What is thought leadership?

Positioning your business as a leader in its field through thought leadership is the gold standard of content marketing. The term ‘thought leadership’ is often included on lists of business jargon, in part due to people defining themselves as ‘thought leaders’ without a basis of high quality content, and also as a reaction against the perceived self-importance that it bestows on the author. However, when done effectively to make a distinctive contribution to your sector, it is an incredibly powerful tool for building a business’s credibility, and for positioning you as a subject matter expert.

A 2021 report by LinkedIn found that 48% of decision-makers said that thought leadership can be effective in influencing their purchasing decisions, yet more than 25% reported that most of the thought leadership they had seen was not sufficiently high quality. This is coupled with the fact that many senior leaders are too time poor to produce this content themselves – alongside the pressures of running a business, it can be difficult to see the value in content creation. So, how can you create valuable content that establishes you as a subject matter expert?

How you can be a thought leader

As a business owner, you know your business better than anyone, which means that you have the potential to produce thought-leading content. In essence, if you have an authoritative viewpoint and can expend the effort to develop that into a compelling article, and communicate it effectively across wider channels, you can establish a reputation for thought leadership. The fundamental question any business needs to answer is whether the proposed piece of content contributes something different to what’s already available for your audience.

Viewing thought leadership content as an investment in your brand can justify the time spent on crafting these rich articles. These are longer than typical ‘blog-style’ content, typically numbering several pages or several thousand words, with the pinnacle of this being the white paper. White papers consist of a detailed report that offers a comprehensive overview of a specific topic with in-depth analysis and supporting data. Ghost writing can be a time-saving solution for generating this content, particularly if you are not a confident writer – if the ghost writer is able to optimise the article for search engines, this will also add value to the content. Even if you can put together bullet points expressing your thoughts on a particular topic, this can give a copywriter a starting point to construct an articulate piece designed to show your business’s expertise.

Thought leadership is everywhere

Thought leadership is everywhere, and we consume it without realising. It is the same concept as when politicians weigh in on topical issues in broadsheet columns – they are demonstrating their knowledge of current affairs, clearly identifying their point of view, and establishing their credibility using the written word in a public forum. We experience thought leadership content in business every day through social media networks – channel selection is vital when considering where and how to share your thought leadership content. Your website offers a base for housing this content, but if you are sharing it more widely, particularly to build a personal brand, LinkedIn is a key channel. Take inspiration from your previous professional experiences to create content that has a purpose, based on what you feel your audience may benefit from.


In summary, integrating thought leadership content into your marketing strategy is an investment in your personal brand and your business’s brand to help you build a reputation, both online and offline, and to demonstrate that you deeply understand the sector that you’re in, that you understand your wider marketplace, and that you can offer new insights and perspectives. If you’re looking for support with your marketing strategy, give us a call on 01787 388038 or email us at customerservice@mackmangroup.co.uk to find out how Mackman can help you with your marketing strategy and insight.