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Thought Leadership: Don’t Overthink It

Clients and prospec­tive clients often ask us about thought lead­er­ship. Most of the time it’s because they know they should be imple­ment­ing it, but are over­whelmed by the idea and unsure about how or where to start. For­tu­nate­ly, an impact­ful thought lead­er­ship pro­gram doesn’t have to be over­whelm­ing – and, when done well, can be an essen­tial com­po­nent of your mar­ket­ing plan.

If you have at least one sharp com­pa­ny leader with a firm pulse on your com­pa­ny and indus­try, you’re in a strong posi­tion for influ­enc­ing through thought lead­er­ship. We can help guide you toward that out­come with answers to the three most com­mon thought lead­er­ship ques­tions we get:

1.     How much time does thought lead­er­ship take? This is undoubt­ed­ly the most com­mon ques­tion we get. And right­ful­ly so! When peo­ple hear the phrase “thought lead­er­ship,” it often evokes scenes of spend­ing count­less hours writ­ing, speak­ing and becom­ing almost fanat­i­cal about a par­tic­u­lar top­ic you are pas­sion­ate about. While some peo­ple may choose this route to build their influ­ence, it doesn’t have to be that way. An impact­ful thought lead­er­ship pro­gram can be imple­ment­ed in a vari­ety of ways to make it easy on your sub­ject mat­ter expert (SME) and claim a min­i­mal amount of time in their busy sched­ule. Often, this starts with tak­ing a close look at exist­ing con­tent from the SME, or from the orga­ni­za­tion they rep­re­sent, and iden­ti­fy­ing ways to ampli­fy its mes­sage and reach by repur­pos­ing it across mul­ti­ple plat­forms – earned, owned, social and paid. It is a tremen­dous way to be effi­cient while align­ing with an over­ar­ch­ing strat­e­gy. It’s a great way to jump­start a thought lead­er­ship pro­gram with­out spend­ing enor­mous amounts of time rein­vent­ing the wheel.

The key, of course, to any thought lead­er­ship pro­gram is to be con­sis­tent and to keep nur­tur­ing plat­forms with new con­tent, per­spec­tives and ideas – which means there will come a time when new con­tent is need­ed. This, too, can be done eas­i­ly and effi­cient­ly. One com­mon approach is to work side-by-side with an agency like Bell­mont Part­ners that can help plan and craft that con­tent for you. Our team can inter­view SMEs and draft con­tent on their behalf; reduc­ing the amount of time your orga­ni­za­tion and SMEs need to spend on it. This process works for gen­er­at­ing bylined arti­cles and blog posts or speech­es and pre­sen­ta­tion scripts. We often talk to SMEs when they’re dri­ving from one meet­ing to the oth­er – or even on their way to yoga or their kid’s soc­cer game!

2.     How do we know if we’re reach­ing our audi­ences? Depend­ing on what type of thought lead­er­ship con­tent you’re gen­er­at­ing, there are some clear ways you can mea­sure its reach and impact. Audi­ence cir­cu­la­tion num­bers for a bylined arti­cle, amount of engage­ment or com­ments on a LinkedIn post, or mon­i­tor­ing Google Ana­lyt­ics for traf­fic to your web­site are just a few. But these are not the only met­rics you should take into con­sid­er­a­tion when it comes to eval­u­at­ing the suc­cess of a thought lead­er­ship program.

Thought lead­er­ship cam­paigns also often lead to qual­i­ta­tive results. From a LinkedIn con­tact reach­ing out to recon­nect over cof­fee to a client or part­ner men­tion­ing that they read your lat­est bylin­er dur­ing a call, thought lead­er­ship cam­paigns not only help bring in new busi­ness but also solid­i­fy and help grow exist­ing rela­tion­ships – and recruit tal­ent in a com­pet­i­tive mar­ket­place. If you’re curi­ous about ROI specif­i­cal­ly for LinkedIn, take a look at this recent Bell­mont Part­ners blog post.

3.     How will this help me reach my goals? Like with any mar­ket­ing strat­e­gy, it’s impor­tant to think about why thought lead­er­ship is ben­e­fi­cial and under­stand how it fits into the greater ecosys­tem of exist­ing mar­ket­ing efforts and goals. Cre­at­ing one real­ly strong blog or LinkedIn post like­ly won’t instant­ly dri­ve sales or recruit new part­ners; rather, it’s one tac­tic to edu­cate the mar­ket and build recog­ni­tion in a fair­ly non-pro­mo­tion­al way.

Thought lead­er­ship shouldn’t just be con­sid­ered an “ad” for your com­pa­ny – it should be an authen­tic, recur­ring reflec­tion of your val­ues, dif­fer­en­tia­tors and ben­e­fits. A thought lead­er­ship pro­gram should show­case the exper­tise of the peo­ple behind your brand, pro­vide edu­cat­ed com­men­tary about your com­pa­ny or indus­try, and share your insights about indus­try chal­lenges beyond your own com­pa­ny. This means think­ing about what a read­er or lis­ten­er could learn from you that they can apply to their own busi­ness. Often, clients get stuck want­i­ng to pro­mote what their com­pa­ny does, which is good in mod­er­a­tion, but shar­ing fresh per­spec­tives about indus­try trends and chal­lenges ensures your con­tent is rel­e­vant to a wider exter­nal audi­ence – and it keeps them com­ing back.

All those ques­tions are spe­cif­ic ways to ask “Is thought lead­er­ship worth it?” We absolute­ly think it is. Your com­pa­ny thrives because of the smart, tal­ent­ed peo­ple steer­ing it, so it only makes sense to cap­ture their per­spec­tives and chan­nel it into con­tent that gen­er­ates trust, loy­al­ty and cred­i­bil­i­ty to help your busi­ness flourish.


Thought Leadership One-Pager ODF

To learn more about our thought lead­er­ship strat­e­gy, down­load this free resource or reach out to us at – we’d love to connect!


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