Nobody becomes a thought leader overnight. To rise and become a part of your industry’s “cream of the crop” you gotta have more than just the desire, the passion, or the strategy — you have to put yourself to work and embark on a journey to the top.
Thought leadership works wonders for any business, big or small, but not without a strong commitment to following through a well-devised thought leadership strategy. If you think the effort stops at gaining momentum and influence as a recognized industry leader, think again. That’s just your launch pad for success and to reap the ultimate returns, you have to have a dynamic strategy and a zest for following through.
Building industry leaders from the ground up takes time and consistency but it's worth the effort, the time, and the money. If you think your thought leadership campaigns are not yielding any fruitful results, you may be doing a few things wrong.
Here are a few pitfalls that may be causing your thought leadership campaign to fail:
1. Failing to Deliver Valuable Content
The worst thing you can do is offer “fluffy” content without substantial information. When I see fluff content created by a client’s thought leader there is usually one root problem, they are afraid to give away their secret sauce.
Here’s the thing about your secret sauce, you can’t give it away if the “secret” to the sauce is you. Your competitors can try to replicate your process, product, or service but without your years of experience or customer skills, they won’t be successful.
Don’t push out surface level content because you’re afraid of giving away too much. Doing so will only fail to deliver valuable content and irritate readers.
2. Missing Out on Awards
If I have a dollar for every time a client told me they didn’t want to apply for an award because “they weren’t THAT type of company,” I’d be rich by now.
Applying for industry awards may feel like you are showing off and honestly, it definitely is but some times you need to. Clients want to work with recognized and award winning companies. Awards act as a seal of approval that’s too valuable to pass up. Apply for local awards like fast 100’s and industry awards that outlets provide.
3. Not Engaging with Readers
When setting aside time to create content you should factor in the time it will take to actively engage and respond to questions. If a reader is responding to a blog article with questions or feedback, they are actively engaged.
Missing out on the opportunity will mean missing out on a potential warm lead. Block out a few hours per blog article to engage on social media and in your blog comments section.
4. Forgetting to Offer Meaningful Next Steps
Another way to miss out on warm leads is by not offering a meaningful next step. For example, if a site visitor reads a blog about solving a common problem they have and comments on the article looking for more information and there isn’t an ebook or webinar with more detailed tips, you’re going to miss out on the lead. Always provide a next step whether it’s in content, emails, or in person events to direct leads further down the funnel.
5. Failing to Apologize
As a thought leader, you are providing novel and unique ideas that may ruffle feathers. No one is perfect and as a thought leader, I can guarantee you will make a mistake at some point in your career.
If you did something that accidentally shocked or disappointed your following, publicly address it and apologize if necessary. Ignoring the problem and hoping it will blow over will only hurt you.
6. Not Attending Industry Events
Industry events are a must. Whether it’s a trade show or open discussion forum, industry events are the perfect place to share your ideas with a highly targeted and engaged audience.
Missing out on one of these events will keep you from reaching these warm leads. Additionally, if you’re new to the space, these events are a great place to introduce yourself to the industry.
If you’re going to be half-hearted about fulfilling your part as a thought leader, you might as well not begin in the first place or you’ll be wasting your time and effort in vain. Thought leadership can yield wonderful returns for any business but it requires commitment and enthusiasm. And by enthusiasm, you don’t have to necessarily be an extrovert.