Do You Have the Time to Be a Thought Leader?

Most companies that sell sophisticated products and services understandably want to be seen as thought leaders in their industry.

They want their customers and potential customers to see how knowledgeable they are and how qualified they are to offer expert advice. It’s part of the effort to earn trust, because customers prefer to buy from someone they can depend on. And if you can prove your expertise, that’s a big factor in the perception that your products and services are better and more dependable.

So you’ll find that many companies place a big emphasis on writing blogs, authoring articles in industry news outlets, emphasizing their expertise in social media, and doing other things to establish themselves as thought leaders.

Some companies are more effective at it than others, but one thing that sets the leaders apart from the others is the time they are willing to invest in establishing and maintaining that image of thought leadership.

We see this in companies we have worked with in writing and editing these kinds of materials. The ones who are honestly serious about it will make their executives and other subject matter experts available. These people are willing to take 30 minutes or an hour of their limited and valuable time to provide the kind of quality input that makes a compelling thought leadership piece.

They see the value in doing this, and they do it for the good of the company.

Too often, though, companies try to cut corners when it comes to that time investment. They’ll decide that they can get by with just throwing some product marketing materials or a slide presentation at the writer, pointing to a couple of places for some online research, and let it go at that.

It doesn’t really work that way. Thought leadership is based on expert insight; not many slide presentations or product materials can offer that. If your company has people who are deserving of the title “thought leaders,” you need to use them, not rely on time-saving shortcuts.

It’s like taking a new business prospect to dinner at the corner gas station. Dining on roller hot dogs and little bags of potato chips might save both time and money, but the prospect wouldn’t have quite the perception of you and your company that you would like.

You can always tell what is important to someone by what they are sure to make time for. If it’s truly important, thought leadership deserves a real investment of your time.