Content marketing and thought leadership: both are identified as vitally important for business, particularly as social media gains an increasingly important place to find information on products and services.
Although the terms content marketing and thought leadership are very often used interchangeably, I believe that there are major differences in their definitions as well as a co-dependent relationship between the two, which should matter to marketers.
Thought leadership is about new perspectives or different ways of thinking about a problem, issue or challenge with a view to proposing one or several solution options. Thought leadership has a longer-term focus, involving awareness-building, understanding and debate about solution options.
Content marketing on the other hand, is about presenting solutions to problems that people care about, with a view to selling to new customers and developing existing business. Content marketing has a shorter range view, with purchase preference and sales in the line of sight.
Developing new perspectives and insights and presenting them in the form of expert advice may come easily to some companies. Well written brochures, eBooks, blog posts, web pages, speeches at trade shows and executive lunches, are ways in which corporations and their employees aim to build and gain a reputation as thought leaders.
But what value does being a thought leader bring to the corporation’s bottom line?
The BIG picture
Marketing aims to engage interest and encourage action. The best thought leaders may present breakthrough ideas and solutions, but without encouraging action among potential clients, thought leadership is ineffective, and brings no real value to the corporation and its clientele, who would benefit most from it.
To bring value, thought leadership should drive the content of content marketing. This is why I believe that both thought leadership and content marketing are co-dependent. It is the marketing of thought leadership that creates value with the potential to drive business development. This, in my view, is the BIG picture.
Focus on what’s important
As I pointed out in an earlier post, content marketing should be focused on what the target clientele really cares about. Every thought leader should create value for their corporation and target clientele through content marketing.
A thought leader becomes a content marketer by focusing on the following key activities:
- Identifying and addressing tipping points – this involves understanding the needs and pain points of the target clientele and presenting insights and information that are most relevant to the purchase decision.
- Optimizing demand opportunities – reaching out to the target clientele at a particular time when a specific need or concern is top of mind.
- Using the right media – to be successful, content marketing must be delivered through the channels of preference of the target clientele, along with an easy way for action to be taken in the form of inquiries and purchase decisions, where applicable. In addition, the content must be easily found through search engines using keyword phrases that reflect the needs and interests of the target clientele.
See the BIG picture. Focus on what’s important.