27 Feb

How not to drown in the well of thought leadership

“Thought leadership”, providing insight and education to your customers is an amazing opportunity to position your brand, generate interest and connect to a community. The guys that do it well (like Marketo) have made it a pillar of their marketing strategy.

This is not just creating some “content” to feed campaigns. Jon Miller from Marketo put the difference between thought leadership and content marketing nicely:

Thought leadership consists of ideas that require attention, that offer guidance or clarity and that can lead people in unexpected, sometimes contrarian directions (think of Seth Godin).  Thought leadership needs to be educational and ideally provocative; content marketing can simply be fun or entertaining.

It ain’t easy, as anyone who’s had a crack at it will tell you.  And outsourcing insight is not an option either, like you might do with some of your content marketing. So if you go down the path, here are a few thoughts:

Don’t confuse education and marketing. Unless your insights change someone’s mind, and  are part of a consistent narrative, it’s not likely to drive marketing results. For me, the key of the above quote is  “guidance or clarity and that can lead people in unexpected, sometimes contrarian directions.

Plan it like any campaign.  It’s not going to happen in between other things.  Your best bet is to put it in your marketing plan as a campaign like any other. Special recommendation: if you’ve decided to make this a collaborative effort with some colleagues, make sure it’s in their KPIs with dates and times…or you’ll be doing it alone.

What’s your experience?