written by
Lucy Manole

Thought Leadership Content: Building Trust and Authority

Content Marketing 9 min read

Did you know, in a recent survey by Edelman, a whopping two-thirds of industry experts agreed that the pandemic boosted the creation of thought leadership content?

When you nail it, this style of content gets your brand noticed and positions your agency as a go-to expert in your field.

We’re here to arm you with all the arsenal you need to whip up top-tier thought leadership content.

But first, the basics!

Brilliant thought leadership content...

A stunning piece of thought leadership must possess the following qualities.

Shows off your experience

A stunning piece of thought leadership content is when the author incorporates their industry experience. It's not about recycling old ideas but presenting innovative solutions or personal experiences backed by in-depth expert knowledge and research.

Next, create thought leadership content that is insightful and pushes readers to implement learnings.

Provides value

The essential characteristic of thought leadership content is that it must add tangible value to the readers beyond mere information dissemination.

Ensure it has the following:

  • Specific, actionable steps that readers can apply directly.
  • Engaging, easy-to-understand content with an emphasis on key takeaways
  • An experience-backed foresight that helps industry players stay ahead of the curve and continually adapt to the changing landscape.

This isn't just about selling your product but also about inspiring action and fostering positive change in the industry.

Resonates with your audience

Next, know who you're talking to. Ensure your thought leadership content hits your target audience right in the feels. For instance, you’d want to exclude industry jargon if the piece targets executives and industry newbies instead of CMO/CXO readers.

Therefore, focus on readers’ pain points to provide real-world, actionable solutions tailored just for them.

Is authentic

No making up stuff or fluffing here. The thought leadership must be spot on to enhance your agency’s credibility in the digital world.

For better outcomes, you may share your experiences, the good, the bad, and the ugly, since nothing resonates better than raw authenticity.

Here are a few pro tips for creating stunning thought leadership content for your agency.

Tips to create thought leadership content

1. Focus on niche content

Thought leadership is about crafting niche content, showcasing you as an expert in a domain. The focus should be on creating content that engages customers and keeping it insightful and relevant. It must speak directly to their pain points and aspirations. You can guide them through a journey that solves their immediate problems and position your products as essential tools for ongoing success.

As an agency, think of creating an exclusive piece that stitches together the known facts in a way that no one's ever thought of before. This data can be related to your direct customers, enabling them to make decisions confidently.

For instance, if you manage a SaaS marketing agency, you have SaaS businesses as your prime audience. In SaaS, customer retention is crucial as the CAC is high. Thus, keeping customers deeply engaged is key to reducing churn and maintaining recurring revenue.

When you know this is a significant pain point for your target audience, drive a narrative around customer success while sharing real-life cases of how your agency has helped businesses engage their customers, fulfill their needs, and deliver ongoing value to them.

Transforming thought leadership content

When looking to make the thought leadership content stand out amongst the rest, consider the following tips:

  • Specific challenges and needs that SaaS businesses and their customers face.
  • Create whitepapers, and case studies, run webinars, or write blogs that offer valuable insights into SaaS industry trends, best practices, and innovative strategies.
  • Illustrating how your agency has helped SaaS companies achieve success. Here, blend in tangible evidence to showcase your emphasis on customer success.

Crafting niche content as an agency thought leader

Next, when foraying into creating niche content, your agency’s thought leadership requires considering the following factors:

  • Know your customer needs through research and communication, pinpointing what your customers want to achieve with your products.
  • Create targeted content that speaks directly to those discovered needs, demonstrating how your agency can provide solutions.
  • Offer ongoing support and education through blogs, webinars, tutorials, or personalized consultations.
  • Regularly evaluate customer feedback and adapt your content, ensuring it remains aligned with evolving needs and expectations.

Here’s a whole gamut of thought-leadership content that you can publish.

Source: Types of content and their effectiveness

But again, refrain from selling the product; instead, pivot your content to the customer and their experience. Ensure you are transparent with the target audience to tune in to their wavelength. This way, you’ll explore to answer their burning questions. Something that is constantly scratching their heads over.

2. Perform audience and content research

A quick start to choosing what to offer in your thought leadership content requires some research. Here are our two cents (four, actually!) on fielding the ideas to craft killer thought leadership content.

Invest in market research

Understanding clients' industries' latest trends, technologies, and challenges can help identify areas where your expertise is most needed.

Subscribe to their industry’s magazines, read content, watch videos, and listen to podcasts that help understand market trends, customer needs, and competitor strategies. Indulging in market research can help identify emerging opportunities and understand the evolving challenges in your industry.

It forms the bedrock of content that resonates with your target audience, enabling you to tailor your thought leadership content to address specific issues and provide actionable solutions.

For example, this Mammoth Meatball case study by a global marketing agency by Wunderman Thompson. The ‘challenge’ part shows how the market research made way for this case study.

Analyze competitors’ content

Conduct a competitor's check by utilizing tools like SEMrush, Ahrefs, BuzzSumo, or other competitor analysis tools to analyze the type, frequency, and engagement levels of content published by competitors. This involves assessing keywords, topics, backlinks, and social shares.

Moreover, you can run manual reviews of competitors' blogs, videos, webinars, and whitepapers that provide qualitative insights. Combining these quantitative and qualitative analyses helps the agency craft a content marketing strategy that resonates uniquely with its audience, ensuring its thought leadership stands out.

Choose high-engagement topics to be a trendsetter

Identify the topics on your social channel or blog that have attracted the most attention. Once you unearth popular topics, it is time to take them to the next level and publish a thought-leadership feature around them.

For instance, if your audience is all over a blog about mastering SEO, they'll probably dig a thought leadership piece on the future of SEO.

Lastly, be a pioneer in expressing your vision relevant to the industry. Becoming a trendsetter as an agency thought leader requires you to stay abreast of the latest industry news or trends to provide your take on a hot topic.

Consider taking the following steps:

  • Subscribe to industry newsletters, follow influential figures on social media, and use tools like Google Alerts to stay updated on the latest trends and news.
  • Have a dedicated team or individual for monitoring, analyzing, and interpreting emerging industry trends.
  • Implement tools like feed aggregators, trend analysis software, or AI-driven analytics platforms that can help quickly identify and summarize emerging trends.
  • Be visible in the industry forums and discussions, share your unique take, and thought leadership content, and engage with others' viewpoints. This fosters a reputation as a thought leader who shapes rather than just reacts to industry trends.

Think of your topic from multiple perspectives, whether it’s an in-depth white paper, a case report, or a video. Choose a content form that communicates your brand story and engages the target audience.

For example, a topic creating a buzz in your industry can be shared as a podcast or blog post.

Here’s how you can achieve this:

Create videos

Whether webinars, podcasts, or bite-sized featurettes, create a superstar out of thought leaders by creating high-quality video content! These could be anyone from your CEO to your channel partners or loyal customers. Let's face it; they're the reason people will hit that play button.

Here is an example of a tutorial video made by our CEO:

Here’s a pro tip: Don't just stop at shooting short-format videos.

Take that 1-hour webinar, slice and dice it, and you'll have a dozen short, snackable videos!

Another nifty trick? Tune into the social media chatter, find a hot topic, and drop a short clip into the conversation using a trendy hashtag.

Add graphics

Here's the cool thing about doing your research; you can turn it into pretty much anything.

If you have interesting numbers to share, why not leverage tools like Canva to create eye-catching infographics? You can also have a quick reference chart accompanying your written words.

When you've got an eBook or a guide, think of remixing it into a handy one-pager or cheat sheet. You've done the hard work; now let's make it work hard for you!

Consider audio-only content

The number of podcast listeners is witnessing a sharp rise year after year. Moreover, 82.4% of podcast listeners engage with the content for 7+ hours (weekly) listening to podcasts.

Source: Podcast listening statistics in the USA

With the growing popularity of platforms like Spotify and Clubhouse, the spoken word is a force to be reckoned with. For instance, Sweet Fish Media runs a thought leadership podcast called B2B Growth, hosted by James and Benji.

Consider thought-sharing through compelling audio content listeners can tune into on the go. It's all about giving your audience valuable content when and where it suits them best.

4. Customer retention through thought leadership content

When you take thought leadership a step forward to retain customers, consider it customer marketing. It can work as a proactive SaaS customer retention strategy that targets existing customers and engages them, retains them for a long time, and helps them make business decisions confidently. Often, you’d expect customer retention, a boost in customer satisfaction, customer loyalty, and improvement in brand advocacy as an outcome of this activity.

Developing your credibility and expertise as a thought leader for the current set of customers will thus need crafting content that targets their unique challenges. Here, you're not selling a product but offering a solution that makes them look forward to implementing it. Therefore, try understanding their needs, share tips & tricks, and offer step-by-step guides.

Here are some examples:

  • Guides, tutorials, webinars, FAQs, and more to empower your customers to use your product or service effectively.
  • Take it further with customized content by tailoring videos with personalized messages, sending emails to existing customers, and even incentivizing referrals by blending it into your thought leadership pieces.

Let’s wrap it up

Creating stellar thought leadership content for your agency is about embracing a range of tools, formats, and factors that help serve your audience right. Consider all the possible aspects to put your thoughts out in the digital media and ensure you get the research and target audience right.

Remember, the best thought leadership content doesn’t just inform; it engages, inspires, and fosters meaningful conversations. So, get out there and start creating content that reflects your agency's unique perspective and expertise.

The world is ready to hear from you!

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