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Arwen Heredia

February 20, 2014

This week, our thought leadership roundup is all about learning — what to do, what not to do, and how to do it right when it comes to developing your own expertise, content, and strategies, regardless of what level you’re currently at in the TL realm.

5 Examples of Thought Leadership

From WP Engine:

“Thought Leadership is content that provides solutions to your audience’s problems, without mentioning your company or products at all. David Meerman Scott, explains:

Instead of just directly selling something, a great site, blog, or video series tells the world that you are smart, that you understand the market very well, and that you might be a person or organization that would be valuable to do business with.

Thought Leadership can be presented in a variety of forms, but the point is to present solutions (whether they be useful guidance, cutting edge research, educational materials) in the most engaging and informative format.”

Our take: Although this is a super basic intro to the topic of thought leadership content, it’s still a valuable one. All too often, companies miss the point of this type of content and try to force it into the realm of the typical sales tool; this piece makes the case for why that’s not such a good idea.

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How to Avoid the Thought Leadership Commodity Trap

From Stern Associates:

“Since the phrase was first coined by Joel Kurtzman in 1994 (himself a thought leader), “thought leader” has been used to describe everyone from JFK to Oprah Winfrey. Now, everyone aspires to be one. Google “thought leader” and you’ll get several hundred websites promising to help you become the next, highly sought-after expert in your field.

Perhaps this is an inevitable reaction to our increasingly commoditized market. As business leaders find it harder and harder to differentiate their products or services, they’ve turned to thought leadership in an attempt to stand out from their competitors. But the field has now become so crowded with self-described thought leaders that they themselves risk becoming a commodity.

How do you avoid that trap? As a company that represents many leading authorities in their respective fields, we’ve come to a few conclusions.”

Our take: A step beyond the aforementioned WP Engine piece, this article provides advice for aspiring thought leaders in business that’s derived from both experience and research. It makes a handful of great points about focusing on the quality and originality of your content instead of pushing quantity, which we wholeheartedly agree with.

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Do as Successful Thought Leaders Do

From Entrepreneur:

“Thought leaders expand ideas. Ideas are the bread and butter of thought leadership. At the core of every project, product cause or movement there is an idea — an idea that is meant to inspire new ways of thinking and engage action. Ideas form the core of what it means to change the world. People hire and promote thought leaders because they are “ideators,” defined by the Urban Dictionary as “a person who creates productive ides. In order to engage people with our ideas, we must nurture relentless curiosity, find and engage with our broader ecosystem, and show others the way forward.”

Our take: Bringing today’s brief course in thought leadership home, this piece from Denise Brosseau, CEO of Thought Leadership Lab, digs deep into the application of expertise in your chosen area, and how to translate it into great content and business returns. This is an especially important read for people seeking to perfect their TL strategies, content, and overall success.

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