Why and How Should I Become a Thought Leader?
The Parklife Guide to SMB Thought Leadership, Part 2: Why and How?
In our first installment of the series, we defined thought leadership from the perspective of who thought leaders are and what entrepreneurs and executives must do—the actual work of their profession and communicating about it—to become recognized as the go-to people in their professional space. Now, let’s focus on the whys and hows of thought leadership—why should you walk this path, and how you should do it? There are always great options at your disposal.
Why Would You Want To Be a Thought Leader?
For the small or mid-sized business owner, founder, or executive, the concept of thought leadership may seem above your pay grade. It’s not! As we said in our previous installment, the days of the tech icons and TEDTalk types inhaling all of the thought leadership oxygen are over.
There are two compelling reasons for all of you to consider a path to thought leadership, and they are intertwined in your purpose. These two reasons are best summarized with this truth: thought leadership is good for you, and it’s good for what you do.
First, putting your ideas about what you do into the public space helps you build credibility and strengthen your personal and professional brands. Why is this important? Because focusing on these areas of your business will help attract like-minded clients, customers, and business partners. Attracting like-minded clients, customers, and business partners is foundational to transcending transactional ways of doing business and forming lasting, mutually beneficial, and profitable relationships.
Second, pushing out your thought leadership boat lifts up your profession. You benefit from this lift, and so does everyone participating in it, including your clients, customers, strategic partners, and even your competitors. Again, why is this important? When you bring innovation and dignity to your profession through sharing your ideas, you can go a long way to eradicating that cynicism that tends to commoditize what you do and reduce every prospect conversation to pricing and other lowest common denominator considerations.
How Can I Become a Thought Leader?
You’re good at your work, bringing original perspectives and ideas to what you do, and you’re ready to share those ideas with relevant audiences that matter to your profession. What’s next?
First, you need to decide where to go with your thoughts and communicate about your work. There are many platforms where you can share your thinking: social media, blogs, websites, podcasts, video, serving on panels, giving speeches—the list goes on and on. But don’t worry—there’s a smart and simple way to choose your thought leadership venues.
Choose platforms that make sense for you on a human level. If your public speaking is terrible, you might rather write about your work on a company blog or submit op/ed-style pieces to your local business journal for consideration. Don’t think you have to abandon getting your actual voice out there, either: Podcasts, which are recorded rather than live, might take the pressure off and allow you to speak more freely about what you love.
Also, it’s important to focus in the beginning on venues where you can control the message. This is especially important while you’re getting your messaging down. Build out your own platform first, through a blog, your social media channels, or a podcast. Then later, graduate to doing guest articles, appearances on others’ podcasts, TV interviews, speaking gigs, and more as you become comfortable in your skin and what you’re trying to communicate.
Should I Go the DIY Route or Hire a Professional?
We’d love to tell you that every person reading this should hire a professional marketing agency, and that agency should be us! But that wouldn’t be true. We’ve seen many entrepreneurs and executives who do great work and are just as good at communicating via social media, blogs, podcasts, speeches, and more. The barrier for entry is very low, from a cost standpoint, for the DIY route.
However, for many founders and executives, the soft costs of DIY thought leadership take their toll in much greater ways than the hard costs of hiring a professional, who can execute on a thought leadership plan efficiently. Our clients, on average, bill their time out at $250-$1,000+ per hour. And while this article isn’t about our pricing, we can tell you that most content producers charge considerably less than that range we just mentioned.
We’ve had some very talented clients share with us that the single biggest advantage we provide in getting their thought leadership material out there is our efficiency. Great content producers don’t stare at a screen trying to figure out what to write about or appropriate speaking topics. They quickly conceive ideas, formulate outlines, and execute. They just do it.
As you’re reading this, you probably already know whether you need to do it yourself or hire someone. The fact is, many thought leaders do both: They handle the tasks they can do more efficiently, and they hire out the ones they find more onerous.
We love working with entrepreneurs and executives who are looking to add thought leadership activities to their marketing mix, in order to achieve their business and career goals. Our team can craft a plan that plays to your strengths and help you execute efficiently. From a value perspective, this is some of the most important work we do. Contact us today at firstname.lastname@example.org to get started on your path to thought leadership.