How To Avoid Thought Leadership Frights

Published: 31 October 2017

Five of the most common thought leadership nightmares.

Halloween conjures suspense, fright, and things that go bump in the night. But it’s not just Nightmare on Elm Street or Blair Witch Project that leave us feeling numb with terror. At work, we’ve all come across examples of bad practice, leaving us cowering behind our chairs.

Regular readers of this newsletter know that thought leadership marketing is exploding in popularity. But all too often, a bit like the copycat killers who blight our favourite scary stories, content masquerades as thought leadership when it is actually anything but.

We’ve selected five of the most common thought leadership nightmares. Brace yourself.

  1. No link to business goals: One of thought leadership’s strengths is the ability to deliver results that support wider commercial objectives. Themes must be thoroughly researched to ensure they will chime with what your key audiences want to hear. Otherwise, you could find yourself screaming into the void.
  2. Unoriginal: All the hard work is done and you’re ready to publish, only to find that the world changing idea you’ve developed has been covered already. It’s enough to make the hairs on the back of your neck stand. Don’t forget the literature and competitor review, to help you identify genuine white space.
  3. Lacking evidence: Our favourite fictional scary figures would be much less effective without their knives, chainsaws or other grisly instruments. Publishing content lacking evidence has the same effect. It creates an empty vessel, and potential risk to your reputation if bold assertions turn out to be unsubstantiated.
  4. No calls to action: The best thought leadership content can fall flat by failing to offer its audience some practical guidance to address the issues you’ve uncovered. Recommendations also allow you to hint at new ways to extend the project. After all, why settle for a single hit when you can make a sequel?!
  5. Impossible to find: It’s not just skeletons or spiders which can hide in the dark. World beating thought leadership content will gather dust on the shelf if it isn’t signposted properly. Use SEO to make reports, graphics and videos findable. Enlist the help of those you have collaborated with to help maximise reach.

Much like a genuinely terrifying movie, one that stays with you well beyond the final scene, effective thought leadership is hard to get right. If the result of your work resembles any of the above, hard won budget and resource could be wasted. It’ll haunt you like any ghost, ghoul or beast.

Tom Yazdi
Associate Director

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Tom leads projects for Grant Thornton International, Bovill and Canada Life. He has a diploma from the PRCA.

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