5 Things You Should Do To Become a Thought Leader In Your Industry, With Ken Kerry of Script to Screen

A thought leadership role can create business opportunities by getting in front of as many people and businesses as possible to introduce either a new perspective or clarify a myth. By doing this consistently and strategically in all forms of media and every platform, you will eventually get in front of the main decision maker […]

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A thought leadership role can create business opportunities by getting in front of as many people and businesses as possible to introduce either a new perspective or clarify a myth. By doing this consistently and strategically in all forms of media and every platform, you will eventually get in front of the main decision maker in an enterprise that will ultimately lead to a meaningful conversation. That’s the goal. From that point on as a thought leader you have the opportunity to help solve their business challenge.

As part of our series about how to become known as a thought leader in your industry, I had the pleasure of interviewing Ken Kerry. Ken is the co-founder, author and creative performance strategist of Script to Screen. He and his wife Barbara founded the nations most successful privately held direct to consumer performance agency over 30 years ago that has created extremely successful D2C campaigns for start ups to the biggest brands in the world.

Thank you so much for doing this with us! Our readers would love to “get to know you” a bit better. Can you share your “backstory” with us?

As a journalism and production major in college I quickly gravitated towards directing and producing with an emphasis in story telling. I always believed that by telling a compelling story about anything you are looking to sell, you would be significantly more successful because people are curious. If you can quench someone’s curiosity with logical reasoning while solving their problems, then you can create a transaction that equates to a business that fills a need for many businesses. With this belief I ventured out to work in Live sports television at ABC sports. This was a temporary stopping point where a I learned valuable skills and gained incredible experience. I then decided after a few years I needed to chase my desires to use what I learned to build something for myself.

That’s when my girlfriend who eventually became my wife and I decided to leave our TV network jobs and start a business of our own, it was on the back of seeing so many commercials and infomercials that we believed were so awful we knew with our backgrounds we could do it a lot better by truly elevating brands while making a sale. We believed they could work hand in hand.

That’s when we embarked on creating an infomercial to sell our own products and have a business of our own. With the guidance of my father in law and a couple of close friends as investors we created a product and an infomercial to sell it. We put our souls into this product and show that absolutely bombed. We were devastated, but we never considered giving up. The problems we encountered with our show and product turned out to be biggest learning experiences we could have ever imagined that also became the foundation of our business. Eventually we created a proven process that has generated well over 6 billion dollars in sales for our clients all over the world.

Since starting our business, we have seen the rise of the internet, the evolution of television, the prominence of digital and social platforms especially as it pertains to selling products and services, and the birth of online commerce and Amazon. With all these major shifts as it relates to selling products and services, the one thing that is as true today as it was when we started our business is, if you can’t get your customers attention and tell an amazing story about you product or service no matter where the consume your message you don’t have a chance of selling them anything. With that said our experiences and expertise in creating massively successful campaigns is more relevant today than ever before.

Can you briefly share with our readers why you are an authority about the topic of thought leadership?

Real thought leadership only comes from those individuals who have actually done what they share their knowledge about. That also means having had the experiences of big failures and big successes. If you have not been in the trenches, fought your way out and also tasted the fruits of success then in my mind you are not qualified to be seen as a “thought leader”

My authority comes from actually being part of the team at our company that has created multiple campaigns that have generated hundreds of millions of dollars in more than 5 different business verticals,

all the way from product creation, marketing and tactical strategy to execution and optimization in every media source and platform.

Can you share the most interesting story that happened to you since you started your career?

After hurricane Katrina our client the ORECK corporations with headquarters in New Orleans, Louisiana was shut down for over 2 months during the time we were working with them to launch a new campaign in a totally new category for enterprise. Needless to say the stakes were high and what we did along with their team was literally do or die for the business.

During that time the entire executive team at ORECK held temporary headquarters in Dallas Texas in an emergency shelter at the Dallas Fort Forth airport. For 2 months we worked side by side with them to keep the business operating while launching a new product for the company during a time where success was the only option. The campaign launched and quickly became a huge success that was instrumental in saving thousands of jobs and uplifting an iconic American brand.

Can you share a story about the funniest mistake you made when you were first starting? Can you tell us what lesson you learned from that?

When we created our very first infomercial campaign we did something that was only ever done for television shows and movies, We put our credits at the end of the show. Why it’s so funny is because every second in a show that you bought media for should only be used for selling the product or service the show is promoting. Anything else is wasted money. That mistake turned out to be the calling card for our business that was instrumental launching our business. That lesson taught us to make the observance of our company logo and URL to be contractually agreed to two by our clients. It’s the absolute best advertising we have for our business hands down.

Ok, thank you for that. Let’s now jump to the main focus of our interview. In a nutshell, how would you define what a ‘Thought Leader’ is. How is a thought leader different than a typical leader? How is a thought leader different than an influencer?

A thought leader is someone who has done what they advise about and not just someone who compiles from others and then turns around and advises people what to do even though they have experience.

A leader in my mind is one who brings the people and resources together and through motivation and business acumen strive to achieve a desired goal. A thought leader is the person who knows and understands though real practical situational experiences how things are done, sees challenges that will eventually come and how to navigate the process towards success, and then is able to share their experiences so others can learn and succeed as well.

Can you talk to our readers a bit about the benefits of becoming a thought leader. Why do you think it is worthwhile to invest resources and energy into this?

The benefit of being a thought leader is to allow others to learn from your experiences that will help them be more effective and successful at what they are trying to accomplish. I also believe that it’s a responsibility to pay forward what was either given or experienced by you so others can benefit.

Investing resources and energy into thought leadership allows me to clear up any miss-information about what I know is crucial to be successful and what we as a company have been so successful doing for the past 30 years. In my mind there has been such an influx of technology and software services that get a lot of the attention that has absolutely nothing to do with the most important part of a successful advertising campaign. The MESSAGE. If you don’t get that right all the other shiny objects do not matter.

Let’s talk about business opportunities specifically. Can you share a few examples of how thought leadership can help a business grow or create lucrative opportunities?

A thought leadership role can create business opportunities by getting in front of as many people and businesses as possible to introduce either a new perspective or clarify a myth. By doing this consistently and strategically in all forms of media and every platform, you will eventually get in front of the main decision maker in an enterprise that will ultimately lead to a meaningful conversation. That’s the goal. From that point on as a thought leader you have the opportunity to help solve their business challenge.

Ok. Now that we have that behind us, we’d love to hear your thoughts about how to eventually become a thought leader. Can you share 5 strategies that a person should implement to become known as a thought leader in their industry. Please tell us a story or example (ideally from your own experience) for each.

  • They key to being a thought leader is to be visible. You have to be seen a heard first, My first strategy recommendation is to become an author and write a book about your expertise. It allows you to have something tangible to send or give to business leaders, editors and clients. This way you have reason to follow up and it also gives them an opportunity to get to know you first. I recently finished my first book based on the proven strategies and tactics that have been instrumental in generating billions of dollars for the biggest brands in the world. The chapters in the book make up a specific roadmap for any company or businesses selling products and services to be successful creating a compelling message by telling a story that will convert prospects into customers.
  • The next Strategy would be to start a podcast. This allows you to have a platform for your thought leadership expertise. We have created a podcast called “This works marketing” where we interview business leaders, marketers and c level executives to share value based knowledge and experience to our audience. We publish the podcast segments and other valuable content every day on YouTube, Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn and Twitter.
  • My third strategy is to do consistent value based both video and written content on social media. As I mentioned above by publishing great content everyday you establish a thought leadership position by being visible and by sharing your knowledge.
  • The fourth strategy is to get on other peoples podcasts and share your knowledge. We have aggressively made this a priority because I want to increase my reach into other thought leadership audiences.
  • Finally, work hard to get speaking engagements and focus your knowledge to be a highly valuable to your audience. Even if there is only one takeaway from your presentation that may be the one that makes a difference for them. You want them to take something away from your appearances that they can implement immediately into what they are trying to accomplish. We have hired a PR agency to help us get these opportunities. We do everything to keep me focused on sharing and executing on my expertise and let the professionals in their own profession work with us

In your opinion, who is an example of someone who has that has done a fantastic job as a thought leader? Which specific things have impressed you about that person? What lessons can we learn from this person’s approach.

There are two thought leaders that come to mind for very different reasons. First is Gary Vaynerchuk, because he doesn’t theorize about what will happen in the business of getting peoples attention to create an action, he studies it, tests it and then optimizes it. He shares only about what he knows and stays out of areas he doesn’t have knowledge or experience in.

Seth Godin is another person I feel has done a fantastic job as a thought leader. Seth is very tactical, very well spoken in a way that simplifies complicated theories that can have a huge impact on a company.

Lessons to be learned are to stay in your lane and talk only about what you are an expert in and be unapologetically yourself.

I have seen some discussion that the term “thought leader” is trite, overused, and should be avoided. What is your feeling about this?

I believe that if someone’s message changes to fit the current environment, then in my mind they are not truly an expert in the field. When so called “experts” try to get too wide or generic they lose credibility and then the term “thought leader” is compromised. Also if someone doesn’t have a deep track record to back up what they are taking about they should not be qualified as a thought leader.

What advice would you give to other leaders to thrive and avoid burnout?

ALWAYS search for new ways to implement so you’re always relevant. Think of ways and pay attention to things that can put you out of business and learn more about it and make it work in your favor and not run from it. Listen, Listen, and Listen to young people and how they operate in their world and learn from it and find out how it relates to your business today. I also highly recommend that you become a student and do the task before you judge. It’s in this learning experience that will keep you on your toes and never burnout.

You are a person of enormous influence. If you could inspire a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger. 🙂

My words of inspiration are that always believe that you never lose or fail, you only learn so that you can become better and more valuable tomorrow.

Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Can you share how that was relevant to you in your life?

“Your attitude ALWAYS’S determines your altitude”

As an interrupter and business owner you have to have the attitude of positivity and the humility to never be too proud to do what it takes to be successful. Every time I set a goal for our company or myself I go at it with energy and a positive mindset. It’s this positive mental framework that squashes the setbacks and energizes the accomplishments.

We are blessed that very prominent leaders in business and entertainment read this column. Is there a person in the world with whom you would like to have a lunch or breakfast with? He or she might just see this, especially if we tag them. 🙂

Gary Vaynerchuk

How can our readers follow you on social media?

Instagram: kenpkerry

Facebook: Ken Kerry

LinkedIn: Ken Kerry

Twitter: @KenKerryStS

Thank you so much for your insights. This was very insightful and meaningful.

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