Skip to main content


First, some good news. If you’re thinking about producing thought leadership content, roughly nine out of every 10 B2B decision-makers reckon it’s an effective way to enhance the perception of your organisation, according to a joint Edelman-LinkedIn survey.

The problem: most thought leadership fails to inspire. Just 15% of those decision-makers think the quality of thought leadership is excellent or very good, while more than a quarter think the quality is either mediocre or poor. Often that’s because the insights are trite or obvious, or it’s just a badly-executed attempt to flog a company’s products or services.

Yet even though quality can be patchy, the survey found that almost half of decision-makers spend an hour or more a week engaging with thought leadership content. That means there’s still an opportunity to make an impact with your campaigns by producing high-quality content that is original, and provides valuable and actionable insights for your audience.

Here’s a rundown of the five key steps you need to take to create more effective thought leadership content:


Before you start tossing around any content ideas, you need to understand why you are doing this. Is it, for instance, to improve lead generation? Or are you looking to provide valuable resources for existing clients? This matters because thought leadership content that is pitched at too wide an audience is unlikely to satisfy anyone. That means a) mapping out exactly what your strategic goals are, and b) knowing exactly who your target audience is. By answering these questions you can better hone your ideas, improving your chances of producing content that your audience will engage with. Outlining your objectives also makes it easier to measure results, helping you demonstrate the return-on-investment to your organisation.


The first rule for creating thought leadership content that has lasting impact is ensuring that it educates your audience: it has to teach them something they don’t already know. If you’re just regurgitating content like a Hollywood movie producer intent on rebooting their entire 80s movie collection, then your audience is going to switch off. Originality is vital—companies that consistently produce successful thought leadership content will find their USP and then own the conversation around that. This means paying attention to what is already out there and designing a programme—market research-based or otherwise—that treads new ground. That doesn’t mean you can’t write about topics that have been covered before, but it does mean you have to find a new angle to explore.


Proper thought leadership uses data to back up any claims or assertions, assuring the content is both authoritative and credible. Claims or assertions without data to corroborate them are not insights but opinions. You might have a hunch that something is true, you may even have anecdotal comments to support it, but without empirical data to substantiate it, you can’t use it. Thought leadership that casually asserts facts without backing them up will undermine trust with your clients and prospects, and render your content pretty much worthless. Either invest in a survey and gather your own data, or check what existing data is available that you can borrow to support your ideas.


So you’re teaching your audience something they don’t know, and you’re backing that up with hard data; the next thing you need to do is ensure those insights are actionable. In other words, they have to solve a business problem that your audience is grappling with. That could be anything from regulatory change and digital transformation, to broader commercial or macro-economic trends that are impacting your audience’s industry. Therefore, when you’re producing thought leadership content, always put yourself in your audience’s shoes and ask: so what? Why would your audience care about what you’re saying? If the problem you’ve identified doesn’t impact them in a material way, then they’re not going to be interested in consuming your content—no matter how compelling it is.


If you’ve ticked all the boxes so far, then high five—you’re well on the way to creating thought leadership content that will have lasting impact. The final step in the process is to ensure what you’re producing actually engages your audience. This is where good storytelling comes in. Weaving your data and insights into a compelling narrative that puts your audience at the centre of the story will have a bigger impact than just presenting the data and commenting on it. Thought leadership that uses journalistic storytelling techniques can frame your key messages in a human context that will resonate with your audience, building trust in your business and enhancing your brand reputation.

Next steps…

Investing in thought leadership content can help you reach new audiences and position your brand as the expert voice in your industry. According to the Edelman-LinkedIn survey, more than half of decision-makers say thought leadership is a better way to assess a company’s capabilities than other marketing materials or product sheets. Speak to Pensar Media today and find out how we can help your business build a successful thought leadership strategy.