When it comes to marketing methods, Thai businesses aiming to improve brand awareness are familiar and generally well accustomed with the popularity of thought leadership, at least as an overall concept. The same can be said about content marketing, which is typically credited with generating more leads than other methods.

Indeed, having a deep and multi-faceted library of owned content is one of the most valuable steps a company can take when trying to amplify its inbound sales X search performance. Many Thai business owners, however, are unaware that these two tactics have distinct advantages and disadvantages, and sit back to back – like a balance of yin and yang, you may argue.

Content marketing is a top-down communication approach that can be used to promote “businesses to businesses” (B2B) or “businesses to consumers” (B2C). There’s also the newer concept (and one that confounds many marketers for its “blurb” nature – B2B2C).

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Thought Leadership vs. Content Marketing

Rather than taking aim at initiating a debate, content marketing tries to build a relationship with the readers by giving them something of relevance and value; this is because content marketing differs from thought leadership in that communication is structured hierarchically, and is accessible (inbound) rather than targeted (outbound).

Instead of utilising the value supplied to the audience by marketing to the audience, thought leadership material tries to develop a direct connection with the readers. Furthermore, thought leadership uses the quality of the messaging to initiate or strengthen a commercial relationship, as well as to initiate a discourse with the audience.

Thought Leadership Strategy

Both thought leadership and content marketing have the same end goal: to capture attention, and to sell. However, because they are two different types of marketing tactics, they leverage different assets to capture the attention of the audience. Good content marketing adds value to the target audience by being educational, useful, and engaging. The ultimate goal is to position the company as the greatest option for the audience when they are looking for that specific product or service (and indirectly and in the first instance, guidance and credibility).

Good thought leadership, on the other hand, works in a different way because generally it provides readers with completely different value; such as additional research, statistics, and ground-breaking information about the industry as a whole, which will draw a lot more attention from a larger audience (potentially) and, as a result, create a dialogue with more people from a position of significance and stature.

The majority of the time, thought leadership attempts to develop unique material (or positioning) while also to bring value to other significant topics, or to leverage a particular idea into other business prospects that may be fostered further.

As a result, the promotional part of thought leadership is typically restricted to the author’s by-line and best works for offsite placement, which is primarily handled by public relations professionals. A note of caution here; not every agency (and certainly many agencies in Thailand/Bangkok are not particularly sophisticated or knowledgeable in this subject area).

Content marketing, on the other hand, is primarily distributed through the company’s blog or other onsite tools. It has an internal style guide that differs significantly from thought leadership and frequently results in entirely different types of writing.

Furthermore, while developing a marketing strategy, thought leadership is frequently found higher in the sales funnel. It’s primarily employed by larger businesses that sell high-ticket solutions through complicated sales processes. One of the primary reasons for this is cost. While creating owned content for your web site and other owned digital assets is free (besides any labour expenditure), there is usually a considerable cost to creating activations which open up thought leadership speaking platform opportunities. This may be because you need to hire a PR firm to get you in front of the correct media (and subsequently, the right public audience), or because you have to create your own event, such as an own branded business seminar, to build that same opportunity.

So, which approach is correct? Both.

Both are correct. And both can be used in dual parallel or series paths, depending on the complexity (and budget) of you own in-house marketing plan.

One of the primary goals of both approaches is to make a favourable first impression on the target audience. Content marketing is a strategy used by B2C companies who want to encourage shorter sales funnels, close leads faster, and attract their audience’s attention faster. Thought leadership, meanwhile, suits larger enterprises who can afford to let it simmer over the long term, whilst relying on other means (the content marketing strategy being one of them) to capture sales in the meantime.

A Bangkok PR agency will typically try and sell both methods (“services”) to their clients. Some are decent at capturing thought leadership opportunities through their connections and networks. Prep work is the thing that is most required to make it work well before any such event takes place.

Where PR firms in Thailand are generally very weak is in content development. The reasons for this are two-fold. Firstly, they typically hire Thai staff in the 18-35k monthly salary range, which is not enough to capture team members who have confident English language and communication skills. Secondly, they take on too many clients and their teams are constantly overloaded.

If an agency has 15 staff, 25 retainers and 18 project accounts, how much time will they be able to devote, practically speaking, to managing your account or creating great content for you?

This is why more and more companies, from small SMEs to large international corporates, are placing their trust in the next generation of smaller, more agile, boutique and specialist agencies like Gemini PR, to handle their world-class content production needs.

Thought Leadership Positioning, and getting into specific approaches

As outlined above, one of the prime and most important areas of both B2B and B2C marketing, almost regardless of the industry you work in or lead your business in, is in Thought Leadership Marketing. Especially so (arguably) when you work in business-to-business marketing, thought leadership is one of the most important things your company — or you — can achieve and leverage for success.

As competition for clients is always high (especially now post-covid and mid recovery), prospective customers do even more research before making a purchase. Because of this, professionals in B2B marketing need to assist in educating prospects in the early stages of the buying cycle. If you do this effectively, you can help prospects frame their buying process and establish your brand as a trusted advisor who understands their problems and knows how to solve them. Because of this, it is more important than ever before for your company to be seen as a leader in its field and a reliable resource by all of the main stakeholders, including consumers, the media, analysts, investors, and everyone in between.

Unfortunately, thought leadership cannot be easily quantified in the same way that other indicators for demand creation such as revenue, sales, or leads can be. In addition, investing in the enhancement of one’s reputation may not yield the same short-term and quick results that are produced by other types of initiatives, such as email marketing campaigns. However, fostering thought leadership may have a huge benefit in the long run, since it can eventually raise your brand’s profile on a wider scale.

Characteristics of Thought Leadership Marketing Positioning

Build connections with clients, prospects, and other parties by having conversations with them that are not directly related to sales but are important to the industry. Some argue that this is an old sales trick (“Hey John, how are the kids?”).

Thought Leadership Marketing goes way beyond this, however. Becoming the go-to source for research, analysis, and interpretation of the most recent news and trends will help you establish yourself as such.

Gain the trust of potential consumers so that when the time comes for them to make a purchase, they will turn to the business that is considered to be the thought leader – or at least, the person behind their business who has been authoring or speaking on subjects of interest for them.

To improve the reputation of your company with your as the thought leader figurehead, you may try implementing some of the following suggestions into your (B2B) marketing strategy:

Do some unique research and provide it. You may run a poll on your website, send out a survey to your clients, or enlist the assistance of a third party to help you conduct more in-depth research. No matter what kind of study you are conducting, the material presented here is likely to be of particular help to media and industry experts. In addition, the frequency with which your findings are picked up by these sources is directly correlated to the likelihood that prospects would perceive you as a reliable source.

You may share insight by using the blog that your organisation maintains. These days, every business also functions as a media corporation in its own right (as do you, on Facebook and LinkedIn, even in your personal posts to a large degree). And while social media like Twitter are all the rage right now, the publishing tool that offers the most versatility and, ultimately, the most value is a blog. You need to do more than just report and respond on your blog if you want to achieve your goal of placing your company as an industry thought leader. Incorporate smart remark and analysis on the trends in the industry, and initiate threads of innovative ideas. This will put you in a position of leadership, rather than one of the flock of followers.

Provide a remedy for a certain predicament. If you have your finger on the pulse of your industry, you will have a strong understanding of the pain areas that prospects experience. Spending the time to define answers to urgent problems will establish you as a trustworthy source, so make the most of that opportunity. When you are able to address certain problems that people in your sector are actively seeking answers for, you will put yourself in a position that is far more advantageous than that of your rivals.

Participate in the speaker’s circuit. At industry events, there are a plethora of options to present prospective clients with insightful information, ranging from keynote speeches and panel discussions to breakout sessions and Clubhouse. Conduct research on the sorts of gatherings, such as conferences, meetings, and conventions, that your potential customers are most likely to attend, and cultivate ties with the organisers of those gatherings.

Consider the indirect impact that these actions will have in the event that you are still not convinced of the need of developing your thought leadership strategy. When done correctly, attempts to establish one’s reputation can ensure your website will receive more high-quality inbound links, which will result in an increase in the amount and quality of referral traffic, and your brand will be elevated to become more referential.

In addition, the more search engine optimization (SEO) material you publish, such as whitepapers, blog posts, and webinars, the higher your search ranks will be.

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