The Marketing Thought Leadership Trap


For the first few years of my career, I thought I wanted to work towards being a thought leader.

Wouldn’t it be cool and beneficial if people saw me as a thought leader in all things digital marketing and community building.

  • I can make big money.
  • I can speak at big conferences.
  • I can have the freedom that I crave simply by sharing some “smart stuff online.”

It sounds pretty sweet when you put it this way.

However, most thought leaders get paid for sharing ideas independent on whether or not they are pragmatic, executable and independent of any sort of results.

In essence, they aren’t practicing everyday what they are preaching.

This can quickly become a slippery slope.

As Paul Jarvis wrote in this post, “A lot of thought leaders main source of income is selling the idea to their audience that they can all be thought leaders”

It is way too easy for thought leaders to lead with their ego instead of through results. They become imposters, who are detached from executing the idea and the outcome. They are selling advice without having any skin in the game.

This thought leadership trend is only picking up more steam.

Anyone can have an opinion. Ideas have never been cheaper than they are today. Executing on these ideas and getting results – that’s getting harder to find.

It is never been easier to start a blog, syndicate everything to a Medium account, create a landing page, record a video and start running Facebook ads promoting your ideas in a course that’s only $999 if you buy in the next 24 hours. 😜

While there are courses that are legit from people who are experts with real results in their niche, there are also more imposters than ever before.

It is a slippery slope and before you know it you can wind up on the dark side – as a woefully under-qualified life or business coach.

The only way to differentiate between the true experts and the “thought leaders” comes down to RESULTS.

Has the person tested this idea out in the real world and achieved the results that they claim?

When you ask this question, you may be surprised just how fast the facade crumbles.

Ultimately if you do knowledge work, it all comes down to knowing whether you want to be known for your ideas (the thought leader) or your ability to execute and generate results (expertise).

I know what side I fall on.

About the author

Jessica Malnik

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