In today’s highly competitive digital economy, experts, leaders, service-based business owners and creative entrepreneurs are constantly searching for new and better ways to boost their visibility, impact and income. However, many overlook one simple yet powerful tool. This article examines 4 reasons why Intelligent (i.e. Thought Leading) Content can yield the best ROI for your enterprise – even if you think there is too much content in circulation already. Read on and share to inspire others.
- The Authentic Alternative:
When I started my own business several years ago, I struggled with marketing methods like cold calling and could not afford to spend a fortune on fancy advertising. Having honed my writing talent since I was 4 years old, I communicated my message to an ideal audience through stories, thought leadership articles, presentations and other forms of content. It worked! Soon I was being interviewed on BBC programmes (including a documentary), featured in newspapers, respectable training journals and high-traffic blogs.
Even better, sales conversations became easier. In fact some prospects began to pro-actively enquire about my high-end services and enrol themselves into them. I was even more humbled when a client paid thousands of dollars, jumped on a plane and flew all the way from a different country to attend a Consulting Day with me. Today, like many other consultants who have awoken to the possibilities, I work with clients across Europe and North America from my base in the UK. None of this would have been possible without the opportunity to share thought leadership content with a global audience via the digital platforms freely available today.
The point is that I aligned with the methods that came most naturally to me. Often-times, we are bombarded with numerous tactics and think we must deploy them solely because others have achieved results. However, although attainable results are an important consideration, replication is more likely when we consistently and passionately show up throughout the implementation process. But how can people be passionate for any length of time about things that do not really interest them? In my opinion, every human being is a content creator. Babies slide out of the womb triumphantly screaming ‘content’ and even unschooled children are pretty decent story tellers. In contrast, many people struggle to excel in sales despite years of training and practice.
Furthermore, thought leadership comes more naturally to entrepreneurial people because in essence, entrepreneurs disrupt convention and inspire a new way of productively living in the world. If you are an entrepreneur (especially a creative entrepreneur) you are already poised to win in the content marketing arena. To rise above the noise, re-frame the unique ideas you are already sharing on a daily basis (with colleagues, clients, partners or even family members) in a context that is applicable to a wider audience. To create a global thought leadership platform, you’ll need to leverage what you know on a bigger scale.
For instance, Tim Ferris developed various ideas while working 14-hour days at BrainQUICKEN (a nutritional supplements start-up he founded) and leveraged his personal escape from a workaholic lifestyle into a book titled The 4-Hour Workweek. The success of the book helped him launch and grow a thought leadership platform that has led to significant global visibility, impact and income. Tim has since published several other New York Times and Wall Street Journal best-selling books and invested in companies such as StumbleUpon, Evernote, Uber, Facebook and Twitter.
Whilst it can be argued that a 4-Hour Workweek (and Tim’s seemingly overnight success?) are not feasible for everyone, many unusual ideas are designed to get people thinking about broader concepts in order to create practical solutions more tailored to their needs. For instance, stressed out entrepreneurs can explore ways to shave a 40 hour work week down to 14 hours – or perhaps alternate the typical work week with indulgent dedication to personal interests.
- The Platform for Leverage:
It’s no secret that digital media is changing the economic landscape – probably faster than the speed of your Wi-Fi connection. According to research, 61% of Internet users research products online (Interconnected World) and 81% of U.S. consumers trust information and advice from blogs (Blogher).
Whereas humans originally congregated in physical communities (village square, watering hole etc.), the digital space is increasingly becoming the leading destination for recreation, information and transformation. The autonomous nature of blogs in comparison to mainstream media channels also means that prospective customers are probably more likely to make a purchase based on ‘digital street cred’ than traditional advertising endorsement.
Yes, there is already an enormous amount of content available but the reality is that humans have an insatiable appetite for it. Music aficionados want their favourite musicians to release new music even though there is an abundance of music already. Voracious book readers want the next best thriller. Film watchers want the next blockbuster and people with the problems you can solve are searching online for solutions every single day. That said, productised thought leadership content needs to be structured in certain ways and combined with effective systems and support in order to command premium prices.
- Free or Low Entry:
Neil Patel, a Seattle based angel investor and analytic expert (with a client portfolio that includes Microsoft, Inc. and General Motors) has described today’s digital media platform as “the lowest cost way to build an audience and turn them into customers.” He should know after using a tight budget of a few hundred dollars to generate over $100,000 in traffic and new customers for a client. Such results can be typical for those who use effective strategies consistently – be they small business owners or corporate leaders. “Blog consistently…” is Neil’s top tip, “and make your content useful and sharable.”
The same principle of consistency served Pete Cashmore well when he launched Mashable.com at the age of 19. A tech aficionado at a time when mainstream interest in digital media was in infancy, Pete grew his readership from zero to 2,000,000 within 18 months mainly by cranking out 1 to 5 top quality articles per day (in the first year when there were no advertisers).
In 2012, Mashable was valued at $200 million and has grown in leaps and bounds since hiring a writing and editorial team. Compared to traditional media platforms (such as TV, Newspaper and Radio) which typically demand an advertising outlay worth thousands of dollars, new media platforms can be set-up at little or no cost and powered for free using relevant thought leadership content.
However, free entry does not mean that participation requires nothing. Content creation is notoriously labour intensive and publishing is becoming even more competitive. Furthermore, thought leadership requires even those who have the natural potential to carefully develop that potential and boldly take the stage. It may not be easy but with the right systems and support, worthwhile results can be achieved.
- Authorship and Legacy:
Whilst most people have little or no subsequent use for newspaper and TV adverts, your thought leadership content can serve as an enduring body of work in its current format and can be profitably leveraged in multiple complementary formats. For instance, articles can be compacted into reports or expanded into books of various sorts. This is a great way to reach new audiences, enhance your professional credibility and pass on knowledge to future generations in a more organised and tangible form.
According to Kira Henschel, founder of HenschelHAUS Publishing, Inc. “The major reason why people write books is because they want to leave a legacy when they inevitably pass on.”
Thought leadership content can either work quietly alongside your existing business development infrastructure or take centre stage in your arsenal – attracting clients, partners, speaking invitations and life-changing opportunities from far and wide whilst you focus on other concerns. The key is investing the time and soul into creating and publishing top-quality evergreen content rather than topical copycat gunk.
We have examined 4 reasons why thought leadership content can significantly boost your visibility, impact and income – provided you create and publish it in the right way. We have also identified that lack of time and know-how are perhaps the most common obstacles to success in this endeavour. However, such obstacles are not insurmountable and discerning experts and leaders will do well to thoughtfully claim their share of the digital market space.
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If you want to leverage your time and create more freedom in your service-based business, Click Here!Thanks so much for reading and sharing our content!