A key ingredient in thought leadership is inevitability. Thought leadership without inevitability often sounds “crazy”.
- As a thought leader, you’re speaking about ideas that are dramatically different to current “best practice”. This means that there’s always a risk that you’ll be perceived as somewhat ‘crazy’.
- You can mitigate this risk by positioning your ideas as the inevitable future – whether the reader/listener accepts this or not.
At TLP, we do a lot of thinking about how to make sure business blogging translates to sales. A big focus of this thinking recently has been about the role of inevitability.
Why this is so important in the context of a business blog is because as soon as you get out there and start practising real thought leadership – introducing new and really innovative ideas that are different to industry practise, there’s always the risk that you’re going to sound a little bit crazy.
To make sales and be perceived as innovative depends on your position of inevitability
When you are innovating, when you’re talking about things that are different to conventional practise, you will be perceived by some people as cuckoo. That’s the really hard thing about thought leadership. If you want to lead the thinking in the space, you’ve kind of just got to deal with that. There are ways to compensate. The big way to compensate here – to make sure that you’re going to make sales and you’re going to be perceived as innovative, not the crazy end of the spectrum, is really coming back to how you position this. The positioning has to be around inevitability of change; that this is the inevitable future whether you like it or not.
For example, if I wanted to talk to you about say video blogging in 3D or virtual reality, it might be a great future, it might be completely incorrect – but it’s definitely a new idea and it does have the potential to sound pretty crazy as we talk today.
Blog about ideas that reflect inevitable future to become a thought leader in the space
If I want to come off as a thought leader when I’m talking about this topic, I really need to position that this is an inevitable future that we’re heading towards. For instance, it’s going to happen because of the shifts in technology and in consumer preferences. There’s going to be an expectation of emersion. There are reasons a, b, c, d and e, that I’m completely convinced that this is a future we’re heading towards and that your only choice as a buyer here is whether you want to get on board today or in five years’ time.
That’s an easier kind of decision for someone who’s listening and engaging with your content to buy into, whether it’s now or future, rather than whether it’s ‘is this right’ or ‘is this wrong’.
I think coming back to sales, we can all kind of empathise that ‘crazy’ doesn’t sell but ‘inevitable’ does. We want to be on the next big trend. We don’t want to be following the crazy guy around dancing down the street. The more out there your ideas are and that you’re talking about them, we all kind of sit somewhere on this spectrum in everything we do, the more effort you need to put into making those ideas seem inevitable. If you’re a long way away from doing this in your practise, there are probably a few more data points, a few more facts you need to bring in, to really kind of position this as an inevitable future.
If you’re building a blog that’s got a real degree of thought leadership content, that’s different from standard practise, this is something you can pick up with on your final draft. It doesn’t usually have to be big changes but a few shifts around wording, maybe a fact or two, can really position you as the future that you can’t get away from.