Podcast 007 – Becoming THE Expert

A few Podcasts ago we were joined by John Hayes to discuss if Social Marketing Is a Waste of Time (For Product Based Businesses).  In that Podcast we touched upon John’s book “Becoming The Expert” and myself and Matt have both read the book and we knew that it was worthy of a Podcast in its own right.

In this Podcast we ask the questions that you may have about Becoming THE Expert and this supporting article will detail the Q & A session that we had with the author John Hayes and will hopefully answer some of the questions about how YOU can become THE expert.

In this Podcast there is myself Dave Furness, Andy Hamilton the best-selling author of Booze For Free, Our special guest for the second time the author of Becoming the Expert John Hayes, and of course the man who needs no introduction LastDropofInk’s very own Matt Ogborne.


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Matt’s Comment: There are a few of these comments and for the first one a special “thank you” to Dave for putting this article together for us.

Q1: What is Thought Leadership Marketing?

To fully appreciate what Thought Leadership Marketing is we must first define the term as a thought leader. As John says in the Podcast a Thought Leader is someone who positions themselves as an expert in their own particular industry and becomes known amongst their peers for being an expert.

The concept of Thought Leadership Marketing is using this expertise to help build a brand and generate leads within their chosen industry and ultimately drive sales.

A “Thought Leader” is someone who positions themselves as an expert in their own particular industry and becomes known amongst their peers for being an expert

The key to this concept comes in two parts.  The first part is securing yourself or your brand as a Thought Leader, ensuring that people know that you are at the forefront of your industry and a reliable source of knowledge in your area. Once you have that secure you can then move into the second part which introduces the marketing concept.

Distributing their thought leadership through a number of marketing channels so that their voice is heard and people look to them for information further securing them as Thought Leaders.


As John mentions, there are a number of channels that are open to thought leadership marketers.  Some of they key ones are:

  • Blogs
  • White Papers
  • E-Books
  • Podcasts
  • YouTube

These are just a few of the most common forms of channels available for Thought Leaders to use, and John recommends that the first port of call should be a blog.

So if you are trying to secure yourself as a thought leader in your own right, or as part of a brand, you really should ensure that you have a Blog which is kept up to date as this is the first step in getting your information seen and growing an audience. From there you can then expand into other channels.

Q2: What does it mean to be a thought leader and do you have any examples of thought leaders the listeners or readers could relate to?

There are a number of thought leaders out there who are all prominent in their own niches.  In the Podcast I mention one of mine and Matt’s favourites that is Pat Flynn who runs the from the USA.

Pat has even commented on a few of the posts here on Lastdropofink.  The key here is that every niche will have their own thought leaders and the aim here is to secure yourself as the thought leader in your chosen area.

John also mentions Scot Wingo the CEO of ChannelAdvisor as one of the first Thought Leaders he came across during his time at Channel Advisor.  Scot had wrote a book, which in itself for anyone who has blogged before knows is no small feat called “Ebay Strategies: 10 Proven Methods to Maximize Your Ebay Business“.

The book that Scot wrote was incredibly easy to read was bang up to date for it’s time and it was written in Plain English that anyone could read and understand.  This point in itself is what differentiates someone who knows their industry from a Thought Leader.

Being able to communicate a subject that you are passionate about which has a lot of depth but in a manner which isn’t confusing

You can still be an expert but if you are unable to communicate effectively to your audience, you will never be a Thought Leader.  By being able to communicate a subject that you are passionate about which has a lot of depths but in a manner which isn’t confusing, doesn’t use a lot of industry buzz words and doesn’t aim to alienate those who may not understand the terminology.  Scot does this incredibly well still to this day in his blog for Channel Advisor still very up to date but in plain English.

Thought Leaders are not restricted to the technology sector we hasten to add, our very own Andy Hamilton is the perfect example of this, Andy is regarded as a thought leader in Home Brewing and Foraging, and because he is a very good communicator people turn to him as the expert in his field which has led him into numerous television and radio appearances to discuss his industry in detail. (Matt’s comment: Andy was recently on the Alan Titchmarsh show)

The message here is, every niche or industry needs Thought Leaders almost as village elders who others turn to for advice.  John calls himself a Storyteller and this is a perfect fit for a Thought Leader.

If you think of childhood stories, most of them have a meaning or a message and that is wrapped up in a story to give it a deeper meaning.  This is a very clever tactic which is used by many Thought leaders to get a message across to their audience.

A top tip that Matt shares in the Podcast is to write your content as if it was for a 6 year old

A top tip that Matt shares in the Podcast is to write your content as if it was for a 6 year old.  If you keep your content interesting enough and simple enough for a 6 year old to be able to read and understand.  By doing this, you don’t over-complicate the subject and keep it in Plain English.

A good example of this is the Financial Times newspaper which covers incredibly in-depth topics, but at a level that anyone could pick up and understand. John finishes off the topic nicely by explaining how due to the Internet it is very easy for people to at first ‘seem’ like they are Thought Leaders or to come across as such in their writing, as it is incredibly easy for anyone to put content out there these days.

A true Thought Leader has made the experience in what they write about, it isn’t just an opinion it is based on real life, they have made the mistakes, learnt from them and are passing these onto others, and that is where the true value of a Thought Leader comes from.

Q3: Is it a case of being across as many channels as possible…or, doing a few channels REALLY well when it comes to though leadership, basically is it quantity or quality?

The key point to take away on this question is to make sure the channels that you are working on are at a good standard before moving on to a new channel.  The first port of call for a potential Thought Leader is to have a blog.

Once the blog has good content it is natural to link this into social media and likewise video content is great for Blogs too as well as standing alone on the YouTube platform.  Don’t make the mistake of trying to run before you can walk.

Matt’s Comment: As we cover in the Podcast, the Blog, just like your eBay Store, becomes the hub for your business, get the hub in place and you can start adding to it, however you see fit.

Make sure that your blog is kept up to date and is at a sustainable place before you branch out into other areas.  John states in the Podcast:

Don’t overstretch yourself, you are better off with 2 or 3 well managed channels than 10 poor channels.

The blog is they key stone of your marketing efforts.  Blog posts can be mentioned in YouTube video’s they can be shared on Social Media sites, they can be linked to in forum posts, they are great for promoting products such as books etc.  Which is why the Blog should be the first port of call, and then look for how the other channels can create a web of content which all link in to each other to set up this personal information network.

This can either be for your personal industry or to further the content creation and network of your brand. Quality is the key when it comes to becoming a Thought Leader and it is something that will largely revolve around your experience.  You cannot pretend to have experience and if you try it the chances are you will get found out very quickly.

If you are the thought leader and you create quality content, then the audience will read what you have to say. Matt makes a crucial point in the Podcast which is that it is critical to interact with people who get involved with your marketing.  When you start writing blog posts in the beginning no one will read them, but over time they will start to attract visitors and you will grow your audience.

People may start asking questions or commenting on your content. To be a good Thought Leader it is brought back to communication, you must reply to these questions or comments to further solidify your position as the leader.  By talking about your experience and testimony then you are helping to create even more of an impression that you have been there done it and you are the expert.

Q4: What actionable steps can our listeners use right now in their businesses to leverage this to their advantage?

The first thing is BLOG! Get good quality unique content on there and start building your brand.  If you don’t know where to start with this, or you’re struggling for blog post ideas, let us know in the forums here and the community will do their best to help you.

No-one will read your blog in the early days but as it grows and the audience grows…

Andy again states here that the key is to have patience when it comes to blogging, but to stick at it.  To repeat no-one will read your blog in the early days but as it grows and the audience grows it is key to keep the content coming.

A blog which hasn’t been updated in 12 months can give the impression that the business has failed and this can have the total opposite effect in positioning you as a Thought Leader.  Never blog about something that isn’t quality content, don’t feel that you have to stick to a timetable, but if you are struggling to find something to write about, then as John says, it may be time to get a new job.

Matt’s Comment: Completely ignore SEO, you can never go wrong with this simple rule, “Quality, Unique Content”. It never fails and you can worry about the other parts later.

The natural progression from blogging is to build a social network audience.  Don’t use it as a sales channel, but use it to build interaction with potential customers so they get to know you as a business or person. This again solidifies your brand and shows that their is a human behind the facade of a business an this is important as people like to deal with people.

The key point that Andy mentions is listen to what your audience are asking for, or commenting on, and write blog posts on these topics to almost encourage interaction and the likelihood of it being read. Two Top Tips to take away from this Podcast

  1. Once your business is up and running start a blog, and make sure you turn up regularly with fresh unique content, set yourself a manageable goal to ensure the content gets created, and make it a habit.
  2. Use the blog and therefore it’s audience to feed the e-commerce site and vice versa, create this web of intelligent content based around yourself.  Using social media and other channels to link the content together and pull the audiences in from the different available spaces.

*Bonus Content*
To help you get started I’ve compiled a list of 10 potential starter blog posts for your business blog. 10 Starter Blog Posts:

  1. Introduction of You/Your Business
  2. Product/Service Review
  3. Your favourite book review which relates to your industry
  4. Latest news within your industry
  5. Christmas (Everyone has something to say about Christmas)
  6. A problem you had and how you overcame it
  7. A competition blog post
  8. A picture gallery post of either your business, processes, staff or key products
  9. An opinion piece on a certain technology or news piece in your domain
  10. A post looking to future trends within your industry

Matt’s Comment:  A really good example of #7 is from Pete Moran, who joined us for Podcast #2. Pete has just started a competition today on his site called “Guess That Thing”, take a look at it here, I have no idea what it is, do you?

Q5: Where can people find out more about you John and Thought Leadership Marketing?

Becoming THE ExpertJohn really is the Though Leader in marketing and we would like to thank him again for being our guest on this Podcast.

The truth is however that we have barely scraped the surface on what his book “Becoming the Expert” covers. So if you found this podcast useful and want to take it to the next level we would strongly recommend buying John’s book.

It’s available on all digital e-reader devices and can be found in all the main digital e-bookstores. See below for the Becoming the Expert website and the link to his publisher where you can get all the information on where to get hold of his book.  Likewise if you want to get in touch with John on twitter we have included his Twitter name below too.

John Hayes

John HayesJohn’s Hayes | Blog@john_w_hayes | LinkedIn John’s Book “Becoming THE Expert: Enhancing Your Business Reputation through Thought Leadership Marketing” is now live and you can purchase via his  publishers site here.

Your Feedback

If you have any questions about what we covered with John in the Podcast, let us know by leaving a comment below.

Exclusive Interview with John Hayes – Author of “Becoming THE Expert”

John: “Matt I’ve written a book”
Matt: “You’ve done what?”
John: “Written a book on thought leadership marketing”
Matt: “WTF is that? Can I have a read?”

That’s pretty much how the conversation went as John passed over the draft version of the book he had been writing for the past few months on Skype.

It’s a draft mind Matt, it got spelling mistakes” John quickly added. Like that was going to bother myself, have you seen the appalling spelling and use of grammar (<= joke, honest) on this site?

I was more curious on John had been writing and what on earth is this “Thought Leadership Marketing” jazz.

“I couldn’t put it down and blitzed it that evening”

I think I finished around 2am, I couldn’t put it down and blitzed it that evening, that was about two months ago and I’m super excited that it’s now been published and you can read it too.

Below is a unique interview with John Hayes about his book, “Becoming THE Expert” that is published today.

Oh my god John, I’m so jealous, you book is coming out today and you can wear the label as an bonafide book author. Tell us, what inspired you to write your first book?

Thanks Matt. My main source of inspiration came from meeting so many great entrepreneurs over the years while working for companies like ChannelAdvisor and in my current role at iContact.

Many of these people are building amazing businesses but have complained to me about hitting a glass ceiling in terms of how far their traditional marketing could take them forward.

“I believe the one thing that holds them back is a lack of confidence in their ability to tell a good story about their product or service”

In many cases, I believe the one thing that holds them back is a lack of confidence in their ability to tell a good story about their product or service and position themselves as the go-to person or thought leader in their particular industry.

If they can learn to do this (and it is pretty much an exercise in believing in your own ability and drawing on your industry knowledge) they can enhance their existing marketing efforts, shorten sales cycles and reduce their reliance on old-school business techniques like cold calling and paid advertising to acquire new customers.

“a pipe dream for me to write a book since I was a small child”

It’s also been a bit of a pipe dream for me to write a book since I was a small child. I decided last year that dreaming wouldn’t get me published and set myself a goal of writing and publishing a book before my 40th birthday (September this year).

Originally I was going to self-publish but was fortunate enough to meet a publisher at an email marketing event I was speaking at and I took the opportunity to pitch the book. To my surprise, they liked the idea and contracts were quickly signed.

Working with a publisher has been a steep and at times frustrating learning curve – but I’m glad I went down this path as it gives the book greater credibility and thanks to my editor’s input, I think we have produced a much better book.

Can you tell us what Thought Leadership Marketing is and how we can use it to become The Expert?

Thought Leadership Marketing takes this insight and uses it to build brand, generate leads and ultimately drive sales. I believe any business can benefit from a little Thought Leadership Marketing.

“Thought Leaders position themselves as experts in a particular industry or discipline and share their insight with a wider community.”

When you see a reputed expert on a subject quoted in a news article, or a video on YouTube instructing you how to do a task, or a blog post offering insight into the latest trends or advances in a particular industry, this is very often part of a wider Thought Leadership Marketing strategy. They are positioning themselves as experts and hopefully setting themselves up as a potential business partner for interested parties.

If there is only one thing that you could tell us to do today using Thought Leadership Marketing, what would it be?

If you are only going to do one thing today using Thought Leadership, I would suggest you start blogging.

I believe a blog gives your business a pulse and makes it stand out from the millions of static websites that litter the Internet. Because Google loves fresh, original content, a good blog is SEO gold.

A well-maintained blog will also give you great content to populate your social media activity and email marketing campaigns. Finally, a short blog post can help you test thought leadership concepts which you can then develop into larger pieces of work such as detailed white papers, videos or even your own book.

So where can we purchase a copy John?

Becoming THE ExpertThe book is currently available in eBook format from Amazon (for Kindle) and the Apple iBookstore (for iPhone/iPad/iPod Touch).

You can try before you buy from either of these sites by downloading a sample of the book first.

Direct Links:

Your Feedback

Have you come across “Thought Leadership Marketing” before? Have you, like myself been doing  this all along and not realising it (well at least attempting to anyway)?

Let us know in the comments box below.

The (Online Marketing) Nightmare Before Christmas

John Hayes

John Hayes iContact

The following is a guest article from a colleague & friend John Hayes from who is the EMEA Business Development Executive for iContact

You may have seen us talking at the eSellerPro conference last week, soon you’ll hear us talking as we’ve got some topical debates planned.

More on that later, for now, email marketing is one of the most measurable & powerful forms of marketing there is. Look out for the Return on Investment stats in the article, 300% is a whopper and has John’s top tips for your Christmases marketing campaign.

Also note that the links to iContact are not affiliate links, I’ve personally agreed to it being published here, because I feel its that important that you participate. 

The (Online Marketing) Nightmare Before Christmas

As we edge towards the busy Christmas trading period, online marketers will be bombarded with advice on how to maximise results over the festive season. For many businesses, Christmas represents the greatest opportunity of the year to profit from their marketing activity. However, Christmas also represents a significant threat to online businesses, if they follow the wrong advice.

Perhaps the most common piece of misguided advice offered to small and medium-sized enterprises looking forward to a profitable Q4 is to drastically increase their online marketing spend. At first glance, this seems perfectly sensible. It follows the age old adage, “The more you tell, the more you sell”. But it also ignores the equally wise tenet, “Don’t be a busy fool”.

Let’s look at some of the risks involved with simply spending more.

You Cannot Afford It

Acquisition channels such as Pay Per Click (PPC) advertising are very expensive and highly unlikely to yield a quick return. To see any kind of profit you’ll need to know your numbers inside out, understand your customers’ lifetime value and have a complete appreciation of multi-touch attribution (i.e. how your campaigns are influenced by other marketing channels).

Big businesses spend a considerable amount of money trying to understand this. Whilst you will want to allocate some budget towards customer acquisition at this busy time, unless you have significant funds to invest in long-term forecasts and sophisticated analytics, this is not the approach you should follow if you want to see profits THIS Christmas.

You Haven’t Got the Resources

When you throw a considerable amount of money at a highly visible channel you should expect to get real busy, real quick. Have you got the warehouse space, stock and staff on hand to cope with a sudden upturn in business?

You should also remember that your competition is playing the same game, forcing marketing costs up and putting additional pressure on margins. If you are forced into this “race to the bottom” you’ll either be compelled to lower prices accordingly or risk being left holding stock. If this happens your additional investment into staffing and logistics will only add to your problems.

Your Reputation Cannot Stand the Risk

Any number of challenges can stand to ruin your reputation if you drop the ball at Christmas. If your prices are visibly higher than your competitors, you’ll be hard pushed to win business back from the discount traders. If you run out of stock you’ll be seen as unreliable, as well as wasting money driving traffic to web pages that will never convert. Increased spend will push your warehouse to the limit. Fail to deliver on time at Christmas and you’ll go down in history alongside the Grinch.

In the UK last year (due to adverse weather conditions) 17% of gifts bought online failed to arrive before Christmas. The public are an unforgiving bunch and are more likely to apportion blame at your doorstep than the weatherman’s if their gifts are delayed. In this case, you could find yourself actually paying to tarnish your own reputation?

Smart Marketers Wish for Many Happy Returns

Paying to acquire new customers is just the start of a relationship. This is why smart marketers surround themselves with friends at Christmas. They have worked hard to gain their trust and will have invested heavily (and not necessarily just in terms of cash) to keep them.

Smart marketers win and keep their friends by offering the following:

  • Amazing product knowledge and advice
  • Stellar customer service
  • Great deals (a mixture of price and service and not just the cheapest unit costs)
  • An open forum for conversation between the marketer and the customer

Sounds easy – right? Well, that’s because it is.

Most marketers will already be very familiar with two of the most common online tools required to maintain great customer relationships. It’s highly likely you are using them (to some degree) already.

Email Marketing + Social Media – The Gift Which Keeps On Giving

Email Marketing remains the most cost effective online marketing tool in terms of Return on Investment available to marketers today.  Unlike costly acquisition channels like PPC, Email Marketing is a retention tool and as you already know, it is much cheaper to retain an existing customer than win a new one.

So how effective is email marketing in terms of profit generation. Well that depends on a number of factors but a recent survey conducted by eConsultancy in the UK suggests that 63% of companies using Email Marketing saw a Return on Investment of greater than 300%.

Email’s strength lies in the fact it is invited and therefore welcomed by the recipient. The ease with which a subscriber can opt-in and out of receiving emails also ensures unwanted email does not tarnish your reputation. Carefully segmented lists mean that marketers can afford to get straight to the point and promote products and services with an extremely relevant message.

Having a well-segmented list should also mean you are sending out high-frequency campaigns whilst not clogging up subscribers’ in-boxes. Finally the in-box environment also ensures emails are kept and can be referenced multiple times rather than appearing and disappearing (as your budget dwindles) on the major PPC networks.

When looking at building profitable relationships THIS CHRISTMAS Email Marketing should be the number one weapon of choice in your online marketing arsenal. But the reach of Email Marketing doesn’t stop at your subscribers’ inbox. Thanks to social media, Email Marketing has become supercharged.

By incorporating simple social media tools into your email campaigns allows you to harness the power of your customers’ network of friends and followers on sites like Facebook and Twitter. Suddenly your campaigns, shared across multiple peer networks, become viral and the reach of email marketing campaigns increases drastically.

Could it get any better?

How about if I told you extending the reach of your email marketing with the power of Social Media is FREE.

Still not convinced? Ask yourself the following questions.

  1. Do I have customers that love my products and appreciate my service?
  2. Would I benefit from more customer referrals and repeat business?
  3. Am I spending too much money on acquiring new customers and too little time with my existing customers?
  4. Do I want to see a return on my investment This Christmas?

If you’ve answered “Yes” to all of the above questions, don’t waste anymore more time. You can start your 30 day Free Trial of iContact’s email and social media marketing software here

The 12 Email Marketing Tips for a Better Christmas

Tip #1 – Be relevant
When putting together the content, never leave yourself outside of the customer’s shoes. From top to bottom, each and every word needs to relate to the customer, or else you’ve lost them.

Tip #2 – Avoid set schedules
You don’t have to stick to sending a newsletter at the same time every month. If you have nothing to say, don’t say it. Missing a “scheduled” email newsletter is better than filling it with useless content with no value for customers.

Tip #3 – Less is more
Select just one offer per email and segment your list accordingly. If you have a range of complementary products, choose a hero product to focus on and add simple links to promote the additional items. Think of your email like a menu in a restaurant – too many dishes to choose from and nothing looks appetizing.

Tip #4 – More is more
Now that you’ve made your campaigns more relevant, it’s time to increase the frequency of your emails. Keep your emails relevant and interesting and your subscribers will welcome the increased touch points.

Tip #5 – Headline News
Your subject line should scream benefits. Think of it in the same way a newspaper editor writes a headline. It should tell the full story and entice the subscriber to read more. Give your subject line as much thought as your body text. Your subject line is your first line of defense between your subscribers and the delete button.

Tip #6 – Automate
Set up auto-responders to automatically deliver a predefined series of messages. These could include welcome messages to new subscribers, online courses or carefully crafted sales messages delivered over a specific period of time.

Tip #7 – Keep it real
Make good use of real text (not graphics) at the top of your email. A graphic-heavy email will appear blank until the subscriber has selected to download the graphics. Real text in the message will remain visible even in HTML emails and entice subscribers to open the complete email.

Tip #8 – Get social
Use your email campaigns to encourage subscribers to engage with your social media activity on Facebook or Twitter. Social media will not replace your email activity but will allow you to build your brand across your subscribers’ social networks.

Tip #9 – Test
Whenever possible, test your subject lines and creatives and then optimize accordingly. Split testing does not have to be complicated. Hit 20% of your list with two different emails and monitor the response. Hit the remaining 80% with the most successful email.

Tip #10 – Cleanse
Take the time to cut the deadwood from your list. Remove bounced email addresses and any names that have not opened any of your mails over a significant period of time. Remember, you are paying to target a list of people who want to receive your emails. Old, dead and unwanted emails are expensive and can damage your reputation.

Tip #11 – Understand what success looks like
A 20% open rate is good, 35% is ideal. Shoot for the latter with a compelling headline that sticks with the customer. That’s your most precious real estate. You have five words, max.

Tip #12 – Register for a free 30 day trail of iContact’s email marketing software here
You’ll have access to all our email and social tools as well as video tutorials and best practice guides. You’ll also have full access to our UK support team and a range of easy to use, customisable email templates to get you started. Could you not wish for a better Christmas present?