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Content Marketing - Establishing Thought Leadership

There are different forms of content that can be created to establish thought leadership in a particular field. In this article, we will cover three of them. Throughout each segment, we will take the time to dissect them and show how we can use a structure to approach the train of thought in leading your readers towards your call-to-action.

1) How-tos

Level of difficulty: Easy


A teaching / impartation session. Insights are revealed as to the steps to take for example, 3 ways on how to cook delicious macaroni.

It is easy to list some points down and attempt to develop and elaborate on them on the go. However, trying to reverse engineer points for the sake of putting up a blog will defeat the purpose of having a blog to impart, in the first place.

What are the points that need to go into a How-to blog? You will need to see it as an idiot-proof, 101 guide, and make it simple and clear for someone to follow through. Each step is process-led, visually driven if possible and describes with great clarity and detail so that the readers can repeat the steps on their own.

Header: 5 steps to achieving that perfect moon on lake reflection shot

Ø This header needs to provide the impression that the reader will be walked through a task. So, X steps, X ways, how-to in X levels will work.


For trigger happy enthusiasts, this picturesque, tranquil shot may be just one of the best Instagrammable moments for you. Achieving the shot though, might take a little practice, especially on steps 3 and 4 detailed below.

Ø This is a teaser. Salt enough for people read on.

Ø The content here must be able to do a show-and-tell in 5 seconds or less. Those getting into this spot are deciding whether to read on.

Ø You will have only one shot at dealing with the uncertainty in pursuing and staying the course in reading on.


Tried multiple ways of establishing a good frame but getting blurry ones during that moon-lake reflection shot?

Ø This is a reinforcement of the teaser section of the synopsis.

Ø You can approach it by asking the common questions that address pain points.

2nd paragraph – establish authority

James Camerana is the world’s leading authority in moon-reflection photography and has a doctorate in light studies. He is also one of our leading photographers. Using his recent posts on beautiful reflection shots, we detail this article to how you can achieve the same photography standards.

3rd paragraph / section

The 5 steps – a step by step guide.

1. Framing the shot

2. Waiting for the decisive window.

3. Shutter speed control

4. Dealing with clouds

5. Lens change.

Ø Tip of the day: If your blog is going to be more than an 2,000 words, you may want to start providing a table of contents for readers to skip to specific sections.

Ø What you will need to do at this stage is to list and provide very detailed steps that include screenshots, infographics, examples, areas to look out for, links to resources, etc. The key is to be extremely detailed.

Ø This is the part of the blog where you provide maximum value to your reader. Given the extreme detail, it will attract a niche target audience that will be the focus on your future campaigns for sales. So make the assumption that the reader is a beginner and detail the steps so that the reader does not need to go anywhere else to look for similar content. In that way, you would have established yourself as the authority in this subject. This will increase frequency of site visits from repeat visitors.

Final para: Summary

Ø Brings a quick run through, an overview of what has been covered in preceding paragraphs.

Ø At the end of the summary, create a link back to the marketing funnel towards a call-to-action. This can include a connection back to a product or service related to the post to find out more about it, request a callback from a sales support staff, schedule a consultancy, etc.

2) Guidebooks

Level of difficulty: Medium to Hard

Intense, detailed and taking a deep dive into a certain subject area, guidebooks need to be as good as a full-on course on its own. Think about it like a core textbook for a mini class. Given that it will be somewhat lengthy, it would be necessary to give a prelude, or in a sense, let the reader be prepared on what to expect if he wants to benefit from session with the guide. You may use a quick sales pitch of showing how some of the principles in the Guidebook have led to an increase in sales. Share testimonials if they are available.

As a guiding rule, the content for this guide SHOULD NOT be on the landing page. You should use the landing page as a teaser to whet the appetite of the reader but provide the material through a download of a PDF. Compile the Guidebook into a PDF to create this engagement so as to enable you to collect email addresses at the same time. Also, tactical as well as strategy guides are not meant to be inspirational (they can be, but they are not short-reads like the how-tos to inspire action). They are meant to showcase actionable points lead to a certain outcome.

Comprises (diamond structured approach):

Overview / High level discussion


- A

- B

- C

- D

Each subtopic to be tackled in-depth but provide references to build appreciate for subject area. Weave in how your product or service can solve your customer’s / prospect’s problem.

Start with a high-level discussion of the topic on hand. Then segue into a breakout of subtopics. If you have sufficient content for each subtopic that can be standalone guides, you can opt to create several of such guides, each fitting content into about 30 to 50 pages of an A5-sized PDF. Think about it as a mini university module with each subtopic being about that week’s lecture and tutorial content.

Given that there is a lot of content, you will want to build authority by creating links for people to take reference from. Especially if there is just too much content on the subject or that you would want to point people to a place to gather more information in a related subject area to gain a greater appreciation for that subject area.

3) Case Studies

Level of difficulty: Medium

Case studies are by far one of the most powerful ways of leading people through your marketing funnel right from the top. They give you the opportunity to script out your avatar as viewers can now put themselves in the shoes of the protagonist within the storyline of the case study.

Watch some of these videos on how stories are crafted. These give you a good grounding on telling your story in a powerful manner.



This gives readers the option to carry on reading or drop out of the funnel entirely. It is now a common courtesy space to provide this. Do not mislead readers to read halfway into your article only to realise that it is not meeting the objectives that it has set out to accomplish. In short, make it clear up front – “Why you should care about reading this.

Using the narrative structure, craft out the storyline, use images to support your text, talk about mistakes and problems, hindrances, obstacles, difficulties faced by the protagonist. Record key dialogues with key phrases used. Pepper them throughout the script. Make the story/case study a little more on a conversational, light-hearted approach as far as possible to make it readable and accessible.

As with most business schools, using case studies to approach a lesson to impart certain insights can be a useful thing. There are lessons to be picked up that can be memorable when told through a story. Through the story / case study, it is basically the opportunity for you to prove why you / your business is the answer or the expert to the problem the client is trying desperately to solve. So convey authority with graphs, figures, testimonials. This is particularly useful if you are running a consultancy as case studies showcase how you have approached a certain problem for a client, and how the issue was resolved. They will present a powerful case on why your next client should use your services.

Here are 6 steps that we use to approach writing a compelling narrative/case study.

1. Strong headline

Provide a strong factoid within the headline to showcase quick grounding and authority. This includes the use of results.

For example, “How platform ABX saved Company TRR $1m a year.”

2. Focus on the customer

Answer these questions before even starting out to introduce the background of your story:

- Type of industry?

- Client profile of your customer (i.e your customer’s customers)?

- Pain points?

- Any results that would make a good story?

- What clients had tried to do before approaching you.

- Why is this case study important?

3. Tell the story and show what you did that caused a positive change

Make a causal link to the results that have come because of the change that you helped implement. Be luxurious with your social proof. This helps to move customers down the funnel towards your Call-to-Action point.

At important junctures, check-in with them with questions that they can ask themselves. Perhaps this can be done through call-out boxes. For example, what are some of the situations that you may have experienced that are similar to what Bob is facing in the story?

4. Highlight the solution

Explain what you did to achieve those outcomes and positive changes that you have provided for. Use strong social proofing tools like KPIs, facts, stats to buttress and quantify your points/assertions.

5. Showcase room for improvement

There is no such thing as a perfect case study with an everlasting, one-size-fits-all solution to the problems faced. There will usually be hiccups or problems along the way, and when added to the case study, it adds credibility and a personalised touch.

6. Call to action

This part should be fairly straightforward if the preceding steps are already in place. For example, Contact us if you would like us to provide you a demonstration / free trial.

Copyright SYL+JAS (c) 2021. All rights reserved. No part of this article may be reproduced or rewritten in any form without expressed permission from the agency.

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