This article outlines various mediums you can use to publish your thought leadership content and provides creative and effective examples of each.
When it comes to getting your thought leadership out into the marketplace and into the hands (or more likely, onto the screens) of your audience, there are a number of ways you can go about it these days—from white papers to microsites, to a podcast series and more. But one thing is for sure, gone are the days of solely packaging your research into a dense PDF and hoping your audience will 1) find it, 2) download it, and 3) read it.
While we went deep into 4 emerging digital publishing strategies in our recent webinar, here are more examples of creative and effective ways companies are packaging and presenting their thought leadership content in the digital age.
DIGITAL Research Reports
National Center for the Middle Market
Reports have long been the hallmark of delivering thought leadership to the marketplace. But reports in the digital age should offer more than a short landing page and a form to download a PDF. Along with offering a PDF of the report for download, our client, the National Center for the Middle Market, offers users the chance to read the full report online (after completing the download form), with a “sticky” table of contents that allows users to easily scan and jump to the sections of the report which interest them.
Much less robust than a research report, white papers should act as an authoritative report or guide that concisely informs readers about a complex issue and shares your firm’s unique point of view. Degreed is an education technology company focused on corporate learning and helping enterprises recognize the power of learning. They communicate this point-of-view strongly through the resources available on their website, including their well-designed and concise white papers. A great example: Learning is the New Work.
Heavier on graphics than other content types, eBooks are a great way to engage and educate your audience with a little more creativity than simply text and charts. And since they typically require a form to download, they also provide more value to users if they include simple takeaways, a checklist, or next steps readers can take. LinkedIn’s Content Marketing Tactical Plan eBook is a step-by-step playbook for driving brand awareness and revenue on LinkedIn. It also offers readers the option to read the eBook in their web browser or download the full eBook.
Sometimes you don’t have to invest a lot of time and resources to effectively deliver your thought leadership. Sometimes a blog post can be all you need—but make that a long form post full of visuals, and perhaps a video or two. Pipedrive, a sales CRM company does this well with their blog posts.
McKinsey & Company
Blog posts and articles are often used synonymously in the world of content marketing. I’ve included articles as a separate example here to show how McKinsey & Company has taken the delivery of articles to another level through The Five Fifty. The Five Fifty allows users to get a five-minute briefing on a topic with the option to dive deeper and spend up to 50 minutes learning more in one of their articles. Their articles are also long-form and full of visuals like charts and expandable sidebars. We’ve covered this mix of words and interactive elements and The Five Fifty in the past as a great example of what we’ve coined Article 3.0.
National Center for the Middle Market
The National Center for the Middle Market provides resources to help middle market companies navigate through their unique business challenges. They do this through a deep body of content, including blog posts, research reports, a podcast, and videos. Their Power of Culture report provides users with a more hands-on experience by pulling out the report highlights on an interactive landing page that allows users to click and scroll to discover new data, passively consume data through video, and still access a full PDF of the report for download if they want to dig deeper into the topic.
Redshift by Autodesk
A microsite is an individual webpage or group of pages that functions as its own entity and can have its own domain name or can be a subdomain of an existing site. They exist for a number of reasons, from highlighting a specific campaign or service offering to targeting a specific buyer persona. In the world of thought leadership, a microsite can exist as a place for a firm to showcase their vast library of resources and thinking around a certain topic or for a specific audience. Autodesk, a leader in the Computer Aided Design (CAD) space, developed a microsite called Redshift to showcase its thinking on 3D design for customers across several industries.
Videos can be a great way to give your audience a behind-the-scenes look at your company and culture and showcase your thinking in an authentic and engaging way. While they do require more of an investment and time commitment on your end to create, watching videos are preferred by website visitors over reading text so they could go farther in resonating with your audience. Nic Beique, founder of the tech company Helcim, uses the company’s YouTube channel to post videos about financial advice, the culture of their company, and more.
A podcast can be an effective method for sharing your thought leadership with your audience, especially if they are pressed for time, as users can listen in the car or while working out. Like videos, podcasts allow you to be a bit more authentic, unpolished and off-the-cuff when sharing your point-of-view and expertise with your listeners. Take 2 Bobs, a podcast by authors and entrepreneurs Blair Enns and David C. Baker. Their interview-style podcast focuses on a different theme each episode within the world of marketing and creatives.
If your firm offers training or certification programs, creating a learning hub could be a great way to showcase your thought leadership alongside your training resources, programs, and events. HubSpot, a marketing automation platform, offers something like this through HubSpot Academy, a free online training resource. They offer certifications, single-topic courses and lessons for professionals looking to grow their careers and entrepreneurs looking to grow their business.
In this digital day and age, there are more ways to deliver your thought leadership to the marketplace than ever before. Ultimately, the right medium for your content will be determined by several things—your audience, where they are in the buying process, and the message or information you’re trying to deliver. In most cases, your thought leadership will be delivered through a mix of what we call lean-in and lean-back content. Whatever media you choose, I hope these examples can be a helpful guide or spark some inspiration to start something new.