The Crave

Weekly tips and stories that will help you do your job and make you smile (or groan).

By Julie Alexander March 31, 2022

The thought leadership approach you didn’t know you needed

I have a lot of strategy documents laying around. Content strategy, abridged content strategy, brand strategy, social media strategy (lives in the content strategy), and on and on. In the beginning, it’s helpful to put this kind of documentation together to help get your programs started. It’s also helpful to have them available when new people start in your team — it helps them get the lay of the land and understand what you’re doing and why. I reference all of these from time to time, but there’s one that has a special place in my heart. It’s the one I pull up when I’m out of ideas — when I feel like we’ve said everything there is to say, and couldn’t possibly find anything else to talk about. Thought leadership strategy. It helps me as a strategist to brainstorm new ideas and themes. It helps writers in my team when they’re not sure what to say about a topic. It helps explain our opinions and ideas on key topics to anyone in the organization, so we can tell our story with a united front — and understand why it’s even our story to begin with.

It helps explain our opinions and ideas on key topics to anyone in the organization, so we can tell our story with a united front — and understand why it’s even our story to begin with.

I haven’t always worked with a document like this one, but I wish I had. For me, it’s this particular format that makes it much easier to break down topics and create a story. It goes a little something like this:

  • Start with your main theme
  • Drill down to primary pillars — your main topics, the ones your audience is dying to know more about, and the ones that you have solid experience and wisdom in, based on your product or services
  • Drill down further to secondary pillars

Once you have your main themes, it’s helpful to organize them. Here’s how I like to do it:

Then it’s time to break down each pillar. I do this with one slide each for the following:

  • Overarching view on the topic. See this as a sort of manifesto statement. For example, this is what I wrote for our topic of Empowerment:
  • Product differentiation and why it’s interesting. I list about 5-6 product features related to the topic and clarify why it’s interesting for our audience in relation to that topic.
  • Our point of view on the topic. Here, I list 5+ statements that we can — and should — make about the topic. It’s important that they are opinionated and that you can back them up. Here are our points of view on Empowerment as an example:

At the end of the slide deck, I include some practical application examples to help everyone understand how they can use the information. It takes some time and effort to put it all together, but once you have it you’ll thank yourself over and over again. I hope you found this useful, and if you have any questions you can always email me at thecrave@foleon.com.

Let’s talk about it together!

Share your thoughts on LinkedIn using #thecravediscussion This week’s topic: What is your most-used strategy document and what makes it so effective?

Julie van der Weele

Head of Brand & Comms

About the author

When I’m not thinking up B2B marketing strategies and processes, you’ll find me in the kitchen, at the yoga studio, or in my favorite chair with a cat and a book.

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