The geeks among us are struggling to come to terms with the idea that the days of the traditional 10,000 word thought leadership report, or white paper, are numbered. The root cause of this, contrary to what some believe, is not the rise of digital formats. It is that today’s company executives simply do not have the time to wade through such lengthy reports, however high quality they may be.
But as Albert Einstein once said: “In the middle of difficulty lies opportunity.” And the opportunity for thought leaders here is to take full advantage of the myriad possibilities that digital now presents them with.
A modular approach to content delivery will enable your brand to achieve deeper market penetration and added mileage from thought leadership projects.
In-depth research continues to be the best foundation for thought leadership, but while traditionally, such research may have resulted in one or two outputs, you should now be considering at least four or five content delivery options at the outset.
Diversifying the content delivery should bring the research findings to life, engage your target audience on lots of different levels, and crucially, not lose any value from the overall messages.
So, how exactly does modular content delivery achieve this?
In today’s crowded online marketplace, the first job for your content is to earn the attention of your target audience. We know that content with a visual element is more likely to achieve this, so animations and infographics are excellent tools to consider. A quality animation condenses the major research findings and key messages into a short piece of content with visual and audio appeal that is hard for executives to ignore.
Another value-add with animations is they can be used to tailor content to smaller target groups within your audience. Perhaps different areas of your research affect specific sub-sectors: if you can tell tailored stories to those people through discrete animations, it can help you to produce secondary campaigns based around these, which ultimately drive people back to the wider research too.
It pays to think ‘interactive’
The power of interactive content is hard to overstate, and the best examples can seriously stretch the legs of your thought leadership.
Look at benchmarking tools for example. The most effective thought leadership delivers some actionable insights to your target market, and helps them to make sense of industry trends. Benchmarking tools allow you to create something fresh and unique from your existing research data, which offers individuals the chance to see where they sit in relation to their industry peers.
But it doesn’t end there. Based on their benchmark outcome, the user can then be fed further content that matches their attributes. In addition, collating and analysing the inputs to your benchmarking tool from market participants that weren’t captured in your original research generates a whole new set of data, which could spark yet further content.
These are two very basic examples of the types of modular content it is possible to produce, and how thought leaders can extract the maximum value from them. In fact, there are innumerable variances in the types of content delivery now possible.
What this means is that proper project planning should lead to a large number of outputs, all of which deliver something of value to your target audience, and all of which provide you with a new way to measure the reach and impact of your thought leadership. If you follow this formula, you will find yourself getting far more mileage from your thought leadership.