The Thought Leader’s Toolkit

My philosophy has always been to find the big stories hiding in your company and then tell them in every possible way. 

You may have heard me say that the best stories are always waiting for you at the intersection of your prospect’s current challenge and your company’s expertise. The bigger the challenge, the bigger the story.

The real question is: once you find the big story, what are all the possible ways you can tell it?

I call the collection of tactics we use to get stories out into the wild the Thought Leader’s Toolkit. Here is what is typically in it. From shortest/easiest to create to most complex, your thought leader toolkit will include:

Social Media Status Updates

These are the simplest to create but often the hardest to get right. You don’t want to be too promotional, but you want followers to get a taste of the value you bring. I like to tie them to interesting things I see in the industry and to larger content pieces I have created. Consistency of posting is really important here.


When I studied video production in college it was a very expensive proposition. It was also very difficult to get everything right to create something worth viewing. Not anymore. Today, you can produce video on your cell phone or go live with a stream using free software. We’re still learning about all that can be done with this medium, so don’t limit yourself. Just hit record.

Social Media Marketing

The algorithms the big media companies use to connect advertisers with market segments are very good today. You can drill down to exactly the group of people you want to meet with your message. If you have something with a real call to action so you can measure engagement, you’re gonna want to put a few bucks toward this.

Blog Posts

I’ve always (well, since 2002 at least) been a proponent of blogging. Now that your blog can include audio and video posts, it just makes sense to me to start building out your library of content. Right now I’m enamored with LinkedIn articles as a place to blog. It’s so easy to share your thoughts with your connections and followers.

Online Articles

When I started out in journalism, there was really no such thing as an online publication. Then, when I was recruited by CBS to help launch, I really saw the potential. Today, every trade publication and all of the mainstream pubs have online versions and there are plenty of titles that are online only. Writing for them is pretty easy, just condense your thoughts to 750-1500 words.

Print Publication Features

As long as there are magazine racks in mens’ restrooms there will be print publications. Okay, maybe that’s not a thing, but should it be? Print publications often give you more room to tell your story. If you can generate good content, many editors will take up to 2,500 words. Plus, they look great in your waiting room, especially if you make the cover.

White Papers

This is my favorite tool for telling big stories that solve specific prospect problems. White papers lost a lot of their influence when marketing teams started creating glorified brochures and slapping “white paper” on the covers. I have very specific ideas about what these should be. They are not easy to write, necessarily, but can have a huge impact on your prospects. Plus they spawn a lot of additional content.


I think these are very easy to do, but they are also very easy to do wrong. Most subject matter experts can talk for an hour about their subject, but few can put their information out there in a way that really adds value to attendees of these events. You need a good moderator who can ask the questions prospects are thinking and keep the experts on track. Done well, there is a lot of additional content that falls out of these events.

Business Books

Self publishing has created an explosion of small business books. Most of these can be read in an afternoon, which reduces the regret for the lost time that almost always follows. Because most of these books are written with the “assistance” of print on demand (POD) publishers, they tend to read like bad webinars. A good editor makes a lot of difference here.

You don’t have to use every one of these tactics to get your story out into the world. But if I could, I would.

This post first appeared on Scott Schang’s Second Opinion Loan Officer (SOLO) community. Find out more about his work on his website.

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