Ricky_Gervais_in_Louie_on_FoxHe’s not a doctor, but he does play one on TV and Mr. Gervais’ secrets for success are the perfect prescription for becoming successful in content marketing. His 3 steps from his recent secrets for success article in TIME are simple:

  • Work hard
  • Be original
  • Write about what you know.

He was writing about his success as a comedian in the entertainment industry, but follow his advice and you will be well on your way to becoming a thought leader in your chosen field. That’s not to say it’s easy to do, but the steps themselves are not difficult. It just takes time and commitment. And dogged determination.

For our purposes I think it makes better sense to reverse the order of the steps, so we’ll start with step three: write about what you know. To become known as a thought leader or expert in your field you will have to publish. The usual Life Science channels of peer-reviewed journals provide an effective means of recognition and can certainly lead to the vaunted “expert” moniker. However, if you are also concerned about gaining market share or winning business, it’s as important and maybe more so these days, to become a content marketer.

Successful content marketing means writing and it’s easiest to write about what you know. If something interests you or is important to you, it’s very likely that it may also be of interest to others in your field, too. If you’ve got a wealth of knowledge and experience, share it. Keep a pen or pencil and a pad of PostIt notes with you at all times—put pen and PostIts in your car, by your bed, in the bathroom and when you hear something or think of something that could be turned into a blog post or an article write it down. Keep a repository of topics, a wall of PostIt notes, or a folder in Evernote, and keep adding to that repository. You’ll soon find that many things can be turned in to valuable content and your thoughts will become a goldmine.

Be original. Originality is just as important in Life Science Marketing as it is comedy. In your content marketing, be creative and work to find your unique voice. Everything doesn’t have to be a brand new idea, but you will gain an audience by finding and developing your own unique voice and perspective. Readers and Google (some would say Google is your primary audience) value originality and unique perspectives. It might be easier to think small here. We’re not talking about waiting until you’ve cracked the genetic code (oh, that’s already been done, can’t claim that) or done something truly groundbreaking. Content marketing is more about being useful—not about revealing groundbreaking science. If you have a unique approach or can simply pass on your original take on something of importance to your audience, you are on your way to creating valuable content marketing.

Last and certainly not least, in fact Gervais calls this the “essential” step, is to work hard. You’ve got to commit yourself to doing the work of writing. Commit to 1 hour a day, or go to a quiet coffee shop for 2 hours every Tuesday morning, promise to make 2 blog posts a week, one newsletter a month—the point is to set some limits, schedule some time and write! Write now!

“If you can’t explain it simply enough, you don’t understand it well enough.”—Albert Einstein  The most important side effect of all of this effort is summed up in the quote from Einstein. If you make the effort to write, especially to write about (what you think) you know, you will gain knowledge of yourself and of your subject area. If you are diligent about it and pay a little attention to Google, along the way you may become known as an expert.

To sum up, think of this as something you do (“I’m a writer because experts write”) and make it a part of who you are. Writing about what you know and what you do will make it easier (and more meaningful). Finding your authentic voice will take some time, but will pay off in that what you have to say will be naturally unique and original. And finally, the only way to get to that land of expertise far over the horizon is to slog away one word at a time. You’ve got to put in the work.