Two-for-one is typically a great return on investment. Well-written, well-conceived thought leadership content—articles, blogposts, whitepapers, ebooks, presentations, videos and the like—offers value to customers/clients and readers/viewers/listeners, and can help the thought leader get more business.
Here’s how it can serve dual purposes:
- Thought leadership, both addressing personal and professional topics, can help establish the author as a credible, knowledgeable and influential leader. In turn, this adds robust content to the marketing vault;
- When it comes from a place of knowledge, caring and experience, thought leadership does the recipient a great service—providing valuable insights and information to help improve life and livelihood.
Of course, thought leadership comes with a caution to its consumers. This comes from my favorite plaque that belonged to my father: “Don’t take too much advice…You may wind up making other people’s mistakes.”
So, true thought leadership indeed needs to be well thought-out, and designed to provide helpful, how-to advice—not just spew a bunch of self-aggrandizing gobbledygook to sell something or a point of view.
In other words, it needs to offer winning advice and ideas to readers that are sincere, heartfelt and rooted in strong beliefs and experience. Plagiarized, insincere, sensationalized BS has no place in the thought leadership arena.
To be clear, thought leadership is typically a bit ethereal. When viewed from the marketing perspective, it generally doesn’t make phones ring off the hook or send sales soaring immediately. In today’s bottom-line, total-tracking world, thought leadership is the image and branding complement that helps start conversations and build relationships. Trying to attach metrics to it can be elusive at best. It can reinforce other marketing efforts in a continuing, credible way.
Customer service pot of gold
For those open to its vistas, thought leadership is a wonderful way to express, inspire and influence others. And, isn’t that one of the most important contributions we can make in this world to customers, family, friends, community, colleagues, and more? What does a thought leader look like? These three examples, profiled in Inc. Magazine a couple years ago, help answer the question:
Inc. Magazine states: “Is there any finer example of influence than Oprah? From poverty in rural Mississippi to becoming North America’s first and only black multi-billionaire, Oprah’s ability to impact people’s lives for the better stretches so far outside the conventional measures of success. Talk show host, actress, producer, philanthropist, media proprietor, and more, what Oprah really did was open the door for human stories to be told (and heard) around the world.”
According to Inc.: “Hate him or love him, Steve Jobs did far more than influence the technology landscape. He raised the bar and changed the expectation of what it truly means to create a product of value. In today’s world of ‘overnight entrepreneurs,’ very few can truly call themselves an inventor–and have that title hold the same weight we attribute to someone like Leonardo DaVinci, for example.”
“Taking the wisdom of eastern meditation and spirituality, and distilling it into easily digestible pieces of information has been Deepak Chopra’s greatest claim to fame,” notes Inc. “Many people struggle to understand and properly integrate alternative medicine approaches into their lives because, truthfully, they don’t know where to start. Deepak Chopra has made a name for himself as an author, public speaker, and advocate for personal wellness.”
Imagine how you can make thought leadership contributions in your own sphere of influence. You don’t have to be another Oprah, Steve Jobs or Deepak Chopra. If you positively influence and provide insights to even one other person, you’ve established your own brand of thought leadership.
Thought leadership content provides a valuable customer service when developed as a way to impart useful, memorable expert advice. It also serves the dual purpose of being an excellent marketing avenue when written from a knowledgeable, heartfelt, even soul-felt perspective. This is the first in a series of four articles addressing thought leadership. It also kicks off the celebration of Mark Lusky Communications’ 37 years in business.
Mark Lusky is a veteran writer, storyteller and author, with 40+ years of public relations, advertising, marketing and journalism experience.