5 Reasons Why Your Thought Leadership Plan Isn’t Working


Companies trying to reach their current and potential customers often rely on thought leaders to cut through the clutter and add value with insights no one else can match.

Thought leaders can positively affect B2B awareness and lead generation without directly or implicitly promoting products and services. One study showed 55% of decision makers viewed thought leadership as a way to vet companies, and nearly half of C-suite executives have shared their contact information after consuming thought leadership content.

It’s not easy to execute a successful thought leadership campaign, and here are a few reasons why yours might be struggling:


Thought leaders grab their audiences’ attention because they’re willing to take a potentially controversial point of view and defend it. This could include offering groundbreaking predictions about industry trends or taking a contrarian view on how to solve a particular challenge potential customers might have. Don’t just recycle insights you saw somewhere else – offer something original that subtly ties back to your product/service.


If one of your thought leadership goals is to grab media attention, be aware that news cycles move incredibly fast – in hours, not days. Reporters want to be the first to share news, meaning the sooner you get them your perspective on breaking news, the better your chances at being quoted in the story. At 2.718, we call this approach newsjacking, which means we’re contacting journalists about breaking news as it’s happening and offering a relevant source who could provide expert analysis or commentary. Offering to comment even 24 hours later could be futile, unless you have something vastly different, controversial or otherwise interesting to add to the story.


Whether you’re writing a blog post or bylined story or angling for a TV appearance, people will ignore you if you focus entirely on why you believe your products and services are the best in the industry. Sharing the benefits of your product or highlighting your company’s accomplishments can come off as salesy or inauthentic, meaning you’re not accomplishing your goal of being perceived as an authentic, go-to expert. Offering innovative solutions to challenges, providing in-depth analysis and sharing an original perspective will go much further in establishing you as a subject matter expert (SME) and thought leader. In written and video content, mention your product/service as a solution for your customers’ challenges in a subtle way. You first need to reach them and show you understand their challenges and their business.


When you have your chance to talk to journalists, make it count. If you’re not giving reporters/producers what they need – clear and cogent analysis that provides insight for readers/viewers/listeners – you’re not going to make the cut in a print story and might not be on that broadcast network again. Media training will help ensure that you know the nuances of each media platform and how best to accommodate them. For example, it’s important to be able to speak in powerful, succinct soundbites for live broadcast interviews, while you’ll often have the opportunity to go more in-depth with print and online reporters. Review your key messages before each interview to ensure you don’t inadvertently say something that is inaccurate or share more information than you were supposed to on a particular topic.


Focusing on one channel or tactic limits your ability to become a well-known thought leader. To really make an impact, you’ll need to be present – and engaging – across channels on a consistent basis. This includes landing media placements, speaking at industry events and employing a content marketing plan that hits shared and owned channels (i.e., social media, a company blog, etc.) regularly.

Ultimately, people want to buy from other individuals and businesses they trust. Thought leaders build that long-lasting trust and loyalty by providing valuable information, week-after-week, year-after-year, which can have significant and ongoing contributions to your bottom line.