For more information about these three different types of online content, please see the Content Marketing à la Carte series.
While I commented briefly at the end of the series that one type of content isn't better than the other (it's a matter of personal preference and the suitability of your message), I wanted to talk more about how your choice of content will help you build relationships online.
A thought piece naturally positions you as a leader in your industry, particularly if it challenges or innovates a commonly-held practice or opinion. This creates a level of comfort for your ideal client that you are a credible expert. It can also set up a structure for your work together (such as my self-assessment for content marketers).
How you can help it along: Surround yourself with a community of fellow innovators who support you to express your original ideas. Let thought pieces happen naturally in their own time, and then highlight them in your blog or newsletter. Invite some of your most influential industry colleagues to read and comment – sometimes they're the ones you'll most connect to with a thought piece.
Remember to balance: Some potential clients won't spend the time to read a longer or deeper piece, and others simply are not interested in your musings or theories – they don't want to watch you figure it out, they just want you to tell them what to do or show them how others are doing it!
A connective piece naturally positions you as a trusted resource for your ideal clients – both a connector who knows a lot of people and a maven who has a lot of good information to share. The connective piece also does a wonderful job of nurturing your relationships with your peers, encouraging reciprocal links and referrals when they happen to run into your ideal clients.
How you can help it along: Be on the lookout for information and resources that will benefit your ideal client, whether that's from a colleague or a "competitor." Trust that there is enough work for everyone and that the right clients will be attracted to you if you express yourself authentically.
A core piece naturally strengthens your ideal client's trust that you will be able to help them with their problem. By delivering bite-sized pieces of your unique solutions, you give them a taste of what the experience of working with you will be like.
How you can help it along: Listen to what your clients and readers are telling you and asking you. Give them the solutions they're looking for, not just the ones you think they should have (Alicia Forest and I discussed this in an interview).
Remember to balance: There's not much of a downside to publishing a high volume of well-written core pieces, other than the fact that your ideal client would likely enjoy seeing different types of content from you. And mixing it up can also keep your creativity stoked!
Each type of online content has a role in your relationship-building efforts, and balancing between them can help maintain your rapport with your reader. If you usually stick with one kind of article, challenge yourself to write a different one this week. Want to go further with the challenge? Aim to write at least one of each type over the next month.