I keep a Post-It on my wall with a quote from a professor at my alma mater, Harvard Business School: “Strategy is about setting yourself apart from the competition. It’s not a matter of being better at what you do―it’s a matter of being different at what you do.”
As chair of the entrepreneurial practice at Forbes Books, a former director of an entrepreneurial center and a tech entrepreneur, I drill this philosophy into aspiring entrepreneurs.
That start-up idea that you’re sure nobody has ever thought of? Chances are it’s been thought of.
Entrepreneurship is busting at the seams. Studies show that record numbers of Americans now identify themselves as entrepreneurs―approximately 27 million people; 72% of millennials would like to be their own boss; and in higher education, there’s been an explosion of innovation and entrepreneurship courses, makerspaces and competitions.
Because the digital age has brought opportunities to every geographic and socioeconomic sector, there are simply more entrepreneurs than ever before. In such a crowded field, why should anyone do business with you over someone else offering similar services?
The answer is because you have established yourself as the authority. That is how you’ll acquire and retain customers and dominate your competition. This is the essence of Authority Marketing.
How can you develop that authority? By working to achieve a solid presence in six key areas:
Brand building doesn’t just mean building your company’s brand but also paying attention to your personal brand. For your audience to remember your name, it must be clearly associated in their mind. A few key factors will help you discover your unique brand: your mission, philosophy and journey. Well-known leaders share very clear messaging about who they are.
2. Content Marketing
Content marketing is how you build your omnipresence. Commit to generating a significant amount of high-quality content created with your target audience in mind―articles, blog posts, podcasts―even a book. As you begin to create appreciable content, you will develop a legion of fans who are excited to consume and share what you supply.
3. Referral Marketing
An estimated 85% of small businesses attract customers through word of mouth. But in order to capitalize on that benefit you need to encourage satisfied customers or clients to refer you. An often-missed opportunity is referrals from influencers―people who are in front of a group of your prospects. Research them, meet them―impress them.
4. PR and Media
It’s a modern irony that people don’t necessarily believe what you say about yourself, but they will almost always believe what the media says about you. Capitalize on that. Whether it’s CNBC or your city’s local radio station, when they hear and read about you, people will assume that you’re a thought-leader and an authority. That’s good for business.
Speaking, bar none, is the best way to enforce your authoritative position and generate high-quality leads. If what you say rings true and is delivered in a competent and professional manner, you will connect with a subset of your audience as though they’ve found love at first sight.
Events are where loyal cohorts of customers gather together. Be there among them. Or, better yet: invite them to come to you. Hosting events is one of the best ways to upsell, build loyalty and expose people to your work.
When properly cultivated, these six pillars unite to form a collection of positive marketing elements that lead to the creation of authority and, ultimately, an influx of business.