AI is everywhere, filling the web with content that often lacks the depth, nuance, or forward-looking angle of experts’ knowledge. While tools like ChatGPT can complement expertise with efficiency and creativity, more than ever, buyers need perspective from years of experience and in-depth industry knowledge.
In this ocean of increasingly repetitive and recycled content, you need to offer something unique to capture attention. This is where “thought leadership” comes in. Yes, it’s a buzzword that was beaten out several years ago by many self-proclaimed thought leaders, but it was never a such an important element of your marketing strategy.
What is thought leadership anyway?
Thought leadership is a strategic approach to content marketing that positions you or your brand as an authority in a specific field. It draws on a human perspective, providing meaningful insights, offering new perspectives and challenging conventional wisdom. This is about demonstrating your expertise by providing useful and interesting perspectives on the topic.
Here are some examples of thought leadership:
- Trend forecasting articles. Annual reports predicting industry trends and helping businesses prepare for the future.
- Industry-specific videos. Video content that simplifies complex industry practices, such as a series of tutorials.
- Interviews and podcasts. Appearances on reputable platforms to discuss industry perspectives, such as a sustainability expert speaking about renewable energy in a podcast.
- LinkedIn Posts. Well-crafted articles that offer valuable resources or new perspectives, such as an article on effective remote working strategies.
- Contrarian views. Articles or posts that challenge popular opinions, supported by unique data or information.
Why is human thought leadership so valuable right now?
This helps stand out from the volume of content
Generative AI excels at creating explanatory articles on common topics, but cannot offer fresh, informed opinions. As a result, the web becomes a sea of repetitive content. Thought leadership, with its original and sometimes contrarian perspectives, stands out in this crowded space.
Brand trust is low; human voices and perspectives can help strengthen it
Brand trust is more important than before, in part because it is so rare. In a survey of 395,000 people around the world, 71% said I am not convinced brands will keep their promises.
If your brand doesn’t have a strong audience-facing human element, it’s harder for new customers to build trust and for existing customers to maintain it. Thought leadership helps your clients navigate an industry with the help of someone with expertise and brings a human face to the conversation.
Effective thought leadership mitigates the risk of brand apathy and distrust. Consistently providing valuable information not only educates customers, but can also foster community building to amplify brand trustworthiness.
What might this look like?
Take for example any leader of a SaaS company. By sharing her expertise and perspective, she demonstrates her knowledge to an audience who may not know which company will be most trustworthy or share their values. This executive’s transparency in handling issues like data security further strengthens her company’s credibility and shows that she values her customers.
This is especially true if you offer consulting services where your judgment and thinking are central to your value. For example, for our agency’s HubSpot consulting services, we find it much easier to close deals with prospects who have viewed our HubSpot Hacks YouTube channel, because they have seen first-hand demonstrations of our knowledge and our point of view.
OK, but can I still use AI to write thought leadership articles?
We’re not Luddites here: you should generally leverage any tool that helps you maximize your impact. But you also need to understand the limitations of this tool for the task at hand.
AI should be seen as a tool to improve, not replace, human expertise in thought leadership. It can handle tasks like data analysis and initial content writing, allowing you to focus on providing deeper insights, extrapolations, or ethical considerations.
For example, AI analytics tools can identify trending topics based on customer behavior. Yet it takes a human expert to craft a narrative that meaningfully addresses these trends, including what they might entail.
Likewise, generative AI like ChatGPT can speed up your writing process, but the main information, data, opinions and perspectives should come from You.
This is the time when marketing insights shine
In an age where technology is as integral to your marketing success as the content you promote, marketers have a wealth of perspectives and ideas to share. This can help teams manage change more effectively, think through the implications of strategy and technology stack changes, and much more.
After all, generative AI tools don’t offer much competitive advantage when everyone has them. Thought leadership takes more effort than concocting a useless article in ChatGPT, but putting in that extra effort is becoming increasingly necessary to stay ahead in marketing and your leadership position in the industry.
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The opinions expressed in this article are those of the guest author and not necessarily of MarTech. Staff authors are listed here.