Position Yourself as an Authority, and Watch Business Boom
It is a pre-requisite in business these days that the founder, CEO or principal must become an authority in their industry.
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Let's face it, it is tough building a business today. There is more competition then ever. There are new widgets and gadgets, that are confusing your clients, every day.
Long gone are the days when your customers would just buy because of a good product and a good price -- they want more! Consumers are looking for an experience or a feeling. Your customers want more then ever for their money. They want to be emotionally stimulated.
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Your competitors have already figured it out and they're stealing your business. Twenty years ago, business owners made it a habit of holding all of their information "close to the chest." It would seem insane for the principle of the business to go out and speak publicly about how they were different, why they were growing so fast or why new customers were flocking to their doors. We use to call this information "trade secrets."
Today, those same principals and CEOs have realized that sharing the secrets is the key to winning the loyalty of clients and customers. New terms like authority, expert and thought leader have completely changed how people do business today.
In the best-selling book Behind The Cloud, Salesforce.com Founder Marc Benioff goes into great detail on the strategy that he used to bring significant attention to his SaaS start up. He positioned himself as an authority on anything to do with human resources, politics and business.
Whenever something was happening in the media, Benioff would reach out to TV and national radio and get himself on air to give his opinion. Sometimes, he would have to make up his opinion as he went on.
Benioff proved that becoming an authority would propel his business onto the world stage. Today, Salesforce.com is the market leader. They host annual events with over one hundred attendees from all over the world, and they are 10 times bigger then their closest competitor.
If asked, Benioff would undoubtedly agree that his authority status was worth millions of dollars in advertising and new revenue. If we dissect Benioff's authority strategy, we can quickly see three good reasons for you to focus on becoming an authority in your industry.
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1. Brings attention to you
You are the principle of the business. This is one case where a little ego will go a long way. Any attention that comes to the founder or CEO of the business will inevitably bring more revenue to the company.
Every time you are introduced as an authority, the first thing said after your name is the name of your company. The more you are speaking on stage, being interview on TV or giving an opinion on radio, the more people are going to learn about your business. If you're really savvy, you will also figure out how to weave your business into then things you say as examples.
2. Brings new customers to your business
Consumers always want to be associated with the best-in-class product. If you have ever tried to launch a new product in a crowded space where there is a true market-leader, you understand how difficult it actually is.
What is most frustrating is when you know that the reigning "best-in-class" is an inferior product. The only thing that trumps the best-in-class spending habits of consumers is a new product being launched by the leading authority in the space.
Look at what is happening with Tim Fargo's startup, Tweet Jukebox. Fargo has been one of the leading expert users (authorities) on Twitter for years. He recently launched a new tool to help Twitter users post better content, more often -- and it's an overnight success.
Now, I am addicted to Tweet Jukebox and think it's a great product, but I wouldn't have wasted a second looking at it, if it weren't for Fargo's authority status on Twitter.
3. Increases loyalty in your customers.
Real "authorities" will be incredibly passionate about a chosen subject. They will be publishing articles with their thoughts regularly. They will be Tweeting, Facebooking, Pinning and writing on Reader's Legacy on a daily basis, and their customers will follow every word, loyally.
Ken Blanchard wrote a wonderful parable on the art of creating customer loyalty called Raving Fans. In it, Blanchard touches on the importance of authority positioning. It is becoming harder and harder to win the hearts of new customers, so you need to do everything you can to keep the ones you have. Positioning yourself as an authority and communicating with your customers, through every means possible, will increase their loyalty. Customers want to follow the champion.
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I am going to spend the next couple of months studying and writing on the art of becoming an authority. I am convinced that it is becoming a pre-requisite in business that the founder, CEO or principal must become an authority in their industry. If you don't do it, you will be destroyed by your competition -- because their principle is taking this stuff seriously. They are becoming an authority.