- Rveal’s website: rveal.media
- Rveal’s LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/company/rvealmedia/
- Rveal’s YouTube channel: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UC69p14R2ccMdyUbbmdlWCEw
Kap Chatfield 0:20
Hey, welcome to B2B Podcasting, a show that helps b2b brands drive revenue through content. I'm your host, Kap Chatfield, CEO of Rveal Media. Today, I want to talk to you about thought leadership, because it is such a buzzword on LinkedIn. So many people put the word "thought leader" in their bio, or at least they want to put it in their bio, maybe some people have the wherewithal not to put it in there themselves. It's, you know, there's probably this sort of stigma where you, you don't want to call yourself a thought leader, you want other people to call you a thought leader. Yet, we all want to be known as a thought leader, particularly on LinkedIn, particularly in the b2b digital marketing space. Because thought leaders, they're the ones that get invited to do talks, they're the ones who get invited on to podcasts, they're the ones who ultimately grow their business. And so you obviously, if you're in a b2b market, if you're running professional services, and a firm or something like that, you want to be known as a thought leader in your industry. However, being a thought leader, and calling yourself a thought leader are two completely different things. There's a high price to actually being a thought leader, I wouldn't necessarily know because I wouldn't say that I'm one necessarily. But when you look at thought leaders that are really crushing it in their industry, they have a unique perspective, that are drawing an audience, that have actually created a following with their perspective on the industry. Because think about it, you can't be a leader, if you don't have anybody following you. In order to get to that place with your unique perspective, it's going to take a lot more than just being smart, it's going to take a lot more than just being an expert. All of those things are important, and at the end of the day, that's you got to have that if you're going to be a thought leader. But too many people are riding on their competence or building the building this thought leadership house, so you could say off of a bedrock of competence. And there's so much more that goes into it than that. And there's specifically I mean, it's not an exhaustive list, but there are a few things that I've been thinking about as far as disciplines go, or the cost of actually being a thought leader. And so I want to go over them real quick, let this be something that it's a rubric for myself, these are things that I want to continue to grow in. But if you're in that place where you know that your unique expertise is going to win you business, it's going to eliminate the competition, it's going to allow you to get higher sales, work with people that you actually like working with, cultivate a culture of high performers, then this is going to be something that you want to lean into.
Here are the four things that I would recommend that you consider if you want to develop yourself as a thought leader. What's it going to cost you? Number one, it's gonna cost thought leaders the discipline of crafting a unique narrative for that industry and codifying it. I know it's a long title, but this, think about it, it's you have to incorporate all those different elements of it: the discipline of crafting a unique narrative for the industry, and codifying it. So what does that look like practically? Well, I'll tell you what it doesn't look like. It doesn't look like your typical content marketing, where if you went on Google and you typed in any sort of topic regarding your field of expertise, regarding your industry, something that's vanilla, something that every other firm out there is putting out, something that every other company is saying, you don't want to be white noise. White Noise doesn't produce leadership. If you want to be a leader in your industry, you need to craft a unique perspective. And that takes discipline, it takes work. What I tell our clients all the time is that it's important for you to be spending time every week, at least every week, if not every day. Spending time journaling, with your own thoughts, just getting alone, turn off your phone, to get away from your customers, as important as they are, get away from your employees. As and clients, as important as they are, you need to get alone with your own thoughts and start mapping out how do you see things differently? Because at the end of the day, if you're the principal of the firm, if you're the leader of the organization, where your vision is, that's where the rest of the organization is heading. So you need to you need to cultivate your vision for your industry and for your organization. And you need to codify it. What does codify mean? You I mean, as someone who is aspiring to be a thought leader, you probably know what that means. But for those who are in that place of I want to know I want to grow into this: codifying simply means putting it into a documented process. Putting it into some sort of format that other people can look at and be able to clearly articulate. What is that perspective? So your your perspective can't be this ambiguous thing that you hold on to that, that is impossible for other people to grab onto. In order for you to truly be a thought leader, you need to codify that you need to document it in a way that's clear, that's simple. Put on a single piece of paper, that another person in your organization, even an entry level person could look at and say, "You know what, I see that I want to follow that, I believe in that". So you need to have the discipline to be able to cultivate a unique narrative for your industry.
Now, there's another word in that that I want to focus on, too. It's that word "narrative". What do we mean by narrative? Well, when we say the word narrative, well we're talking about story. That's what most people be thinking about when they hear the word narrative. And so one thing that we do as a company, we have a term that we use called "story leadership". So instead of thought leadership, we want to we want to focus on thinking of it as a story, because thoughts, expertise, education, information, it doesn't inspire people. Data doesn't inspire people, but stories inspire people. So you might be asking yourself, "Okay, so how do I have a unique perspective on the industry? How do I craft it into a story? Are you telling me that I'm supposed to begin my my webinars and begin my keynote speeches with some sort of story?" Actually, yes, I would say that, but that's not what I'm referring to, specifically here. When I'm talking about a narrative, what I'm saying is you need to be thinking of your audience, and perhaps that's your employees, it would definitely it should definitely start with your employees, or your clients, your customers, or the industry in general, your colleagues, you need to be thinking about them as the main character of their own story. Because they are, we are all main characters of our own story, we all want to be a part of something meaningful. And so we're constantly looking around and trying to identify the narrative that we live in, whether it's by the amount of money that we have, or the place that we live, or the family that we have, or the wife that we have, or the job that we have. And we create this narrative around these choices that we make in life, because we're all seeking for meaning. And story brings meaning to whatever you're doing. And so think about your customer, your employee, your colleagues, what narrative, do they want to be a part of? What would be enticing to them? Think about who they are as a person, and what what do they really want in life.
And the next thing is, what's standing in their way? What's, what's the opposition between them and where they want to go? Now, you as the visionary you as the thought leader, or as the story leader, as we like to say, you're going to be the one that through your unique vision, through this unique perspective on the industry, you're providing a new path for that person to go forward. So let me give you an example of what this could look like. I'll just share from our own example, our own perspective, because this is what we do. So one thing that we care about is we care we are relentlessly after the vision of the b2b brand owner or the b2b principal of the organization. And we're after you know what they they want to see something change in their industry. But you know what the problem is? We have the person and the desire. And now here's the problem. The problem is, they don't know how to communicate that message in depth in a way that's engaging, in a way that can be scaled to the masses, and across all marketing channels. That's the big problem. And it keeps a lot of them from actually stepping forward and cultivating that thought leadership. So what we do is we come alongside them, and our unique perspective on the industry is, "Hey, you can focus on a single marketing initiative that helps you scale your message in a way that's attractive to an audience, that doesn't repel them. You can be the show, rather than the commercial." You've probably heard us say this before, that there's only two types of content on the internet: there's shows and commercials. The content that you want to consume, and the content that interrupts the content that you want to consume. And you can build an audience by communicating your unique vision through a show. Now join us on this journey as we take you to do that. See, you don't even realize this, but I kind of just gave you our sales pitch, and I wasn't even intending on doing it. But what I did was I identified who's our person that we're trying to communicate to? What's their problem? And then what's our plan? What's our vision? How do we invite them into a story that helps them get to number four of the P's is the promise. The promise of becoming a thought leader that affects change in the organization, affects change in the industry, and grows a profitable business that impacts all. That's exciting. So that is what you need to do first, if you're going to truly become a thought leader, you need to develop the discipline of crafting a unique narrative for your industry and codifying it make it very clear. This is what it looks like to be a thought leader but like we like we like to say a story leader. Story leadership inspires hearts and engages the mind and it moves the heart to move an organization forward.
So that's number one, the discipline to craft a unique narrative. Number two, the personality. Back to the question, what's it going to take to be a thought leader? It's going to cost you the personality, that can engage an audience and inspire confidence in that unique vision. You don't need to be this over the top charismatic leader, you don't need to be bouncing off the walls, you don't need to be wearing color for clothes and, and be, you know, be a peacock. For for all intents and purposes, and just grabbing attention. That's not what we're talking about here. But there's a way as a leader, where, you and I, we need to own being a personable leader. We need to own being engaging. We need to own being confident, we need to we have to ooze confidence in our own messaging, or else why would anybody want to follow this perspective that we have? If you as a thought leader, are imagining a future a vision for your industry, for your organization that no one's ever seen before, you are going to have to have confidence in that vision in order for other people to see it. Why would they go to somewhere that they've never been if if you can't paint the picture clearly for them? And the more clear that it is to you, the more confident you're going to be in it, and it's going to be contagious, contagious. Confidence is contagious. But let me just share this in general, your countenance is contagious. If you want people to follow you, it's going to take some personal responsibility in growing and being a more engaging communicator of that vision. Even I'm going to make this point, this is really important: even virtually. We live in a whole new world now. After 2020, through COVID-19, that whole deal. The whole world was thrust, particularly the b2b world was thrust into a digital landscape where now we got to communicate through cameras through through web conferences and webinars. And how do we make this a personal experience, even though it's through a screen? It's possible, even as I'm talking to you right now, and looking into the camera, what I'm thinking about is not the camera, the black camera body and the glass lens that I'm looking at. I'm thinking about the audience on the other side of this screen. And I've practiced the discipline of being personal, or being a personable communicator to that person who's on the other side of that screen, which is you. So it's important, and that's going to be how you communicate vision at scale and become a thought leader, or as we like to say, a story leader. Okay, as number two, the personality, you got to have that to engage that audience.
Number three, in order to become a thought leader, or as we like to, say, a story leader, it's going to cost you the discipline of creating content consistently, around this narrative that you've been crafting. So what does this look like? The benefit of content creation, is there's a lot of different mediums you can choose. Maybe you don't feel like the most confident person on camera, and I can tell you, that's okay, you don't need to be on camera, I would recommend that you consider it, because it's the way that is that feels most natural, as far as communicating over a person face to face. But you could be a great writer, and writing is powerful. You can communicate emotion very powerfully through written language. You could be a graphic designer, you could do really clear presentations through keynotes. Whatever your content creation method is, find what best suits you. For me, I like writing, writing is a great way for me to kind of clarify my thoughts. But sometimes I just need like, you can see my notes, you wan't to see my notes? Look at this, look at my notes. I have literally one note on my page, here's the title. And this is what we're going to be talking about, I also have this on my computer. So it's not totally genuine, I have a few points on my computer. But my point is, is that for me, writing, I try to keep writing very short and to the point. I want it to be a leappad for me to talk. If I can talk, I know that I can communicate that that vision a lot more clearly and expound on it. So that's my, that's my medium. But what I've learned that I need to do, is I need to practice the discipline of creating content consistently around this narrative. I want you, I want to paint this picture as drastically as possible for you. So that you can identify with why it's so important for your organization. If you know that thought leadership, being the thought leader is going to be the difference maker between you winning business, and you not growing your business. For us, if I don't communicate our vision, if I don't communicate who we are and who we're trying to serve, and what we know is possible for b2b brands, if they embrace our model, our product or service, if I don't communicate that through consistent content, no one's eating. We're not growing as a company. Because everything in our messaging, and our marketing, and our sales it all stems, it all stems from this core narrative that I'm constantly trying to develop. If I don't spend time developing this, this narrative. We don't have anything to sell. We don't have any sort of framework for how a product, or product should be refined, or what research that we should be doing in the market or who we should even be going after and try to generate relationships within the market. We have no framework for that, if I'm not consistently creating content, and cultivating that narrative, and communicating that narrative, through that content to the rest of the organization, and to our current customers, and the prospects, people in the industry that haven't quite heard of us yet. So it's critical. It's critical in today's day and age, that you as the leader of the organization, you create the content, because nobody can, can lead with their vision for you. You can't outsource that. Sure, you can outsource the production of it, you can outsource the post production of it, you could outsource the distribution of it. But at the end of the day, you need to write the script. You're the leader, you're the visionary, you got to write the script, if you want the rest of the organization and the rest of the industry, to see that unique perspective and to believe it and to follow you. That's what it's going to take for you to be a story leader, you got to write the story. Spend time every week, maybe it's an hour, you're writing, you're writing your content out, you're writing an article a week, you're writing a blog post, you're writing a LinkedIn post a week. Maybe you're doing carousels and maybe you're doing little keynote presentations on PowerPoint, or Keynote on your Mac. Or maybe you just flip on your your computer or grab your phone, you do a little iPhone video. I know this, this thought leader in the financial advising space, Ron Carson, he does this little thing on LinkedIn practically every day called Ron-sense. He just says little, little kind of pep talk something that's on his mind and it's on his heart that is relevant to his audience, and helps them continue to advance in their careers. But that's making him a thought leader because he's practicing the discipline of consistent content creation. If you want to be a thought leader, you need to create content consistently.
Okay, finally, number four. The final point, the final thing, it's going to cost you in order to become a thought leader or a story leader in your space, it's going to cost you the courage to take risks. Taking risks, to package distribute, and promote that content on various marketing channels. In order to find the tribe, that's your tribe and when that drives business. That's a long title. So let's kind of break that down a little bit. Courage, it's gonna take you courage as the thought leader, as the leader of the organization to package distribute and promote that content on various marketing channels. Your thought leadership content, again, you know, we just talked about it, this is going to be what your business really lives or dies off of. If you're not producing this content or producing this narrative for your organization, for your industry, nobody's eating, the organization is not growing, we don't have a vision to follow and therefore the organization will soon cease to exist. Without vision organizations perish. You got to communicate that vision clearly through through some sort of medium. And so if you know that it's that important for the development of your business, it's time for thought leaders, true thought leaders, story leaders, to stop looking at content creation, to stop looking at leadership, or thought leadership development as a cost. It's got to be seen as an investment. And as an investment, you should be able to track it. think about ways that you can track that and make sure that's actually attributing to this the business development of your organization. But you need to take risk. If you're in that place of thought leadership, and you're not a risk taker, I mean, you're not really going to be a thought leader anyway, honestly. Because a thought leader needs to be someone who has a vision, that that breaks ground, that's cutting edge, that makes people a little uncomfortable, because it shakes things up. And if if you're a leader who has a vision that's that can do that, then you're already in a great position, because you're already in a place where you know that you can't get high reward without taking high risks. So you need to be willing to take some risks and packaging that content, well, distributing it far and wide, and even promoting it putting some ad spend behind it to amplify the reach of that message. I'd also say along inside that message is various marketing channels. Think about other places where your audience exists, they might not be on LinkedIn all the time. They might be in their inbox, though. So how do you repackage that that content and send it to them directly to their inbox? Or maybe it's a webinar and that you're inviting people to. You can fill in the blank, but being creative and taking risks to get that content out to the right audience so that you can build your tribe, find your tribe, build your tribe, build your audience, the people who are attracted to what you have to say, because ultimately, those are going to be the people that want to do business with you. Which is a super genuine, exciting way to be thinking about marketing. You could be marketing your expertise through this thought leadership strategy in a way that doesn't you know, say hey, sign on the dotted line right now. Let me twist your arm. Let me get you inside the sales funnel. But it's really about building relationship over the long term, building trust, building brand loyalty, because at the end of the day, you've said before, without trust, you have nothing in business. You without a reputation, you have nothing. And so this is an extremely powerful way as, as a thought leader to develop that reputation, to build an audience, to build a network that you can actually do business with, over time. So thought leadership, it's not for the safe. And it's not for the timid, and your expertise alone isn't enough, it's gonna cost you these few extra things, and probably a lot more than that, to be completely honest.
But start with these four as getting, it's gonna take you pretty far in your journey. You need to be bold. As a thought leader, if you want to lead people with story you need to be someone is willing to step out and be the one that looks crazy, to be the one that's taking these risks. You need to get your message out, if you are going to be a thought leader, your your tribe needs to know your narrative needs to hear your narrative, and needs that consistency to know that when it's time for them to make that business, that decision, that converting decision, I should say, they know where to go, they know who to follow. So that's what it takes. I hope this is encouraging to you today. Thank you so much for listening to B2B Podcasting. And I don't want to discourage you from being a thought leader. If you're like, "Man, I've just listened to this whole thing. I don't know if I have what it takes". Let me encourage you, you are where you are because of the vision that you have. You have the team that you have around you because there's something to there's something to believe and for the future of your organization and your industry. Don't just inspire people with higher compensation... that can only get people so far. If you want to draw the best out of your team, and if you want to win an audience that is like ride or die with you for the rest of their careers, or the rest of them, building their businesses, develop that vision, cast that vision, take risks, do it consistently. And you will change the world. And I don't mean that in a cliche way. That's what story leaders are here to do. They're here to write a new narrative for their industry and change the world. So be thinking about that. Thanks again for listening to B2B Podcasting. Again, I'm your host, Kap Chatfield, CEO at Rveal Media. Stop being the commercial. Be the show. Thanks for listening