Heard about content marketing? Of course, you have. But have you heard about thought leadership? You might not know of this particular approach. That said, more and more people are learning about thought leadership, and amongst entrepreneurs and professionals, it seems to be developing into quite the buzzword.
The common issue with thought leadership is it’s more often than not confused with content marketing. There are some similarities, which is probably why this keeps happening. But it is also essential to know that there are fundamental differences.
To help you to figure out who might win the battle between the two, let’s explore those differences in a little more detail.
Leadership is peer to peer whilst content marketing is top-down
When you communicate via content marketing, then there is a good chance that you will be communicating from the top down. You, as an expert in the field and industry, will be talking to your audience. And you will be letting them know what you can do and how you offer a solution to an issue that they may have.
You won’t be focused as much on having a conversation with them. And you will be initiating those key relationships. Which then, in the future, can become more two-sided.
This is where thought leadership kicks in
Rather than being promotional, the idea is that it is developing a connection. You are sharing ideas and thoughts with your audience, and you are asking them to think and input.
Instead of being a quick sell, thought leadership is taking it to the next level and developing real value for the long term.
Content marketing is value, thought leadership is thinking
It is vitally essential for both approaches to ensure that they find a way to hook their readers. After all, both of them want to be used as a way to sell what you can do. However, the difference comes in the way that they put together their bait.
Good content marketing is all about providing value to the people who are reading it
You want to create helpful content that is packed full of information, and that is engaging too. You want to ensure that you know what you are talking about and that you can offer what you say you can.
Thought leadership is more about encouraging others to think about what you can do or the questions you set out to answer. It is about sharing, engaging, coming together. And, in turn, creating valuable connections with those who are interested in what you have to say. To have their own opinions and knowledge to input too.
When it comes to the sales funnel, thought leadership is higher up
If you think of sales as a giant funnel, content marketing sits below thought leadership. You will often find larger organisations use thought leadership as a way to secure those “high ticket sales”. Usually as a vital part of a more extensive, more long-term sales process. It is not about quick fixes; it needs to run, and efforts need to be put into it.
Content marketing, whilst hugely beneficial, can be used as a short-term measure. It gets the quick wins, those smaller sales that have more value than you realise. And come together to create a success that could equate to one bigger client being secured. They both have their benefits and due to this will be able to work for different clients.
Thought leadership happens with you; content marketing is out in the world
When you compare thought leadership and content marketing, you will see that they occur in two different worlds. You are likely to develop thought marketing ideas and then put them in place in your work premises, working together onsite to create the solution.
Content marketing is a much wider net; you will cast it out there in the world, and whilst you will still think of it on site, the actual method and effort will happen more out of your control.
It is essential to know the importance of both of these approaches and learn more about which one is right for you at different sales process stages. In doing this, you will be able to harness the power of both and see the best return for your efforts.
Take a look at some of my other blogs you may be interested in:
If you would like help with your marketing then bringing on a marketing consultant with a fresh pair of eyes can make all the difference. I work with B2B businesses and professional service firms in London, Kent, UK and Europe. Please get in touch or book a free 30-minute consultation.