What Does it Mean to be a Thought Leader?

Thought Leader Word Cloud


As you may (or may not) have noticed, A.wordsmith has recently changed it’s descriptive title from “a boutique PR and marketing firm” to “a boutique PR and thought leadership firm.” Likewise, you may be thinking, “What exactly does that mean?” Well, I’m here to tell you.

Marketing for the sake of sales

By definition, marketing involves communicating the value of a product or service for the sake of promoting its sale. It is a tactic used by many businesses to procure monetary and economic reward. Don’t get me wrong – part of what we do at A.wordsmith does involve implementing programs for our clients with the aim of boosting their sales. But the main focus of Public Relations is not to help our clients “get rich quick” because that would be a less-than-sincere goal. What we really care about is exactly what “Public Relations” sounds like – helping our clients build strong relationships with and within the community so that they might have the opportunity to properly showcase the quality of their products/services and grow as the healthy companies/organizations that they already are.

Trust in a thought leader

Now, on the other hand, here’s what a thought leader is: an informed and well-trusted opinion leader who inspires people with innovative ideas and turns these ideas into reality. Note that they key words here are “informed” and “well-trusted.” When a business knows a great deal about its field and can answer any and all of its public’s questions, trust and respect is what results. And following its establishment of trustworthy expertise with its customers, it is able to thrive. Even Forbes agrees.

It’s easy to see that, when comparing marketing and thought leadership, marketing fails to build relational trust and respect where thought leadership excels at it. I guess you could boil it all down to a matter of sustainability – marketing seems to be an unsustainable tactic because it focuses on immediate and short-term effects, whereas thought leadership is very sustainable because it prioritizes creating and maintaining relationships rather than selling products. This is not to say that thought leadership doesn’t help clients’ profitability, because often it can and does. But the difference is that any  increased profitability resulting from thought leadership is the byproduct of something much more substantial: the public’s trust and respect for the company/organization itself.

In short, we here at A.wordsmith have changed the way we describe ourselves because we want the public to know that we strive to help our clients improve quality first, and quantity second. Hence why we have made it a point to re-identify as a thought leadership, rather than marketing, firm.

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