B2B Growth: Your Daily B2B Marketing Podcast
B2B Growth: Your Daily B2B Marketing Podcast

Episode 1763 · 4 months ago

The 10 Mistakes Orgs Make with Thought Leadership Marketing, with Bill Sherman


In this replay episode, Dan Sanchez talks with Bill Sherman who is the COO of Thought Leadership Leverage

Here are the mistakes discussed:

  1. Lack of a clear exec champion
  2. The new Head of Thought Leadership is unclear on their role / goals.
  3. The new Head of TL feels the new role is not a promotion ("being sent to Siberia")
  4. The Head of Thought Leadership doesn't understand the business strategy and goals.
  5. Other departments get into turf wars over activities ("we do Thought Leadership too!")
  6. The Head of Thought Leadership tries to do it all -- instead, the Head of TL should *curate* Thought Leadership
  7. The Head of Thought Leadership doesn't build allies in other departments
  8. Thought Leadership is seen as something by/for the elite (only the CEO).
  9. The org gets impatient for results.
  10. The org tries to measure success by the wrong standards (e.g. content marketing)

Today on B two B growth, we are sharing a featured conversation from our archive, with over two thousand episodes released. We want to resurface episodes worth another listen. Before we jump in, just want to say I would love to connect and hear from you on Linkedin. You can search Benji walk over there and that's a great place to also interact with sweet fish and B two B growth. All right, let's jump into today's featured conversation, conversations from the front lines and marketing. This is B two B growth. Bill. I wanted to start off with asking you like, how did you even get into this topic, like how did this become a focus for you? Well, if you ask most people how they get into thought leadership, they sort of usually answer they got there accidentally, and my story is very much the same. I would describe myself as a practitioner of this thought leadership field as something unplanned. I did school and undergraduate in English and theater. I was doing organizational consulting and I thought I was going to be a consultant in organizational transformation and then I had a c level executive large company the early two thousands who said Hey, I wrote this business book. It got on the cover of Fast Company. People are asking me what to do with it and how they can apply the ideas. Can you help? And from there I stumbled into a sort of a word of mouth referral where various exacts would go, Oh, you wrote a book, Go talk to Bill. And it was a sideline for a while and but it became a passion and really what I saw is the through line of my career is taking ideas through scale. Right, how do you take an idea this scale within the organization or beyond the organization? And so, since it's been my full time focus, probably one of my favorite things about marketing and why I'm even attracted thought leadership at all, is because I want to see the good ideas fly, you know, you want to see the good things get out there, and usually it just needs a little marketing ferry dust to thought leadership is usually the kind of marketing you put into ideas. Um, the usually those ideas come with stories, come with people and characters, Um, and thought leaders behind those ideas. So, uh, I certainly no. That's one of the reasons why I got into and it sounds like you fell in love with the topic for a similar reason, trying to get those ideas, trying to give legs two ideas. But a number of people try to do that and fail. So as you've gone from Organization Organization, have provided like coaching and services around helping people do thought leadership better. What are you have? I know you sent me over ahead of time. What are like the ten biggest mistakes you see people make is they try to go into this thought leadership marketing endeavor. So let's start with how the thought leadership function gets created. And I described thought leadership as a function separate from content marketing or executive communications or even classical B two B marketing, which I know is the focus here. It's a tool in the subset. And so the first question is who's going to be the executive champion? That might be the head of marketing, that could be someone in ops. I know of large organizations where the champion is the C I o who said we need to do thought leadership. So there's no consistent role. But step number one. If you don't have an executive champion who understands what this is, you're going to struggle. And does it need to be a champion and or does it need when you say executive champion. Does it need a champion on the C suite? It should be either the VP or the C suite, someone who, at the end of the day, is willing to invest the time and effort in something which is not going to produce immediate results in sixty days. You're standing up a business function when you're setting up ahead of thought leadership and you have to have some patients. So is it...

...usually the CMO or is it usually whoever is in charge of the whoever is the head of the subject matter experts at that organization? It depends. So, as I said, I can think of C I o s who have championed it. I can think of CEOS who have championed it. It depends on who gets it and realizes this is a distinct thing. Nobody has taken really yet a class and thought leadership at B school, and so it's it's more someone gets the idea that they need to do something different to deepen a relationship with customers or to drive conversations when you're not in a sales mode, or influence how people think and act and they say, Oh, what can we do? Well, that's the leadership. Great. How do we stand that up. So there we go. Number one, lack of clear executive champion. Who is that at your organization? What's number two? Number two is ahead of the leadership. WHO's unclear on the role? And so number two and number three go together. But let's talk about the role of the head of thought leadership. Many organizations don't tag someone and say congratulations, your full time head of thought leadership. There are some big organizations that are doing that now, but many cases it's a percentage of your time and you've got to make sure that that person knows what you're asking them to do, they understand how it fits what what they do sevent of the time and it has to be tied to how they're motivated and evaluated and compensated. Because if at the end of the year those were end handle thought leadership, but it's not tied to performance, it doesn't get done period right. So usually what you need to do is the person who's sponsoring the idea, the idea, whether it's on the c suite or the VP of marketing, says hey, I want you to handle thought leadership and usually there's a moment where the person looks at the end sort of has a blank eyed look and is what's that and what does that mean for my career? And that leads us to point number three. Alright, so moving on to that point. Yeah, so the head of thought leadership needs to see it as an opportunity because, rather than being sent to Siberia, if they think that they're going to be exiled and you know this isn't an opportunity for growth for them, then they're gonna go. What didn't I do well in the organization? Why are you putting me in this cubby hole over here that's brand new, has no infrastructure and I'm sweating to try and get time, budget, resources and help right. They've got to understand it's important. And one example I can give head of thought leadership at a major financial institution. He had the talk, had a sea level exact come in and say, and he was head of strategy, came in and said we want you to run thought leadership and he's like, is my career being sidelined? What's going on right? Thinks about it at home and then agrees to take the all and within about four months is working on a project where the head of the company is speaking after the president in the West wing of the White House. Okay, and so with that that individual comes into the head of thought leadership's office and goes, yeah, I'm used to big opportunities all the time, this one's special. Let's make sure we do it right. And so you have to when you're standing up that person into the role, you have to convince them this is good for their career as well as good for the organization. I find thought leadership. I imagine this probably gets handed the most to content marketers, or gets handed often to content marketers. Where who do you who? Usually it's often content marketers. So if you were to map where people come from, is heads of thought leadership. Content marketers tend to be accidental. They stumble into thought leadership and start doing it and someone in marketing says, I don't know what you're doing...

...over here, but do more of it because it seems to be working right. Others get recruited in. Executive Communications is another path. Strategy is another path. I've seen people in public policy get handed a head of thought leadership function as well, sometimes from the line sales. Engineering also gets this as well because they understand the customer and they've engaged with the customer sometimes you'll see it from an evangelist role as well, especially in tech. It seems to me like if anybody's in content marketing, this is a promotion. Essentially you've been handed like the court. I don't know, the more I've learned about thought leadership marketing, the more I'm like, Oh, this is like thought leadership, this is like content marketing on steroids. This is essentially like a level above content marketing. This is like, well, they do different places, right. I mean you can do a lot of things abroad content marketing. I've done I've done content barries for Seo reasons that aren't thought leadership marketing and I get lots of traffic from it. Right ways to do it. But at the same time I'm like thought leadership marketing goes it's harder to make, takes a little bit more talent to be able to organize it and pull it out to people and all that kind of stuff, but it's so much more powerful and so much more profitable. Well, especially if you understand the goals of your organization. You have to understand what the business is trying to achieve, not only today but where it's going in the future, and you have to also understand the landscape of your business. So the person who's serving that role of head of thought leadership has to understand the organization vertically as well as horizontally. It's big, big shoes to fill if somebody asked to do it, but I don't know. I think it is a huge opportunity for lots of people who get to get or invited into it. Let's move on to number four. The what's the fourth mistake you see companies run into. So the fourth mistake is that the organization doesn't set goals that are aligned with business goals. And so I can give an example. We're going to put out a piece of thought leadership. It could be a white paper, it could be a podcast, it could be a journal, it could be a conference, but they're not tying it back to the business goals. And so what happens is the asset or the event gets the focus rather than the outcome. And you've got to think about who are we trying to reach and if we reach them, what are they going to do? And so the goals, and we'll get into this in terms of measure and success, have to be thought about upfront, because this is not like content marketing, and one of the ways that I distinguish it is, you know, you can use content marketing myotrics and say, Hey, I got all these likes and I got all these impressions, Pat Yourself on the back and that's good. In thought leadership that may not be good because if they're not the right audience, you failed. So what's specific of enough of a goal, because I think there's many shapes and sizes of goals and usually when people are coming to me and saying, because I get to consult with customers, we're walking through our podcasting process, and ask him like, okay, so what's the main goals of your podcast? Thought leadership is often one of it's one of the top three goals. So we want to produce content to have better thought leadership. You know, they want to be seen as the expert. It's almost a branding, it's a credibility play. It's also kind of a content marketing where they're they're learning from them. Is that specific enough? What are you looking for as far as it so I would go a little bit deeper on goals. There right, and there are three sort of categories that I would say that thought leadership is good at one, it can fill the sales pipeline different way than content marketing or other types of marketing. But you can use the leadership to fill the sales pipeline. Two, you can use it to continue conversations and deepen relationships when it would be a word or inappropriate to have a...

...sales conversation. So you may have a potential buyer that's not in a by mode. If you go to them and you just feed them marketing, which is assuming that they're in the bicycle, you've got a problem. or You could be talking to a policy maker or a regulator or any of those folks. They're not buying, but what you're selling is the idea. Okay, so that's a second goal. The third is to influence how people think and act. So if you're in the C suite and you've got a vision your CEO, you're doing thought leadership to your organization to say this is where we're going, this is the future, this is how we're going to be successful. Right, and that's the purpose of a town hall. That's a purpose of all of the meetings that you do, listening sessions, etcetera. And then if you're trying to influence customers so that when they put out an RFP, they're thinking about what they want to buy from what you've already communicated to them and have been talking about for two years, okay? or it could be influencing standards and practices in the overall UM sector. Right. So, whether it's a specification or an industry standard, are you influencing how the world is going? I love those three. So I'm even just written, writing it down and thinking about it. So when you say create sales pipeline, I'm usually thinking of like you're creating demand for something that you're want to be known for. Your deepening relationships. I think that has a huge place in account based marketing, where you're, you know, building relationships with accounts and just can't keep it like hey, are you interested in buying yet? I think you even mentioned this in our our pre call yesterday, like you just account Reps. can't just be buying like coming up and be like Hey, do you have the RFP? Y? Hey, when are you putting can be Simpson in the back of the car going are we there yet? Are we there yet? You'RE gonna buy, YOU'RE gonna buy. That doesn't work and assuming we get back to the point where we have face to face meetings and business diners and that sort of thing. You can equip your salesforce, if you're doing it well, with thought leadership and say here are the things to tee up in conversation, because it will help fill your pipeline. Not This quarter but if you're smart, you're filling up your pipeline for next year on this right here, the seeds to plant. It's huge. And in the last one, just broader influence, kind of in some sense, trying to influence or steer to some degree a larger industry Um and ways people are thinking broadly about a topic, which is a big thing, as well as you can elevate a topic that isn't being talked about or discuss an existing topic in a new way. So essentially, thought leadership marketing can be used as a primary driver of category creation. Absolutely, absolutely, and maybe maybe in the B two B space it kind of always is. I can't think of a situation where you can create a maybe in a hardware space you probably could, but generally it's going to take thought leadership in order to power category creation well, and I'll give you an example on category creations. So and it's one where there's a different alignment between the buyer and the manufacturer. So in industrial equipment, Um, there's an organization that does thought leadership around. They build cement plants, right, which is not a very green, environmental friendly industry, but their corporate goal is to make the cement plants as green as possible. They know their buyers. That's lower on the list. And so where they use the leadership as they say, look, we know where public policy is going to go, we know how regulations are going to change and, as a result, instead of buying this, update your plant this way so that you're ahead of the game. So moving on to the fifth question. Are Fifth most common mistake you run into. What is that? Let's...

...describe it simply as department misunderstandings and sometimes even turf wars. Right. The problem happens you stand up a thought leadership function. You've sort of dubbed someone on the shoulder and they are now the night of thought leadership, right, but they're in existing organization where things have been done. And what often happens is people say, well, weren't we doing thought leadership? We were doing content marketing or we were doing exact comms and we handled the speeches for sea levels and that sort of thing. And the problem happens when people feel threatened. And so you need a head of thought leadership who is willing to build bridges and create those relationships and trust so that they know where to call you in and where to call your team in and know where you're not going to play, that you're not trying to take over all of their sands but that there are things that you can do well and things they can do well. Certainly be worth pulling all those people into a conversation right from the beginning, right and hopefully, like the chant, the champion at the executive level of spearheading, maybe that first kickoff being like Hey, I've designated this person as the head of thought leadership, but you guys have to work together right and kicks off that meeting. And that's where the executive champions helpful in terms of what's really worked well is a lot of one on ones, and so I'm thinking of a head of thought leadership who basically went to piers across the organization and he said I had more lunches with piers both in town and I traveled just that they understood what we did right and he said I did a meet and greet tour for six months. So that's a lot of conversations and it makes sense. Um, when you look at the sixth mistake, you see most often where the head of thought leadership is in charge of everything. Tell me more out that and how it's a mistake. So there are three functions I would describe in thought leadership. The ability to create thought leadership, curate it and deploy it. The role of the head of thought leadership is to curate it. Marketing and different functions and marketing are great at deploying right thought leadership teams don't have to deploy on their own. They can lean and collaborate with existing marketing functions the creation. What happens is is, if you have an organization of any size, you've got a lot of smart ideas and brilliant people. You've hired smart people, and so with the head of thought leadership, and the reason the head of fallt leadership function is important, you're the person paying attention through the organization as to where are good ideas that deserve to be elevated or would create more value if they brought together or put in the hands of sales or put in the hands of marketing. Off and good ideas go to die in power point decks and never encounter the outside world. So the head of thought leadership is essentially an idea hunter. They're always looking for things that probably have value if it's been set inside. It's locked inside our power points, and they're looking for the things that probably need to be repackaged and sent through marketing to distribute. So they're an idea hunter and they're also looking for people who can speak on behalf of the organization. So if you think about it, there are some people who are good at writing. Put them on stage, they freeze. Some people are good on stage but loves agong writing. You're looking for talent as well as ideas and say who can be a good conduit to help get this idea, because there are times where someone leaves the organization, they get taken for a new position or go to a competitor or they retire or they go on sickly for something, and you can't depend on that one person in the organization. And that's why, instead...

...of trying to do it all, you're trying to build a team and make thought leadership everyone's responsibility. Some people create, some curate, some deploy to kind of go on a slight rabbit trail between writing and speaking. Which one is more powerful as a thought leadership content? It depends on the person who's doing it right. There are people who can stand in front of a room of ten people and bring them to tears, right, or they can paint a vision of the future that says, yes, we need to do something. There are other people who can write an article or write a piece that just goes viral. Right. You have to find people who are skilled in the medium and you may find someone who is a genius at the ideas but they're not a communicator. Pair them with a communicator, someone who's a writer, or get them a speech writer find a way to help the idea fly. So essentially there's subject matter experts. Like this happens with Um. I was amazed when I found this out about the Harvard Business Review, is hardly ever written by the people whose bylines are on it. Right. They're usually writers who interviewed the subject matter expert and actually turn their their ideas into things that people like to read. Um. So you're talking like doing things like that exactly. So if you're an expert in logistics, you haven't spent your career writing business school articles for HBR. That's not your lane, but you have the insight param with someone who can communicate that idea in a way that people go wow, we should be doing that. Moving on to the seventh one. What is the seventh most common mistake? You see, so the head of the leadership needs allies within the organization, and this is the metaphor that I said, top to bottom and across. Allies open doors for you and bassadors speak on your behalf. Your sales force can be allies for you where they go, Oh, let's get you in this room to talk, or they can be ambassadors. You equip them with the right information, they're going to talk to all of your prospects. Your marketing team are also potentially allies and ambassadors, people in product or research or in customer service. You have to be listening because the insights don't always come from within the walls of the organization. So you want to build a listening network that brings information to you as the head of thought leadership, so that you can figure out is this signal or is this noise and if it's signal, what do we do with it? Who needs to hear it and what action do we need to take today? What are some like common things, common ways? People usually get that wrong and then get unstuck with that if they're if they're bad at finding allies. So if they're not good at finding allies, they're not thinking about the relationship side of the role. Okay, and I think back to Marshall Goldsmith, wrote a great book in terms of the early part of his career. What got you here won't get you there. The head of thought leadership has to focus on the relationships and if you're not doing that and if you're focused solely on thinking, the best idea will automatically win in the marketplace of ideas, and your job is just to find the best ideas, you're going to hit the wall again and again because, as you know and as our listeners know, marketing creates unfair advantages. Right, you need a good idea with excellent marketing. That's gonna fly. An excellent idea with weak marketing doesn't go anywhere, and a big part of that is the people around you.

Right exactly, you're working in an organization it takes more than one person to get the idea out there, unless your team is so small and you're the only one in charge of thought leadership and marketing right exactly. Even then you could get into trouble if you're just publishing all the time and not checking in with your few teammates. Right. A lot of this is about relationship. What is the eighth most common mistake you see people make? So the eighth, I would say, is that people get impatient. The organization, the head of thought leadership, others around and they go, Oh, we set this function up three months ago. What have they done? What have they accomplished? And they may have some early wins, but the team needs time to get their feet underneath them and also be able to achieve the goals right. And so if you're talking about creating assets and getting them out there, I encourage rapid prototyping. Always test, to get into market tested as fast as you can. But the big winds and results where people go oh now, I see this works. If you're thinking on a ninety day horizon, you're being too impatient. You've got to think at least a year to let the team find its way and to build those relationships and create those wins. And is that a year from like first publication of your first piece, or a year from when you actually start start thinking about it planning? Well, I would say it's a year from when you actually launched the team. Okay, don't expect that they're going to be knocking home runs out of the park on day one. It may happen and that's a delight, but you have to think about standing this as a function for the long haul and if you're thinking about this on a ninety day trial, it's not going to work. Most organizations that I've seen be successful with this have looked and said this is a multi year commitment and year number one we're going to go out, we're going to try stuff. Some things will succeed, some will fail. Look at that. Will set more specific goals in year two and by year three we know what we're doing, we do have our lanes and we've got our processes. Would you say you should probably commit to like a three to five year commitment towards making this a thing? It's kind of like it's you really have to think broad and big picture, which means it's like it's going to take a few years for this to become the full weight of what we want to see, but we might start to see some inklings of success about a year in. Right. It's a big picture, which is why, going back to the earlier point, in the first point that I said of no executive champion, you have to have someone on senior leadership who's patient enough and go no, we're planting seeds. This will pay off in big ways, but we don't expect them to be successful next month because chances are thought leadership, you know, it can create demand, it can create some more short term results, but really it's more of a branding play. Really it's more of a positioning play to some degree, where it's it's you're trying to position yourself as a leader in some respect in your your customer's mind right, which takes I don't know, it kind of takes a while for you to build that kind of reputation amongst your buyers. Reputation and trust absolutely matter. Also, it takes repetition, because your listener rarely will hear something once and go oh, yes, I agree, I'm all in right. You have to repeat an idea several times. So there's a time period there the way that I define felt leadership is you're looking around the corner into the future and you're looking to see what are the risks and opportunities and make sense of them. Then you bring that information back to people today and say here's what we see it's coming and here's what you should be doing to prepare right, and you build trust by telling them about the future, telling them what to do.

They take the action, they go wow, that paid off six or nine months later, right. So there's a trust building cycle. If you're in a transactional sort of relationship with your customer, you don't have as much of the time to build trust, but a lot of B two B is relationship driven in an a B M driven right. So just I was just talking to grant Butler yesterday and one of the interesting things that stood out to me that he said was that if journalism is past focused thought, leadership is really future focused. You're not necessarily writing the future, but I guessly in it sense you are. You're trying to write the future. You're trying to say, hey, we should be going this way for whatever reason. It might just be more effective, it might be better for everybody involved if we go this way, you should go this way. What's the ninth most common mistake? You See? You have to make it something that's inclusive. If you present thoughtly ship that's done by only a handful of elite people in the company or that it's something that is full reserved for a very few, it doesn't work. Where I've seen it be most successful is when that senior leader says, Hey, we're going on a journey and we all have to invest in thought leadership. That doesn't mean all of us are writing or speaking, that doesn't mean all of us are posting, but we have to be willing to talk about these ideas, engage our customers and speak with one voice in thought leadership. And where I've seen it take most success is when the organization says, yeah, this is partly everybody's responsibility, rather than Oh, you do thought leadership, that means you're smarter than everybody else. Right, that's not the case. Funny. Would you say it's company wide? Yeah, I would a at least say that, and I would say that a vast array of the ideas within an organization are in the corners that people often overlook. So I can think of a consumer package goods company where they identify thought leadership globally and they have hundreds of thousands of employees. Right one of their expertise is yeast and understanding yeast and you might guess, is to sort of what industry they're in. But those people in terms of brewing are absolutely critical for them and if you lose someone with that knowledge, not just as a subject matter expert, but they retire and that knowledge isn't transferred to the next generation, that knowledge has walked out the door. I've certainly I think there's different opinion is on this. Particularly some people are like no, some people are very set on it being like the founder, CEO, you know, and staying in the C suite. I've seen groups, usually everybody's on the same page that you probably just shouldn't have one subject matter expert that's the thought leader because of that person, you know leaves or it tragically disappears or something like that, then you've you've put a little bit too much investment in just one face and one person. But I've not heard a lot of people talk about unlocking the whole organization. I have heard of other people talking about it and that's kind of where I'm leaning personally is like not like everybody's got a little something to offer. Some, of course, some have way more to offer than others, but it almost seems like everybody has a little piece of expertise, especially since they're kind of doing it full time right and working in your organization and working in that particular position that you're at in your industry. There's gonna be a lot they're especially collectively. If you can find it, though, setting up the systems and processes to get it out there must be. Must be an interesting work right there. And if you can idea,...

...defy and communicate within an organization. Here's the value I ad here's my unique perspective. This is what I do. That really helps the custody shine. That's great for morale. That also creates more and more differentiators when you're trying to go to market, and it creates an environment where people want to contribute their best thinking and effort rather than they see themselves as a cog in a large machine. I like that. That's kind of where we're heading with sweet fish media. It's just good to hear somebody else say it so I'm not like alone in my thinking. I'm like I feel like everybody could be it, but I don't know, it seems like that's not as as popular as an opinion, where most people are trying to trying to most people are trying to select a few subject matter experts, you know, three or four, and then it depends on what size they are. But that's the more common route unless, uh, I don't know. I guess organizations like Mackenzie and Deloitte will often have multiple people submit to a journal of some kind. Well, in professional services is an area that has done this longer than many, because if you're one of the big consultancies or if you're um working in programming and software and doing solutions and that for your clients, you're selling the knowledge of your people and the more that you can showcase your workforce as able to solve smart problems, then you win more deals. Right. That's a big win Um and I'm looking forward to roll inside and sweet fish to see if we can kind of replicate their success that they've had. So the last one, I want to make sure we hit all tens. I promised all ten. The last one. What was the last mistake that most companies make when trying to implement thought leadership programs. So the last one I'll say simply the organization tries to measure success by the wrong standards, and so this is like pulling a metric wrench when you need a standard wrench right and you're trying to turn it, but it doesn't work. And so the most common version of this mistake is when you start applying content marketing metrics to thought leadership and you wind up rewarding and in scenting the wrong results. So what are those metrics that are commonly applied and what are better metrics? So I'll start with what commonly gets applied and often sometimes I just have to say Whoa, Whoa stop. So views impressions, attendees at Events and conferences, and I had a conversation once with a client who said, okay, we did this Webinar and we had x thousand number of attendees. I said, great, which of those attendees were the most important people that you needed to reach to make this idea fly? And do you know who those people were? Were they watching? Where they engaged? And there was a moment of silence. Instead of looking at the aggregate attendees and saying a bigger number is better. It's if you're creating impact, some of your target audiences are able to open doors more effectively for you be decision makers that can create impact or achieve results, and if you get to them and they buy in, then the idea goes further and faster at scale. So you talked about events, but what are other metrics you can look at if you're not doing events at all? Is it kind of the same thing applied to podcasting, for example? Exactly? So you don't know exactly who's listening unless you pay a ton. Recently I did find software that will tell you what companies are listening to your podcast, but it costs like five hundred bucks a month and I was like, well, and that's the difficulty, right. In podcasting, you look and you say, okay, I've put bait out there for people to listen and two,...

...not only one, are people listening, but then two, are they the right people? And if you focus on the number of how many downloads did you have in a month? Right, it's a very squishy status statistic. It's like Um putting out a press release and going Oh, we had this much reach, congratulations, but did you reach the right people, okay, and so that's why you launched the conversation here and said we do a very niche podcast on thought leadership. Right. We consciously made that choice to go niche rather than broad, and we said these are the people we want to reach and we're irrelevant to ninety nine of the world's population, where they shouldn't listen to us. They should go do something else and more valuable with their time in life. But you want to be indispensably relevant to that fraction of a percent of the world. Okay, I'll give you a few pieces, and these go into ANNEC data rather than hard data, but they're good, good example. So when we put out a podcast and we have people to come back to us and say I listened to your podcast and it sounded like you were in the room talking to me and I was sitting with your guests and we were around a table talking about issues I cared about, that you've walked into my office, that's when you know you want because that person that you were trying to reach is most likely a buyer and they were paying really close attention. That's beautiful and while we had to take usually a slightly different approach with our podcasting. I could certainly see the benefit of creating a very niche podcast and at the end of the day it's even something. And I'm still measuring, though. I usually counted a little bit more on Linkedin, where you can see exactly who's interacting with your comment, who you're engaging within comments. It's on Linkedin, it's like, I don't know why, if you're in B two B and you're not active on Linkedin, I'm like, why is? It gives you so much freight information, like every everybody's on there. Well, and Lincoln is because you can see who's engaging with your idea and do they fit the types of people that you want to reach? You can actually see if you're reaching the people because they're the ones in the comments right or you can just more easily go and find the people who are active in your space, who you'd like to do business with, and engage with them in their comments, start talking commenting with them and then all of a sudden they start showing up in yours. It's a beautiful thing. So I love that. Essentially, uh you're measuring percentage reached on the key accounts that you want to do business with. Exactly, and you also measure impact in different ways. So another example is if you're responsible for thought leadership for your executive team and they're meeting people in industry and you're giving them a list of pull sides, for example, of here, the pull sides and the free minute conversations that you're going to have while you're at this event, and those conversations may not bear fruit in six months. Those are strategic deals, those are relationships that have to be nurtured, and so the initial thing is checklist. Did all those conversations happen? Yes or no? Great, did we get a follow up on those conversations afterwards, within a couple of weeks? You almost have to think on a campaign level and say, if this is moving forward, what evidence would I be seen? Um, I know the evidence I'd be looking for is one consumption. Consumption would be number one. After that I'd be looking for how many people are like responding to it. So usually, depending on the medium, there's different ways where people can respond and linked in it's comments, but oftentimes people can just mention it. I usually just ask customers or new new prospects in the pipeline. Oh, where'd you hear about us. Oh, we saw this and then I read this. You know, they start to tell you themselves where they come and I usually listen for like Oh, like, what did they read before?...

Were they listening to the podcast where they literally just come off a Linkedin? They didn't even listen to our PODCAST, but we've been talking about it so much on Linkedin. You know, Um, what kinds of things did they read and what kind of maybe even based on the kind of questions or point of view they're coming with it, I can tell like what they've read recently, all things that kind of measure the thought leadership or the strength of the thought leadership content. Another good example is with the podcast. If you have people who come to you and say, I've been listening to you for a year or whatever and it wasn't the right time for me to come to you, but now is all of a sudden you've closed your sales cycle from a year long where you were chasing someone where it wasn't the right by time. Too, they show up and they're ready to close the deal almost immediately. Man, this has been fantastic and going through tens usually a lot for a list in a podcast, but it's been fun to kind of hear all these different perspectives. I know I've gotten a lot of nuggets out of it just even thinking through like Oh, like sweet fish is all company compared to people. I mean we have thirty employees and companies of, you know, hundreds, thousands some of the dynamics. So you might have to face if you're a thought leader in those companies. And I'm sure the audience has gotten quite a few nuggets out of it. I know I have Um for my future. We're trying to implement thought leadership for sweet fish. I know you want to talk a little bit about the stevie awards for women in Business, Bill, so tell us a little bit about that and why what the audience can do to go check that out. Yes, so one of the things that we recognized is thought leadership, as an evolving function, needs to recognize excellence and so we partnered with the stevie business awards specifically for recognizing excellence and thought leadership and they do a series of eight different award programs, international Um US business awards over the course of the year. The category story that's just opened up as of the middle of May is for women in business and recognizing thought leadership excellence in three categories for women in business. One, organizations that are doing an excellent job of developing women as thought leadership practitioners and promoting their ideas within and beyond the organization too, excellence and thought leadership campaigns by and for women, and then three, excellence as best female thought leader for themselves and for their organization. There will be other categories going on, but we felt it was absolutely critical and essential to start really within the business space, recognizing the folks who are day to day doing thought leadership and the excellent work they're doing for their companies. That's great. So where there are places where you can nominate women Um or making did? You go to Stevie awards and you can download a nomination packet. So if you think you fit one of these categories for women in business, go to the Stevie awards downloaded and submit. Or if you know someone who fits this category, and I encourage you because especially with women in thought leadership, women have sometimes told themselves know, what I'm doing really isn't thought leadership for their my business, or they've had their colleagues say that's not thought leadership. You don't have to speak that sort of thing. They've actually actively been dismissed. If you know someone who fits this category, reach out to them say hey, I know you're rocking it here in thought leadership. You're doing amazing work. Take a look at this. It's worth you seeing if you want to apply, and we want to celebrate the best work of thought leadership that's out there. It's fantastic. I definitely have someone in mind, somebody that interviewed for this podcast and I was like, how do you not have a book on this topic already, like I...

...would have learned so much. So I'm like I can already think of somebody that I could I want to right up and put in a nomination for them and then let them know like Hey, look, I've nominated you for this because you freaking earned it and somebody, somebody needed to like toot your horn for you, you know. So I'm sure there's a number of people in the listening right now where you know somebody who deserves it, who's been working undercover or as a brilliant thought leader and maybe doesn't get recognized enough or gets recognized a lot and still could use some more because they continue to do great things. They don't just rest on their laurels from long ago. They're continuing to push the envelope. So I recommend all the audience to go and check that out. Um Bill, this has been a wonderful episode, learning from you, taking advantage of your years of Wisdom that you've Buelt coaching so many thought leader practitioners through the craft of thought leadership. Um. But people want to learn more from you work. Can they go to find you online? So the best place to find me is thought leadership leverages, our company. That's thought leadership leverage dot com, or look for me on Linkedin. I use the personal Hashtag or T L O R G T L, and I'm Bill Sherman. B Two B growth is brought to you by the team at sweet fish media. Here at Sweet Fish, we produced podcasts for some of the most innovative brands in the world and we help them turn those podcasts into micro videos, linkedin content, blog posts and more. We're on a mission to produce every leader's favorite show. Want more information, visit sweet fish media DOT com.

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