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How Important is Thought Leadership?

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In science, diligently documenting your findings shows your expertise on a subject. Research is a complex, sustained undertaking. Unfortunately, that’s not how people read on the Internet.

Visitors to your site don’t have time to get familiar with all your work—in fact, you are always competing with more than 30 trillion pages on the Internet. And that number is growing:

  • Over 29% of the entire population of Earth is present on social media
  • Online traffic is nearing a zettabyte yearly: 1,000,000,000,000,000,000,000 bytes.
  • In the time since you clicked this article, about 1,713 new sites were created.

How Can You Compete When 68,000 Blog Posts a Minute Shout for Attention?

Not every single one of those pages, posts, and tweets will be directed at your prospects. But they are creating a loud, crowded, distraction-prone world where every moment a decision-maker spends on buying decisions is precious.

Unique, high-quality content is how you attract and hold attention.

Content must be readable, compelling, and demonstrate a unique perspective at a glance. Why? Like HR managers sorting job applications, buyers spend only about 15 seconds deciding whether to learn more about you.

Web Users Typically Read Just 20% of Text—Here’s How to Break Through

If you pass the 30-second glance test, the story isn’t over. Once your readers choose to learn more, their positive first impression of you needs to be confirmed, again and again, through quality content that stands up to scrutiny.

If you don't provide them with the information they’re after, someone else will – after all, your content is the live preview of what your paying customers can expect. That’s why they need to know you’re a thought leader from minute one.

What is thought leadership content? It is:

  • Fresh and innovative
  • Thought-provoking
  • Unique to your site

It’s no surprise that developing thought leadership content on the Web is very different from writing a regular blog or running an ad campaign. Luckily, leaders in scientific industries are well prepared to adapt.

About 45% of Readers Didn’t Make it This Far: Making Compelling Content

If your content isn't focused on thought leadership, there's no reason to dig deep enough to learn the value you offer. But what are the hallmarks of thought leadership?


Thought leaders must be at the forefront of the new. They are the tireless producers of iterative knowledge and the “giants” on whose shoulders others will stand. Thought leadership begins with explaining what you do differently and how it ignites success.


If innovation is the raw proof of your expertise, distribution is where you select the best ways to share it. The research has been done, the data collated and the results interpreted, now to find the best way reach your audience and in a format they will most readily consume. On the Web, all content is malleable: Blog posts can become case studies, case studies videos, videos interviews, infographics, white papers, app notes and so on... content can be re-purposed and re-packaged according to who you are targeting.


Scientists know that profound ideas are borderless and fluid. It is difficult to hold them back: Instead, you harness their power by stepping forward with a clear vision. Thought leadership content instructs readers about how they can perform better.


Without understanding “why,” even the most effective “how” will fail once the time comes to apply ideas to new situations. By connecting with your audience, you can motivate them to embrace meaningful yet structured change.

One powerful source of thought leadership is interviewing. Interviews allow an expert to offer insights on multiple levels. Plus, an interview is wise online strategy: One can be used for press releases, whitepapers, presentations, and much more.

We have helped many of our clients establish themselves as key opinion leaders using our Thought Leaders series and Insights from Industry interviews. If you would like to discuss your challenges in thought leadership, contact us.

Further Reading

How people read online and why you won't finish this article

Posted by Frank Barker

Having spent his younger years playing Rugby in the sunny climes of Spain and Australia, Frank graduated from Loughborough University with a BSc in International Business before settling back in rainy Manchester. Frank has helped numerous Science, Engineering and Healthcare companies to create marketing strategies that engage with niche audiences. Having started his career in Sales, he now runs the Marketing department for AZoNetwork. He specialises in data management for sales teams, equipping them with the most actionable, real-time marketing insights from the first touch point through to revenue generating opportunity. A sportsman at heart, Frank still enjoys lacing up the boots for his beloved Macclesfield 1st XV Rugby or pulling on the whites to represent the more serious Macclesfield 3rd XI Cricket team.    

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