Every Little Word logo
A woman wearing a pink shirt overwhelmed by ideas.

3 Common Roadblocks to Creating Effective Thought Leadership Content (and How to Overcome Them)

Major influencers like Brené Brown, Gary Vaynerchuk, Tarana Burke, Simon Sinek, and Malcolm Gladwell have established clear examples of what thought leadership is, why people flock to it, and how to become a thought leader in your own right.

Today, it’s widely accepted that thought leadership content is one of the most measurably impactful ways for brands to build a committed following of current and potential customers.

So, why isn’t everyone doing it? The fact is: thought leadership content can be hard to create.

What are the root causes underlying the challenges of thought leadership? Well, let’s just say they’re probably not what you’re expecting. 

Common Barriers to Creating Thought Leadership Content

The most common reasons we hear from entrepreneurs, owners, and CEOs who struggle to create thought leadership content is this: 

“I just don’t have time!” 

Lack of time is a legitimate blocker that holds many industry experts back from creating thought leadership content. But what’s interesting is that we often hear about the time challenge from business leaders who know the value of thought leadership content. They know that creating this content would help them build trust in the market and help them attract new clients. Yet they struggle to carve out the time to get it done.

When we consult with these leaders, we dig into the reason underneath the scheduling constraints. Here’s what starts to come out:

“I’m not a good writer.”

“My audience is too small. Nobody is listening to what I have to say.” 

“I don’t have anything unique to add to the conversation.”

Now we’re getting to the heart of the matter.

1. Fear

In our personal lives, we make many decisions based on emotions rather than logic—most of them, in fact. But when it comes to business, we somehow assume that our decision-making flips, and that all of our decisions are purely logical. They aren’t. 

When it comes down to it, we’re still human beings at work, and that means we still use emotion to make decisions much of the time.

How does that play into content creation, and the ability to get it done—or not? Well, one of the biggest obstacles to creating thought leadership content is purely emotional: fear.

Fear disempowers thought leaders by convincing them that the dangers of vulnerability are greater than the possibilities of connection.

What if your audience doesn’t agree with you? What if the media attacks you for what you’ve shared? What if your company’s sales drop? What if someone is offended?

You didn’t get where you are today by hesitating. Leadership requires bravery and boldness—and thought leadership is no different. Trying to please everyone empowers no one. And high-value thought leadership is just that: empowering.

Great thought leadership empowers others to lead, ask hard questions, consider atypical solutions, challenge the status quo, and even make mistakes. You can’t reinvent yourself as a thought leader if you’re cowering from internet trolls and armchair critics.

Are you able to kick fear to the curb?

2. Control

There’s no world in which it makes sense for an executive to control every aspect of developing thought leadership content. You must be able to relinquish control.

For instance, you’ll need to empower your marketing team to wrangle subject matter experts (including you), develop the content, determine the platforms, manage the editorial calendar, and publish the content. 

To regularly produce high-value thought leadership content, you should identify a “content champion”—a team member who can hold others accountable for adhering to the brand message, maintaining a consistent content calendar, and chasing down the necessary assets.

Giving up control, deep down, is tied to fear. If you’re afraid, you’re less likely to cede authority to others. But trying to do it all yourself is untenable. Remember those limitations on your time? Focus on sharing your ideas, and let someone else handle the logistics. 

Can you give someone else the reins?

3. Commitment

The most compelling thought leadership is driven by people, not brands. Being the name, face, and brains behind thought leadership content is a job in and of itself; not necessarily a full-time job, but a job nonetheless! And, like all jobs, it requires commitment.

Some companies have one thought leader—usually the owner or CEO. Others spotlight multiple thought leaders from various departments or divisions, each with their own voice and specialty.

Regardless of “who” or “how many,” every thought leader must commit to the process. Other resources can handle the content creation and implementation, but the ideas must come directly from an individual thought leader ready to show up, speak out, and share valuable information.

Once again, fear is often the root cause of a lack of commitment. If you find yourself rescheduling interviews or pushing off content reviews, ask yourself if fear may be affecting your actions.

Are you ready to commit?

How to Eliminate the Obstacles to B2B Thought Leadership

If you’re ready to conquer your fear, relinquish control, and commit to great thought leadership content, these strategies will get you where you need to be!

1. Get the right buy-in

Great B2B thought leadership doesn’t magically appear. Many people participate in bringing this kind of content to life, and you don’t want their time or talents wasted. But that’s exactly what will happen if you fail to get buy-in from your company’s stakeholders.

When the entire leadership team understands the power of thought leadership, you’ll be uniquely positioned to publish valuable content that achieves your company goals.

2. Identify a Content Champion℠

Even when working with an outside agency, you need someone within your company to own the thought leadership program—we call this person the Content Champion. This individual doesn’t necessarily need to be a content creator; their role is to hold the SMEs to task, obtain timely approvals, and ensure the program stays on track.

3. Focus on one individual at a time

Multiple perspectives result in watered-down content. Whenever possible, each piece of content should reflect a single individual’s stance on a topic.

We recommend beginning your thought leadership program by identifying one SME, building up their thought leader profile, and growing their following. Then, you can start developing your company’s next thought leader.

4. Insist on consistency

Consistency is a key ingredient to quality thought leadership content. Consistent messaging, consistent themes, consistent writing, and consistent visuals all contribute to a thought leader’s brand and the company’s trustworthiness.

Every Little Word’s interview process is an excellent example of how consistency cultivates excellence. Our new clients often face a learning curve as they grow accustomed to being interviewed and openly sharing their ideas. But if you consistently follow our team’s preparedness tips and show up to your scheduled Content Conversations™, you’ll soon feel completely at ease with the strategy. 

5. Always be ideating

Most of us come up with our best content concepts mid-shower or at 2 am or when we’re stuck in traffic. And most of us promptly forget those ideas as soon as we’ve returned to our regularly scheduled programming.

Make a habit of capturing your thought leadership ideas as they arise. Jot down a sentence or two that will trigger your memory, record a voice memo, or send a quick text to a colleague who can help you further develop the idea.

6. Establish a strategy

Successful, strategic thought leadership content requires structure. Collaborate with your marketing team to put a process in place that sets guardrails while also promoting creativity.

As any parent will acknowledge, safe boundaries actually free our minds to explore and dream and innovate. When you know your team has already implemented strategies for building an email list, optimizing your content for online search, and engaging on social media, you can focus fully on the messages that matter most to your target audience.

7. Cultivate courage

You can be a bold, brilliant motivator in the boardroom yet shudder at the mere thought of revealing your innermost ideas. We get it! Publicly disclosing uncommon goals, dreams, questions, and curiosities takes courage because not everyone will agree with what you say. Some may even actively attack your perspectives.

But as long as your thought leadership approach is rooted in your company’s purpose and mission, you’ll always reach the right audience at the right time with the right message.

8. Bring a writer on board

Unless you have the skill, patience, time, and dedication to write your own thought leadership content, you need a writer with a highly specific skill set. Many writers are equipped to perform research and write facts-driven articles, but not every writer has the instincts of a thought leadership content creator.

At Every Little Word, our writers are strategic thought leadership specialists. Our team knows how to take your ideas and present them to the world in the most compelling way—in your brand voice and for your audience.

By working specifically with thought leadership writers, you gain the freedom to speak candidly—no need to polish every word for public consumption. Every Little Word’s writers know when to use your exact phrasing and when to soften your language for broader appeal.

Your ideas are in safe hands with Every Little Word!

Your Wisdom, Our Writing

If you’re ready to enhance your brand, expand your visibility, and establish yourself as a thought leader in your industry, you need high-quality, original thought leadership content that people will want to read, save, and share.

Let us help you unlock your ideas and transform them into fuel for your company’s content marketing engine.

To partner with Every Little Word, book a Discovery Call!

Share This Post

Want something worth reading in your inbox?

Sign up for To the Letter for updates and advice on quality content, great writing, and thought leadership. 

Related Posts