If you are interested in content marketing and driving customers to your website, chances are, you’ve heard of thought leadership articles. When done well, these types of blogs can set you apart from your competition, showcase your expertise and build credibility for your business. While not difficult to create, thought leadership pieces do take time and research.

It’s worth the effort as these kinds of blogs can elevate you in terms of credibility and reliability with customers. By sharing valuable knowledge you become more trustworthy. Building trust is the first step to drawing customers to your business. Most people research online before making a purchase and 67% of customers said a good reputation can get them to try a product – but if they don’t trust the company, they’ll stop buying.

What is a thought leadership blog?

There are all sorts of blog types that serve your business and customers. It’s a good idea to have a mix of blogs that serve all points of a customer’s journey. Blog types run from announcements about products to reviews, case studies, and answering customers’ product questions before they even know what they are. Great blogs give to customers instead of shamelessly promoting or pushing for sales. In doing so, these kinds of blogs build loyalty and a relationship with buyers. They build your business along with its ranking and reputation.

Thought leadership articles are a little different to the others. These blogs share insights and knowledge from your industry that isn’t well known. They’re backed with solid research and contain objective data. They get to the heart of an issue and while it shares your opinion, it’s not an opinion piece – it’s factual and timely.

Most thought leadership blogs are longer than other kinds because they provide an in-depth view of a particular, pertinent issue. The detail they go into builds credibility and is generally given from a seasoned leader or C-suite executive perspective. They take some skill to research and write because while all this valuable information is being delivered your company’s position and know-how is also woven through the paragraphs.

The aim of these pieces is slightly different from other types of blogs as it’s aiming to raise your profile. Maybe you’ll grab the attention of the media with your unique view on aspects of your industry. You should certainly aim to make an impression that’s so strong your reader will remember you. Because of this slightly different objective, distribute thought leadership pieces wider than just your own company blog. Leverage LinkedIn and other platforms to spread your ideas and thoughts.

How to write thought leadership articles that stand out

A thought leadership blog needs to start with listening. Before you write anything you need to see what’s going on around you. Check-in with industry experts and see what’s getting them excited right now. Review your customer persona’s – what kind of problems or challenges are they interested in? Delve into the news, find out which conversations are going on in the world that you can tap into with your thought leadership piece. Resources like Answer the Public can also be helpful for finding the questions that will help you write later.

Now you know what people want to know, it’s time to get researching. Find sources of information that you can use which are reliable, credible and shed new light on the topic you have chosen. The idea is to share challenging new ideas, a unique perspective and back up them up with reliable infallible data. Devour the information and make sure you bookmark your sources – these will be needed to be given appropriate attribution in your thought leadership blog.

It’s worth noting also that if you find a great quote from an industry heavyweight you want to include, make sure you cite them properly and completely. If it appears you’re trying to steal others’ work or ideas, your thought leadership will harm rather than enhance your reputation.

When you are armed with the topic and valuable resources, it’s time to get down to the business of writing your blog. Consider your audience when you open up the blank page. Try to visualise them in your head. Tap into the tone of voice that is most appropriate for them and the topic you intend to write about. Use that language for writing your blog.

While your writing, remember you are aiming to convey information in a persuasive, authoritative and confident manner. Avoid using passive voice. Lean toward using examples, anecdotes and stories to get your message across – it’s more enjoyable to read and people remember stories better than lists of facts. Cover the whole Who, What, When, Where, Why and How of the topic you have chosen.

Putting the final touches on your thought leadership article

Link to your reputable sources throughout the piece but don’t get too heavy on outbound links. Consider if they add value for the reader – if they do, keep them, if not leave them out. Above all else, write in a style that suits your company’s voice. Consider other publications and their style of writing – it can help to emulate writing you enjoy reading.

Remember that headlines count too – these are the few words most people will use to decide if they want to spend time reading your thought leadership article. CoSchedule’s Headline Studio is a great resource that will help you find the right balance between clickability and SEO for ranking well in search engines.

Finally, consider your author’s by-line. If you’re aiming to raise your profile with the blog, or that of an expert in your organisation, a little author bio can work wonders. A headshot photograph and a few lines about the author can bring in enquiries and provide a little more context for your reader.

Why mixing thought leadership blogs with other styles is a good strategy

Above all else, your blog should be part of your customer generation process. Providing a mix of content on your blog helps you to meet your customers at all points of their journey toward buying a product or service. All good content marketing strategies cover each step of their customer’s journey from potential customers to avid supporters of your business.

A true mix of blog styles means you can’t shy away from thought leadership articles. And you shouldn’t either, they can help you become recognised as an original thinker, a mover and shaker in your sector. That alone is good for business.

And while thought leadership blogs aren’t especially interested in SEO, but they can drive your ranking. This is because part of the SEO algorithms Google and other search engines use is the relevance of content and the authority it delivers searchers. This is another reason why you should always spend some time listening before writing a thought leadership piece.

A well-rounded blog includes thought leadership articles, content marketing blogs aimed at delivering value for your customers, case studies and honest reviews of your products. All of them combine to deliver a sweet offering that builds your customer base. When done well, they’ll help your search ranking too. If you’re still not sure of where to start, give me a shout – I’d be happy to help boost your business with some great content!