How to Establish Authority in Your Marketplace
When we talk about having “authority” within an industry or market, we’re talking about being known as a trusted, knowledgeable expert in that area. Once you’ve achieved authority, you won’t need to pursue clients; the clients will come to you. But establishing that kind of authority doesn’t happen overnight. How do you get there?
One answer to that question is: you get there slowly, steadily, and systematically. It takes time, effort, and consistency. But if you’re willing to do the work now, it will pay off down the road in the form of greater prospects and increased sales. In this video, I'm going to give you a blueprint for how to think about specifically and systematically building authority in your area of expertise. I’ll show you the most practical way to begin building your authority and talk about specific steps to getting there.
The Value of Authority
Why is authority valuable? Because authority means trust. When people trust you as an obvious expert, when you've established that expertise, then:
- Attracting clients is easier. They know to come to you to have their problem solved.
- Serving clients is easier. They trust you to do the heavy lifting because they know that, that you know what you're doing.
- Retaining clients is easier because they can see with you over the long haul.
All of those things that are easier when you've established appropriate authority. However, building authority can be a very nebulous or loose concept. We want to ground that concept in some mechanics today.
Authority Marketing: A Systematic Approach
Here's the core analogy I want to put in front of you: let's think about a penny. A penny, all by itself, isn't worth much. There's not a whole lot you can buy with a penny. There isn't a whole lot you can do with a penny. A penny by itself isn't worth much—but if we think about adding pennies one after another, stacking pennies one after another, eventually those pennies become worth something.
So now let's think about having a bucket of pennies or a five-gallon jug of pennies or a ten-gallon jug of pennies. What's now possible because you have all of that built up—all of that inventory, all of that stock built up?
I want you to think about building your authority in your niche in terms of pennies in a gallon or five-gallon jug. We are building authority intentionally, systematically, with a process, strategically. So let's lay that out as a plan.
Here's the essential question that may deter you from trying to build your expertise at all: Will you be in business next year? When you think about 365 days from today, will you still be in business?
If yes, I want to put this blueprint in front of you. If no, please close out and continue on with your day. I do not want to waste your time because it will take a year to build what you're trying to build.
Look to Tomorrow, Start With Today
Let's start off with where you are today. I've heard this more times than I care to admit: people who tell me they have no list of clients, they've got no referral base, they've got no existing clientele, they've got no momentum, they are more or less starting from nothing. It's just you and your expertise. That's what you have as assets.
So tomorrow we want to build this situation where you are calculating your momentum in terms of visitors per month, leads per month, prospects per month, clients per month. This gives us a sense of metrics on how we're growing our business.
Let's talk about the two things and how the thinking is very different. What I hear all the time is some version of “What can I do today to get more clients? What action can I take today that will give me an immediate return?” And I will tell you that thinking about your business in terms of today is too short-term focused. It is survival-focused. It actually encourages many panic decisions that don't benefit you very much.
So let's unpack that for a second and find a discipline, a rhythm, a set of mechanics, or a process that's more profitable for you.
The Best Way to Build Industry Authority
Let’s do some math here. Let's break it down. If there are 50 weeks in a year—we're already giving yourself two weeks for vacation, so there are 50 work weeks in a year—and they break down into five days per week, that gives you 250 work days available to you. Let's assume that half of those days are productive. Just half of them are productive. That gives you 125 days a year to do productive business-building activities.
If you focus those activities on creating one content piece, just one content piece, then that will give you 125 content pieces for the year. Do you have that right now? Are there 125 content pieces on your website in your world attracting clientele to you? Either yes or no. So now we've given ourselves a mathematical approach that makes creating those 125 content pieces much easier.
1. Let Your Content Do the Work
Let's continue. The difference here, when you think about working solo by yourself, just you and your expertise, is that you are the engine for everything.
- You chase all the prospects. You’ve got to go to them, you’ve got to call them on the phone, you’ve got to chase, chase, chase prospects.
- You hope for referrals. You sit at your desk, hoping for the phone to ring, hoping for that next email to come, hoping for someone to send you the next opportunity.
- You have to explain all of your services. Every time you talk to someone, you have to do all the selling, all the explaining. You're trying to build all of your authority in that meeting, in that moment, at that time, lots of pressure.
But if you built a better mechanic, if you built a better set of systems, then content now becomes the engine to do this heavy lifting for you.
- You can be found in a search. Your company can be found in search. That gives people a chance to find you inbound. They can find your content and raise their hand and say, "Yes, I want to talk more with you."
- The content creates referrals. Whether it's via social, via email, via personal connection, someone can find your content and then pass it on to somebody else. But if there is no content, then they can't pass you on.
- Expertise is refined. This is one of those things that happens over time. The more content you create, the better you get at the discipline. You get better at saying what you meant to say the first time.
- Your brevity is so much sharper; you can say it and say it now. You can say it and say it quickly.
- There’s power in what you say. You can say it with certainty, with confidence, because you've practiced. You've iterated through this effort of creating content.
- You can choose what you create content about. So the things you want to talk more about, you can talk about those. The things you want to talk less about, you can talk less about those.
- You get to make choices through your content, on where you want to establish authority and establish expertise.
And when you have content, then you can now expand your digital footprint. So you take the initial content that you've created, and now you can repurpose it on this platform, on that platform, in this method and that method, with this media strategy, with that media strategy. All of that repurposing is possible once you have content. If you don't have content, none of it is possible.
2. Turn Conversations Into Content
I've made some promises here about how you could turn your expertise into an authority-based platform that attracts opportunities, giving you more leverage and giving you more scale. So mechanically, what does that look like?
Well, here's the core concept. You should be taking your conversations and turning them into content pieces. Let's make that mechanical.
You should be talking to people all the time anyway. You sell services. That requires you to have conversations. So have more conversations and make them real dialogue—actually talk to another human being and understand what it is they're trying to do.
You need to hear the core question that they're asking. Yes, they may ask you for a proposal, yes, they may ask you for more information, but you need to understand the business reason behind that request. What are they really trying to accomplish?
Hear that question, really learn to listen for it. And in response, you want to provide the very best answer you can. Don't hide your expertise. Don't keep your best material. Instead, be willing to give it away. Be willing to answer the question that's been posed to you.
So now that you've had that dialogue, now you can turn that dialogue into a content piece. You're essentially recapping the conversation you just had in content. You can do it in different formats: you can do it as audio, you can do it in written form, you can do it as video. None is better than another; it's just a matter of which one is most comfortable for you.
3. Create a New Content Piece Every Day
The goal here is to create one new content piece every day. So you recap a conversation and you do it in some form of content. The idea is to create a content piece that takes 10 minutes to consume. So you want to create 10 minutes of video or create 10 minutes of audio or create a written piece of content that takes 10 minutes to read. So that is the end product that you're trying to create.
Now, I know you've heard a lot about content and content marketing and building authority, and it all sounds so strategic and nebulous and high-minded that it's hard to appreciate how you can do it pragmatically. We're trying to keep it grounded.
- You're already having conversations, whether it's with prospects or clients or referrals or colleagues or or networking forums or online networking opportunities. You're already having conversations. So that data is already coming in to you.
- You already have a point of view on those conversations. You either agree or disagree with a given point, whether you want to refine that point or improve that point. Your expertise already gives you a point of view on those conversations.
So not only do you already have the data coming in, but you already have a place to begin to create content because of your existing point of view.
Position Yourself as an Authority Through Expertise
Here's where people break the model, though: in your conversations, are you listening or are you selling? Sometimes as consultants, we're so excited to share what we know that we find ourselves trying to prove ourselves in all these conversations. We don't listen well enough; we don't hear well enough. We do too much talking.
So there's a new discipline here: you've got to learn to solve for what you heard. So now you can better match your response to the question being asked of you. That connection is very, very important.
What you'll find—and again, this is what turns people off—is that you're going to see some gaps in your expertise. There are some things that you thought you really knew, that as you interact with prospective clients, you realize you don't know them as well as you thought. There are going to be some issues that your prospective clients have that you don't know how to solve for today.
So there's some research you need to do to better bolster your expertise. Because what you'll find here is that your prospect needs a solution, not just more information. They need an answer to the question, not just your opinion or your take on their particular issue.
What you’ll find as you dialogue more is that you're going to find gaps, and those gaps in your expertise need to be solved for. But this discipline of daily content production actively productizes your expertise. You're documenting clear solutions to your clientele's clear questions. They come to you with questions, and now you have targeted, punchy, authoritative, disciplined answers to their questions.
And the better you get at addressing those issues with power and with confidence and with clarity, the more authority you build in your marketplace.
Recap: Three Keys to Becoming an Authority in Your Industry
Let's talk about some next steps—some things you can do right now that will continue to build your authority in your marketplace.
- Be forward-thinking. You are going to be in business for the next 365 days. You have to be able to see next year today. You need time to get better with this discipline; you need time to build the case for your clientele that you really do know what you're talking about.
If you can't see the next year, your thoughts will be so small, they'll be so short term, that you won't be interested in creating value for your marketplace. And that doesn't sound very good, does it?
- Make your conversations valuable. You're going to talk to people anyway. You're in this business, right? You're in the service business. You are going to talk to people anyway, over the next year. So if you're going to talk to people anyway, let that conversation be of maximum value to you.
- Find the opportunities in your conversations. Conversations should be worth more than just a sale or no sale. Too often we have these dialogues, and we only measure them by whether or not we sold some business. What I'm trying to unfold for you here is that there's plenty of opportunity hidden inside that conversation, way beyond the sale or no sale. Three hundred sixty-five days from now, your business could be in a much better place with a lot more momentum.
There are things that you can do with this gallon of pennies that you cannot do with a singular penny. So you want to put yourself in a situation where you have this big gallon of pennies and these other major things you can do because you are now an established authority in your marketplace.
So now what are your precise next steps?
What question were you asked today? What problem were you asked to solve today? As you look at those prospects, those clients, those referrals, those colleagues, and networking that you're doing the forms, that you're a part of, what question were you confronted with today?
For the next five days, get in the rhythm, get in the practice of identifying the “question of the day.” You don't even have to answer it—just inventory the questions. Learn to hear the real business reason behind these things that you're being asked to do.
You don't have to create this entire year's worth of content all at once. You don't have to conceive this whole content marketing approach all at once. It's just too much, frankly. It will overwhelm you. It's a non-starter. What's more practical today is to inventory the question you were asked today, inventory the problem you resolved today.
You're going to be in business for a long time, right? So then let's give ourselves some disciplines that have maximum leverage over this timeframe.
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