Your project might start with a deadline. Who can you get in that time frame? What publication should you target, and what are the conditions for submitting contributed content? What can you say, and not say? Before long you may find yourself distracted by the technical aspects of developing content and end up with a lifeless end product. This top-down exercise may win on technical points, but there’s no spark to it. It lacks passion.
You can’t build thought leadership content like it’s a Buick on an assembly line. What you really want is a sleek, hand-crafted Bugatti that turns heads.
So how do you get the passion back? To start, don’t get too far ahead of yourself. Think like a journalist, develop your sources and start a discussion. Mine the ideas first, then sweat the details.
Finding the best sources in the organization means starting a dialog with the right subject matter experts. You need SMEs who are social, who are passionate about what they do, who connect with customers regularly, and who are on top of industry trends. Look for people who empathize with customer pain points and feel strongly that they know the right way to resolve them. These are the folks who are already thinking about what comes next. They may be out there advocating for standards, working in the field with customers, or running advanced marketing analytics to uncover emerging customer needs and behaviors.
Thought leadership is about more than just producing content that reinforces your product strategy without explicitly naming the product or brand. You need to be so ahead of that. So get out there, find your visionaries and plug into their social networks. Take an SME to lunch. And keep that dialog going so that when the big ideas come you’ll be ready to develop the kind of thought leadership content that positions your company as the authority.