For marketing managers, the art of crafting compelling thought leadership articles and whitepapers rests on two critical pillars: adeptly managing stakeholders and selecting topics that resonate with a sophisticated target audience.
Creating thought leadership content often calls for the involvement of one or more senior level stakeholders, and that can present a multitude of challenges. If you’re planning to produce thought leadership content for your organisation, here are ten tips to make your journey easier.
1. Identify Key Stakeholders
Before diving into the content writing process, identify your primary stakeholders. These individuals or groups might include C-suite executives, industry influencers, customers, suppliers, and even employees with relevant expertise. During the topic planning process, identify potential topic themes and note which stakeholders may need to be involved in the process for different themes.
2. Understand Stakeholder Perspectives
Delve into the concerns, motivations, and pain points of your stakeholders. Consider their perspectives to develop content ideas that resonate with their needs.
3. Engage Stakeholders Early
Stakeholder engagement is not a one-time task; it’s an ongoing process. Start discussions with your stakeholders early in the content creation cycle. Seek their input, feedback, and ideas. This collaborative approach ensures their perspectives are integrated into your articles. If internal topic matter experts need to be interviewed by external content marketing agency writers for a whitepaper or article, the process will be infinitely easier if they’re enthusisastic about the project happy to participate!
4. Leverage Your Stakeholders’ Networks
Your stakeholders often have valuable networks and connections. Collaborate with them to expand your reach – you might identify some excellent sources for quotes or additional input. Encouraging stakeholders to share published thought leadership articles within their circles, can also exponentially increase your content’s impact.
5. Choose Topics with Stakeholder Input
Allow your stakeholders to play a role in choosing the topics of your thought leadership articles. This approach ensures that your content addresses their concerns and interests directly. They are more likely to support and promote articles in which they have a say.
6. Balance Timeliness and Relevance
Select topics that are both timely and relevant. Industry trends are ever-changing, so your topics should be current, but the content should also offer timeless insights that remain valuable over time.
7. Focus on Industry Challenges
Thought leadership articles should address pressing industry challenges and offer solutions. Consider conducting surveys or interviews with stakeholders to pinpoint the most significant challenges they face. Craft your content to provide innovative solutions to these issues.
8. Share Real-World Examples
Incorporate real-world examples and case studies to illustrate your points. Examples (along with authority sources) add credibility to your thought leadership articles. Your stakeholders may be able to provide invaluable input for this. However, take care to ensure that examples you use are not confidential, or likely to show a client or another important connection in a poor light.
9. Develop a Unique Angle
While addressing common industry challenges, strive to present a unique angle or approach. This distinguishes your articles from the competition and showcases your expertise as an industry leader.
10. Consider Different Stakeholder Priorities and Agendas
Stakeholders often have diverse priorities and agendas, which can complicate the content creation process. Some may prioritise revenue growth, while others focus on brand reputation or social responsibility. It can be particularly challenging when a stakeholder’s priority doesn’t align with the goal for a particular campaign or content piece.
In many cases, this can be easily addressed by ensuring the stakeholder understands the goal. In other cases, you might need to ensure topics are customised to align with a stakeholder’s interests or priority if you want to engage them.
Over the longer term, consider preparing a content calendar with topics that are balanced across key stakeholder priorities and interests.
Keep in mind that thought leadership content creation should be an ongoing journey of collaboration. There’s no escaping that it does present challenges, but if you’re able to establish a process to develop topics that will engage both stakeholders and the target audience, you’re likely to see some great results.