January 11, 2023

Forms Of Thought Leadership: Subjective vs. Objective

Many B2B companies have come to realize the power of Thought Leadership Marketing to build trusted relationships and earn efficient growth from clients and prospective clients. But there are actually two distinct forms of Thought Leadership:

  1. Subjective Thought Leadership
  2. Objective Thought Leadership

When most marketers think of Thought Leadership, they’re really only thinking of the subjective variety. Many are missing the objective version, and that’s the one with greater shelf life, and greater propensity to establish credibility with prospective buyers.


1. Subjective Thought Leadership

Subjective Thought Leadership is essentially opinions. In its best form, it presents unique and compelling points of view on the industry or the future from subject matter experts (SMEs) within a company. Marketers might hire an external writer to help communicate the opinions and perspectives of SMEs within their company, and a content marketing agency to distribute them. This is a great way to compete in the ideas marketplace, stand out, feed engaging content into your content marketing engine and marketing automation, and stay top of mind.

But subjective Thought Leadership is mostly fleeting. It might earn a click or a read and three minutes of consideration. But it’s a noisy world out there, and if you don’t follow it up with another compelling piece of subjective Thought Leadership a few days later, then you quickly lose momentum. That’s where objective Thought Leadership comes in.


2. Objective Thought Leadership

It’s not fundamentally about communicating an opinion, but rather about creating legitimately new information for the industry. This could come from original custom research, such as surveys. It could come from analytics projects that mine internal user data in unique ways. It could come from documenting a trend in the industry and tracking it quantitatively. It could also come from controlled experiments that show how a product or capability achieves its promises. But none of these are based on opinion; they are fact.


Which Form of Thought Leadership is More Effective?

Objective and subjective Thought Leadership are not mutually exclusive. To the contrary, the best Thought Leadership combines the two by using objective Thought Leadership to effectively prove the accuracy of an opinion. You must carefully design objective data gathering to successfully prove an opinion you’re trying to communicate. You start with the end, such as slide headlines or article titles or lead nurturing soundbites, and work backwards. When done successfully, the opinion is subtly inherent in the body of Thought Leadership that comes off as objective.

When you have good objective Thought Leadership, it does far more than scratch the itch of keeping the content marketing engine fresh. Objective Thought Leadership has shelf life, it can be communicated in a wide range of vehicles and formats, it empowers PR teams to new levels of success, and is just as useful for Sales, Client Success, and even Product as it is for Marketing.

If your team has already successfully scaled up subjective Thought Leadership into an effective content marketing machine, it’s time to graduate to objective Thought Leadership to tap into one of the most effective ways to build lastly brand credibility with both buyers and clients.