Under the “Content Marketing” umbrella, Thought Leadership has specific and unique traits. I outline the differences (and similarities) between a Thought Leadership marketing model and an Influencer marketing model in this article here.
Let’s dive in!
Crossover between online & IRL
Thought Leadership stands apart from Influencer marketing because Thought Leaders want readers/viewers/followers to take action OFF any given platform. Why? Because Thought Leaders want content to turn into sales conversations. (Influencers, on the other hand, want audiences to stay on platforms because it leads to more ads and sponsorships.)
With that said, slapping a “Give us a call” at the end of articles or videos isn’t going to cut it. Those calls to action (CTA) typically have low conversion rates.
So, Thought Leaders need to get creative. Or rather, strategic.
Your content needs a planned customer journey. Prospects need to get to know you and get a sense of your vibe before they feel safe enough to say to themselves, “It’s at least worth talking to this person to see if they can solve my problems.” And that’s the crossover you’re looking for! For your online efforts to be a catalyst for IRL conversations.
Instead of thinking about 1 social post or 1 article, practice planning a sequence of posts and articles. One thought should lead into the next, which should lead into the next….ultimately leading your engaged followers to book an appointment with you.
Sustain your voice while sustaining your sanity
This is where Thought Leaders get tripped up the most. You built your business by creating rapport with your target market and earning their respect. You have your own unique approach and ways for describing your services and their value. You definitely don’t want to lose that uniqueness as you scale your communication strategy.
To build at more scaleable and sustainable message strategy, you need systems in place that will help you be creative WHILE STILL giving you time to run your business. Here are some of the systems you’ll need in place to scale your strategy while keeping your sanity:
- Idea Capture and Sort – what system do you have in place for capturing ideas and sorting through them? I recommend using an app that works on all your devices and can be accessed by your team members. Your capture tool should also make it easy for you to sort through your ideas with tags or categories.
At a glance, you want to see if an idea is a social post, article, video, newsletter, speech/webinar, mailer, etc. If your ideas are all jumbled or scattered, it’s less likely they’ll get created.
- Creation Time Management – It takes time and energy to create compelling, quality content. And for most people, it takes longer to create than you might anticipate. It’s a good idea to start using a timer as you create your content. This will give you a more accurate idea for how much time to block off your calendar each week/month. I also recommend blocking off time for a first draft, a first edit, and final look-throughs. Trying to do all three in one sitting rarely works for most people.
- Automation & SOPs – Automation is critical for Thought Leadership marketing. You want to automate your content as well as your process for capturing leads that come as the result of your content. Remember, your Thought Leadership content might start with you, but it doesn’t have to involve you every step of the way – and it shouldn’t. The more you are involved and the more manual your marketing is, and the less likely you’ll be able to stay consistent … and then it will be more likely you’ll miss out on business opportunities. A team member or two and a software or two can make all the difference in getting your message out to more people more often.
Protecting the soul of your message
Authenticity is arguably one of the most important factors for successful Thought Leadership. You can’t see it. You can’t touch it. But you know when it’s there, and when it’s missing. This is why content creation templates and copy-and-paste tools rarely end up working well. Because they’re not authentically you. Your prospects want to connect with your voice, your style, your perspective, and your mission.
In a future article, I’ll dive into how to identify and lean into your authentic voice. But for now, just remember that authenticity evolves from turning inward, not outward. Meaning, a comparison mindset can crush authentic content creation. Sure, you can check out what your competitors are doing to get a sense of what works well and what doesn’t. But when it’s time to create your unique content for your specific audience, you have to let go of the comparisons and create from the inside out. Your ideal clients will schedule calls with you because they resonate with your work.
Influence Speaker & Coach
P.S. Here are a few other ways I can help you increase your influence, whenever you’re ready.
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