Once you've decided you want to create a piece of thought leadership, getting started is, in many cases, the most difficult hurdle to overcome. Staring at a blank piece of paper (or screen) can be a daunting & time-consuming experience and exacerbates the imposter syndrome that everyone encounters when authoring their first post - you are in plentiful company with this feeling!
You want to strike a balance between making sure your content is valuable to your audience and not having to spend the next 4-6 hours writing. Worry not! We have you covered with a few helpful hacks & practical suggestions that will shortcut your process to publishing something meaningful for your key contacts, whilst saving you heaps of time in the process.
1. What is the Question you get asked most Often?
If you don't already have something available online that speaks to this question, it is the easiest & most valuable piece of content you could deliver.
Instead of writing the same email when you are introduced to a new contact, publish this as a piece of thought leadership online.
Not only will you no longer have to type the same email again & again, but it can also be found by contacts who are researching how you can help them online.
According to Gartner, the majority of the B2B Buying Journey involves an extensive research window where your prospective contacts will inform themselves on the subject matter before they get in contact with a supplier (this includes legal & professional services). If you are not making this content easy to find, then there might be a competitor who offers these answers.
1.(b) Frequently Asked Questions
Following on from the one question you get asked most often, there is a good reason most Consumer organizations have a 'Frequently-Asked-Questions' section on their websites: this style of content is remarkably useful.
If you wrote down the FAQs you most often get from your clients, this would provide a robust content strategy for at least the next few months.
Your FAQs will usually represent topics where you are well informed, whilst these answers will likely be obvious to you, they won't be for many of your clients. Therefore, you should be able to generate posts about these subjects swiftly, and the subject matter will be of high importance to your audience.
Not sure what subjects your clients are interested in right now?
Go to their LinkedIn profile and have a quick look at the posts they have been sharing, liking, or engaging with.
This can form an easy window into what's important to them right now.
You can do this both at a personal & organizational level on LinkedIn.
Furthermore, run a Google search for news relating to their company. Again, this can offer insight into where you can add value as their trusted advisor.
Finally, the best form of client listening... is listening to your clients. When meeting with clients, or speaking with them over the phone, you will likely take note of certain topics that resonate, or that they are particularly invested in - this can shape a post (or series of posts) that will put you in a leading position when it comes to shaping their comprehension of the subject.
3. Industry Developments
There are 2 things people lean on their trusted advisors for:
- And a fairly important one: Mitigating Risk
- What is going to happen in your clients' industry that they need to know about in the next 3, 6, to 12 months?
- Are there impending regulatory updates that they should be aware of?
- Creating content on ways your clients can avoid risk is in keeping with being a good trusted advisor
- Simply think: "what keeps my clients up at night and how can I help them?"
- The 2nd aspect is: Business Opportunity
- Your clients will lean on you to help them identify opportunities to help them grow as a business
- If you work with a specific type of organization, what trends are you seeing that are facilitating growth?
- There is no doubt business X will want to know how business Y has achieved solid growth
- This does not mean giving away confidential information, but more addressing trends and themes that will help your clients continue to excel
4. Your Planned Marketing/BD Activities
One of the easiest ways to create content is by plugging into your already planned Marketing & BD activities. Throughout a year, you will invariably be involved with several activities like attending/hosting events, publishing in industry magazines, co-presenting with clients, speaking on a panel, or featuring on a podcast - all of which present a superb opportunity to summarize key takeaways into a short piece of content.
As a certain topic is front of mind with a room full of people at an event OR you have just completed hours researching about a subject you a due to present on, these are excellent opportunities to press whilst the iron is hot.
From a BD perspective, these posts can be a brilliant nudge to existing clients or contacts you haven't connected with in a while. When sharing these across your social networks, the more that you can accompany them with images live from the event or a picture of you with a podcast host - whatever imagery you can include that sets the scene for the reader - will accelerate the performance of your content.
5. Piggybacking on Existing Content/ News Articles/ Publications
There are several ways you can make sure you are consuming relevant news that will lend itself to then sharing your own opinions & commentary:
- Generic News - you see the world differently from everyone else. It's one of the reasons your clients hire you. When you read a news article, you will assimilate and digest this differently from others. This is where you have an opportunity to share your opinion after consuming a news article. Your take on what the piece of news means is important to your clients.
- Content Aggregators - there are several services dedicated to lawyers helping to make sure you are armed with all of the relevant industry updates (LexisNexis, Manzama, etc). There are also platforms like Lexology, JD Supra, and Mondaq, where you can consume news and information being pushed out by other lawyers. Have a look at what your contemporaries are writing about. You might notice that a lawyer in a different jurisdiction has published something very relevant to your clientele, and use this as a prompt to localize the development to your audience.
- Industry Publications - it is worth understanding what news your clients consume so that you can get access to the relevant publications (do they read the WSJ? Or a more industry-specific publication?).
- Set up a Google Alert - who would know better than a search engine when it comes to a breaking piece of news or development? See here how Google Alerts can help you. These can be set up for topics, industries, locations, companies, or whatever you want to receive news updates about.
- Social Media - again, harnessing the powers of social can work in your favour. Make sure to look out for what your clients, contacts, and intermediaries are writing and sharing about. Look for opportunities to offer your opinion/viewpoint.
- Multimedia - if you listen to an industry podcast, or watch video updates, you can follow the same logic and use these sources of content as the inspiration for your opinion piece.
- Anecdotes - think about how you use stories to validate and make your point in an easy & understandable way for your readers.
6. Initiatives you are Proud to be Involved With
Finally, all of the above is about developing content that is client-centric to build your relationship as a trusted advisor.
Content also provides a superb platform to share developments that you are proud to be associated with - e.g. pro-bono work, charitable endeavours, and DEI programs, all of which demonstrate to your clients the things that matter to you.
Documenting the initiatives you are involved with can also be a rewarding process to review later on - especially when you can see the significant progress you have made.
Need Extra Help?
We've helped thousands of busy professionals create their first pieces of thought leadership. If you would like any additional assistance, please feel free to contact firstname.lastname@example.org to get set up & going.