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How Wide is Your Reality Gap?

Peter Winick here with Thought Leadership Leverage — In working with a wide variety of authors and thought-leaders I’ve noticed a strange phenomenon that I like to call “the reality gap.”

Basically there’s content that a thought leader creates and there is content that the market buys. The distance between the two is your “reality gap.” If what you’re creating isn’t getting the traction in the marketplace it should, then consider some of these the tips for getting the extra grip.

1) Don’t create in isolation.

Today, the creative process doesn’t have to exist on an island. It’s actually better for you, your work, and your clients if you’re able to collaborate while developing content. Pull from a wide variety of constituents (other thought leaders, clients, like-minded thinkers, and users of your content). Clients that are involved in creating their own solutions are far easy to retain and they have a vested interest in your success.

2) Fail often and fail fast.

There are more tools available today than ever before for creating and deploying content. Far too many authors stick to the format they know best to avoid the risk that comes with trying something new. Try as many things as you can, test them and be thankful for the failures and the successes.The faster that you are able to fail (meaning you aren’t afraid to launch something that is a 100% perfect), the quicker you’ll learn what isn’t working and the able to adjust and try again.

Not failing doesn’t mean you’re succeeding, means you’re not trying out enough alternatives could very well lead to larger wins.

3) Only do what you love.

While this may seem hokey, one reason a reality gap exists is because the thought leader knows their work better than anyone else, but is not nearly as gifted when it comes to sales, marketing, social media, client relations, or any other tools for building a business. Yet they struggle and create things that they think the market wants only to wind up frustrated were disappointed.

Work with experts that have the specific skills  that you lack. If they love what they do and are as good as those functions as you are creating powerful content, you are bound to close the reality gap quickly.

4) Know how you work will impact your clients.

Often thought leaders think that the value of their work is in X when in reality it’s Y. Be sure you are effectively communicating to end users and understand how they will actually benefit from your work. The more real time feedback you can
get, you will better understand the actual value of your work. Companies will pay top dollar for content that drives behavior change that moves a key business metrics.

5) Monitor your competitors.

Learning from other’s successes and mistakes is not only cost-effective, but much easier to do today than ever before. The first one to market the “newest” gizmo gadget or trend is not always the winner. In the world of content “first mover” advantage is often a fallacy. Understand the trends in your space and make sure you’re not left behind by innovations in marketing or technology.

If you are only offering keynotes and workshops and your competitors are taking the market share with e-learning or video based content, you’ll eventually fall too far behind to catch up.

Have you attempted to close your “reality gap?”  What did you do? What worked? What didn’t?
I would love to hear your stories in the comments below.

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Thank you.

Peter Winick has deep expertise in helping those with deep expertise. He is the CEO of Thought Leadership Leverage. Visit Peter on Twitter!

This Post Has One Comment

  1. Great list, but I would definitely move #4. “Know how your work will impact your clients” to #1. It isn’t thought leadership if it isn’t practical, relevant, and doable.

    I would add that your audience’s needs include things like format, writing style, and length. We were stunned to learn at one employer that our (brilliant) papers were not being read because they were too long and complicated. We reformatted them in more digestible chunks and readership went up dramatically.

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