Really, the benefits of thought leadership as a promotional tool are way overblown.
Many of today’s marketers use thought leadership as a way of creating or increasing demand for their product or service. From my perspective, being recognized as an authority in your field has several significant and potentially ruinous pitfalls.
First of all, thought leadership involves hard work. It’s not easy to become a source whose expertise is sought and rewarded.
Second, it’s yet another demand on your time that offers no quantitative return on investment.
Third, does a potential client really care whether your company understands its market and builds products or provides services that best satisfy its customers’ needs?
And finally, it’s a huge responsibility to serve as a trusted source who inspires people with innovative ideas and objective advice.
So, if your marketing director decides that a thought leadership strategy is a good idea, here are 10 tactics to mitigate such a fruitless approach.
Don’t bother to draw on personal experience when telling your readers how to do something or discussing a developing trend. Just do some online research and repackage the advice or perspective of others. That way, you can provide “expert” info without actually knowing anything. And it sure is easier to plagiarize than create, right?
If you have a unique idea or perspective that could revolutionize your industry, guard it jealously. Don’t become one of the deluded who simply give it away via a blog or other thought leadership asset. After all, Donald Trump didn’t get where he is by being generous. And the respect of your peers is highly overrated (again, refer to The Donald).
Don’t fall into the trap that it takes time for a thought leadership message to propagate. If you write a blog today, expect sales to increase tomorrow. Patience is definitely not a virtue when developing thought leadership.
Take a page from any corporate lawyer’s playbook: don’t actually say anything meaningful.
Bona fide thought leaders articulate a problem which others haven’t identified or present an innovative approach to solving it. Rather than go out on a limb and actually try to provide information of value, just spew content well-salted with industry buzz terms. By simply crafting some words around an issue or idea, you’ll soon garner laurels as a true thought leader.
Rest on them.
Technology changes quickly, and it takes a lot of work to stay on top of new trends and techniques. So don’t. Identify a single claim to fame for your company and stick with it. Regardless of product innovations or industry shifts, never change your emphasis; if it was effective once, it’s bound to still be effective.
Never cite any customer that uses your company’s product or service. And certainly don’t include a testimonial in any of your promotions. Why establish credibility? Surely the benefits of your products speak for themselves. You don’t need the kudos of others.
Measuring results is like driving using your rear view mirror. What’s done is done. If you’re forward looking, there’s never a need to objectively analyze your thought leadership incentives. After all, what could metrics possibly teach you about your current programs and approaches?
Promoting your content almost admits defeat. Build it and they will come. If your assets are strong and interesting and easy to create, there’s no need to develop a solid promotional plan so your audience can find them. Optimizing via a promotional mix that helps your content best reach your audience—search engines, syndication sites, emails, newsletters, etc.—is hard work and requires that you have an overarching strategy.
It’s entirely reasonable to assume your potential clients are familiar with your company and your product/service. Why reference analyst reports, bloggers, industry experts, or news feeds that mention your company, your offerings, or your market? Just hop on the industry bandwagon and prospects will beat a path to your door.
There’s no reason to monitor today’s cultural trends, particularly if your enterprise caters to a niche segment. After all, all those Facebookers can’t possibly be interested in your product or service, so don’t waste the time to maintain a social media presence that demonstrates your thought leadership influence. Leave Twitter, LinkedIn, Facebook, et al to the Millennials.