A few posts ago, I spoke about white papers and thought leadership pieces. If you’re not sure what I’m talking about, click here.
Ok- back with me? Great.
So how do you write a great thought leadership piece? Here are a few top tips, to get you started…
Get the length right
There are no concrete rules around length for this type of piece. It should be more substantial than your average blog post, as you’ll want to go into some depth on each point. That said, if you’re publishing the piece digitally, I’d avoid making it too long. My advice is to aim for something between 800-1,500 words.
Set the tone
To position yourself as a ‘thought leader’, your tone needs to be authoritative and opinionated. Don’t be afraid to paint yourself as an expert but be careful not to accidentally drift into arrogance. A good way to achieve this, is by clearly explaining your ideas, so the reader feels informed, not patronised.
Like most forms of content marketing, thought leadership pieces should offer something of value to the reader. Of course you want to highlight your skills at the same time but you should avoid getting too ‘salesy’. Instead, focus on imparting some pearls of wisdom, to benefit your reader.
Quotes and references from external sources will help to backup your ideas. (Remember those school essays? This is a similar approach…) Cite reputable, respected publications and provide clear references. For a marketing twist, include a quote from someone you’ve worked with (with their permission of course!).
Providing examples from your own portfolio is a nice way to show off your services. It also demonstrates that you’re speaking from experience, which adds credibility to your ideas. Just make sure that any examples you use are clearly relevant to the points you’re discussing.
Some readers won’t have time to read your full article. Others will read everything but will still want it summarised in digestible chunks. In both cases, a bullet point list of ‘key takeaways’ can be really helpful. Do this last and position it at the end of your piece. Keep it brief and to-the-point.
Include a website link and/or contact information, so those who have been stunned by your brilliance know where to find you.