Thought Leaders Shmought Leaders

Admittedly, as a marketer, I often advise people to position themselves as a thought leader in their field.  What better way to attract new vacuum customers than giving off the appearance that you know EVERYTHING about cyclone technology and suction thingamajigs.  Obviously I’m going to buy my vacuum from the guy who knows the most about the biz, right?  He seems smart and trustworthy.james-dyson-with-vacuum

But what happens when all of a sudden everyone in the vacuum industry starts leading thoughts? Who’s the leader now? Who do I trust?

I recently read an article in Forbes, “6 Ways Thought Leadership Will Take Your Marketing to New Levels,” by John Hall.  Hall explains how PR and consistent content marketing will help put your offering in a more positive light and keep your company top of mind.  While reading the article, I totally agreed with Hall’s points.  What concerned me was when Hall said:

“As a Forbes contributor, I look for sources who are leading their industries. I don’t want to do a ton of homework to determine if you’re the real deal. If you release content consistently and it’s quality work, you will be rewarded by attracting your own PR relationships.”

Nobody wants to do homework and everyone defines “quality” differently. So who is really the expert? The company that has the most active Facebook page? The most white-papers? Hosts the most webinars?  How many garbage webinars are out there and yet we still see these contributors as thought leaders? How many useless white-papers have you read?

We are being conditioned to think more content = expert.

There is now an entire industry that churns out content that talks about creating content and gives you a bunch more content to educate you and prove to you that content marketing works (yeesh)!  The scariest part about content marketing?  It really works.

Marketers have already infiltrated traditional channels like newspapers, tv and radio. Now they are saturating digital channels like mobile ads and social media. Are our thoughts next?  Ahhhhh!!!

At some point, I fear that thought leadership will be less about trust and quality and more about quantity and speed.  For now, content marketing and the idea of thought leadership is still new and effective.  I guess we’ll see what comes next!

In the meantime, don’t be dull and stay human.

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