Thought leadership is big in marketing right now.
People who aren't in marketing or public relations might laugh at the overly fancy-sounding term. Thought leadership simply means displaying or proving your expertise. It's done through writing and publishing -- blog posts and other articles -- or making presentations on the subjects in which you are a pro. It's marketing yourself along with your knowledge, expertise and skills.
The tacit call to action, another big marketing term, is "hire me," and therein lies the rub.
Be generous, not stingy with your knowledge.
Sometimes when I work with people on creating content, they are wary of oversharing their expertise. They don't want to give away their work or knowledge for free.
My response: Give until it hurts. Seriously. Show future clients you know what you're talking about by telling them exactly how to do for themselves what you would do for them. I bet you land more clients this way.
After all, most of what any of us do and how we do it isn't top secret; it's Google-able. But people don't want to do or don't have time to learn how to do their own taxes, bookkeeping, landscaping, marketing, tech support, financial planning, interior decorating and more. Nobody can DIY everything. People want to hire professionals, and they want to know they've hired the very best.
Sharing knowledge is good business.
As a PR and marketing pro, I practice what I counsel clients. For example, I do a lot of LinkedIn profile makeovers for clients. It's one of my favorite things to do for people, and I'm so passionate about it that I often write in this very column about LinkedIn and how step by step to have a great profile. People haven't stopped asking for LinkedIn profile makeovers. By writing about LinkedIn profiles and doing a bang up job for clients, I've found it's easy to book them, and I spend less time explaining what I do or the benefits.
What about competitors? Don't worry about them either. We all have competitors. It's not about trying to keep what we do under wraps. It's about doing it better than anybody else -- and making sure future clients know all about it.
I recently had this "give it away" conversation with a client who was initially reluctant to give his readers some action steps they could take themselves -- things that are normally part of his services. By the end he was quoting the Red Hot Chili Peppers' song "Give It Away." I'll have to use that.