In the age of online media, it’s easy to become worn down by the endless torrents of clickbait. It’s easy to grow wary of the fake news, the absurd headlines, and the ridiculous ads.
If you’re anything like me, you’ve become something of a digital skeptic: ultra-critical of all online content, ludicrously wary of news stories, and above all – yes, most of all in the whole internet – suspicious of “experts.” Just like it seems that almost every one of your LinkedIn connections is the CEO of something, it also seems like every moderately popular business blog or website is spearheaded by a professional identifying themselves with that most dreaded of terms: the thought leader.
With that in mind, we sifted through the zillions of digital punks and posers and whittled our list down to five of the most influential, informative, engaging and – most importantly – legitimate marketing thought leaders.
The straight-talking, casually-dressed workaholic, author and entrepreneur is famous for transforming his father’s wine business into a 50 million dollar operation using one of the first e-commerce websites in America. An endlessly charismatic, motivational, practical, and informative character, his finger is firmly on the pulse of even the most microscopic changes in the digital marketing ecosystem.
“You have to understand your own personal DNA. Don’t do things because I do them or Steve Jobs or Mark Cuban tried it. You need to know your personal brand and stay true to it.”
Godin has written 18 bestsellers and has been inducted into the Direct Marketing Hall of Fame. The campaign for his book The Icarus Deception is the most successful Kickstarter book project ever. His blog houses a treasure trove of wisdom, insight, and inspiration for digital marketers of all stripes.
“In a crowded marketplace, fitting in is a failure. In a busy marketplace, not standing out is the same as being invisible.”
Jay Baer: President of Convince & Convert
Baer is a marketer who has worked with more than 500 brands, established multiple multimillion-dollar marketing companies, and written a New York Times bestseller. It’s safe to say it would be wise for any serious digital marketer to observe his work. Rather interestingly, Baer’s professional motto is to show you how to use technology as an “unfair” marketing tool and a customer service advantage.
“This is the bar your content has to clear on social: ‘Are you more interesting to me than my wife?'”
John Hall: CEO of Influence & Co.
Described as an “influencer of influencers,” John Hall’s enterprise – the aptly named Influence & Company – helps industry leaders boost their digital impact and online presence. Hall has emerged as one of the most important speakers and writers on marketing and sales, and his blog remains a valuable resource for tracking the constant changes in the digital marketing industry.
“When in doubt, go with what will deliver the most value to your readers. After all, the best ways to build credibility are by sharing generously and demonstrating true expertise.”
It’s difficult not to respect someone who has carved out a name as arguably the premier thought leader in a field as ferociously competitive, hotly debated, and obsessively discussed as social media. Frequently named on Forbes’ Power Influencer lists, Schaffer is the pick of many an informed marketer as the single most eminent social media thought leader. He also created the popular and wonderfully-written business blog Maximize Social Business. Ignore him at your peril.
“The key to listening to social conversations… is to understand the unique set of keywords that are potential triggers for lead generation.”
So, it may be shockingly easy to declare – and even to fake – expertise or “thought leadership” in some field or other on the internet. But that doesn’t mean you should so readily dismiss all so-called expert online opinion in digital marketing. And that certainly doesn’t mean you should let your suspicions dash your chances of finding truly great advice in this most fast-changing of industries.
If you take our advice and and stay up to date with the five figures above, we promise your digital marketing game will stay razor-sharp. Now, go get ’em. Happy marketing!
Who are your go-to marketing thought leaders? Did we miss anyone? Join the conversation below to let us know.
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