Ok. Let’s be frank. With few exceptions, most thought leaders I know are egotists. Self-centered egotists out to create a name for themselves. Egotists with tremendous talent, experience and passion.
That’s exactly what why they are great fodder as a part of a content marketing strategy. Something I like to call ‘rock star marketing’.
I love to turn egotists into rock stars. And they love the notoriety. It’s a triple win. They win by being recognized as thought leaders. Marketing wins by having great content to work with for inbound campaigns and social media. And, ultimately, the company wins by building a strong and highly differentiated brand voice in the market.
But it takes a lot more than big egos to build a thought leadership program. It needs a strategic platform that is well aligned with the corporate brand position. It requires a partnership with marketing. And it takes consistent and disciplined execution.
Think strategy first. Before we get into tactics, let’s talk strategy. Thought leadership strategy. What exactly is thought leadership anyway? And what it does it have to do with strategy?
In coaching marketers about thought leadership inbound marketing automation leader Hubspot defines it simply as “… it’s about building up a great reputation by giving your expertise away so that people think of your business first. It’s about being the last word on a subject. Basically, it’s about turning your clients into Steve Jobs.” (By “clients” I suspect they mean internal or external clients, depending on whether the marketer is inhouse an agency.)
I particularly like this definition. Why? Because it begins by defining thought leadership in terms of the corporate brand, not any individual brand. At it’s highest level, thought leadership is a corporate strategy, a positioning strategy. Though, thought leadership is also about creating individual brands. Rock star brands.
Rock star marketing starts with your corporate positioning strategy first. What is your firm’s unique point of differentiation? Who is your audience and what is it that you want them to think of first when they think of your business?
Then look across your organization, find your future rock stars. The egotists. The executives, product managers, marketing leaders, technologists, etc. The ones with the talent, experience and passion to carry your corporate positioning message forward.
Marketing: Your rock star agent. Sure, an aspiring thought leader could maybe do it alone. But why would she? Yes, she may have what it takes to be a thought leader. But marketing has the tools to make it happen. They can help to create content – articles, blogs and social posts. They can pitch thoughts and ideas to the media; get thought leaders published. They can find speaking opportunities and turn thought leadership ideas into intriguing webinar topics. They can help to win awards.
Discipline & Consistency. One final word – and caution — about rock star marketing. It needs to be executed with consistency and discipline. Don’t expect thought leadership campaigns to convert into immediate sales. But do expect them to build trust. And trust coverts to loyalty which I would argue over time coverts to sales.
Turn the task over to your content marketers to develop a thought leadership plan. Set goals, attainable goals. Turn your thought leaders into rock stars. But be sure to stay true to the message; true to your brand.
Are you ready to do some rock star marketing? Call me. I can help.