Most marketers think lead conversion when they think of content. But with this perspective they are missing out on the strategic role content play’s in the customer experience. Content marketing is about generating leads. Thought leadership is about earning and establishing credibility with your target audience throughout the customer experience. It is about owning a distinct position in the minds of your customers.
The truth is content marketing is a subset of a comprehensive thought leadership strategy.
Content marketing is rooted lead generation. The strategy is designed to answer one question: “what content/topics will generate the highest conversion rates?”
A thought leadership strategy is rooted in the end-to-end customer experience. The strategy should answer one question: “what position(s) do we want to own in the mind of our target audience?”
Thought leadership strategies trump content marketing strategies. With that said, they are not mutually exclusive. Content marketing must connect to a thought leadership strategy that serves a higher purpose.
What is that purpose? It’s simple. To be known for something. To be recognized or acknowledged as an expert or visionary on a topic that is meaningful and relevant to your target audience. That is what thought leadership is all about.
In fact, according to Forbes Magazine the definition of a thought leader is …
“… an individual or firm that prospects, clients, referral sources, intermediaries and even competitors recognize as one of the foremost authorities in selected areas of specialization, resulting in its being the go-to individual or organization for said expertise.”
Your thought leadership strategy should be derived from your corporate strategy and story. It should be an extension of your corporate vision and mission. It should amplify your corporate positioning, value proposition and points of difference. The strategy should also align with the customer journey. Thought leadership content should establish credibility and trust as a prospect moves from awareness to consideration, conversion, loyalty and advocacy.
The simple fact is, we live in a noisy world. Every 24 hours more than 4 billion pieces of content are produced, 2 million blog posts are published, and 92,000 new articles are posted on the internet. Adding to the noise is not the answer. Producing relevant content that affirms the position you want to own in the mind of our target audience is imperative.