Fun with thought leadership

Imagine a spectrum of marketing content

Para mis queridos

There’s a spectrum for marketing content. On one end is genuine thought leadership. Content on this end draws a line in the sand or shines new light on a problem. Thought leadership is original, maybe even controversial. It builds trust, shows compassion. Thought leadership gets people talking, it gives them a chance to change their minds.

On the other end is a straight up product advertising piece. It talks about the product first, the customer is a distant second. Its job is to get impressions, not give insight. It’s uninformative, one-sided, and forgettable. No article of this type has ever gone viral.

Content rarely falls at the extreme ends, it’s still marketing after all. But it’s more fun to read (and in my case, write) thought leadership content. Here are some guidelines to shift content to the fun end of the spectrum.

Your opinion about your product is not an opinion

We already know you’re cheering for your product. Instead, share your motivation: you believe so much that problem X is bad that you figured out how to solve it.

Share stories before product specs

Show off your expertise in the problem area, limit the game show showcasing of your product. You’ve seen a lot of people suffer from problem X, yourself included, so share the horror stories, talk about the people you’ve helped.


Reach out to people, not search engines. The end effect of SEO tools is to ensure conformance to the status quo. The corollary: standing out means a lower intersection with your SEO tool’s suggestions, which means that search engines ignore you. Hey, if that’s the case, might as well lean into it, right?

Be factual, not hysterical

Click bait and hyperbole are obstacles to letting people trust you. You’ll gain more trust with honesty. At the same time, it’s good to show enthusiasm. Throw in some humour if it makes sense. But stay away from unverifiable claims.

Conclusions considered harmful

Like goto, conclusions are easily abused. It’s especially abused when it’s nothing but a call to action (CTA). If it’s a long piece, like a white paper, a conclusion helps your audience with tl;dr-type information. Notice that this article doesn’t have a conclusion, I’ve said what I have to say already.