In speaking with clients and colleagues, many of them are focused on increasing their thought leadership in the new year. Some want to speak or guest teach more frequently, others want to be featured on a ton of podcasts, and some are focused on getting articles published.
These are all good things. In fact, I built my business almost exclusively by guest teaching. But here’s the rub — if you don’t do it right, thought leadership can be a colossal waste of time.
Have you ever given a talk or been quoted in an article, only to experience no attributable revenue growth from the effort?
You’re not alone — and it doesn’t have to be that way! With thoughtful evaluation and strategy, thought leadership can (and should) drive easy-to-track revenue. Because, let’s be honest — while it’s flattering to be invited to share our genius, as small business owners we don’t have time to give if it doesn’t come with revenue on the other side.
As a note, some thought leadership opportunities are paid — and that’s great — but most are not. And even if you are getting paid to speak, the highest form of efficiency for your business is understanding how to further monetize these efforts by gaining more paying customers.
In the Sales Breakthrough Mastermind, not only do we focus on creating thought leadership opportunities, but we also learn how to maximize the revenue results. When done well, service providers can create a whole client attraction system at the top of the sales funnel that keeps engaged leads coming in — a beautiful thing!
To get you started on the right path, let’s begin with three of the most important questions to ask yourself before you say “yes” to that next thought leadership opportunity…
1. Audience: Who is the audience, and are they a good fit for my offer(s)? This may seem obvious, but when I ask my clients this question about upcoming speaking gigs, I often hear, “Hmm, I’m not sure!”
Additionally, you want to be sure the opportunity aligns with your goals and values. For instance, ahead of agreeing to any speaking engagements, I inquire about the platform’s commitment to inclusion and anti-racism. If the organizers and speakers are mostly white, I may decline the opportunity and/or share BIPOC speakers to add to the event. If the speaking engagement is paid, I will ask probing questions to ensure pay equity is transparent — it’s staggering how many events still pay male speakers more than women.
2. Talking points: Based on the audience, what are the talking points I must hit upon to engage their interest and increase the likelihood that they’ll want to hear more from me? Should I make an offer? If so, what type of offer will be best for this audience?
3. Follow up: What is my follow-up strategy? This is arguably the most important question — and the area that requires the most thought and strategy. How will you get their contact information so that you can follow up with them directly? Will you offer a resource in exchange for their email address? If so, what should that resource include? What will you say when you reach out? How will you invite them to a sales conversation without sounding like a pushy salesperson?
Of course, there are other factors to consider and details to negotiate to really make the most of thought leadership — but these three questions are a good starting point.
If you want to go deeper and learn how to actually turn thought leadership into revenue, I encourage you to join me and an awesome group of small business owners at the next Sales Roundtable — it’s free, and I’d be happy to answer your thought leadership questions. Register here!
Or, if you need more direct support to finally create a sales system that feels as authentic and human as you are, I invite you to check out the Sales Breakthrough Mastermind — a 10-week group program for small business owners who are ready to increase revenue in 2021 without the sleaze, ick or angst of traditional sales tactics. I’ve got a few spots left for January!