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Thought Leadership Strategies: The Ultimate Guide

Many of TPW’s clients have expressed an interest in developing their business’ thought leadership. And that’s great because it means they’re into the latest trends. They’re also invested in making a name for themselves in their industry.

But this impressive-sounding buzzword is too often misunderstood. Despite its popularity,  the public definition of “thought leadership” is still somewhat unclear.

In this two-part blog series, we’re going to get to the crux of this content type. This way, you’ll know what to do (and what not to do) when developing your thought-leadership strategy.

Then you can tap into this trend like a pro.

What is thought leadership, anyway?

Thought leadership is often promoted as content marketing, but the two are pretty different. Thought leadership articles fit into your wider content marketing plan, but this content type has a particular set of goals and targets different audiences.

Getting clear on content marketing

Simply put, content marketing answers your audience’s questions. Thought leadership asks your audience questions instead.

Content marketing is closed-ended. Thought leadership is open-ended.

Each content type has different goals, too.

Different destinations

When creating general content, you want your clients to think as little as possible. This might sound silly, but hear us out.

A general content marketer’s goal is to get the client to the end of the sales funnel smoothly. This content aptly engages and absorbs the reader’s interest. As a result, they’re guided to a distinct destination.

That is, press the “Subscribe”, “Like”, or “Follow” button. Alternatively, they’re encouraged to make a purchase or get in touch with your team. Easy-peasy.

But thought leadership works differently. We’ll explain this next.

Thought leadership vs. content marketing

Thought leadership falls under the umbrella of a business content marketing strategy. Despite this, the two have distinct differences.

These differences are the following:

  • Goal
  • Style
  • Audience

Let’s look at the scenarios below to clarify.

Scenario 1

A business explores its customers’ current problems. Research shows that rising energy costs are decreasing their clients’ internet usage. As an internet provider, they opt to offer strategies online. The content is titled “How to Maximise Your Office’s Electric Mileage.”

Scenario 2

A competitor business notices that alternative energy sources are trending. As a result, their team creates a LinkedIn poll. This poll asks the audience how they plan to enter a more energy-efficient future. It also encourages them to contribute by sharing their own solutions.

Conversations or conversions?

Which scenario falls under thought leadership? If you picked scenario 2, you’ve earned yourself some brownie points.

The distinction?

Content marketing is internally directed. It attracts and brings clients to their company page or inbox and encourages conversions.

On the other hand, thought leadership is open-ended. It encourages engagement by sparking conversations instead.

To tie it all up

When done well, thought leadership-styled content is incredibly powerful. In a survey carried out earlier this year, up to 64 per cent of the respondents claimed that this content form is more influential than generic marketing materials.

It has the power to inform positive purchasing and partnership decisions. What’s more, two-thirds of marketers prioritise thought leadership in their overall strategy. This means it’s a trend worth tapping into.

But how?

Speaking to an expert can help. Alternatively, you can create this content yourself. In the next part of this two-series article, we’ll comb through the steps you can take to create a sound leadership strategy that’s sure to inspire – and influence – your audience.