As a small business owner, establishing yourself as an authority in your field means that you are setting yourself up to be seen as an expert, go-to resource, trusted advisor, and thought leader. Sharing your knowledge and expertise online with quality content in a strategic way enables search engines to position you in front of your prospects and customers so that you can become more easily found and recognized as a leader in our industry.
Developing and sharing content consistently that is meaningful and useful to your target audience serves the function of building trust. When your potential customers have already consumed your content prior to contacting you, they are already seriously considering working with you. They are primed and ready for your sales conversation and more likely to convert to a paying customer.
Here are 7 tips for using content to build your authority:
The idea here is to become known for something. You want to be the person or company someone thinks of when they need an expert in X; so create content about X. That might seem obvious, but if you are experienced in your field, you likely have a vast range of knowledge. Content is more effective in establishing your authority when you cover a handful of topics well, rather than covering a broad range of less-focused topics. Pick a niche and stick with it, at least for a while, before you branch out to other topics. Your content should always be tied to business goals. You want to sell more X? Write about X. When it’s time to sell more Y. Write about Y.
Stand for something
It’s easy to create content by regurgitating knowledge — like back in school when your teacher asked you to summarize the lesson in your own words. But when you are using content to establish your authority, your audience wants more than rewritten notes they can get somewhere else. Write from your business experience, from your point of view, and don’t shy away from incorporating your opinions or even taking a somewhat controversial or unpopular stance. Your content will help people see you as a leader, and leaders are not afraid to stand for something. If everyone in your industry is using one method, but you’ve found another more effective, write about that. If you believe in doing business with heart or to further a cause or to support your community, write about that. Incorporate your brand’s personality into your content to stand out as an authority.
Keep your finger on the pulse of your industry. It’s important for you to show that you are staying on top of the happenings, events and changes in your field. Write reviews of new books, recaps of conferences and events, respond to announcements and news and give your thoughts on trends and shifts. And while timeliness and serving a journalistic role demonstrates that you’re paying attention, don’t just report on what’s going on in your industry objectively; interpret what new information means for your business and for your customers. If you blog on timely topics regularly, people will begin to seek out your opinion whenever something happens, which positions you as an authority.
Get active on social media
One of the best ways to become and remain visible as an authority in your industry is to get actively engaged in social media. Find the networks where your audience is most active and where the conversations are happening, and ensure that you are showing up and that your content is being shared. If you put effort into regularly entering discussions, answering questions and being thoughtful, helpful and conversant, people will begin to pay attention to your content when you share it. While you’re on on social sites, filter through the noise, pick out the most important and useful content from others, carefully curate it and share it with your audience through your own social networks. Sharing useful and interesting content from others on social media is nearly as important as sharing your original content. Being seen as an authority on social media is about being viewed as well-connected and in-the-know.
Be a guest
Identify blogs and other online media outlets that your target audience is already paying attention to and share your expertise there. Guest blogging, getting interviewed on podcasts and writing guest articles for publications will shortcut the process of establishing your legitimacy with your target audience. Showing up in an already liked and trusted place is like getting a nod of approval and introduction from an existing authority. Getting links back to your website from more popular websites will also help with your search engine optimization (SEO), which will help your potential customers find you more easily. The more established, credible and trusted places online in which you are seen, the more credible and trustworthy you will seem.
Because you are using your content to be found online as an authority, you should be using keywords that people are searching for online. Though you want to write for your audience, not robots, it is important to think about what your audience wants and what they are looking to find. With changes in Google’s algorithms in the past few years, SEO has become less about tricks and tactics, and more about creating and sharing quality content consistently. What specific words and phrases are ‘they’ using to search for the kind of expertise you want to be known for? To become more visible and recognized for your expertise, you want to be found by creating content that will show up in the right places in their search. Start by brainstorming what your target audience might be typing into a search field and listen to how they are phrasing their problems and questions when you are talking to them and in their discussions on social media. Then incorporate that exact language into your content. By doing this, you’re setting yourself up to be viewed as the authority in exactly what they need.
Creating long-form content such as ebooks, whitepapers, case studies and how-to guides allows you to do a deep dive into a topic, provide a more in-depth overview or analysis on a topic, and allows a greater opportunity for you to establish your expertise on that topic. Longer format content can become a go-to resource for a prospect, help a prospect better understand what he or she needs to ultimately make a better-informed decision. In-depth content can also be used specifically as a lead magnet that prospects will have to sign up to receive, so that you can begin nurture sequences through email marketing, or invite prospects for a consultation.
Establishing authority with content as a business owner is not about creating fame or becoming known so you can stroke your ego. Building your brand authority using content is a strategy specifically meant to help you gain trust of potential customers and shorten sales cycles. If you want to know more about how to build your authority using content, contact us for a consultation. We’ll get help you get known and make it fun while we’re at it!