As with most business buzzwords, thought leadership (and eminence) have become overused and misunderstood. The purpose and place of thought leadership is at its core a primary and effective way of positioning the author as an expert (read thought leader) in their field!
To this end, thought leadership articles cannot be approached as “tick box” activities to in the hope of them magically transforming the writer into a luminary in their chosen field.
Though leadership needs to be approached as a very structured and well thought out activity. The following are a few of the basics that every writer of thought leadership should be thinking of when they embark on this leg of their expert positioning journey.
1. Audience Selection
The first thing to be conscious of is who are you directing your content towards? Is it a technical piece of writing that uses a lot of jargon? Are you trying to reach the largest audience possible? Are you writing to explain a concept or to drive an action? All of these questions are extremely important to answer as you are planning what you are going to write about as they will lead your article in a specific direction to achieve a predefined objective.
2. Form & Function
As with most things in life, form should follow function. In other words – the way in which you structure your piece of thought leadership should directly follow the objective of your content.
Let’s assume that you are putting together a piece of blog content that needs to highlight a business need which can be satisfied through your service offering.
Introduction: For a blog post, you’re introducing the topic and all the necessary background information to your reader. You’re essentially laying out your case as to why they need to read on. At the end of the introduction, the conflict or problem statement is revealed. The reader is made aware of a problem, which should make them curious about it if you have made them care enough to be concerned enough in your introduction.
Rising Action: This is where you build up your case. The reader has the background info, and knows of the problem. Here is where you begin fleshing out and building in the detail which will give meat on your argument. Use facts, charts, quotes, links — etc.
Climax: This is the pinnacle of your argument, your idea, your theory. However you handle it, this is the point where you convince them that the case you laid out for them was true, and that it applies to them. The problem you stated was their problem, too.
Falling Action: Now that you have your reader’s trust, since they’re still with you, you close out your argument and start to suggest to them that there’s a way to solve the problem, and you’ll share it with them. It is important that this is done in such a way that the recommendation doesn’t look contrived.
Call to Action (Resolution): Present your solution, your conclusion, and your final thoughts. A well-written blog post that has presented a problem or concept that convinces readers it applies to them will leave them wanting to take action immediately so they can feel that they’ve taken part and concluded the issue for themselves.
3. Look & Feel
There are a number of elements that make up the look and feel of a great piece of thought leadership. Primarily of which is the way in which the content is laid out. It is important to break the content up into short manageable bites of content. Long flowing paragraphs are not a bloggers best friend.
It is better to break the paragraphs up into shorter bite sized chunks as this allows readers to digest the content a lot more easily.
Lists and headings are equally important as they allow the content to be sumarised and scanned through.
Given the chance – readers would rather scan an article and pull out the bits that stand out rather than reading through and getting to grips with the entire 1 000 words.
Get in touch
Drop me a line if you have any other tips and tricks that you use to ensure that your content is especially effective – and also to let me know what success you enjoy following this structure!