One of my favorite things to do in the summer is to catch up on reading while the boys play at the lake. DO Leadership caught my attention for it’s call to action for small businesses. Author Laura Lorenz was kind enough to indulge my curiosity about the writing process and key take aways in this Q&A post.
In the interview Laura shares:
- What it’s like to co-author a book with three writers
- Why she feels the marketing department is not your thought leader
- Her biggest lesson on leadership
Who should read Do Leadership?
(Laura) This book is a valuable read for anyone who wants to take their business to another level or accelerate their current business growth – Do Leadership gives you the tools to do that. Over the past 7 years, I’ve worked with a lot of really brilliant people who felt as if they weren’t experts in anything. It frustrates me that they feel this way, because I learned so much from them. I spent a lot of time convincing them that they have a unique point of view that they should share to educate their potential clients on a better way to do something. As I discussed this with my colleagues, I found that they were experiencing the same thing – so we decided to write Do Leadership to give people a confidence boost. Everyone has a unique point of view they can share.
What’s the one lesson you hope readers take away from Do Leadership?
(Laura) You don’t have to believe you’re an expert in your industry to be a thought leader – you just have to share your unique point of view. Leadership is about giving, and as a thought leader you’re giving your knowledge to people who want to listen. We all have thoughts about things that are happening in our industries – just share them and you’ll find an audience that wants to listen and learn more. In doing so, you gain their trust and are better able to help solve their problems with your product or service.
I love that you call out listening as a core element of a thought leadership platform. Can you give an example of an insight you’ve personally gained by listening well?
(Laura) As Chief Marketing Operations Officer for Leading Results, I’m always on the lookout for better ways to generate leads for our clients. The biggest insight I’ve gained by listening to bloggers and the marketplace is that while inbound marketing is all the rage, you need to balance it with outbound marketing to get the attention of your ideal client. A few years ago, the experts in the marketing arena believed that if you could build a social media following and put out excellent content, the leads would start flowing in. We took their advice and focused all of our marketing efforts for clients on the internet – and we had a different experience. We found that while that advice may be true for some businesses, it’s not particularly true for B2B businesses. Before we came to that conclusion, though, I read that inbound marketing should be part of an overall marketing experience, not the whole marketing experience – some of the old outbound marketing still works and works well.
You have three co-authors who helped write Do Leadership. How did you tackle the project so the book ended up with one voice?
(Laura) We met through Duct Tape Marketing, as we are all Duct Tape Marketing consultants. Every Friday for over a year we met via conference call. Each of us brought our individual insights and talents to the process and, as most authors do, we started by building an outline that each of us had to agree to before the writing began. We had one person in the end take all of our contributions and put them into one voice.
It’s important to select people you can easily collaborate with and who are committed for the long haul. Every once in a while, the group would need to remind each other that this was a priority because it took so long and wasn’t the most important thing in our day. (Serving our clients was.)
One aspect of thought leadership the book does not address is measurement. How do those inspired by the book know if their efforts are heading in the right direction?
(Laura) Not to be flippant, but are leads being generated? That’s the bottom line. You should take a look at our eBook, Making Your Marketing Accountable; it talks about metrics that aren’t just about leads generated. If you’re giving a talk, you can look at the number of attendees to see how many filled out your evaluation (tip: always have a giveaway and tell people they could win something if they fill out an evaluation). Compare the number of people that registered to the number that attended to determine why someone didn’t attend and slowly bring the number of no-shows down. Again, though, the real bottom line is how many leads are you generating and is that enough to reach your goals.
In the book, you recommend, smartly, that thought leaders don’t have to do everything all at once. But it can take time to build a following. How long should leaders give themselves to build their platform?
(Laura) Marketing and thought leadership are never once and done. It’s an ongoing process of trying things to see what works and then building on that. The biggest mistake I’ve seen with business owners is that they’re impatient – they give up on a tactic before they even give it a chance to work. If you work consistently on the things we recommended in the book, you’ll start to see results in 6 to 12 months. If you are looking for a way to get things moving faster than that, public speaking is the only silver bullet – the only thing that offers immediate results – in marketing and your public speaking will be better with thought leadership.
How was writing the book different than other content formats you’ve done in the past?
(Laura) This is the first time I’ve collaborated on a piece of content. It was great to bounce ideas off my colleagues to produce a high-quality piece of long-form content – I highly recommend it, as it takes the burden off of having to produce an entire book by yourself. It also gives the reader better information as four thought leaders giving you advice is better than one. (Also known as four heads are better than one.) We spent an hour each week talking through ideas and then each of us would spend the time between calls doing our assigned tasks for the book. I typically would spend an hour or two in my office to complete my portion. Some of us would find a location other than their office to write. If I’m not writing in my office, my favorite place is the library (that just shows how old school I am).
In the book, you recommend highlighting a single thought leader on behalf of the company. Under what circumstances would there be more than one?
(Laura) If you market to more than one industry, and you have an expert in each industry, that’s when you can have more. For instance, the owner of a company might be a thought leader in overall insights into business problems for distribution companies and a salesperson who specializes in problems for food and beverage distribution companies may become the thought leader in that niche.
I was surprised to read that marketing should not be the company’s thought leader. Can you tell us more about that?
(Laura) I truly believe that in small to medium-sized businesses, the owner or top sales person is the one who holds the most knowledge about their industry and should therefore be the thought leader. They are the ones who interact the most with clients and prospective clients. They understand the problems and know how to solve them the best. I often recommend that marketing spend a few days each quarter traveling with the sales people from their organization. This would give them better insight into the personas they’re marketing to. They should also have at least bimonthly (but more frequent is better) appointments with the owner to pick their brain as well.
Ready to read the book?
You can buy a copy of DO Leadership here.