The phrase “content is king” was used by Bill Gates in 1996 to describe the future of the internet as a marketplace to share information. More than 25 years later and after countless innovations across both print and digital content, the familiar phrase continues to dominate business headlines. Why? Because it provides immeasurable (and measurable) value, especially in the realm of thought leadership.  

Let’s explore this relationship further and how to measure the value of thought leadership.  


How Content Marketing and Thought Leadership are Related 

Considering that half (46 percent) of businesses reported they want to increase their content creation spending in 2022, what do we mean by content and for what purpose? Are content and thought leadership the same? 

Content is a broad umbrella term for any type of consumable information developed by an individual or organization, whether print, digital, textual, visual, or auditory.  

Thought leadership, on the other hand, is a specific type of content that recognizes and addresses challenges and pain points of a specific target market. Thought leadership offers ideas, steps and tips that solve those problems.  

Inspirational, innovative, forward thinking and sometimes controversial, thought leaders are recognized by peers, customers, and other stakeholders as notable authorities in their field.  

 Thought leadership content comes in all types of medium, such as blogs, white papers, bylined articles, videos, podcasts, and social media content. It’s less about the medium and more about the content. No matter the format, this type of content is consistently backed by facts, figures, research and contains a clearly identified thesis to deliver customer-centric and value-driven expertise. 


Boost Your Reputation and Credibility with Thought Leadership Content 

When delivered to target audiences where, when, and how they want to consume it, customer-centric thought leadership boosts your organization’s reputation and credibility. Transparent content builds vital trust between a business and its prospects, customers, employees, and stakeholders.  

It also positively impacts web traffic, search engine optimization and brand visibility; helping increase your organization’s discoverability, especially if you’re in a crowded market. In fact, high-quality content and relevant outbound and inbound links are the two most important signals used by Google to rank your website for search.   

Further, strategic content supports sales and business-development. In fact, 47 percent of buyers view three to five pieces of content before engaging with a sales rep. 


How to Identify Thought Leaders 

A thought leader is an individual or company whose customers, peers and other stakeholders, recognize as a foremost authority in

 a selected field of expertise. Thought leadership taps into the talent, experience and passion within a company and identifies informed opinion leaders and go-to people in their fields of expertise. They are trusted sources who inspire people with innovative ideas, turn ideas into reality and show others how to replicate their success.   

Over time, thought leaders create a dedicated group of supporters and followers who scale their ideas into sustainable change atthe individual, organizational and industry level. According to Denise Brosseau, author of “Ready to Be a Thought Leader?” thought leaders are defined by an “ability to galvanize others to think new thoughts, modify the way they have always done things, and embark on new behaviors, new paths, and new actions to transform the world.” 

Thought leadership is not a pedigree and it isn’t about where someone went to school. Instead, thought leaders provide the best and deepest answers, actionable insights, and real-world expertise. Companies can have multiple thought leaders or entire companies can serve as a thought leader in their respective industries. 



How to Measure the Success of Thought Leadership Content 

Like any growth strategy, the success of thought leadership should be measured in several ways to evaluate the success of topics, mediums, and channels. Continually evaluate the effect of individual content pieces and their distribution with measures.  Here are four areas to help you measure the success of your thought leadership content: 

  1. Activity/Effort: How much thought leadership are you publishing? Where and with what audience outreach? How many new publications, media outlets and channels are you reaching? 
  2. Engagement: How many website visitors are you attracting? How much time are they spending on your content? How many links are they clicking and where do they go? How many followers, like and shares are you earning? How many mentions of your brand appear on Twitter, LinkedIn, and other social media platforms?  
  3. Pipeline Impact: How many prospects convert to customers based on your thought leadership marketing initiatives? 
  4. Ecosystem Influence: How much press coverage is your brand attracting? How many media mentions are you creating? How much analyst coverage is your brand attracting? In how many reports are you mentioned?  Have your thought leaders been invited to participate in conferences, webinars, podcasts and other events? How many backlinks come to your website from other reputable sites? 


Thought Leadership Marketing Success Starts with a Sound Strategy 

Thought leadership, marketing, content marketing, SEO

Value-driven thought leadership can play a critical role in the reputation and ultimately the growth of your company whenpositioned in front of the right audiences and delivered at the right time through the most appropriate channels. Developing valuable and customer-centric content requires time, resources, expertise, and revision. However, even the most well-crafted content can go unseen and underutilized if it isn’t distributed across multiple channels.   

Thought leadership is more than a published article or occasional industry presentation. It is an ongoing commitment to lead the marketplace in thought and serve as a resource for the industry. Combine thought leadership with a powerful, multichannel growth strategy to position your organization as a thought leadership king.  

To learn more about thought leadership and how to make it a part of your strategic marketing plan, download Trade Press Services’ free guide: Key Trends in Marketing: Thought Leadership. 


About the Author: 

Gerri Knilans is president of Trade Press Services. As marketing communications strategists, serving organizations of all sizes and types since 1995, the company provides B2B writing, media outreach and general marketing support to help clients accelerate growth and generate more visibility, credibility, and name recognition in their marketplaces. For additional information, follow Gerri on LinkedIn or at 

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