In my experience, the general strategy of thought leaders is to create as much content as possible. They write another blog post, another speech, another book, and move on to the next. It’s what jazzes them, it’s what motivates them to get out of bed, it’s who they are and why they do what they do. They produce, sometimes with impressive results, but frankly, the amount of effort they pour in relative to the unpredictability of the payoff is staggeringly off balance.
There’s another type of thought leader that marries their inherent creative motivation with a deliberate strategy, and guess what? Their results are far superior than the results of those that just create to create without the guardrails of a well thought out strategy in place. Many thought leaders believe that thoughtful strategy and creativity cannot exist together; after all, did Picasso have a strategy every time he approached the canvas? Or we believe that the limits of a strategy will stifle our creativity.
I think we’ve got it wrong. Creating thought provoking content that inspires others and drives behavior change is not any easy task by any stretch of the imagination. It takes a lot of effort and it isn’t something that just anyone can do, but when executed through a consistent strategy, can greatly increase creation’s impact.
So why wouldn’t we maximize our content’s chances of success?
We can define success in several ways: reach, impact, revenue, etc.— it really doesn’t matter how we measure it. The point is, by learning how to create content in a way that is, aligned with a clear strategy our content becomes more effective, our results improve and we are forced to develop our ideas further than we ever previously would have.
Say your strategy includes getting content into Fortune 1000 organizations—think about their needs, their struggles, and how your work specifically helps them during your creation process. Preplanning tightens up your platform, makes it more coherent and by thinking about specific audiences and the issues and problems they have, it pushes you to take your thinking just a little deeper, to push further than you may have without a strategy in mind. I know this may seem counter intuitive to the creative purist, but try it a few times. Think about your strategic objectives and how they can shape your work if you allow them to be a part of the process. It may make the process of creating impactful content a touch harder, but the increased relevance and effectiveness of your output is worth the investment of time and energy.