I recently wrote a piece about the importance of developing a #LOYSO (that’s a List Of Your Strongest Opinions). As that piece talked about, a list of your strongest opinions is important for all senior executives – but it’s even more critical if you want to develop recognised industry expertise (AKA “thought leadership“).
What I didn’t touch on in that piece is the importance of having strongly differentiated opinions. This is important because from a marketing perspective, if your opinion isn’t differentiated, it’s as good as useless.
It’s great to have strong opinions. But if those opinions are the same things that everyone else in your industry believes, you’ll never achieve recognition. Without differentiation, there’s no trace of crazy + inevitability (two main ingredients for thought leadership).
How do you identify differentiating opinions?
If you’ve downloaded and used our free one-page thought leadership framework, you’ll know that one of the key questions we ask you to fill out is your “differentiating opinions on the space for thought leadership” Here’s the definition from that framework:
“You’re in a conversation with three of your competitors (perhaps you’re at the buffet at an industry conference) and they’re all disagreeing with you. What did you just say? That’s a meaningful differentiating opinion.
Differentiating opinions are so powerful because they make you stand out vs your competitors. If you want to be a thought leader, it’s critical to have differentiating opinions. They’re the difference between being a thought leader and a thought follower.”
The key takeaway is that if your opinions aren’t differentiated to the rest of your industry, they’re simply noise. And as we all know, our clients are suffering from far too much of that already.
What opinions would you argue over with your closest competitors?
If you’re a CEO blogging with the aim of thought leadership, then you must produce opinion pieces (see also our recent piece on the changing landscape for opinion pieces). If you want those opinion pieces to resonate, then you must make sure those opinions on your list are differentiated from the rest of your industry.
So what is it that makes you stand out? What opinions would you argue over with your closest competitors? Those are the opinions which are the foundation of true thought leadership.