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Thought Leadership Newsletter Strategy: 4 Tips To Keep In Mind

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Mo Shehu

Thought leadership content strategy

Learn 4 tips to help you tap into newsletter marketing to drive thought leadership and revenue.

Table of contents

The best thought leadership newsletters combine data and personal experience to deliver value and create powerful growth flywheels.

Good writing and unique insights attract niche readers, who share your newsletters with their peers. A large audience opens up advertising sponsorship opportunities and paid subscriptions.

You can sell books, keynotes, and consulting packages. Some writers launch VC funds, and others sell their company’s services.

So, how can you tap into newsletter marketing to drive thought leadership and gain business opportunities?

  1. Give your readers something exclusive
  2. Hold strong opinions weakly
  3. Lead with data
  4. Give it time

Give your readers something exclusive

A newsletter with a collection of your latest blog posts isn’t additive to your reader’s inbox.

You might think you’re doing them a favor by bringing your content to them, but put yourself in their shoes for a moment. 

Reading emails is almost never a single event — you’re flying through several emails to filter out the junk from the gold.

A collection of links doesn’t exactly say “Set aside 5-10 minutes of your time to read me.” 

If you already use your blog for SEO-focused content, share your POV through email. Go behind the scenes and share your process, perspective, and results. 

You should ideally have access to the latest reports from your industry, which you can expound upon in your newsletter to build credibility.

Whatever you do, avoid merely copying and pasting content your readers can find elsewhere.

Hold strong opinions weakly

Thought leadership, by definition, means innovating an industry’s thinking with unique insights backed by expertise.

Many companies prefer to play it safe and toe the line others have drawn, but this defeats the purpose and contributes to content amnesia

People subscribe to your newsletter to hear your opinion on a topic, so deliver it to them and stand by your words.

However, be prepared to change your mind when new data surfaces, or when old opinions no longer hold water.

Scott Galloway famously predicts trends ahead of each year and assesses the quality of his predictions toward the end of the year.

This builds trust with his readership (whether he ends up right or wrong) as it shows he’s willing to own his mistakes.

Lead with data

Strong opinions are great, but data-backed opinions are better. Chris Gillespie writes about fighting from the throne of data — an apt analogy for brands and authors looking to win with thought leadership. 

Again, industry reports are your friend here. Set up Google Alerts and subscribe to different websites to get a copy each period (monthly/quarterly/annually) and glean the insights applicable to your audience. 

Even better, run your own studies and share the data for extra authority. You can find research gaps by browsing the latest statistics in your industry and seeing how far back they date. 

A stat older than two years suggests an opportunity to craft a small scale study to update the findings and earn more subscribers.

Give it time

Thought leadership isn’t an overnight campaign that yields results in a month or two.

It takes time to produce good thought leadership, and even longer to boil your thoughts down into something people want to read.

This longer yield time puts off many executives from investing in thought leadership, but this is precisely where your opportunity lies.

By investing in something as long-term as a newsletter, you build mental availability and grow your content moat. With each new issue, you put distance between yourself and the competition, who grow more discouraged by your progress.

Giving your newsletter enough time also means pacing yourself. Choose a cadence that works for you (e.g., twice monthly) that will force you to publish regularly, but not burn you out.

9 examples of thought leadership newsletters

The easiest way to craft good newsletters is to subscribe to other great ones. Here are nine from my inbox:

  1. Dror Poleg writes at the intersection of cities, careers, and companies.
  2. Matt Levine of Bloomberg writes Money Stuff, a newsletter about Wall Street.
  3. Chris Gillespie of Fenwick writes about creative workplace craft at Longview.
  4. Ben Thompson analyzes tech strategy and the media business at Stratechery.
  5. Joe Zappa of Sharp Pen Media writes about content marketing practices adtech.
  6. Will Larson writes Irrational Exuberance, a newsletter for engineering executives.
  7. Scott Galloway writes at the intersection of tech and media at No Mercy/No Malice.
  8. Tim Fishburne pokes fun at the rapidly changing marketing landscape at Marketoonist
  9. Derek Thompson writes Work in Progress, a newsletter about work and technology in the US.

Note down what delights you about the different newsletters you subscribe to. If you enjoyed reading it, chances are you’ll enjoy writing it — and someone out there will enjoy the format as well.

Column helps executives build winning thought leadership newsletters. See how we approach thought leadership for engineers and four questions to ask about your thought leadership newsletter.

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