Being a thought leader who creates content that has the potential to change people’s lives, enable organizations to operate more effectively or introduce a new way of thinking requires a lot of hard work and focus; especially when you (as the author or thought leader) know from experience and intuition that it works and works incredibly well. You’ve tried for a long time in a variety of ways to get your work out into the world so that its impact can be experienced by as many people or organizations as is possible. Sometimes it feels like an uphill battle and the stress can really grind at you. Here are a few things to consider if you’re on the verge of losing faith in your work.
First off, just because you created something doesn’t necessarily mean it’s fabulous or it works better than other solutions that are already in the market. Even if it is better than the current offerings you need to be able to effectively market it, sell it and deliver it. In my experience, it’s the sales, marketing and distribution that are the largest area of frustration that thought leaders experience. Assuming you’ve actually built a “better” mouse trap, I’d suggest you think about the following three things.
1) Reevaluate – You need to reevaluate what you’ve done and determine what’s worked well and what hasn’t. It could range from not having your content available in a wide enough variety of modalities or it could be that your initial entry point isn’t the best one.
Where has your work had the greatest impact? What themes or patterns or data does that shed light on? Are you focusing enough on the impact to the right end user (individual, team, organization)? Are you allowing your content to be consumed in a way that is tied to a measurable behavior change? Can the end users really benefit from it in a measurable way?
You must be able to achieve these objectives in order to gain momentum and traction. If something works, is easy to understand and makes someone’s life (or business) better, you win. If the connection between the two isn’t crystal clear, you lose. That might seem like a simple statement, but in practice it’s a complex question to answer intelligently.
2) Retool – If you continue to do more of what you’ve been doing yet the results of those efforts are frustrating or disappointing to you and/or your clients, it is time to retool. Look at every aspect of your business and isolate variables that you can change.
Is your content available in enough modalities to make it easy for a wider audience to consume? Have you been selling exclusively in a direct fashion? Try to develop a distribution partner. Are you using all of the social media tools that are available? Is your pricing strategy competitive? No facet of the business should be off limits; often a little tweaking and retooling can yield dramatic results.
3) Reengage – Reengaging with the content can happen on two dimensions. The first is the thought leader or author’s level of engagement with their own content. Often times, due to boredom or frustration, we become less engaged with our work than we once may have been. It’s a difficult thing to measure but the net impact is that your passion dwindles and it decreases the efficacy of your work whether you realize it or not. The second is the end user’s level of engagement with the content. Create tools that enable your community to share their experiences with comments, videos, photos, stories etc. Be sure that you are constantly “dripping” a variety of content to your followers so that they can share their enthusiasm with others.
All of these concepts should be an ongoing part of how you operate, not a onetime event. It’s a dynamic way of making sure you’ve got the highest potential for success for you and your work.