Leaders are readers, but do they have to be good writers too? The importance of creating compelling content in the new age digital marketing world.
21st May 2011

I was inspired by this cool article by Sanket Nadhani of - How Writing Makes A Stronger You [And Why Entrepreneur Should Write] and it got me thinking about the importance of writing in today's world. If you read the article it points out how writing tends to help you in clarity of thought and makes you provide more concrete justifications for your views. Taking it one step further I wondered how important a skill is writing for the leaders in the age of digital marketing?

In this era of hyper-competition you are defined by your thoughts and views. Different thinking as a competitive advantage.

Its supposed to be the other way. You bring people in with clever marketing and then convert them into customers with your clever ideas and innovative thinking. But in the age of hyper-competition where each marketing message seems to resemble one another what stands out is different thinking. And how do you express this different thinking - through your writing.

The leaders I follow are clearly good writers, quarterly results are well and good, but what impresses me is clarity in thinking and a unique point of view.

If you want a following you must write. No matter how impressive your quarterly results, its your writing (and your thinking) that will draw you followers and establish you as a leader.

Modesty and a certain reclusiveness used to be impressive qualities 30 years ago but in the digital marketing age you need to stand on the pulpit and preach to the crowd. Take 'Neutron' Jack Welch of GE fame, you don't get louder then him.

Its simple - nowadays 'ideas make leaders' not 'actions makes leaders'. Action can be drowned out in the cacophony of marketing hucksters all trying to out yell each other.

Take them where they have never gone before. Your message need not be original but the delivery can be.

If you read great leaders their ideas come down to simple unoriginal principles. But what grabs us is their delivery coloured with thier life experience. You need to take readers on a trip, where they have never been before. I cannot even count how many times I have read a good book or article and my mind has been stretched by the experience. Does it mean what they were saying has'nt been said before? No. But the way they said it makes the difference.

Writing is a tough job. It takes time to cultivate so give yourself a break and start early.

Writing takes iron discipline to do regularly inspite of the million temptations to do otherwise. A hundred reasons will come up why you can't write now. You will face herculean mental blocks where nothing comes out on paper (or screen). You've got to push past the pain and just hack away at it. Sometimes you'll churn out a work of beauty, sometimes it will be crap. So what?keep writing?keep writing.

Twitter is not writing.

Enough said.

Stick to what you know best. Try and become the authority on a narrow range of topics.

Write about everything and you will be about nothing. The best writers stick to what they know best and take it to another level in that narron range. Writing about digital marketing one day and butterflies the next won't make you an authority on anything.

Writing opportunities are everywhere. Keep your eyes open for topics of interest.

There is something called 'recticular activation' which means that if you are looking for something you will start seeing it everywhere. This usally happens when you want to buy somthing e.g. an ipad, you start seeing ipads everywhere in everybody's hands. Use this to keep an eye out for useful topics for your writing. You will immediately recognize it when you see it.

Let there be a logical progression to your writing. Feed of each subsequent topics.

Going round and round in circles with your writing is hardly the way to inspire anyone. Make sure your writing takes a logical path and progresses to newer wider areas as you mature and your experience grows. Your writing should reflect your hard earned wisdom. A good way is to feed of each topic to generate the next.

In conclusion I would say that writing is going to be one of the defining skills of the modern leader.

Today leaders need not worry about methods of dissemination of thier messages. They just need to create the message and our digital mediums will take it everwhere providing of course that its compelling.

Writely Yours,

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