Why You Might NOT Want to Become a Thought Leader

Thought leadership is something we talk about a lot, and for good reason: it can be a great marketing vehicle—if done correctly.Because content marketing is so prevalent these days, creating and disseminating content across a wide range of channels (traditional and digital) is more cost-effective than ever before. And people are hungry for useful, relevant content.

Today’s audience is largely online, offering business leaders, entrepreneurs, consultants and others the opportunity to connect with, and engage, audiences on both a broad and narrow perspective.

The value of becoming a thought leader is credibility—credibility that will drive demand for your products or services. Publishing content, or being published by others, is the price of admission. That publicity is the most significant process goal for those hoping to become thought leaders. Publicity is a leading indicator for the ultimate goal, or objective, that organizations or individuals would have: sales.

However, while there are certainly benefits of becoming a thought leader, it may not be for everyone. For starters, your audience is probably savvy enough to tell if you’re not actually an expert in your desired area of thought leadership. Even though it’s relatively easy for just about anyone to put up a website and begin to engage with an audience over social channels, the old aphorism applies: “you can fool some of the people some of the time, but you can’t fool all of the people all of the time.” If you’re not really an expert, eventually you will be found out.

Similarly, if you are not a thought leader already, you need to consider the cost-benefit implications of becoming one. “The biggest complaint I hear when I speak about becoming a thought leader is how long it takes and how hard it is,” says Matt Sweetwood in an article for Entrepreneur. “My answer is simple: If you want the huge benefits of becoming a thought leader, you have to put in the time and effort. If it was easy, everyone would be a thought leader.”

Finally, consider your business. Thought leadership is great for professionals (doctors, accountants, lawyers, consultants, etc.) or those who own their own business. In these situations, you are really the “product” your business is offering to the market, so it makes a lot of sense to tout your worth. This isn’t to say that larger companies, or companies engaged in selling commodity products, for example, can’t benefit from thought leadership. If the content generation is done well, you can drive traffic to your website and at least get additional exposure for your brand.

Thought leadership can be a huge boon to an individual, or business, particularly when selling the expertise of the owner or a group of key staff. But just because it works for some, doesn’t mean it will work for all, or that developing the level of expertise and experience required to plausibly be seen as a thought leader will ultimately pay off.

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About Us

Strategic Communications, LLC, works with B2B clients to help them achieve their goals through effective content marketing and management with both internal and external audiences. We are adept at evaluating and analyzing communication efforts and working with clients to plan, create and publish high-quality, unique content, through both on- and offline media to achieve desired results. Our background in business journalism, marketing, PR/media relations and online communications makes us well-positioned to serve the needs of 21st-century marketers.

We serve clients who are looking for help creating content for a wide array of channels—from social media posts to full-length manuscripts, and everything in between. We focus primarily on service-related B2B topics and work with a number of independent consultants interested in building their thought leadership through online channels. For ongoing content management, our first step is to fully understand your goals, objectives and competitive landscape.

Then we’ll conduct a thorough analysis and assessment of your digital presence, compared to competitors, and recommend a communication strategy to achieve your goals. But, we also regularly take on individual projects – white papers, blog posts, contributed articles, etc. If you’re interested in learning more, let us know!

(Strategic Communications is certified as a Woman-Owned Business Enterprise through the Wisconsin Department of Administration.)

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