What is Thought Leadership?

There are many types of promotional content your organization can produce – advertising content, blogs, rich content, external thought leadership, white papers, and more.

While it is implied in the name, “thought leadership” is anything that positions your brand as a thought leader on their specific topic of choice – with one key differentiator. Thought leadership is different from advertising because the piece that is positioning you is not from your brand. Thought leadership is unique because the article, quote, or byline is hosted on a site that does not belong to your brand. This lends way more credibility to your thoughts, opinions, and expertise than anything your brand could possibly put out – and pay for – on its own. Why?

It all boils down to credibility.

Defining Credibility

Credibility is “the quality of being trusted and believed in.” By building credibility, your brand is really building trust – with readers of that publication, but more importantly with potential customers. Thought leadership builds trust and credibility due to the source. Readers of trade publications, business outlets and other media entities trust the editorial processes of these publications, and trust that the information they’re telling is true.

When information comes directly from a brand – in the form of TV spot, billboard, social media add, or sponsored piece – Consumers are not always quick to believe what brands tell them. After all, how many brands boast in Instagram ads or primetime TV that they’re the “best XYZ” or “best in class product” or that “4 out of 5 doctors recommend us”? Buyers know that not every brand is the best or top-ranked, so they’re slow to trust this from the brand itself. But if this ranking comes from a third party, like a trade magazine or lifestyle publication, the market believes this fact a lot more. A third-party “top ranked” or “best in class” holds so much more meaning for consumers.

This same tenet holds true for so much more than just awards. If potential customers see your brand’s experts speaking on a topic around your business in any reputable publication, this is a building block for your organizations outside credibility.

Building Blocks of Credibility

Where do these building blocks lead? This is an honest question, as the internal lift to get thought leadership published is hefty – with or without outside agency assistance. Finding time to draft a piece for a publication’s consideration can feel like a monumental task. Creating a positive brand reputation takes time but will help your organization’s bottom line the most.