Thought leadership and content marketing go together like peanut butter and jelly. But while both terms are talked about all the time, many business owners still don’t understand how the two fit together to drive business results.
Why? My guess is that the two are both difficult to understand in terms of measuring results. Both are powerful ways to generate new business, build influence and showcase your expertise, but without a little know-how and a lot of consistent effort, you may not see the results that so many marketing gurus promise.
To explain concepts more concretely, let’s start at the beginning:
What is content marketing?
Thought leadership, as we’ve previously talked about, can significantly increase your influence among a targeted audience. Content marketing is the way you make that happen.
“Content marketing is any marketing that involves the creation and sharing of media and publishing content in order to acquire and retain customers,” according to Wikipedia.
Content, to put it plainly, is anything you create. Whether it’s an article, photo, presentation, or social media post, you are making content just by creating stuff.
Content on its own has very little value to your business, however. Content only becomes powerful is when there’s a focused and consistent message behind it. And this is where the “marketing” part of it comes in.
If you want to be relevant and valuable to your potential clients, you must create content with a purpose.
Why is content marketing important?
If you’ve ever used a search engine like Google to research something, you’ve been exposed to someone’s content marketing efforts.
Businesses put a lot of time and energy into content these days. There are literally thousands of articles published every day in an effort to gain the attention of curious information seekers. Savvy business owners know that people are finding information on social media and search engines these days, and they are actively trying to position themselves to show up where people are looking.
This is why content marketing is important. Not only does it help put your business on peoples’ radars when they want what you’re selling; it also has the amazing side effect of building trust with people.
By creating relevant, valuable content for your audience on a consistent basis, you will already be leaps and bounds ahead of your competition, who is probably relying on a static, outdated website alone.
What does thought leadership have to do with it?
If you’re anything like me, you don’t trust a company based solely on their advertising. You like to know that they understand their industry, that they care about their customers, and they relate to your own values.
The biggest differentiator for thought leaders is they are often seen as a trusted resource for information. People know that they’re qualified, that they have interesting ideas, and they are more apt to do business with them based on the content they share.
Content marketing is not the same thing as thought leadership by any stretch, but an effective content marketing strategy can certainly help. You can, as a byproduct of your content marketing efforts, build your thought leadership over time.
Want to understand how to promote your thought leadership through your content in the real world? Here is an example of a simple, 3 step strategy that’s working for my clients. While most of my clients are in the coaching industry, many of the same principles can apply to other business models.
- Start with great content: This can be a blog post, video, podcast, ebook, infographic, or anything else you create to promote your product or service. Make sure it’s optimized for SEO, and includes an invitation to join your email list
- Spread the word: Promote your content on social media and via RSS feed, write guest posts for other blogs, or syndicate it to other relevant aggregators like HuffingtonPost, Business2Community or elephant journal.
- As traffic comes back to your site: Offer a newsletter sign up with a free opt-in gift. Then, build the relationship with your subscribers with a series of auto responders, each with a targeted call-to-action.
Use your email newsletter strategy (separate from your blog strategy) to entice new subscribers, build relationships, and stay visible to your closest followers. Make them to feel special because they are. These are your biggest fans, champions, promoters, and the people you’ll be selling to in the future.
As your thought leadership and follower base grow, it’s a good idea to adjust your content to the feedback your clients and followers are providing. Providing targeted, specific help to your followers will naturally cause them look to your expertise even more.
And the cycle continues.
Want to know more about how you can start building your thought leadership with content marketing? Get in touch! We’re more than happy to help answer any questions you have.