10 January 2024 |

Do you have enough time to create thought leadership?

By Tracey Wallace

I’ve been thinking a lot about how content marketing is changing, and I know so many of you are, too. I think, and this LinkedIn post really explained it well, that demand marketing is about to become what growth marketing and SEO have been for the last decade. 

Now, I know that demand marketing has always been really important for a lot of organizations, but content’s relentless focus on SEO over the last decade or so isolated so many content teams from larger marketing orgs. It also cut content teams off from a lot of the resources those larger marketing orgs have––and demand marketing can bring that back, and gift content marketers creativity back at the same time.

Less reliance on algorithms, and a focus on the message and narrative? That’s a dream! It’s also going to be a learning curve for a lot of folks, myself included. 

Despite the constant that is change, though, adjustment to change takes time. Time to find your footing. Time to accept the change. Time to then excel within it. And for so many content folks, there is a demand for both strategy delivery and tactical execution that there isn’t much time to navigate change. 

It often makes the job seem impossible. 

And this is especially true when it comes to thought leadership. 

Now, I’ve long been a believer that thought leadership is a content goal, not a content type. The collection of your work should over time position you as a thought leader. 

But, I’m coming to eat my words a bit. In the demand marketing world, there is very much a thing as thought leadership content…and that is, content that connects the dots between seemingly disparate ideas in a way that those who encounter the content cannot unsee.

Connecting seemingly disparate ideas, though, takes time. It takes reading across sources and disciplines. It takes conversation. It takes experiences. It takes noodling… and letting the brain make those connections on its own. 

I love this quote from Elizabeth Gilbert:

“I believe that our planet is inhabited not only by animals and plants and bacteria and viruses, but also by ideas. Ideas are a disembodied, energetic life-form. They are completely separate from us, but capable of interacting with us—albeit strangely. Ideas have no material body, but they do have consciousness, and they most certainly have will. Ideas are driven by a single impulse: to be made manifest. And the only way an idea can be made manifest in our world is through collaboration with a human partner. It is only through a human’s efforts that an idea can be escorted out of the ether and into the realm of the actual.”

This is what it is to connect disparate ideas. It takes the manifesting a new one. 

Rush that process, and well, another quote of hers: 

“But to yell at your creativity, saying, “You must earn money for me!” is sort of like yelling at a cat; it has no idea what you’re talking about, and all you’re doing is scaring it away, because you’re making really loud noises and your face looks weird when you do that.”

Look, I know all of us are tasked with seemingly possible projects. Storytelling itself is a seemingly impossible project––until it isn’t. Until that inspiration strikes, and until you finally connect the dots and see so clearly what you were missing before. 

My hope for you, for me, for anyone in this role is that in 2024, we argue for and give ourselves the time we need to create the assets that will be most impactful. 

AI can do speed. Us, humans, can do manifestation.