4 Tips for Becoming a Digital Marketing Thought Leader (and Why You'd Want to)
There's no question that digital marketing has become one of the most sought after professions in the online professional community. Young 20-somethings are chasing the opportunity to work from the convenience of their couches, getting paid premium rates from clients internationally. And because it seems so glamorous, more and more Gen-Y creatives are pursuing the necessary skills to run a self-sustaining marketing business.
I get it - I used to be one of those Millennials too, and for a solid year, I ran a 6-figure content and social media marketing consultancy all from the convenience of my laptop. I was "living the dream."
But do you know what I rarely told anyone about during that time? I was miserable. I was working 12 plus hour days and was trying to please far too many clients at once. Running a marketing consultancy was easy money, but it was mentally and emotionally taxing. I had to get out.
What I had to do was make a shift in my business model and take a different approach to my position in this industry. That shift was to stop being just another marketer and instead become a thought leader.
If you're looking to gain massive visibility for your brand, become a paid speaker, get featured in media outlets, and significantly increase your asking price, here are four tips on how to make it happen.
1. Identify your unique message
The number one reason that marketers remain stagnant in their careers is because of their messaging. If you lack the personality, values, and controversial viewpoints that will enable you to stand out, it will be difficult to get the right attention.
Instead of simply implementing today's marketing strategies, I suggest asking yourself where you think online marketing is going in the next 10 years. Asking deeper questions like this can help you develop a unique viewpoint that others will be interested in listening to.
Some other relevant questions you could ask yourself are:
- When you share your story and experiences with others, what attracts the most attention?
- What do people most regularly ask you questions about?
- What do people compliment you on?
These can all be clear indications of aspects that make you stand out from the crowd.
Ultimately, if you lack clarity on what makes you different in your space - whether it's your personal story, polarity in your views, or approaches to marketing - it's going to be difficult to stand out as a thought leader in your space.
2. Build a public platform around your brand
There's strength in numbers. If you can build a substantial email list, Facebook group, or Twitter following, it immediately adds credibility to your brand.
And believe it or not, building up a following isn't as complex as you might think.
Instead of tackling every social platform at once, I suggest choosing one or two channels where you can start driving traffic and posting valuable content. You can start driving people there through media syndications, social ads, SEO, and various other outlets to start building up a relevant following.
The more people that you have regularly engaging with your content, the more it raises your authority in your space.
3. Surround yourself with high-level people
It's essential to remember that you are the average of the five people you spend the most time with. If you surround yourself with unmotivated, close-minded, negative people, it's likely that you will morph into that. On the other hand, if you surround yourself with like-minded creatives who are constantly trying to uplevel in their businesses, you will turn into that as well.
Having these highly motivated entrepreneurs in your corner will help you grow in a variety of ways - they can be great mentors to help you learn more about thought leadership, while also introducing you to their communities and friends to help you gain exposure.
In order to start building relationships with high-level industry players, I suggest attending marketing-related conferences, joining relevant Facebook groups, and signing up for online group programs. It can even be as simple as identifying influencers on Instagram, doing research on them, and reaching out in an authentic, value-oriented way.
See how you can help them and add value to their lives before ever asking for something in return. If you can manage to do this successfully, it will be easy for a relationship to bloom from there on out.
4. Get pitching
Marketers are often intimidated by writing content and pitching it to relevant media outlets, but if this is something that you can get over, you'll never have to worry about traffic or exposure again.
Getting featured in marketing publications is one of the fastest ways to grow your platform and position yourself as an expert in your space - and while most people think that it's challenging to get accepted, it's actually much easier than people think.
In order to identify the best publications to pitch to, start conducting basic market research by using sites like BuzzSumo. BuzzSumo enables you to see which media outlets and topics are the most popular in your space so that your pitches can be perfectly targeted.
Once you have a list of publications you want to reach out to, start studying the outlets to better understand their content style and length. Then you can custom-create articles to increase your chances of them being accepted.
Each article can drive hundreds, if not thousands, of warm leads your way. Even though this can be a learning curve, it's well worth it.
At the end of the day, breaking out of the "just another digital marketer" arena and positioning yourself as a leader in your industry is going to drastically change your client list, prices, and increase your opportunities within the industry.
And the good news is that, if executed properly, you can raise your authority in your space in just a few months. Hopefully these tips help.
Main image via Abhijeet Kharat used under Creative Commons
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