The phenomenon of over-marketing is in no way a new concept – as long as humans have had the ability to communicate, we’ve been using it for some kind of gain. In fact, we’re willing to bet that the deafening levels of marketing noise played a role in the birth of thought leadership. Joel Kurtzman, who coined the term thought leadership, defined a thought leader as someone who has “some new important ideas that are worth sharing and that have real application… When I think of thought leaders, I think of people who are coming up with creative new insights that can be applied.”
The part of the above quote that jumps out to us is the last six words: new insights that can be applied. Nowadays, all an individual has to do is have some kind of an opinion on a topic, and he/she can then label themselves a thought leader on said topic. But consumers are becoming increasingly savvy, and our “BS meter” for faux thought leadership is well-tuned. So, if you are indeed somebody with new insights that can be applied by current and prospective buyers, how do you get your message heard?
Through content. I can already hear your cries of “duh, Drew, we already knew that!” But it’s not just any throwaway content issued up as SEO fodder – because that’s only contributing to the marketing din. It’s useful content, with insights that CAN BE APPLIED.
We ran into a scenario recently with one of our clients, Coresystems, where this concept was put to the test. Earlier this year, our Coresystems’ chief security officer wanted to share his thoughts on the upcoming GDPR legislation. Many of his customers were clamoring for information outlining how to comply with the new law, so he decided that instead of pointing them towards resources of varying usefulness, he’d instead work with us and his CEO to write a very pragmatic article addressing his customers’ main concerns.
The article came together nicely, and it was the kind of piece I’d want to have at my fingertips if I were suddenly tasked with complying with GDPR. It had no frills, and instead offered practical and applicable guidance – something that should resonate with anyone looking for a “GDPR cheat sheet.” But we had no way of knowing just how well it would resonate with our audience: fast-forward from June to two months ago, and we discovered that Coresystems’ article on GDPR was the very first Google result for a search for “GDPR compliance.” Keep in mind that there was an abundance of “GDPR compliance” articles published in 2018; again, that was the whole reason Coresystems wanted to write this piece in the first place – to offer clarity and actionable guidance that would stand out from the pack.
While there’s nothing Earth-shattering in this anecdote, it illustrates that today’s consumers are thirsty for the kind of thought leadership that Joel Kurtzman envisioned when he coined the term. And we’ll be the first to admit that while Coresystems’ article wasn’t full to the brim with new insights, it was packed with insights that can be applied – and Google’s search results underscored how valuable those applicable insights were to Coresystems’ intended audience.
If you’re a budding thought leader who knows you have something valuable to say about a particular topic – but aren’t sure how to express it to rise above the noise – try putting yourself in the shoes of someone looking to learn more about that topic. Ask yourself, “what are the three things I wanted to know about this topic when I first learned about it?” It’s a simple exercise that will help you quickly drill down to the applicable insights your audience seeks, and who knows – someday you might see your name on the Google search results marquee…
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