Thought leadership content is one of the most powerful tools in a modern marketer’s arsenal.
Businesses can use it to build trust and loyalty with potential customers, expand awareness of their business, and cement themselves as a credible source of information in their field.
In the financial markets—where trust, credibility, and relationship-building are vital—thought leadership is still somewhat of an untapped resource.
Part of this is due to the phrase “thought leadership” becoming somewhat of a marketing buzzword in recent years, and used to the point that it’s been separated from its meaning.
In this blog, we’ll break down what thought leadership really is, why it’s such a powerful marketing tool, and how the financial markets can use it to significant effect.
Defining thought leadership: what makes someone a thought leader?
Before we delve into the value that thought leadership can offer to financial markets businesses, let’s clarify what we actually mean when we say “thought leadership”.
A common misconception is that “thought leader” simply means subject matter expert.
While thought leaders certainly have specialist subject knowledge, there’s much more to it than that.
A thought leader is someone who not only has a high level of expertise, but also a unique take on things in their field—and a unique way of expressing it.
They have an individual way of looking at things, and they use this to find original solutions to long-standing problems in their industry—or new routes to success.
Over time, they get a reputation for having insights, attitudes and perspectives that differ from those around them. And that challenge or deviate from the status quo.
They become a “go-to” speaker in their market, an opinion that people value, and a voice that many will listen to over the competing ones out there.
If a subject matter expert is someone who engages in the conversation of a particular market, a thought leader is someone who steers the course of that conversation.
Thought leadership as a marketing tool
So now we have a better idea of what a thought leader is, what makes thought leadership so powerful for marketers?
Thought leaders share their ideas and perspectives, which offer people value—giving them insights that can help them enhance their life or business.
By doing this consistently, they build up a dedicated audience of followers. People that look to them for advice, guidance and input on overcoming their business challenges, or achieving their goals.
These are also the objectives of any good inbound marketer.
Inbound marketing involves using high-value content to cut through the noise of your market, make people aware of your brand, earn the trust of your target audience, and eventually turn them into loyal customers.
Awareness. Loyalty. Trust.
These are all things that true thought leadership can achieve—and, they’re also the desired result of any marketing strategy or campaign.
So, how can you harness the potential of thought leadership to enhance and grow your own business?
That’s simple: by creating thought leadership content.
How you can create thought leadership content
The qualities that make a thought leader are a rare blend—expertise, passion, astuteness, and a talent for articulating these things in a way that just clicks with people.
That’s a lot for one person.
But you don’t need this unicorn-like individual to produce content that has the same effect.
To create thought leadership content, you can simply assemble a small team that collectively has the right spread of skills and qualities.
There are many ways you could potentially do this, but here’s the minimum we recommend having on your team to create quality thought leadership content:-
This person is the ideas engine. They could be a business owner, a CEO, or just a highly experienced senior professional.
They don’t need to be a marketer, a speaker, or a writer—they just need a great depth of expertise and industry knowledge, built from years of experience in the market.
And ideally, they’ll also have some strong opinions to go with it.
This person’s role is to take the expert’s thoughts, ideas, and perspectives, and use them to craft a compelling content asset.
Whether your thought leadership content is an actual written piece of content, or something else like a video or webinar, having a skilled writer is crucial.
It is their expertise that will allow you to translate your expert’s knowledge into a coherent narrative that is impactful, engaging, and that resonates with people.
This person is your eyes and ears in the marketplace.
Thought leadership should respond to the current happenings in your market.
So to create strong thought leadership content, you need someone who knows all the things going on around you—market conditions, trending behaviours, changes on the horizon etc.
It’s also worth remembering that many thought leaders have such a unique take on things because their view is informed by knowledge or experiences from a different walk of life.
Researchers can play to this by investigating what’s happening in neighbouring sectors.
If there’s a particular issue affecting several industries, how are the financial markets reacting to it as opposed to IT businesses or data security specialists?
You might be surprised by what you learn, and the insights other sectors can offer you.
Another advantage you have by drawing from multiple people to create thought leadership content is you can shine a light on as much of the conversation as possible.
Many businesses create thought leadership content by featuring a range of expert contributors in their content, who debate a topic from multiple perspectives.
This also means that when it comes to distributing the content, you can leverage each contributor’s different audience to help push the content out as far and wide as possible.
Why thought leadership content is so effective in the financial markets
Thought leadership isn’t like standard marketing content.
The purpose of thought leadership content is to build your audience, earn the trust of your peers, and strengthen the credibility of your brand name.
It can lead to sales, but selling is not the direct objective. In many ways, it’s as much an exercise in PR and brand building as it is marketing.
Interestingly though, it’s these differences that also make thought leadership content so effective for financial markets businesses.
In finance, sales cycles are incredibly long. So building relationships, providing valuable insights to those around you, and earning trust over time is key.
The financial markets are also steeped in tradition—change and progress can take a long time to materialize.
This means there is real strength in being outspoken—producing content that stands apart from the crowd, and offers an alternative insight.
It’s refreshing, and it gets people talking. And if done right, it will make people look to you to steer the conversation.
Finally, in the financial markets in particular, people respect nous—the ability to observe what’s around them, analyze it, and shrewdly identify a route to success.
This is the essence of high-performing thought leadership content.
Thought leadership content for finance marketers: Key takeaways
- A thought leader is not just a subject matter expert. Thought leaders actively steer the course of conversation in their field with their unique perspective.
- Thought leaders build dedicated audiences that look to them for guidance on facing their business challenges. This makes thought leadership a powerful marketing tool.
- You can create your own thought leadership content with the right team—this should at least consist of an expert, a writer and a researcher.
- Thought leadership content is particularly suited to the financial markets, as the focus is on providing valuable insights, building relationships, demonstrating astuteness in your field, and earning the trust of your peers over time.