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

Episode 2092 · 4 months ago

What I've Learned About Thought Leadership After a 30 Day Deep Dive

ABOUT THIS EPISODE

In this episode, Dan Sanchez talks about his journey into the topic of thought leadership from reading all the books on the topic to doing this 30 day deep dive on B2B Growth. 

Welcome back to BBB growth. I'm danSanchez with sweet fish media. And today we're concluding the deep dive onthought leadership. Through the month of june, I've been interviewing expertspractitioners, actual thought leaders and have been reviewing resources booksas well as giving some my own ideas on this show about the topic of thoughtleadership marketing shoot. I even debated somebody who kind of had took astance against that leadership marketing just to see where we couldland. And this episode is going to be summarizing uh some of the lessons I'velearned after diving deep into this topic. Now, even before this topic, Idid try to read every single book I could possibly find around the Topic ofthought leadership marketing or becoming a thought leader. And therewas about, I don't know, 20 so or so of them and then maybe like 10 that werelike somewhat related around like personal branding or something likethat. Um quite a few books and I can say that there is without a doubt,something different about actually talking to the experts themselves. Umyou can read their books, but you get a much better feel for the material andwhat's being said after talking to actually talk to people about it,actually, working through the nuances of it. So if anybody's ever interestedin that in particular, I think I probably didn't need to do a wholepodcast episode and how to use a podcast to learn and accelerate yourown expertise because it's, it's been phenomenal. I've done this twice nowwith the deep dives here on GDP growth and I could just feel my, my ownknowledge and handle over subjects, like growing rapidly just from actuallytalking to the people that really know their stuff. But today I wanted tosummarize a lot of the lessons I've learned through this process of thisdeep dive into the topic. So here they are first thought leadership is a thing,It is real thought leadership. Marketing is not a buzz word, it's nota fad, it's going to be here to stay.

It's existed for a few 100 years atleast at least, but was only coined In the 90s as far as the term thoughtleadership, right? So that hasn't been around for too long, but it's been athing for a while, like building influence through your expertise oryour original ideas on the subject has been around for a long time, being ableto do marketing that way has been around quite a while. Um dating all theway back to josiah Wedgwood who was a famous potter, but also like brilliantwhen it came to business and marketing strategies. Uh a lot of modernmarketing concepts get dated back to josiah Wedgwood and that's kind ofanother episode in and of itself, like the brilliance of that man from Back inthe late 1700s kicked off the the Industrial Revolution, but I'm notgonna diverge into a history lesson here. Let's dive back into thoughtleadership. Thought leadership fits somewhere between brand and demand jinbecause obviously if you're positioning yourself as a thought leader, of courseit's a perception play, it's a big picture thing, which kind of falls intobrand, but it also does a fantastic job of generating demand. And I can tellyou just as someone who's kind of started their journey on linkedinrecently and built up uh like a crowd of friends and just people that we'retalking about marketing all the time. I can already see it happening just alittle bit for myself and I've gotten a taste um when people show up to sweetfish media wanting to ask about podcasting services and people are ourpodcast, try to just ask like, how did you hear about it will be like, oh,I've been reading dan for a while and I just showed up because he recommendedit. That's the power of thought leadership to a degree when you startto build an authority on something and again, I've only had a small taste ofit. Uh James Carberry has been doing this a lot longer and lots of otherpeople doing this way longer than me, but I've done enough to do get like alittle taste of it. Um it is real, it does generate demand so that whenpeople show up to sales, they're ready...

...to buy their interested. They've been,they've been, they are convinced that you're the one who has the answers totheir problems, which makes the whole sales sales cycle so much smoother.Thought leadership marketing also impacts your positioning and I'mconvinced as essential for category design, right? To build a whole newcategory, you have to lead and you're leading with thinking, right? That'swhat category category is. It's not it's not a physical thing. A newcategory is essentially a position in people's minds, right? So if you'regoing to create a new category in people's minds, you have to lead theirthoughts. Thought leadership is the backbone of category creation. Ofcourse, there's a whole ton that goes into category creation. Thoughtleadership is not the only part that plays there. Um but it is an essentialpillar of it because you're gonna have to lead people to creating that newcategory in their mind. And of course it affects positioning. If you're doingthought leadership marketing as a heavy marketing strategy for to influenceyour your marketing. It's honestly a positioning play. You're really tryingto convince people that you are the thought leader in the space, in thisunique aspect that you're trying to drive that it might not be creating awhole new category, but you're trying to differentiate yourself throughthought leadership marketing. So at this point you get to the partwhere it's like, well how do I become a thought leader then? And that was thequestion I asked about a year ago before I started reading any books, Iwas like, oh great. Like that leadership marketing sounds cool, eventhough it's a little cringe e because so many people have called themselvesthought leaders without actually having any substance to their message. Um butit's still worthwhile. And I went on this journey to try to figure out likehow does one become a thought leader, especially if you're not alreadystarting with a level of authority? And that's a lot of my reading was focusedaround that and this this is what I discovered. It's not just through umreading, it's also through a lot of the interviews that I've done here on B.Two B growth, some in this deep dive...

...and some that predated this deep dive.I've been kind of having interviews about this topic for a while, andhere's the general path that I've found. Um and it's not a unique path, like asI've talked to other people, it's what I've found is that like this these arekind of like well known things. Um everybody kind of gives it a differentword or a different phrase. And while I have three major points, people mightbreak it up into four or five points, maybe sometimes two points. Um but whenI've talked to other thought leadership practitioners, I have discovered thatwe all have similar thinking, that we just give it different terms in how wedescribe the path to becoming a thought leader. So this one is my own. Um butlike I said, there's many, many others, um and these are my three, I guess youcould call them pillars, I call them three essential ingredients to becominga thought leader and I call it being expertise, having original ideas an authority orto simplify it, you have to be an expert, you have to be a contributorand you have to be an authority in order to be what I'm calling anauthentic thought leader. If you're missing any one of those threeingredients, you're not an authentic thought leader, you can be a faker, youcan be a charlatan or you could just be unknown because you're not an authorityand nobody knows about your awesome original ideas, right? And I coveredthat in a different episode on authentic thought leadership. I won'tdiverge into that now, but here's kind of the step by steps in order to buildeach one and I generally, well you kind of build them all at the same time,they kind of go in an order, right? Like if you're not an expert, youshould probably start there. You need to learn and grow and become an expertin the topic. Yesterday I published an episode called The 30 30 30 plan umthat I think is a great quick start to becoming an expert, but there's also alot of people listening right now where you're already kind of an expert inthis thing, you're beyond professional, like people pay you a lot of money justfor your time to listen to you talk about this one subject for the, forpeople like you, it's good to do an inventory and make sure that you knoweverything there is to know about the...

...topic. Like actually go and read allthe research reports, actually make sure you understand what people areasking there on the, on the on google search engine. Like you'll find a listof keywords and make sure you have good answers for all of those. Um I wouldjust make sure to cover all your bases. Um read every book on the topic thatyou haven't already right. And in order to know the existing conversation,because that's important to make sure you you are indeed an expert before youmove on to trying to create original ideas, because oftentimes you'll comeup with an idea other, otherwise you'll come up with an idea that alreadyexists and that's kind of embarrassing when you're like, champion this ideaand six months go by and somebody's like, actually somebody already saidthat. Yeah, it was published in this book. Uh, yeah. You haven't read thatyet? Uh, yeah. You don't want you don't want to be caught in that situation.You want to try to have read everything. And I understand what the history onthis topic has been, where it's where it's going and what the currentconversation is currently taking place on the topic. But once you've gotten there, onceyou've been there, you can start contributing original ideas. Now, I'mnot saying you can't have a hypothesis, I thrown out a lot of hypothesis is on,can you, Is that right? Hypothesize? I don't know, I've thrown out a lot ofideas on thought leadership marketing, but I haven't, I've read all the books,but there's still a lot, I don't know. I still have a lot of people I need totalk to. I'm only a year into the topic and while I've gone really deep thisyear, I'm still throwing them out. There is just ideas. They're notvalidated. I've tried some of them, most of them myself, but that's notenough evidence to say with uh with authority. Thus safe. The research, thedata, the empirical evidence points to this being true. No, I'm not there yet.Um so it's okay that while you're in the learning phase to throw out ahypothesis, especially, I would even recommend doing it publicly. Like I amhere on this podcast um because that's part of the learning process, right? Ifyou do it publicly and say things like, hey, this is just an idea. This is whatI was thinking. Then people can actually show up and with humility. Youcan accept their feedback or critiques...

...or they tell you that actually knowsomebody else invented that already. And then you can humbly accept it,which is a lot easier to do when you didn't throw it out there as as fact. So once you've gotten to that point,you can actually develop some original ideas and these are some of the threeum, most common ways of doing it. There's a lot of ideas around how togenerate ideas in the thought leadership, marketing market or in thespace. But these are the ones I found to be the most prominent are mostlikely is one you do original research. There's nothing like doing your ownresearch where you actually have empirical evidence of really goodsurvey work or lots of interviews that you can actuallycatalog and show empirically that something is this or at least based onthe one research report you've done right house. If you've done it overmultiple years or done a longitudinal study over time that only gets strongerand stronger and stronger. So there's multiple ways to do research. Butoriginal research is one of those ones that we all know works really well fordoing thought leadership marketing. Another one is just unique. Takes. Thiswas probably the most common. Um, but you have to be the most careful withbecause unique takes or having a different angle on things because maybeyou have a different background or your your company's trying to become athought leader in this space and has a unique take because of your expertiseor experience in a certain field or you've done a certain thing. Um, but generally those are the fastestones because. Oftentimes when you are going into a subject and you haveexpertise from an unrelated subject or another subject that's close but stilldoesn't cover a lot of the same material. Oftentimes you can haveunique unlocks, um, unique insights about how things could be done justbased on the overlap of bringing in new information and a new projectmanagement style that didn't exist in this niche before that existedsomewhere else. And you brought it in that could be thought leadership, right?Um, so there's lots of unique, lots of...

...ways to do that, but just finding otherfields to bring ideas in to bring fresh ideas and from other fields to solveold problems. And then the last one is just finding the problems that youraudience is dealing with and then trying lots of stuff to solve it, andthen sharing your learnings as you start to find things that work better.Obviously it's overlaps with the last one of having you unique take. But Ithink if you have to start somewhere, just start looking for the problemsthat nobody else has solved, yet, problems that lots of people aretalking about in the niche and then just going after even making it ajourney, like posting it on social Hey, like I've noticed everybody struggleswith this. Um I've seen some takes on how to solve it, but I don't think it'senough. I want to be able to solve it to this degree. I don't know what theanswer is yet, but I'm going to start finding it. And then actually postingyour learnings along the way is a great way into my next third pillar righthere, which is authority, right? We talked about expertise, we talked aboutbringing, being a contributor with unique and original ideas and the lastone is authority. Like if you can be an expert and have unique ideas, but ifnobody believes you, nobody trusts you, it's a problem. So we have to be ableto build up that kind of trust and a big part of that. Like I said before isuh an episode I already recorded was learning in the light like startingyour journey early, especially on social media or wherever your niche ishanging out online or in person and getting in front of them and talkingabout it. Even as you're early on, even as a student, you can start asking goodquestions and learning. This is a way to start building a third authorityearly on from day one, you can start doing this, it takes years to build theauthority, but it starts, you know, when is the best time to plant a tree.Yeah that whole thing. Another way to build authority is by using a podcastusing a podcast throughout the journey of becoming a thought leader isprobably like in my opinion like the secret hacked and going through all ofthis. Um You can use a podcast to learn and become an expert because you caninterview the experts um like I have...

...with thought leadership and then threwit, you kind of build association with them. People start to see you like ohdance hanging out with so and so and so and so and so and so he must be in thethought leadership because he's hanging out with all the thought leadershippeople on his podcast and posting about it right? Like you start to just buildcredibility just through pure assoc association. Um It's a great way to uhpackage and then distribute your unique ideas like I have in this podcast, andthen it's a great way to build authority because the whole time you'recreating content with it and then distributing it out there and peopleare listening and consuming and getting to know your ideas right? A lot of youhave listened to a lot of these episodes already and I've had peoplereach out to me on linkedin and be like, hey, like I I wasn't subscribed to beto be growth before, but now I am because I've been really eating up allthis content on this one subject um and that's happened quite a few times, so Iknow it's happening, I know it's working and I'm just sharing it for mypersonal perspective to kind of like be a little bit vulnerable because italmost feels inauthentic to talk about what I'm doing and why I'm doing it.But I'm also trying to share with you everything that I'm thinking andlearning and trying um while also trying to build authority, but in themost helpful way possible. And I think that's a really important note whenbuilding authority, you actually have to do it for the, for the benefit ofother people, not to put yourself up on the pedestal, but to help genuinelyhelp other people. I put a lot of time and effort into linkedin and a lot ofthat comes back in revenue for sweet fish, but honestly, I don't really, Idon't always expect it to, I go and record 5, 10, sometimes 15 minute longvideo is just to help explain something to people or not even just people likea person, a person has a particular thing they're asking me about and Ijust do it to serve and to bless and to help as many people as I possibly canwithout going so overboard that I'm not actually getting my job done here atSweet Fish, right? Um I'm trying to help and bless as many people as Ipossibly can. If you kind of take that approach to thought leadership, youwill build authority, especially when...

...you're doing it humbly, you're you'renot getting defensive when people challenge your ideas, I even invitepeople to challenge my ideas um when you're doing it humbly and you'retrying to just be helpful, it goes a long way in building authority,especially as a thought leader. And the last thing I just want to pointout about thought leadership is the number one rule of thought leadership.You can't call yourself a thought leader. It's noble to aspire to becomea thought leader because if you're a genuine and authentic thought leaderthat wants to just help people or help a niche or an industry that's a goodand noble task. But and you should aspire to it, but you can't callyourself a thought leader. If you're listening to this, you have ThoughtLeader written anywhere on any of your material about yourself, take it off,Just do us all a favour, remove it. If you're a thought leader, like otherpeople will say it about you. You don't have to say that about yourself. The 2nd rule of thought leadership isyou can't call yourself a thought leader right to kind of reference FightClub, right? Just don't do it. There's it's so important that I I like toreference Fight Club because I'm like, it's so important. It needs to be thefirst to rules because so many people break it and build a bad name forthought leadership marketing when it is a really true and worthwhile thing topursue because it is effective marketing. It's also good and genuinemarketing that's actually useful. It's not wasteful. You're actually helpingpeople, you're going and solving the problems. You're adding your uniquepoint of view. It takes a lot of work, takes a lot of work. So it's not likeit's not like just passively done, you have to actually work at it and ittakes years to build the expertise, takes years to build and work throughyour ideas to prove them. It takes years to build the authority, but it isa worthwhile path. It's the path that I want to be on. It's a path that I'mtaking and I'm only just starting in my journey towards that. But you willnever hear me call myself a thought leader, It's not worth it. I am astudent, I have some ideas. I still...

...have a long, long way to go and even ifI get there someday I still wouldn't call myself it because it's just one ofthose things that just doesn't need to be said if you are, you are if you'renot, it didn't matter because you didn't call yourself one anyway. Andthat way we can actually clear up some of the crunchiness that's going aroundabout this topic now to wrap up this deep dive for this month. I want totake a poll on linkedin. But if you don't have time to see that polltomorrow about these deep dives, I'd love to get your feedback. Please findme on linkedin dot com slash I. N slash digital marketing dan let me know ifthese deep dives are worth it. It's something that as they don't know, Iguess I'm the, I don't know what to call myself, but I'm in charge of GDPgrowth Swedish media. I guess we don't really have a title for it. Um I'mstill trying to figure out how to always make this podcast better, how tomake the content go further, reach more people and of course be more helpful,right? Like I said, I want to be more helpful to more people and that theoverall show is the most helpful that it can be. So any feedback you've given,I appreciate it so much. Come find me on linkedin. Um you can also go toSweet Fish Media dot com. Just go to the contact for and be like, hey, I waslistening to be, to be growth, this is my feedback and then we can get itthere. Thank you so much for listening and thank you for in advance for yourfeedback.

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