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14 Steps to Establish your Business as an Authority in your Field

“Trust is built on credibility, and credibility comes from acting in others’ interests before your own.”

Quote from Stephen Denny – author of “Killing Giants”

Why is building authority so important when establishing your business?
— Because authority attracts attention, communicates credibility, and inspires action.

Without authority, your voice is just a whisper. With authority, you don’t have to shout to be heard. People seek you out and consume everything you offer.

So how do you get online authority? How do you go from being a nobody to becoming the go-to person?

1. Develop your origin story

We know that people love stories. In fact, they are hardwired for it.People are also curious—they want to know where people and stuff come from.

What does that have to do with authority? When people don’t know you or your business or where you come from, it makes it very hard for you to show up with presence or authority. You’re a shadowy unknown instead of a human being.

That’s why it’s important to share your origin story.

Your origin story provides true credibility. It’s also a way to reveal your motivations. In other words, why it is you do what you do.

For Potential customers these questions are racing through their minds.

  • Are you for real?
  • What are you talking about and why do you care about it?
  • What do you want?  
  • Who are you to offer this product or service?

In other words, you are facing doubt, or worse, disbelief and cynicism. These will need to be addressed if your audience is going to hear what you are offering.You need to ground your message in what is real and what your audience knows to be true. Take them into your past circumstances to build a bond with them. Explain the story of your struggles, obstacles, or fears and the hardships you have faced.

Tell them the story of your search to prove that you are a credible expert. Share the details of what you have gone through to master your craft. Paint a picture of what success looks like to inspire your audience and get them to ask you—where do we sign up?

2. Share your mission and vision

You can always demonstrate your expertise and performance, but to become an authority in your niche, you need to let people know why you do what you do. Not just what you do. 

The key ingredient to your success at building authority is expressing the mission you are on. Their audiences see that you really care about their subject matter, and that leads to a certain level of trust in what they’re putting forth.

So share your mission. As Simon Sinek says “What is your Why”.

What do you believe that drives your business? What is the core message that you need to share with the rest of the world? What difference are you trying to make?

Share that with the world, and it will lift your business from being just another face in the crowd to the heartbeat of a movement.

Even if you’re a wizard in your field, that still doesn’t guarantee that people will remember you after watching that video or reading that blog post. But people do remember and get behind movements.

It’s also the reason that your business will evolve into something that truly matters and become an authority in your field.

Create a mission statement. Simon Sinek says in finding your why “People don’t buy what you do; they buy why you do it.” In this short video Simon talks about how to find your why.

3. Make a human connection with your audience

To build authority, we can’t just provide a logical message, because people really buy with their hearts.

Coca-Cola uses this premise extensively in its advertising.

When launching in Colombia, they used a campaign in which college freshmen received bottles of Coke on their first day on campus. The caps to the bottles, however, could only be opened when clicked together with another cap. This forced students to collaborate to open their bottles of Coke and started conversations between strangers on a day when students usually don’t know many people and are often lonely.

For the students who participated in the campaign, the brand could have played an important role by making freshmen meet. So apart from helping diminish the awkwardness of the day, Coca-Cola could be directly associated with the start of important friendships and thereby joyful and lasting memories.

Continuing with the Coca-Cola example, consider some of the ways they have directed their message to their customer avatars and engaged them over the years:

  • Embed storytelling: They used storytelling to create emotional content while weaving its brand deep into the story for students to engage with each other and make new connections at college.
  • Personalize the experience: Coca-Cola produced bottles with people’s names on it.

4. Strive to be unique

Begin by looking at what your audience is after, and focus on what they want, need, and like. Then, look at yourself. What about your work and your personality will connect with your audience? Once you’ve identified those qualities, lean into them, making them into a unique style that conveys who you are. Use that style like a wrapper around everything you do, consistently signaling to your audience that uniqueness that makes you a one-of-a-kind authority.

5. Generosity works better than sales pitches

How do you earn permission to speak to a group of people? How do you get them to engage with your message, buy what you sell, and share your ideas?

Give away what your audience values for free.

To get your name out there as an authority, it may feel like you should be constantly trying to close a ton of sales, to build word of mouth. You don’t have to. In fact, that may even undermine your goal. For example, whose advice are you going to take?

  • A personal trainer you have seen a few times at the gym comes over when he sees you working out. He asks if he could show you a couple of corrections that would make a significant difference to your work out. You accept, and he shows you what you need to do. Note the offer is provided for free without ever mentioning his services. Also you can tell straight away the difference his recommendations make.
  • A personal trainer assigned you for a session because it was part of the package you signed up to.

You’ll value the former, because it will feel more genuine. It may also actually lead to more sales, subtly using the principle of reciprocity. Reciprocity leverages the psychology of wanting to pay people back.

It also can secure sales by using the concept of bundling, best explained by neuroeconomics expert George Loewenstein. He says that all consumers prefer to complete their purchases in one easy transaction rather than purchasing multiple accessories separately. This means that by offering free products, you can easily transition from the “pain of paying” to upsell to paid products.

Give away high-quality content without asking for anything in return, and you will find a much more receptive audience when it comes time to promote your service or product.

A great tactic is highlighting in your content the people you want to connect with, either as case studies or through an interview, to make it onto their radar. Then there’s the time-honored best practice of delivering more than you promise.

6. Just Ship it – Deliver your ideas

There is no way around it, you can’t build authority without putting in the work, and getting your expertise out there into the world, NOW. This holds true with building a business, writing a book, or building a membership site, whatever ideas you have in your head carry no weight unless you put skin in the game in delivering it to the world.

Not only that, people respect others who get the work done and take action. In other words, prove your expertise by delivering in spades. This process also builds massively scalable social proof and word of mouth through seeming to be everywhere.

7. Establish a reputation for 1 outstanding quality

You don’t need a stellar combination of differentiators, just one that persuades your audience. One that also is your calling card. It should announce who you are and get people to listen.

Discover that one thing that defines you. Then work it until it becomes a must-have.

8. Take pride in the sources of your knowledge

One way to determine whether someone is an authority or not is if they connect their advice to trusted sources. This strategy leverages the principle of association.

Real authority figures in an industry have deep knowledge. They know the past, present, and future of their fields. They know the trends, myths, and facts. And they know that wearing the sources of their wisdom on their sleeves makes them look smarter and more knowledgeable.

The next time you produce content or otherwise communicate with your audience, look outside your own experiences and call upon the latest studies, books, journals, and interviews that will lend weight to your advice. Not only will your content be better, your credibility will also increase.

9. Become a trusted curator

When you think of the word curator, do you think knowledgeable expert or amateur enthusiast? Most likely the former.

The objective of content curation among 85% of marketers, according to one survey, is to increase thought leadership.

When starting out online, the roundup post can be an easy way to get into content curation. This is a post that lists the top something or the other in an industry. You round up the best and brightest in the industry and feature them in the post.

It not only establishes you as an authority on that issue, it offers you an opportunity to learn, and it allows you to connect with other authoritative figures in your field by letting them know they have been featured.

This opens the door to new relationships and networking opportunities, aside from the fact that they are likely to share the post with their audiences.

10. Take your expertise offline

There is such a huge focus on having a presence online, that it can be easy to ignore the offline world we all actually live in. However, a combination of offline and online communication can deliver a huge boost to authority.

11. Join established authorities

Governing bodies and associations carry credibility, weight, and influence. This is true even if they are not directly part of your industry.

Take, for example, the Better Business Bureau. Attaching yourself to such organizations grants your business a piece of that unquestionable authority.

12. Create a signature framework

Businesses often dart from one take on their topic to the next without any apparent method or unifying approach to their work. This prevents people from considering them an authority on any particular topic.

Map out the path that a customer would need to take to achieve their desired results. Then break that path down into key concepts that can stand on their own as a theme. Build out each theme with your best tricks, tips, and strategies to go from one to the next.

13. Break into the inner circle. When you associate with influencers and authority figures, you become seen as an authority. We come to this conclusion almost instinctively.

What is a bit of a mystery is how a person starts off and builds those powerful relationships with people that matter.

Consider Jon Nestor of Hack the Entrepreneur, who started off by asking influencers to participate in interviews for his podcast. As the podcast grew, so did his authority and his ability to launch more businesses and help others.

Kick things off by chatting to influencers or authority figures at a meeting or conference. Enroll in a course and get to know attendees and instructors. Sending a persuasive email to engage authority figures in your industry. 

14. Restrict access to create scarcity

Are you good at what you do?

If so, people will want your time and attention. The number of people who pursue you will depend on demand and how good they are. Unfortunately, there isn’t enough time in the day to help everyone who wants it. So you will need to turn away business. Your audience, however, will assume that an expert forced to turn away business is in demand.

On the other hand, a person who is not an authority is open to working with anyone and everyone. Your audience will conclude that a person who is willing to work with anyone at any time cannot be an authority figure.

The harder it is to gain access to your paid services (not including your acts of generosity), the more people want you. So charge a premium price.

That can be a challenge for some of us, but setting prices too low is a mistake. At the very least, price so the person paying feels like they have some skin in the game.

Creating a sense of scarcity or exclusivity also leverages FOMO, or fear of missing out. This feeling has proven to be stronger than the desire to gain something of equal value.

Make your free content easily available, but restrict access to everything else. How? Use tactics like waiting lists, premium prices, limited editions, special invitations, and customer prerequisites.

Produce a limited number of products/tickets or take on a limited number of clients. Provide limited time offers. Share this level of scarcity with a large audience, by telling people how many customers will receive the offer and how many openings there are.

Step up and claim your authority status.

The steps above will help you go from being an unknown entity to a sought after expert with all the benefits that come with authority status in your industry.

No matter what your business goals, building authority will help you achieve it faster. It’ll help you stand out in a crowded marketplace, attract a passionate audience and connect you with the movers and shakers in your industry.

You do not have to wait a lifetime or wait for permission.

Ina Masten, Founder of Masten Solutions

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