(This article was first published in The Times of India.)

This article aims to be “thought leadership” content. In fact, most newspaper columns aim to be that. Most startups aim to create thought leadership content.

Thought leadership content has become a common talking point in marketing discussions and plans at startups. And rightly soi, because thought leadership content can be extremely useful in building a startup’s brand. But what really is thought leadership content?

What is thought leadership content

I break down thought leadership content into two parts:

  • Thought from a leader
  • A leading thought

Let’s look at both separately.

Thought from a leader

This is easy to understand. Thought leadership content should come from leaders. These can be founders, CXOs, creators, authors, scientists, academics, sportspersons etc.

To be a leader, you ought to have done something substantial in your domain of expertise. No remarkable achievements come without practice, patience and perseverance. All three of these help the achiever gain insights and knowledge that very few others have. Which is what makes them thought leaders, and which is what also brings me to the second point.

A leading thought

The ‘thought’ in thought leadership has to be a leading one. In the sense that it has to be a new thought, something that hasn’t been said before. 

Very often startups put out thought leadership content with thoughts and ideas that are not new. This is content that others in their industry are also putting out, which might make it useful content but not thought leadership content.

For content to be thought leadership, it has to be a new idea that hasn’t been talked about earlier. Or it can be a contrarian idea that goes against the norm. What it shouldn’t be is a repetition of something that others are already saying.

Building thought leadership

Thought leadership content is important for startups, or even for those building their personal brands. It helps elevate the brand. It helps create richer relationships with existing customers while attracting prospective ones. Everyone wants to associate with leaders. After all, leaders inspire, challenge and motivate. Thought leadership content should do the same.

Do these 4 things while building thought leadership content:

  • Talk to the leaders in your org and note down their thoughts on the topic you’re writing about
  • Reach out to leaders who are subject matter experts and ask for their opinions
  • Gather thoughts and ideas that are new & visionary and use them in your content 
  • Publish articles in the name of the leaders or quote the experts 

Remember, thought leadership content should be a leading thought from a leader.