If you're selling advice or expertise, switch focus from marketing to building your brand authority - this is how to stand out from the competition.
Marketing a business is like losing weight.
In theory, both are simple. In reality, both are hard as heck.
Losing weight should be a straight-forward endeavour. It comes down to two things – eat less, move more.
Whether you choose to eat only grapefruit 5 times a day or you strive valiantly for ketosis, you need to do something to reduce your caloric intake.
At the same time, you must increase your movement – whether by embarrassing yourself at Zumba, becoming a CrossFit bore or simply putting more oomph into your housework.
It should be easy. You know in your head exactly what you need to do.
But that knowledge on its own is useless without a dose of will power, motivation and commitment to follow through. The same truth applies in business.
On the face of it, it is equally straight-forward. Find a group of people you can help. Sell them something that they want.
But most of us are like….nah that’s way too simple….let me see how I can complicate it by digging myself into a hole of shiny objects, second guessing and keeping busy with every activity under the sun except the actual things which will grow my business.
Then even when you do find the right people and create a great product, there is still a yawning gap between you and the sale. That gap is a trust gap – those “right people” need to believe in your ability to deliver on your offer. Why should they listen to you?
Read my post on the importance of trust here.
The way to bridge this gap, present yourself as credible and win their business is by first establishing your authority in the marketplace.
What does it mean to be an authority? The Oxford English Dictionary defines it as :“The power to influence others, especially because of one’s commanding manner or one’s recognized knowledge about something.”
From Expert to Authority
If you’re still working the “trust me, I’m an expert” approach, you’re going to find it increasingly difficult to attract attention.
Touting yourself as an expert may have worked back in the day, but now everybody and their mama is claiming to be an expert. Every online channel is jammed with millions of experts pontificating and promoting 24/7.
In this age of instant expertise, it has become much harder to cut through the noise and get your message heard.
The way to differentiate your brand and raise your standing in the marketplace, is to position yourself not as an expert, but as an authority.
At a recent Traffic & Conversion Summit, celebrated marketer Frank Kern stated,
“Positioning, most importantly positioning yourself as an authority, is the single most important thing you can do increase your perceived value to the marketplace.”
Becoming an authority brand actually gives you an unfair advantage over your competitors.
You will generate more leads because your ideal people will naturally gravitate towards you. You will make more money because you will close more leads. You will create more impact because more people will use your solutions and hear your message.
Why is Authority So Powerful?
Authority is one of the key psychological triggers working in our sub-conscious that influences how we act. We may think we’re rational beings, but all brain research affirms that humans act based on emotional and mental cues. We then use logic to justify our actions.
The authority trigger has enormous influence over us because we are wired to look for others to guide our decisions.
That’s why we tend to follow people in positions of authority, even when there is no rational reason to do so.
Consider the so-called “white coat effect”. Any old Joe or Jane Shmoe can put on a white coat and call themself a Doctor and we immediately sit up and listen. We even become deferential. We accept them as an authority.
Authority Before Visibility
So how do you build brand authority? Some people think that authority is all about visibility. Speak on stage, appear in the press, get booked on podcasts and so on.
Visibility is great. Visibility is critical. But before trying to increase your visibility, you need a strong brand foundation.
Many entrepreneurs will tell you that they have been featured in the press and booked on podcasts that have had zero impact on their business. You can speak on stages across the country and still add little to your bottom line.
The people who are able to leverage visibility in a meaningful way are those who have achieved clarity of purpose, message, positioning and value.
They are not doing interviews just to get their name out there. They are intentional about where they appear and how they communicate because they are completely clear about their brand.
How do you become an authority in your field?
First, do less marketing. If you’re a coach, consultant, or other service entrepreneur selling knowledge and expertise, and you’ve been struggling to grow your business, then it’s likely that you’ve fallen into what author Rob Stewart calls “The tactic trap.”
This means you’ve tried to build your business around marketing – lead generation, conversion and sales – instead of building brand authority.
You’re pouring time, money and effort into Facebook ads, social media marketing, blogging and all manner of perfectly legitimate marketing efforts.
But you’re seeing minimal impact on your business, because marketing tactics can only get you so far.
Nobody is going to buy your programs because your Facebook ads were so well optimized or because your email sequence was beautifully segmented.
You will attract and keep more customers when they can see and trust the value that you bring to the market. When they can see your authority.
Get Clear on the Fundamentals of Your Brand
As a coach, consultant or other service entrepreneur, you personify your brand. To buy your products and services, people want to know your perspective, your process, your story.
You need to be able to answer these questions in a compelling and confident way –
Who the heck are you and why should I do business with you over your competitors?
These are the questions swirling in the mind of every prospective client.
To answer these questions convincingly you need to have drilled down to the fundamentals of your brand.
Unfortunately, most entrepreneurs go about this wrong way. They focus all their money and energy chasing visibility or trying every marketing trick in the book instead of figuring out their core brand, which means their marketing inevitably underperforms.
I work with clients to define their brand vision, promise, ideal client, positioning, value, story and uniqueness by taking them through my 5-story Framework: Who You Are; Who You Serve; What You Do; How You Do It and Your Brand Story. By interrogating and exploring these 5 stories, my clients are well positioned to take advantage of any visibility or opportunity that comes their way.
When you become crystal clear on these 5 stories, then you can amplify their message successfully with marketing, speaking, social media ads, podcasts and so on.
Lead with Authority
Becoming an authority brand doesn’t happen overnight. But it will happen a lot quicker when you follow a strategic process.
When you achieve total clarity on your brand foundation, that will give you the capacity and confidence to become more visible. It will enable you to create higher converting content, pitch more business and stand up as a leader for your audience.
Becoming an authority brand means you’re not only sharing information – because Lord knows, we all have Google for that – but you know how to showcase the perspective and interpretation that can only come from you.
Building a business through the lens of authority means that you are focused not just on transacting, but on building relationships with your audience.
As your message begins to attract and engage your perfect people, you will begin to build community and loyalty around what you do.
That, my friend, is gold. Pure gold.