Thought leadership research ensures that content (whether it is written, audio, video or visual) is effective in delivering fresh ideas, new thinking, advice, and solutions that add value for the target audience. It helps to identify key themes that will enable a brand or organisation to become – or continue to be – a trusted source or go-to expert.
What is thought leadership?
Thought leadership is a powerful tool to increase the profile and reputation of a brand and drive sales, especially in an increasingly crowded marketplace. It’s really all about being helpful and adding value. A thought-leader is considered an expert in their field. Effective thought leadership can improve perceptions, market awareness, and customer relationships. Thought leadership content must be actionable, targetable, trackable, and reusable across channels and devices.
What is a successful thought leadership progamme?
Successful thought leadership programmes are built on four key elements:
- Based on a strategy that integrates internal process, communications and branding and ultimately connects with driving sales across the top and bottom line
- Focused on providing meaningful, distinctive insight and guidance
- Built on a well thought out set of thought leadership assets including content, tools and resources
- Delivered using a disciplined multi-channel approach.
How do you develop an effective thought leadership campaign?
The elements of thought leadership research include research design, evidence creation and storytelling. Organisations may take the following approach:
- Designing with the story in mind – using desk research and input from key stakeholders to craft a strawman narrative, the story we’d like to be able to tell’, by looking at existing thought leadership and then creating a hypothesis or unique story that you want to tell (if the data supports it)
- Data & insights – this can include surveys, workshops or in-depth interviews with stakeholders – from individual consumers to senior business leadership teams – and develop original ideas and points of view based on proprietary data
- Robust analysis – working through the quantitative and qualitative research insights to enable key thought leadership stories and powerful nuggets to be extracted from the data
- Activation – creation of compelling deliverables that engage audiences through the right formats, including reports, articles, video, animation, audio, webinar/presentation, or infographic content
- Measurement – of consumption of the content (such as downloads, views, listens, attendance, engagement), improvements in customer relationships, market perceptions and awareness, and incremental revenue increases.
When researching thought leadership ideas and effectiveness, organisations, brands or individuals will ask questions about:
- Authenticity: are you offering something unique that is authentic to your brand?
- Engagement: has your thought leadership content improved engagement and bottom-line growth with existing customers?
- Sales: has improved awareness and perceptions driven new sales and acquisition?
- Voice: is your content creating a unique voice in a crowded market?
Summary: the benefits of thought leadership research
Delivering excellent, research-led thought leadership requires great research design, evidence creation and storytelling. This helps to develop original ideas and opinions that stand out and position a brand or individual as a leader in the field.
Thought leadership research will help to build brand awareness and improve perceptions through the delivery of relevant and thought-provoking content. This can deepen customer relationships by engaging with target audiences on hot topics and the issues or pressures they are facing; and improve awareness and perceptions in the wider market.
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