October 18, 2020 8 min read
Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.
What if prospects came to you? That’s the point of authority marketing.
Authority marketing is a multifaceted approach that includes content marketing, public relations, speaking, and for many, authorship. Some call it “attraction marketing” or “doing thought leadership.” But whatever you choose to call it, the goal is to position yourself as an authority and have prospects knocking on your door.
This approach is particularly valuable in this era of information availability. Most sales conversations don’t start with a prospect actually reaching out to you or your sales team. The sales process often starts with a web search.
People who decide to market their authority take control of what appears in that web search. When the results of a web search position you and your company as experts in your field, your credibility rises.
Consultants, coaches, and professional service providers struggle with credibility when the bar to entry for their respective fields is so low. Marketing their authority helps them get higher-paying clients. Not to mention, making a point to incorporate speaking engagements, interviews, and written contributions builds marketing momentum pretty quickly.
If authority marketing is such a rock-solid strategy, how are people “killing” it? Well, there are a few key steps that are consistently neglected by almost everyone who engages in authority marketing.
1. Waiting for opportunities to come to you
People work hard to build their email and social media audiences. They believe that if they “get big enough,” opportunities will come to them. This couldn’t be further from the truth. It is true that when the environment aligns with your expertise, people may reach out to you.
For example, more diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) consultants are being asked for their expertise for a variety of marketing opportunities. But what about when the news cycle moves on? It’s not that DEI isn’t a topic that people are talking about consistently. But what do you do when people aren’t reaching out anymore?
Public relations pro Jennifer McGinley recommends consistently reaching out and building your web of connections.
“It’s so important to be proactive and consistently connecting and serving others in order to be seen as an expert or authority in your field,” she says. “The more visible you are, the more credible you can become. Essentially you are building a community. Clear, consistent content and communication build a community.”
Even when you get momentum, you should always be on the hunt for better opportunities. Once you’ve built up your speaker’s resume or Expert’s Portfolio, you’ll be able to secure opportunities that dramatically increase your credibility.
Some of the largest conferences have an application process for speakers. So even when you start getting invitations, be sure to actively seek out new opportunities to showcase your expertise.
2. Not creating authentic content
Take note of the adjective before “content” in this subheading. Authenticity is your unique marketability factor. What will people find when they click through to your website? If you’re hoping they’ll hire you or invite you to speak, your site had better be good.
In many cases, people find a website and blog devoid of any personality. Your site may be described as “professional, approachable, and competent.” What’s wrong with that? Well, ask yourself, how many other business websites can be described in this manner? A professional, approachable, and competent website won’t keep you from getting some clients. But it’s lukewarm at best, which means your website isn’t providing the highest ROI possible.
This is where authentic content comes in. When someone lands on your site, they should experience your unique brand. If your personal brand drives a lot of your business, as it does for a lot of service professionals, then your site visitor should feel as if perusing your site helps them get to know you.
Don’t view it as “just your website” or “just your blog.” Think of all of your content efforts as contributing to your content library. You may create unique content for a particular social media platform. But if it performs well with your audience, then you need to invest in growing your content library and creating content on your site.
Sarah Noel Block, founder of marketing consultancy Tiny Marketing, often counsels her clients to invest in what they own. “Too often, businesses get wrapped up in focusing on quick-win marketing like social media or paid ads. Instead, focus on what you own, not what you rent. You rent social media. TikTok can go down tomorrow,” she advises. “Rather, focus on what you own — your website and your email list. Building a content library increases your SEO, your Know, Like, and Trust factor, your email list, and gives you something to say in email and social media marketing. It’s the marketing that keeps on giving.”
If you approach your content authentically, then your prospects (marketing opportunities or new business) will already feel as if they know you. This is one of the ways they convince themselves that you’re a good fit before they even speak with you.
Not that even rote topics can use your fresh take. Many professionals take the time to create content surrounding common topics related to their expertise for search engine optimization (SEO) purposes. There’s nothing wrong with this as long as you remember one thing: your unique experiences are what make this content special.
Explaining why it’s important to create header tags in blog posts and website content is a good topic for a content professional. But when you add in the story about having to edit 50+ blog posts for a client to better optimize their content, you do two things:
- You show that you go all out for your clients.
- You give them a story to remember your tip with.
Anyone can give a tip. But that story belongs exclusively to you.
3. Not marketing your expertise-showcasing opportunities
Have you been a guest on a professional webinar or podcast? Much to the dismay of many event organizers and show hosts, guests often don’t market their appearances. This is a missed opportunity to support your host and also to market yourself.
Marketing an expertise-showcasing opportunity allows you to get in front of your host’s audience outside of the opportunity itself. More important, it gives you a chance to interact with that audience.
Bill Sherman, the co-host of the Leveraging Thought Leadership Podcast, offers a few great recommendations. At a minimum, guests should comment and like any post where the event organizer, article author, or podcast host mentions them. A thoughtful comment on social media, especially LinkedIn, can really push up engagement — engagement that’s great for you and the organizer, author, or host.
Next, he said that podcast guests should “rate and review the episode on whatever podcast player they use. It will help the episode (and the podcast as a whole) show up more frequently in searches.”
He also shared that when guests engage with audience members who leave comments on social media, he’s thrilled. It doesn’t happen often for most podcast hosts and community builders, but when it does, it creates conversations that lead to all sorts of beneficial connections.
These engagement opportunities are critical for expanding your network and building your authority. Because most people don’t engage this way after an expertise-showcasing opportunity, you’ll stand out even more when you do. Not to mention, the people who take the time to comment warrant a response from you. They could be your people, but not if you ignore them.
Fix these three mistakes and your authority marketing will take off
If you’re making one or all three of these mistakes, there’s good news. You can work to fix them right now. Go back to your most recent interviews and engage with the audience in the comments. Get started on your content plan so you can build up your content library at any time. Actively seek out the opportunities you need to grow your authority and your business.
Being aware of a problem is half the battle. Now you have the knowledge to fix it.