Be Careful When Hiring a Thought Leader

Every once in a while someone asks me why I don’t blog more often or why I don’t promote my own personal brand more aggressively. Of course I want my clients and prospects to believe in me and have trust that I will deliver results for them. Becoming a “thought leader” is a great way to do that. It has become a widely accepted fact of marketing life that companies (brands) need to produce content regularly in order to engage with with their target audience. It is also necessity when implementing and SEO strategy.

But I am not a thought leader, and I don’t want to be one either.  My job is to be informed, have expertise in the industry, and stay on the leading edge of new trends and technologies. Working with clients provides me more than enough of those things. So I write blogs occasionally so that I can engage, inform, and demonstrate some level of expertise.

thought leadership

Should You Hire a Thought Leader?

The term thought leadership is sounds appealing but like a lot of marketing terms has become overused. It drives me crazy when agencies and individual consultants talk about their thought leadership when 99% of the time they are really regurgitating information that has been in the public domain for quite some time. What they are actually doing is demonstrating competency or knowledge which is a good thing, but so is humility. I believe that true thought leadership is actually based in research. The research then turns into new insights that are then delivered to the public or other industry leaders and becomes an accepted best practice.

So why would hiring a thought leader be a bad thing? First of all, its not; but many agencies who claim to be thought leaders are self anointed. In my experience this often means the agency is spending more time on their own self promotion than improving their client’s businesses. Many of the best agencies don’t demonstrate a lot of thought leadership publicly but they do a great job for their clients because they are masters of their craft.

Secondly, thought leadership increases the value and therefor cost of services. If you are a major brand and can afford to pay a premium to work with this type of person (or agency) then it may be worth it. If you company is like most businesses then you can find highly skilled professionals that will do an excellent job for you.

Finally, when companies hire agencies with thought leaders they may not ever work with that person. If you determine that an agency has great capabilities then their press clippings shouldn’t matter. The most important factors that you should consider when hiring an agency have nothing to do with the fame of their executives, or how often they speak at conferences or get published. Take the time to dig deep and know exactly who will be handling your account and determine if that person (or those people) have the experience and expertise to run effective campaigns for your company.

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