Want to stand out in a crowded, competitive market? Establish yourself as an authority in your field.
Becoming a thought leader takes time and effort, but it pays dividends that extend beyond marketing. You can gain:
- Exposure. As a recognized authority, reporters and editors may call you as a source. They’re also more likely to cover the news you send.
- Access. Thought leaders take part in high-level relationships, conversations and events. You may be invited to partake in business roundtables, expert panels and speaking engagements.
- Influence. As a recognized authority, your opinions carry more weight with target audiences. You can frame specific issues from your point of view.
- Leadership skills. Staying on top of the latest developments sharpens your thinking — and your business strategy.
Authority marketing works well for anyone in a consulting role. By amplifying your expertise with media relations, advertising, social media and content marketing, you become a go-to source for solving problems and providing solutions.
To lay the groundwork for an authority marketing program:
- Be a leader. Work to stay on top of your field and share your expertise with others. Attention naturally gravitates toward leaders.
- Evaluate target audiences. Who are you trying to reach? At the highest level, you have three potential audiences: existing customers, qualified prospects and those who could benefit from your products or services but who aren’t yet aware of you. Look at audience needs, as well as demographic, psychographic and awareness factors to quantify each audience. Developing brand personas for different audiences can help hone your messaging.
- Establish your personal brand. Ask yourself, “What do members of my target audiences know about me, and what do I want them to know?” The first question addresses your existing brand, the second, your aspirational brand. The second answer should address important needs or pain points for target audiences.
- Conduct a brand audit. Assess your existing brand and evaluate the places people hear about you — online and off. Is your message consistent? Does it resonate with target audiences? Are you getting likes, comments, shares, emails and other feedback? How does your share of voice compare to others in your field?
- Consider earned, rented and owned media. As a 21st century marketer, you’re communicating with audiences across three types of media.
— Traditionally, earned media occurs when a news outlet covers you. Today’s earned media also include awards, online reviews, referrals and word-of-mouth marketing.
— Rented media involves distributing content you create through advertising, social media channels, news release distribution and other media. You rent space on these platforms.
— Owned media allows you to communicate directly. Your book, website, blog, email lists and direct mail lists are owned media.
Owned media establishes you as the publisher and acts as a communications hub for other media. Your goal should be to capture customers and prospects from earned and rented media and convert them to using your owned media. Once you’ve completed your research, you can develop a plan for interacting with audiences across all media.
My next column will explore creating your authority marketing plan.
Greg Ubert is the founder and president of Crimson Cup Coffee & Tea. Since 1991, Crimson Cup has roasted sustainably sourced specialty and craft coffee in small batches. The company also teaches entrepreneurs to run a successful coffee shop through its coffee franchise alternative program, which includes a coffee shop business plan. Crimson Cup coffee is available through a community of more than 350 independent coffee shops, grocers, colleges and universities, restaurants and food service operations, as well as in the company’s own coffee shops in Columbus.