Why your business needs you to write thought leadership papers
You don’t have to be an academic to do this – you’ve already got the skills. Being a thought leader is just a way of sharing your knowledge with others.
So what is thought leadership?
In Victoria Tomlinson’s soon to be published e-book, How to write a top-ranked business blog, a thought leader is defined as someone who is recognised as an authority in a specialised field and whose expertise is sought out by the media, conference speakers and those looking for knowledge of that industry.
Pre-1990, although thought leaders were around, not many people had been defined as such. American Tom Peters is one such person having been credited by the Harvard Business Review as having invented the modern management guru industry.
Many others have since recognised that thought leadership papers are a content marketing goldmine, and have turned skills into businesses, helping to train others in how to package and deliver useful content.
IBM identifies itself as a thought leader and has a specific page on its website called ‘organisation and people thought leadership.’ In terms of individual thought leaders, could the Daily Mail’s writer Geoffrey Levy be considered a thought leader because of the influence he potentially has in his Saturday essays?
Thought leadership papers are known by a variety of names – you may call them as thought papers, knowledge papers or white papers. Well-considered thought papers contain numerous potential points of interest that can be pulled out and expanded upon in a blog or given a quick opinion on in a tweet. But rather than spend hours sourcing and reading papers by others to post through your social media sites, why not write one of your own?
1. So what exactly is a thought leadership paper?
The key elements to consider are:
- Topic and title – choose these based on your specialist area – what do you want to be seen as a thought leader in? Richard Quirk, an electrician based in Wales, writes a regular blog on topics such as tenant’s rights and top tips for bathroom electrics, both of which could be the basis for a more detailed thought paper.
- Your target audience – what will they be interested in and what problem do they need solving? For example Goringe Accountants, based in London and Reading, write blogs about company cars and Sage vs Quickbooks, subjects which its business clients will need information about.
- Your website keywords – what do you want people to find you on through search engines?
- Introduction – Introduce the topic and put it into context in paragraph one, remembering all of the above
- Main body – focus on one particular element and give detailed, insider information. If your thought paper is giving the solution to a problem, your argument should develop consistently and logically throughout the paper. Be analytical and defend your view, but write economically.
- Concluding paragraph – should bring together all your main points without repeating them, and ensure you have answered the question or covered the topic your title and introduction promises.
2. Why are thought leadership papers important for corporates?
Thought leadership papers are important for B2B because it paves the way for corporates to connect with their clients. And by producing papers on specific subjects, companies are seen as the expert in their fields – it is a great way for a company to personalise its image and create thought leaders in its industry.
When writing your paper remember it’s about leading the conversation and challenging others to think about what is going on – you need to share, engage and interact with your audience. It could be the only tool that separates your business from the competition.
3. How to create thought leadership papers that can be used to market your business further
When writing your paper, think about how it can be used to develop your social media and content marketing strategy. By this I mean, what can you pull out of it to use on Twitter, Linkedin or when writing a blog? But make sure you don’t repeat exactly what you have written – pick out some of the more salient points and rewrite them in a different way.
By doing this, you can then go onto repackage what you have written into:
- A number of blogs each focusing on a different point whilst at the same time linking to a current news item.
- If your paper is based on the results of a survey, research or new findings you could issue an embargoed press release to generate interest prior to the publication date.
- Sharing the highlights of your paper on Linkedin is a great way of stimulating discussion. However, try not to come across as ‘salesy’ or as shoehorning links to your website or blog if the accepted rules of the group frown upon this.
- One-page summaries of the content with bulleted lists and ‘top tips’ can be published as separate pieces of content through your website and social media sties
By doing all of this, you should have lots of content for your social media. However, don’t forget to also post links to your content via your Google+ account. Read our blog to find out more.
Does your organisation publish thought leadership papers? Do you run through a checklist of ways to use the content? Is there anything missing from the list above? Anything you would change?