Thought Leadership vs. Content Marketing

Media Relations
26.11.20

Businesses looking to increase brand awareness are already familiar with the popularity of thought leadership when it comes to their marketing tactics. The same thing goes for content marketing, which is frequently praised for creating more leads compared to other strategies. However, many business owners aren’t aware that these two strategies have clear key differences.

When it comes to content marketing, it’s a top-down communication method – and it can be promoted business to business (B2B) or business to consumer (B2C). Additionally, content marketing aims to create a relationship with the readers instead of starting a dialogue. This is because communication is framed hierarchically in content marketing, which is different from thought leadership.

With thought leadership, the content aims to create a direct connection with the readers instead of exploiting the value provided to them by selling to the audience. Furthermore, thought leadership leverages the messaging’s quality to incite or further a business relationship and start a dialogue with the audience.

The ultimate goal of both thought leadership and content marketing is to sell. However, as they are two different forms of marketing strategies, they ultimately use different assets to grab the audience’s attention. Good content marketing provides value, is informative, useful, and engaging to the target audience. The ultimate goal is to position the business as the best vendor to choose from when the audience is looking for that particular product or service.

On the other hand, good thought leadership operates differently, as it provides completely different value to the readers, with additional research, statistics, and groundbreaking information about the industry at large, that’s going to garner a lot more attention from a bigger pool of readers, in turn, creating a dialogue with more people.

Most of the time, thought leadership aims to create original content and add value to other important issues or leverage a certain idea into realizing more business opportunities that can be further nurtured. Because of this, the promotional aspect of thought leadership tends to be limited to the byline of the author and best works for offsite placement, which is mainly done by PR practitioners.

Conversely, content marketing is mainly published on the company’s blog or other onsite resources. It has an internal style guide, which greatly differs from thought leadership, and often ends up being a completely different type of writing.

Additionally, thought leadership is usually higher in the sales funnel when creating that marketing strategy. It’s mainly used by bigger companies that sell high-ticket solutions in complex sales processes. One of its main objectives is to make an initial impression on the target audience. Content marketing is a tactic preferred by B2C businesses that are trying to promote shorter sales funnels and aim to close on a lead faster and get the attention of the audience faster.

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