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There’s no shortage of content coming at us these days. Generative AI tools like ChatGPT are adding to the volume of content being shared because they simplify the writing process for entrepreneurs and anyone looking to attract new clients from content. 

There’s an ocean of it. Generic, brandless, “anyone could write it” content.

And because generative AI tools aggregate what it thinks are the best ideas into the content it creates, based on your prompts, it starts to sound the same. If you’re using ChatGPT and it can’t figure out the right answer, it just makes it up. (Like a toddler, but faster and with a more believable vocabulary.)

What’s seen less often is the content that makes you stop and think. The deeper, more thoughtful content that shares a perspective, supported by reference links, data, and examples of what it’s like to live and breathe the experience of bringing the concepts to life. It takes more time to think, outline, and write an authority-building article or white paper, and it requires being inside the human experience to make it compelling.

AI can’t (well, at least currently can’t) share what it’s like to be a human who does the work that you do. What it’s like to guide a group of frustrated team members to agree and embrace new solutions. Or how to help a client recover from burnout or lead a change program confidently. Something you’ve done dozens of times and know exactly what is needed.

This is the content that will stand out and build authority for your brand.

What is brand authority?

There are lots of definitions for this, including metrics that analyze the number of followers you have in your platform. I think of it as an equation:

Brand authority = brand visibility + trust 

Your prospects are considering your brand authority (which for small business owners might also be their personal brand) based on how often they see updates or information from you, combined with how much they trust that what you’re saying is true or consistent with what other experts in your field are also saying. 

Visibility is showing up where your clients are expecting to see you with consistent updates or new information that showcases your ideas and expertise. It doesn’t mean posting daily (unless that’s part of your strategy) but it does mean thinking about how others can benefit from your experience and then sharing it in a format that draws in your prospects, ideally to nudge them to reach out to book time with you or check out your sales page.

You can build the trust part of the equation by highlighting the depth of your experience, the outcomes you’ve helped your clients achieve, and by highlighting how your opinions are supported by data and research. You can also build trust by showing that you’ll be able to apply your experience to help them solve their problem—you’ve done it and the same solution will work for them too.

Isn’t thought leadership just another sales tactic?


Some of what we can write in depth is more about the mission for our lives and our work. It can be a blurry line, but if you focus on the leading topics that spark new insights and ideas for your target audience, it becomes content that starts to define the industry and space you’re in and can sit above your sales funnel.

If it ends up being outside of your sales process, is it still worthwhile?

How thought leadership content can impact your B2B sales process

Research from Edelman indicates decision-makers have a more favourable perception of brands that use thought leadership.

For my clients, thought leadership gives them more confidence at all stages of the sales process. They know their secret sauce or magic process has been pulled out of their heads or shared instead of hidden behind client paywalls. 

They have swagger. It translates into new leaders, shorter sales cycles, and higher prices in their pitches. 

It’s these elements, based on your knowledge and experience that will increase your brand authority if you can take time to get them out of your head and on the page. You might be uncomfortable with the idea of becoming a thought leader, but you can start with using thought leadership content that adds depth and insight to the content you share.

So let’s look at why using thought leadership can be helpful for building brand authority and how to get started.

How To Start Using Thought Leadership Content To Increase Your Brand Authority

Here are 5 ways to use thought leadership content to increase authority for your brand:

1) Create a unique model or framework. 

This visual can be a model, system or shorthand for how you help your clients solve a problem. It creates certainty of outcomes for your prospect—they can see you’ve created a repeatable process that will solve their problem too.

It can be as simple as a 2 x 2 model to explain the different types of situations your clients tend to experience (with the “top right” being the desired outcome you provide). Or you can play with different shapes and options to showcase your work—Microsoft has some 3D models built into Powerpoint that can help; other tools like Canva or Figma can help as well.

Start here: Play with a 2×2 matrix to share the outcomes you create. 

To build thought leadership momentum:

  • Write a long-form article about the framework with the evidence that supports it and how people have successfully applied it
  • Add it to your Services page; and/or 
  • Share it in a lead magnet; add it to your proposal template. 

2) Use research and evidence to support your point of view.

Your authority increases when other recognizable authorities in your space are echoing what you have to say.

You can build authority by showing your audience and potential client prospects that your opinion and offers align with what other experts are saying. They might have primary research that supports your point of view (i.e., surveys and analysis that they’ve completed themselves) or they highlight an issue that your programs or offers solve.

Start here: Find 3-5 industry reports published in the last 2 years and start a list of “pull quotes” or data points that support your unique approach.

To build thought leadership momentum:

  • Always include at least one data source in every thought leadership article you publish to your website. (Eventually, you’ll want to do this with every article you publish.)
  • Share client success stories to demonstrate the outcomes created by your unique approach
  • Continue to scan the research and data landscape for your industry so you can connect trends and new ideas with your audience 

3) Post regularly to shape the conversation and change you’re trying to create.

When you publish regular LinkedIn updates or blog articles, it tells your audience that you’re not a one-time wonder but have a depth of knowledge that is shaping how others talk about a topic. You need to be seen as having your finger on the pulse and being a “go-to” resource.

This doesn’t mean needing to become famous—sharing your thoughts with your audience on a regular basis can be enough to become memorable to them.

Start here: brainstorm a list of 8-10 topics to write about that focus on new ideas, solutions, or trends that will interest your target audience. 

To build thought leadership momentum: 

  • Create a workflow (or engage a VA to help) so you can post updates consistently to your primary marketing channels (e.g., LinkedIn, website articles, newsletter, etc.)
  • Test new ideas through your social channels; where you see interest (or strong objections), use this as a source for creating articles
  • Set up a single spot for all of your content ideas (goodbye random Post It notes and tiny notebooks!) so you can find new ideas more easily

4) Start “working out loud” by sharing your ongoing learning and how you’re developing your ideas.

Think back to high school math class—your teacher wasn’t happy if you only shared the final answer; they needed to see how you got there. Building a body of work starts with sharing your ideas and observations to build your audience. You can’t work in private and jump out with bold new ideas without showing your work.

This means posting ideas that might not feel fully baked. (Candidly, I struggle with this one!) But your audience will appreciate that you’re taking them along for the ride as you explore the edges of your work or introduce them to new concepts they can also apply.

Start here: share an update about a book you just finished reading or a course you completed that changed your perspective or gave you a new idea that you’re implementing. 

To build thought leadership momentum: 

  • Make it a habit to share something that feels unclear or unfinished on a regular basis (even just once a month); it can be a concept you’re trying or a new habit you’re working on
  • Ask your audience frequently for their input or experiences related to something you’re working on (and tag them when you share back the results of your experiment) 
  • Tag ideas as you collect them if there are new concepts to explore

5) Develop And Share Your Point Of View (POV)

One of the biggest differences between regular content and thought leadership works is sharing your own opinion and experience. 

Start here: as you read, add a “sensemaking” step by taking 2 minutes to add your opinion to your notes (e.g., is your experience consistent or different from what the author is sharing)?

To build thought leadership momentum:

  • Start every content plan or writing activity (whether captions, posts, or full articles) by clarifying the point of view you want to express, e.g.,
    – 8 ways to improve content (generic)
    – Why sharing deeper content builds brand authority (thought leadership) 
  • Go back through your existing blog content—are there places where you can add in a stronger point of view?
  • Think about the biggest challenges your target audience has; how can your lived experience help them solve it?

As you start to work through and apply these steps, you’ll feel more confident in your sales process because you won’t need to spend as much time validating your experience with your prospects—they’ll come into the sales discussion already feeling that they know you and are familiar with your experience. And, as you start to share more consistently, it will help increase your volume of leads.

Building deeper thought leadership content to boost your brand authority will make a big difference in today’s world of AI-generated content. Your audience wants to hear from you, not ChatGPT. Go show your stuff. 


Alyssa Burkus

Alyssa Burkus

Alyssa Burkus is a thought leadership strategist, writer, and coach. She's the founder of Shift Wisdom, a writing agency based near Toronto, Canada where she specializes in helping business owners and corporate leaders build their authority and influence through writing.

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