Monday, 10 December 2012

Thought Leadership/Content Marketing: Nothing to Fear But Fear Itself

I speak to a lot of people who tell me they believe Thought Leadership or Content Marketing would benefit their business significantly. They buy into the concept that it could not only help position their business as a significant player in their vertical, but also help to reduce (or at the very least maximise potential from) traditional marketing and sales budgets. But when push comes to shove they fail to engage, normally hanging on to one of the following four excuses:

1. No time: Time is in short supply and you just cannot find enough of it to invest in building a solid Thought Leadership programme. There is a good chance you identify with this and believe it to be a valid excuse. But before you make this assumption, take a look at your day and ask yourself what you are doing that adds value to your business and what you are doing simply out of habit. How often do you check sales figures or other business related statistics? Similarly, how much dead time do you spend staring out of train windows or drinking coffee in airport lounges? How often do you find yourself updating Twitter or LinkedIn with other peoples’ Thought Leadership? Are you really busy all the time or are you victim of procrastination? It’s a hard habit to break – I know I can be guilty of this at times. Could you find an extra 30 minutes a day to dedicate to Thought Leadership? If you are struggling to find the time, set your alarm clock half-an-hour earlier in the morning and check yourself when you consider hitting the snooze button.

2. Fear: Like many others, you may be worried that your opinion isn’t valid or your customers and competitors will find holes in your arguments. All Thought Leaders have these moments of self-doubt from time to time. Don’t let this unfounded fear put you off. Instead, you should concentrate on the one thing that validates your position – your experience. Remember, it is highly unlikely that anyone of any importance or influence will single you out for attack or question your opinion. The worst case scenario is that you’ll be ignored. In this case, it’s time to look at your Thought Leadership strategy, re-evaluate what you think is important and reconsider what you believe your target audience is looking for.

3. No ideas/lack of imagination: This is quite frankly a lazy excuse. Think about it for a minute – where do other Thought Leaders in your industry look for inspiration? The answer is staring you right in the face. Their customers. You speak to these people every single day. You know what makes their lives difficult and how your business can help solve their problems. If you find yourself short of ideas, try speaking to the people who pay your wages.

4. Lack of presentation skills: Thought Leadership need not be a solo effort. Ideally it will focus on one or two individuals within your organisation but that doesn’t mean you cannot enrol other people to help you out. Perhaps someone in your company has a flair for writing and can help you to polish your copy. Perhaps another individual is more comfortable in front of a camera or speaking to an audience. There is no reason why they cannot present your findings on your behalf. If you are a one-man band it might be worth engaging with a freelancer to help you improve your position.

But sometimes it’s not the lack of skill or talent that prevents an organisation from developing and delivering a great Thought Leadership programme. Sometimes it is easier to sit back and invent roadblocks than raise your head above the parapet and shout “I have an opinion!”

The above abridged text is taken from  the book Becoming THE Expert: Enhancing Your Business Reputation through Thought Leadership Marketing available now from Amazon and the Apple iBookstore.


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