Content marketing is an extremely effective way to build your business, increase sales and achieve the trust of your audience. Essentially, content marketing is a very strategic marketing approach where you deliver consistent and relevant content to a clearly-defined audience in return driving profitable customer actions. Most businesses from multi-billion dollar corporations all the way down to the sole proprietorship uses content marketing to build their brands and drive customer engagement.
Many believe that thought leadership articles are just another form of content marketing, but in reality, it is so much more. Yes, thought leaders provide informed opinions through published content that could be described as content marketing. And yes, many do realize the benefits of increased customer engagement and possible increased profit through their thought leadership content. But, thought leadership content holds quite a bit more value than content marketing.
With content marketing, there is so much information out there. As a reader, it is really difficult to cut through the muddle and find articles that are appropriate to you, provide value and are authentic. That’s where thought leadership content steps in. If you’ve already established yourself as a thought leader – someone with innovative ideas, unique perspectives and with superior knowledge of select topics – people want to hear what you have to say. This is because what you are saying is completely authentic – it wasn’t outsourced and relies on your own experiences and doesn’t just come through research or second-hand knowledge.
Content marketing, as with most types of marketing, have set goals in place for factors like reach and engagement. The primary purpose of the written content is to reach that goal, regardless of how it may actually affect the content. On the other hand, thought leaders don’t write content with goals in mind. They write content based on the ideas they’ve crafted in their minds and basically, by being themselves in the process. Thought leaders focus on their message, not the medium or the outcome.
Thought leaders don’t have a problem with getting personal and bringing their own experiences up in their content. By doing so, they credibly develop a trust with their audience, and readers see them as a fundamentally open book. While content marketing can be seen as a way to espouse certain values or beliefs, thought leadership is the value and the belief.
Learns from its Audience
A thought leader didn’t get to that status by sheer luck – they took the knowledge they learned along their journey and applied it to every facet of their life. With a growth mindset, thought leaders don’t just teach others, they listen and learn. When it comes to content marketing, insight into audience is limited to what can be done to get higher reach and engagement. With thought leadership, insight from the audience is always appreciated, well-received, and helps the thought leader develop and present better and brighter ideas.
Rather than think of thought leadership as content marketing at its finest, it should be considered to be in a category all on its own.
If you found this article interesting, you may also enjoy reading the other articles I’ve recently posted on Executive Outlook about Thought Leadership. Please feel free to share these articles with your network.
Your LinkedIn profile is a great place to build your personal brand and position yourself as a Thought Leader. If you need assistance optimizing your profile or writing content, message me at firstname.lastname@example.org.