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Building Authority to Differentiate Your Business
Today's video is the second in our series on how to differentiate your business – specially tailored for service businesses.
Today we're looking at how to become seen as an Authority or Go To Expert in your field. And frankly, I think most people who teach this topic get it completely wrong. They focus on the “plumbing” rather than the fundamentals.
So in this week's video I teach you 4 methods that will properly position you as an authority in your field.
Hi, it's Ian here. Welcome to another 5 minute marketing tip. We are talking again today about how to differentiate your business, and in this video in particular, how to become seen as an authority in your field, an expert, a go-to expert, or leading expert in your field. I think that most people who teach you how to do this have got things the wrong way round. I'll explain why after the break. See you there.
Hi, it's Ian here. Welcome back. Being seen as an authority in your field, or a go-to expert, has become a very popular topic these days, pretty much everyone says it's one of the must-do things you want to do if you want to have a very successful business. I don't think it's necessary for most business. It's a very valuable position, but I don't think it's necessary for most business. In fact, I don't think it's possible. Of course, logically, we can't all be one of the top experts in our field. It just doesn't work like that. In particular, clients don't need the top expert in the field all the time. For most clients, most of the sort of work they need doing needs a good job doing at a decent price by someone they know, like, and trust, and that's about it.
Having said that, of course, if you are seen as one of the leading experts in your field, then you're more likely to be working on the most interesting work, get paid the best rates for it, and to be constantly in demand. It is a great position to have, but not everyone can have it, partly because there's only a limited number of people who can be there, and partly because you genuinely do need to be a leading expert in your field to get there. Now to be seen as a leading expert, you need 2 things. You need to have that expertise, as I've said, and you need people to see that expertise. They need to know that you are an expert. Now, that latter thing is often about writing a book, doing videos, being on TV, radio, doing blog posts, articles, webinars, et cetera, et cetera.
Those are all important, and that's what most people focus on when they try and teach you how to become known as an expert in your field. That's what 99% of the teaching is about, how to take your expertise and then get it out there so people see it. For me, that side of things is just the plumbing. It's a bit like if you're talking about the vintage wine business. The vintage wine business, you've got to grow the wine, and then you've got to get it to the shops. You've got to market it so people know about it, then you've got to sell it, and you've got to bottle it, et cetera.
Now, the bottling, the distribution, the marketing, is all necessary. Without that, your vintage wine wouldn't sell, but it doesn't make vintage wine. You need really great wine in the first place. It's all about the grapes, the soil conditions, how you grow them, how you ferment them in the oak casks, or whatever it is you do. You can tell I'm not really a great winemaker. The point is that, although the plumbing is important, of getting stuff to the customer and marketing it, you need to start out with a great vintage. That's what you should focus on. If you really want to be seen as an expert in your field, that plumbing stuff is all doable. There's lots of different ways of learning how to do that. What's tricky is building that expertise in the first place. Before you start sharing stuff, have something really valuable to share.
Now I'm going to share with you 4 ways of coming up with something valuable to share, your expertise of building your authority. The first of those is to leverage your own experience. All of us have our own story to tell of how we got to where we are, and very often that story establishes us as knowing about a certain field. To take an extreme example, if you had the chance of employing Richard Branson to help you learn and to teach about entrepreneurship, you'd jump at that chance because his own experience has proven that he's a brilliant entrepreneur and knows how to do it. Even on a smaller scale, we've all got examples of that.
In my case, for example, as you probably know, I started off as a consultant, and I eventually moved into marketing and business development in consulting. I went from being absolutely hopeless at it, and completely not a natural, to being reasonably good at it. Now I was never the super star, wonderful sales person, but actually that's all right for me, because when I was teaching people about face to face marketing and business development, most people really just wanted to get to quite good, because they were starting off where I'd started off, at that uncomfortable and not very good position. They didn't see the super star sales person position as being at all feasible for them.
You don't have to have changed the world and run a Fortune 500 company for your experience to be valuable. It just takes you to think about who would my experience be valuable to, and then offer that experience as your expertise, your authority to those people.
The second way you can establish your authority is through a big idea, or big ideas. Now this is how a lot of well-known people do it. If you think about the field of business strategy for example, Michael Porter is a classic example. Now, the mechanics folks, the plumbing folks would tell you, “How did Michael Porter become seen as the leading expert on business strategy? Well, he wrote some best-selling books.” That was how he did it, through publishing.
Of course, hundreds, if not thousands of people have written books. It wasn't the fact that Porter wrote books that established him as the leader in strategy, it was the ideas contained in those books that really established him. The value chain model, the 5 forces model, et cetera, et cetera, really caught people's imagination, really helped them to develop business strategy, and therefore positioned him as the real expert. Now obviously coming up with a big idea yourself isn't easy, otherwise we'd all be doing it, but just a couple of quick tips for, I guess, coming up with small ideas that could grow into big ideas.
The first thing is to take your experience, take the things that have worked well for you, the things you have done with clients that have been very successful, and try and simplify them. Bring them down to the 1, 2, 3 key factors that have really worked to drive that. When I started off doing Pain Free Marketing, that was all based on the 2 or 3 things, value and advanced nurturing relationships, that had really worked for me, and I turned that into Pain Free Marketing. You can break it down step by step, so that Porter's value chain model is really just taking the end to end process from a supplier to a manufacturer, to a distributor, to a retailer, and breaking down those steps and analyzing the costs, and the value added, and things at each of those different steps.
If you break down your model … I guess my client flow model is another example where I've broken down and simplified the steps in marketing and business development for professional service firms into 4 big steps, and then just looked at those. You could group things together. That's Porter's 5 forces model. He just grouped together the different areas of competition, that drove competition in a particular industry, into those 5 main forces. It's fairly simple when you look at it afterwards. All he did really was brainstorm, validate, and thought about it, brought in some economics, but it worked. It gave people new ideas and helped them think differently about their industry.
Can you group together different things that you've worked on into categories and draw a model around them that's really going to help people understand things better? You look at stuff like that. You can also build on existing models. A great example of that is Richard Koch. Richard, you may know, wrote the 80/20 Principle book. Huge, multi-million best seller, established himself as a real leader and expert, but of course it was based on the work of Alfredo [Perito 00:07:22] back in the 16th century or something like that. You can take old ideas and renew them, or you can put more depth, more flesh onto existing ideas. You can build on other people's ideas, and take them that step further. The big idea can work really well.
Something related that works really well is research. Great example of that is someone like Jim Collins who wrote Built to Last and Good to Great. Now, Collins based those books, and his position of expertise and authority, on a whole bunch of research he did into what makes great companies, or what's the difference between a good company and a great company. He did, in his word, he did very thorough, very deep research. Some people have doubted how deep it really was, but that really established his position, because he had that research and he had that evidence for what he was saying and why he was recommending things that other people didn't have.
Again, you can do that yourself on a small scale by doing surveys, by interviewing people in your target sector. I did it, for example, when I started up, by interviewing … I became known as a real expert at business development for law firms despite the fact that I had no background in there. I interviewed 20 senior partners in law firms locally, asked them about business development and best practices, then all of a sudden I knew more about business development best practice in law firms than pretty much anyone else, because no one else had gone to the effort of doing that in-depth research. If you do the in-depth research in your sector, your industry, you can get that expert position as well.
Finally, the fourth technique is what I like to call technology transfer. A bit related to what we talked about with the 80/20 principle, where Koch took something that was kind of old and transferred it into the modern age. With technology transfer, what you're often doing is taking something that's working in another industry or sector and getting it to work in your particular industry or area of expertise or [specialism 00:09:13]. It's quite tied up with what we talked about last week in terms of specializing. You look in another industry, find out what's working there. You see if it'll work in your industry, you apply it. You're one of the first to make it work in your sector because some sectors are ahead of others, for example. Some types of customer or client are quicker to adopt new practices in any given field than others.
Transfer it to yours, see if it works, and then share that experience. Great example of that is a guy called Mark Dawson here in the UK. Mark's a fiction author who spotted that lots of other sectors, like the marketing sector, et cetera, were using Facebook advertising. Decided he would try to use it to sell his fiction books. It worked really well for him, so if he then went on to create a course for authors on Facebook advertising, and became known as the authority in Facebook advertising for authors. Now nothing in Mark's course was particularly new or revolutionary. It's stuff that people have been doing in other sectors for a couple of years, but it was new and revolutionary for authors because they'd never done it before.
Again, you can do the same in your sector. You can look at other industries or other sectors that are a bit more leading edge, pick up some practices from there that look interesting. You've got to try them out in your own sector and make sure they work. You can't just say they work. That technology transfer into your sector or from other fields entirely, from sports, from politics, or from history, like Richard Koch did, that can all work to bring in new things into your sector so that you can become known as the authority based on that transfer in.
Those are 4 big methods that you can use to establish your authority based on genuine expertise and genuine differences in thinking. Rather than just rehashing the same old same old and sharing it, create something new using those 4 methods, and then share that. That's what'll really establish you as authority in your field. See you next week.