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One of my marketing coaching expressions is, “Are you willing to climb Mount Everest?” What that means, are you willing to do what it takes to be a thought leader. Maybe I need to think twice about the metaphor of comparing thought leader marketing to mountain climbing.
That’s because the news is grim from Nepal. The 2019 Mount Everest death toll has risen to 11, sparking growing concerns of overcrowding. Most of the climbers died while descending from the summit during the few windows of good weather each May.
According to news reports, about half a dozen climbers died on Everest in one week. Some were chasing their dream of climbing the highest mountains on each continent.
Scaling Mount Everest brings extreme tourism dollars to Nepal. A total of 378 climbers are sold permits to scale Everest during the spring climbing season. An equal number of guides are hired to help them get to the top. Climbers are reporting traffic jams going up the mountain (which uses up precious oxygen).
Unlike mountain climbing, thought leader marketing is not a life and death struggle. I recently told a business owner that nobody is going to die if he does not get enough customers. That being said, and not to make light of the news reports, thought-leading marketing is still like climbing Mount Everest. Attracting high-paying clients takes vision, planning, resources, sacrifice and commitment.
One person once told me he wanted to become a bestselling author and professional speaker. “You want to climb a mountain,” I told him.
He paid me to come meet him and develop a plan in an afternoon. He declared his goal as wanting to be a thought leader who speaks to audiences in the thousands. “You want to climb Mount Everest,” I told him. I wanted to know if he had the commitment to do what it would take. (He did – in two years he achieved those goals.)
I know mountain climbers. A relative worked for mountain climbing researchers at the University of California San Diego and through her I met some amazing people. Her boss even led an expedition to Mount Everest to conduct high-altitude science experiments. She even got to meet Sir Edmund Hillary, the first man to scale Mount Everest (with his Sherpa guide Tenzing Norgay).
One of the authors I have helped as an editor, Manley Feinberg II, is a mountain climber extraordinaire. I am constantly impressed with the rigor it takes him to organize mountain-climbing expeditions.
Here is why I think thought leader marketing is like mountain climbing:
You need to do your research. There is a great amount of research that goes into mountain climbing. I find many wannabe thought leaders scrimp on the research. A thought leader should be a diligent reader and student.
You need to assemble a team. Climbing mountains is a team sport. So is being a thought leader. To really succeed a thought leader needs to quarterback a team of researchers, producers and writers.
You need to test, test, test. Mountain climbers test equipment, techniques and climbing strategies. Thought leaders need to test book ideas, seminar ideas, speech ideas and article ideas. If people do not want to read what a thought leader writes and listen to what a thought leader has to say, well whose fault is that? If an arrow does not hit a target it is not the target’s fault.
You need to marshal your resources. Mountain climbing is not a cheap date. Neither is being a thought leader. It costs money to put on seminars, conduct research and write books. Because it is a team sport, other people on the team need to be compensated. If a person does not invest, how can they expect a return on the investment.
A final thought-leader thought: a person is not a thought leader until other credible people dub them a thought leader. Please do not call yourself a thought leader.
And a final marketing thought: for those in charge, please consider raising the rates and lowering the number of permits to climb Mount Everest. Lives are at stake.
May 30, 2019 at 08:50AM
Forbes – Entrepreneurs