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Skin any cats lately?

I hear there’s more than one way to do it.

This isn’t the only way to build trust in your market. But it gives you an idea of what it might look like.

Simple is good.

Especially when you’re getting started or regrouping.

  1. Start with your biggest strength.
  2. Make sure it fits with your brand.
  3. Find your most promising audience.
  4. Plan your tactics.
  5. Execute and measure.

You could get more complicated. But simple gives you the biggest bang for your buck.



Let’s take a high-level look at the overall process for building thought leadership in a strategic way that gives you the highest return on your efforts.

Key Points:

1. Defining Your Brand First: Especially for established businesses, taking the time upfront to clearly define your brand – your values, personality traits, and core story serves as the foundation for everything that follows.

2. Situational Analysis and Target Audience: Next, you’ll want to conduct a quick competitive analysis and really hone in on understanding your target customers. This lays the groundwork for creating content and messaging that resonates.

3. Visual Brand Identity: With the strategic foundation in place, you can then start bringing your brand to life through mood boards that explore different creative directions for imagery, typography, color palettes, etc.

4. Content Planning & Asset Creation: This is where the rubber meets the road – translating all the prior planning into an actual content strategy and production schedule. Mapping out your media mix, budgets, and editorial calendar ensures consistency and efficiency.

5. Ongoing Measurement & Refinement: Finally, the process doesn’t end once you start publishing. You’ll want to continuously measure performance, gather feedback, and be willing to course-correct or even do a deeper rebrand if needed.

Let’s put first things first – make high-level strategic decisions before diving into tactical execution.

Phases of Thought Leadership Rollout

Sometimes it helps to see it all laid out in front of you.

Brand Definition

Who cares about brand?

Brand definition shapes how your audience perceives you and determines the impact of your message. Without a clear brand identity, your thought leadership efforts lack focus and authenticity.


In this video, you get an overview of how to define a brand:

1. A day-long workshop to identify brand values, traits, and story

2. Interactive exercises to refine 5-6 key brand values and personality traits

3. Telling a compelling brand story that highlights your unique impact

4. Combining results into a comprehensive brand definition document

5. Validating and refining the definition through client, prospect, and employee feedback

I’ll show you how to create a solid foundation for your thought leadership journey. This process aligns your message, your core identity, and your target audience.


Step 2: Situation Analysis

The next step in the thought leadership process, the situation analysis, shows how you compare to the competition, revealing actionable insights that can help you position well against your best competition.

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The key points:

1. It often includes a SWOT (Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, Threats) analysis, but the tools depend on the company.

2. We focus on honestly assessing your current position compared to the competition, understanding which threats you can easily maneuver around versus those that require a more strategic approach.

3. I give examples of making strategic choices, like avoiding head-to-head competition in areas where you lack expertise and instead focusing on your strengths.

4. I emphasize the importance of organizing the situational analysis in a way that leads to clear, actionable conclusions, rather than just a jumble of information.

5. We talk about how the situational analysis lays the foundation for developing a differentiated, audience-focused branding and marketing strategy.

Step 3: Target Audience Definition

If you don’t know who you’re talking to, your messaging will come across as generic, corporate, and frankly, a bit boring. But when you truly understand your target audience – their demographics, their pain points, their daily frustrations – that’s when the writing and content really starts to sing.


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You might have a great product or service, but if you don’t know who you’re trying to sell it to, your efforts are going to fall flat. So in this video, we dig into some of the key components of defining your target audience:

– Demographics – the hard data like age, gender, income level, job title, etc. This is the foundational information that media buyers and advertisers use to identify the right outlets.

– The “Meet Maria” exercise – going beyond just demographics to create a detailed persona of your ideal customer. What does their daily life look like? What are their biggest frustrations? This helps the writers and designers truly empathize with and speak to your target.

– How this information benefits different roles – the media buyers can use the demographic data to find the right advertising placements, while the content creators can use the persona details to craft messages that genuinely resonate.

The key point is that defining your target audience isn’t just an academic exercise. It’s the bridge between your brand and the people you’re trying to reach. When you have a clear, well-researched understanding of who you’re talking to, the rest of your branding and marketing efforts can come to life.

Step 4: Establish Visual Style

Mood boards take all the key details we’ve uncovered so far – your brand personality traits, visual style preferences, color palettes, typography choices, etc. – and use them to create a set of sample designs. 

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Normally, the designer will put together 3 distinct mood boards, each exploring a different creative direction. These mood boards might include:

– Photographic styles (e.g. black & white, lifestyle imagery)

– Curated typefaces

– Specific color palettes

– Iconography or other graphic elements

The goal is to give the client a tangible sense of how your brand could come to life visually, bridging the gap between the strategic planning we’ve done so far and the actual design execution.

And the benefit for the project is that it creates a clear, documented trail. If you ever have questions or concerns about the creative direction, you can point back to the mood boards and the decisions that were made. It makes the entire process more transparent and accountable.

Mood boards lay the groundwork for designing all your brand touchpoints – websites, social media, email marketing, advertisements, etc, so that no matter where your audience encounters your brand, the visual identity is cohesive and true to who you are.

Planning & Building

Step 5: Setup

We’re almost ready to start publishing in this step. Here’s where we set everything up. 

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Here’s the breakdown: 1. The Media Mix – Determining the specific assets you need to create, such as: – An anchor blog post that serves as the foundation of your thought leadership – A landing page to capture leads and drive conversions – Social media posts (potentially boosted/promoted) to drive traffic to the blog and landing page – An email newsletter to build your own audience 2. The Budget and Schedule – Mapping out the actual costs, both for media placement and asset production. This ensures you have a realistic, achievable plan. 3. The Content Calendar – Planning out a full year’s worth of blog post topics ahead of time. This helps ensure thematic coherence and consistency, rather than just writing about whatever happens to inspire you each month. The final planning and asset creation step turns your brand into an engaging experience for each media channel.

Execute & Measure

Step 6: Execute and Measure.

What do you do once you’ve launched your content strategy? How do you make it thrive? In our final video in our series on creating thought leadership through content strategy, we focus on execution and ongoing tasks to make your content ready to do real work. 

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Key Points Covered: – How to execute your content strategy efficiently. – Tools and techniques for managing ongoing content creation. – Measuring the success of your content strategy. – Tips for adapting and evolving your strategy over time. Watch the previous video in the series: Step 5 Planning and Asset Creation: [link to Step 5 video] If you found this video helpful, please give it a thumbs up, share it, and subscribe for more insights on content strategy.

Chris full

Build & Refine

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