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Thought Leadership Vs. Traditional Content Marketing

Posted by on Dec 9, 2016

According to the experts at the Content Marketing Institute, content marketing is defined as “a strategic marketing approach focused on creating and distributing valuable, consistent, and relevant to attract and retain a clearly-defined audience-and ultimately, to drive profitable customer action.” This is true of both traditional marketing campaigns and of business-to-business models. Traditional content marketing can present old information in a new and exciting way, explain the impact of new data on a specific organization, or attempt to simplify complex concepts so they are more accessible to a larger audience.

Thought leadership takes traditional content marketing channels and uses them to solidify the author as an undisputed expert on a particular topic or in a specific field. New or existing information is examined, explained, and dissected in such depth and with such authority that the audience can’t help but recognize the author’s mastery of the subject.

Turning Content Marketing into Thought Leadership

The basic requirements to transform traditional content marketing into thought leadership are experience, knowledge, and writing ability. The author needs to have extensive knowledge of the topic, concrete experience working within the field that the topic covers, and the ability to convey their experience and knowledge in an engaging way. Basically, the author not only has to be an expert in a field, but they also have to be able to convincingly display their expertise to their target audience.

When to Utilize Thought Leadership

The reason that thought leadership shouldn’t just become the default strategy for any organization or campaign is that there are few things more detrimental to an individual or a brand than a failed attempt at thought leadership.

With traditional content marketing, differing opinions or points-of-view are welcome and generally encouraged. The author is generally seen more as a facilitator of discussion and less as an authoritarian provider of information. This is especially true in the B2B realm where organizational expectations are different than traditional consumer expectations. It is possible for an author to be “wrong” about a particular topic and still be successful because they may have increased brand exposure or helped generate organizational contacts simply by being part of a given conversation.

Thought leadership shifts the paradigm. Thought leadership is not an attempt to be a part of a conversation, it is an attempt by an organization to establish themselves as the heart of the conversation. The benefit is, of course, increased exposure and message control with regards to a particular topic. However, the cost is a lack of insulation against being “wrong”. Thought leaders cannot afford to be wrong because they have established themselves as an authority on a given topic or field. In the case of a thought leader, being “wrong” means a catastrophic hit to brand credibility and an overall loss of consumer trust. A good solution is to find a PR agency to help you with branding and your companies voice.  This website lists pr agencies that have been awarded and could lead to a credible ally for your company.