One of the companies in our circle has been considering thought leadership as a part of its customer acquisition strategy. Many others have used content marketing.
How are they different, and which should you be using?
Traditionally, content-market is showing the world of potential customers that you are a reliable source of information and expertise. While some define much broadly as any content that will draw potential customers to your website even if the content is entirely unrelated to your business (for example, if we had a gallery of cat pictures), I see that broader definition as a source of confusion, and don’t like to see the definition extended more broadly than general reference material in your area including calculators of different types.
In contrast, I see thought leadership as being a source of insight rather than just information. Or at least the newest information well before it becomes common knowledge.
Exciting questions or just useful answers?
While content marketing shows you can solve common problems well, thought leadership shows you can solve difficult novel problems that mere mortals cannot hope to even grasp. Or at least talk about them. More importantly, that you can be invited to speak at conferences and on podcasts. And even more importantly, that listening to you will provide high-quality cocktail party conversation.
If you are selling a tried and true solution to a well know problem, perhaps you should be thinking of content marketing rather than (or in addition to) thought leadership