UNDERSTANDING YOUR SWEET SPOT IS A PRE-REQUISITE TO PROGRESS
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Clarity + Positioning + Connection = Remembered & Referred

Would you like to be widely known as the “go-to” person for a specific problem?

Would you like more ideal clients from direct referrals?

Would you like more opportunities to share your knowledge with other people’s audiences?

Would you like to collaborate with people you respect and admire?

Would you like to impact the lives of far more people?

All of this can happen by design.

It starts with a STRATEGY.

And that the strategy the delivers all the above (plus a thriving business) is AUTHORITY BRANDING.

Authority has power.  It attracts attention, accelerates trust, overcomes obstacles and inspires action.

It’s the ultimate win win.

When audience perceives you as an authority – that is a legitimate advisor, teacher or guide  –  the better THEY will engage, learn and implement to get excellent outcomes.  Building YOUR authority sets up a cycle of success for your CLIENTS.

Being perceived as a “go-to” (aka authority) would transform your business this way:

From

Overlooked
Fuzzy, Forgettable
Spinning Wheels
Unknown
Competing

To

In Demand
Clear, Memorable
Dizzying Momentum
Pre Qualified Clients
Lifting Others

Authority branding underpins organic growth because others will refer ideal clients to you, short circuiting effort-full marketing.  Not just more prequalified clients, you will get exposure, opportunities and invitations.  (Are you ready for that?)

Why does it work?  We humans have an “authority bias” sub-consciously operating.  This results in the advice of an authority having a higher perceived value, which means (among other benefits) you’ll be to charge higher prices for access your brand of genius.

Exciting huh?  And achievable.

Every single entrepreneur you see “out there” was right where you are today.  They all started with very little in the way of credibility or followers.  They had to step into it.

Now the shocking honesty  (and as a marketer, it’s painful not to claim “here is your easy and fast magic pill that you will make a squillion next week …..).

There are no overnight sensations.

It takes effort, patience, time, connections and generosity.  It will seem like a lot of effort goes unrewarded, so for most of us, it involves frustration at times.  There will be a number of wrong turns and plenty of iterations.

You also need real assistance from others – so nurturing relationships is key.

That said, an Authority Branding strategy can bear fruit quickly – particularly once we identify the under leveraged assets that you’re sitting on.

This strategy offers 2 great opportunities for know how entrepreneurs:

  • it puts you in a lane of your own
  • it gives you milestones to work towards.

An analogy I love is the train tracks (with metaphor credit to my friend James Schramko)

1. You have determined your RIGHT destination (making a great living packaging, selling and teaching your “know how” to better the lives of others)

2. You have your RIGHT strategy (in this case Authority Branding)

3. Now, you lay out your “tracks” and pursue your goals with focused effort and determination. No second guessing, no roundabouts.

The opposite to “going off the rails” is (obviously) staying on the rails and taking the easier ride.

And this strategy gives you those rails.

Each accomplishment (or station) on the authority ladder will feel like real progress, and you can lay your tracks to the next goal.

At times you will despair, and feel you’ve started too late and are too far behind or there’s too much competition and no space for you.

Or you’ll doubt that you have anything new to say or that there is anyone left to teach.

And those things will be true if you let them stop you or you keep procrastinating.

A favourite aphorism ….

The best time to plant a tree was 20 years ago.
The second best time is today.

You want to, and you can, make a living from your know how. You can start right where you are and build your authority.  You can stand out in a cluttered space.

Success is not a goal, it is an outcome of good strategy AND discipline applied to practices that move the dial every day.

Authority branding as a strategy gives you those practices.

Sound good?  Ready to roll up sleeves and get to work?

This post:

  • Is about Authority Branding, and we are going to start with positioning and make sure your brand is poised to support an Authority platform.
  • Will demonstrate the “do not pass go, do not collect $200” criticality of clarity and specificity, with a crash course in positioning
  • Will ask if you are ready to be an Authority (and what to do if you’re not there yet)
  • Will look at the sources of credibility in the market place and propose a segmentation framework to determine yours.
  • Will examine the personal attributes of Authorities
  • Will audit what you already have in your kit bag that can be leveraged for greater authority
  • Show examples of authority signifiers used by leading authorities on their websites
  • Will give you 6 approaches for building authority so you can choose your own adventure and play from strength.

The strategy works whether you are:

  • an Aspiring Authority – as yet unknown and starting from scratch
  • a Rising Authority – getting traction and ready to leverage your assets
  • Amplifying Your Authority – well know and heading rapidly to the stars

We’ve talked about how branding and authority combine into a powerful business strategy.

We know great branding gets noticed and authority persuades.  So, this strategy is a fast track (via the subconscious mind) to respect and trust PLUS (bonus!) it is a signifier of quality.

This post goes deep into authority building, but it is a BRANDING strategy – so it is designed to be deployed with a strongly built brand.

Which means we must address the fundamentals of BRANDING first – because without the branding side of the equation nailed, your efforts to build authority are going to be wasted.

First; context and definitions.

Your BRAND is the sum total of how someone perceives you.  That includes who they think you are, what they think you do, how well they think you do it, whether you are “for them” and whether you can solve a problem or fulfil a desire.

BRANDING is the process of deliberately shaping that perception to effectively position you and create a connection.

BRANDING IS ABOUT 2 THINGS:

 

If positioning is new for you, here is the most important thing to grasp …. positioning takes place in the mind of prospects.

The concept was developed in the 1970’s by advertising execs Al Ries and Jack Trout and their message has never wavered (and is in fact more relevant than ever).  Positioning is perception management.

We can’t assume that the message we send is the one received.   So our (not so) simple job is to SEND our message so clearly and remarkably that we stake our claim in their minds with the efficiency of a javelin.

 

Keyword:  Stake

So clarity and specificity are absolute requirements.

For an authority branding strategy to work, you must be top of mind for referral by anyone in your network when they run across someone with the problem you can solve.

We must nail your positioning – your hook – your sweet spot.

Let’s understand the scale of the task:

Imagine your mind as a single gate in a fortress wall.

Your gate is constantly under siege from foe (and some friends, both invited and uninvited).

Stimulus, people, new information, complex tasks and decisions – all clamoring for your poor bombarded mind’s attention – often simultaneously.

Your ancient reptilian brain (henceforth the lizard) is paranoia city. The lizard’s primal reaction to anything new is “probable threat”.

It would be happy turning away everything new at the gate (and it actually does this, the lizard filters out huge volumes of unwanted information at an unconscious level).

So the lizard is purely reactive.

So what makes us open our attention gate?   Here are 3;

  • Immediate danger, shock or fear
  • Messages from trusted sources (especially loved ones)
  • Answers to our questions, ie invited information

So, if you do manage to register with the lizard, then the limbic system, the mammalian brain … enters the fray.

This is where visual information, pattern recognition and your emotional responses emanate.  Your mind is sifting and your emotions respond before you’ve had a single “thought”.

Aside:  This is the power of design and visuals.  Symbols and colour register prior to words

Only now does the neo-cortex, the part of your brain responsible for language, logic and “thinking” start its work.    Neuroscience now contends the limbic braind (visual / emotional / non thinking) decides and the rational brain “rubber stamps”.

Why does this diversion into brain science align with an Authority Branding strategy?  Because the strategy works powerfully with the human mind.

POSITIONING arrests the reptilian brain

CONNECTION activates the visual sense and emotions in the mammalian brain and

LEGITIMACY AND AUTHORITY are processed by the neo-cortex with it’s love of “tick boxes”.

Our minds are struggling with the quantum increase in complexity, detail and distraction.  Minds crave simplicity so when we meet, my mind will allocate you a “slot”.

From there on all we know about you gets looped through that first “position”.

Your action?  Ruthlessly hone your message.

Here is an outstanding example of clarity

So positioning is:

  • Clear
  • Specific
  • Attention Grabbing

Known as your Value Proposition, I call them the “magic words” – they reflect your Sweet Spot – your place in the sun.

I love helping entrepreneurs find theirs.

These are some of the questions that your value proposition will answer.

  • WHO you are and WHO you help
  • WHAT you are known for helping WITH (problem)
  • WHAT happens as a result (their from this… / to this….)
  • WHY they should trust you, WHY they should choose yo and WHY you care.

Here are couple of great examples of value propositions:

Done well, this is the most powerful communication tool you have!

Once you have your value proposition (I also call them your magic words), you deploy them everywhere, in virtually every piece of communication; from your home page, your long and short bio, what you say when you are asked what you do, what you want others to say about you when they refer you.

Crafting these few well written sentences will do so much heavy lifting for you.

So if you are struggling with clarity or specificity I invite you to consider working 1-1 with me in my “On Point Positioning” program – details are here.

 

green-wiggle-line

OK, so you’ve nailed your positioning (which includes your value proposition and magic words)

The other goal of branding activity is Connection:

If you are playing a long game, business is about relationships – building a model where creating value for clients is central to everything you do.

The most effective ways to grease the wheels of connection are:

  • insightful communication
  • likeability
  • sincerity and
  • appealing to emotion.

You tone will be yours alone, some might combine insightful communication with empathy, some with vulnerability. Insight might also underpin a humorous tone ( as all great stand up does) … or you can rattle some cages, but if you want to increase your ability to connect, use insight as your starting point.

Likeability, sincerity and appealing to emotion can be achieved by purposefully infusing your brand with human-ness (what I call a personable brand).

Infusing your real self into your brand gives you the opportunity to demonstrate empathy.  You can create warmth and resonance or be audacious, swear-y and funny or inspire others with your vision, passion and purpose.

People bond with people.  Insight, understanding and empathy are connection amplifiers.  In all your communication, on your platform and on social, meet people right where they are – in all their beautiful mess – and demonstrate that you have a true understanding of their challenges and you can see over the horizon for them.

Remember though …. connection is easy to damage with judgement or dogma.   Never assume someone is stupid – they are much more likely to be lost, confused, tired or overwhelmed. This stuff is hard for everyone!  That “newbie” in your Facebook group could easily outshine you in 2 years time.

Be wary of putting yourself above your audience and make it a practice to treat everyone with equal respect.

Storytelling:

Stories are a great bridge. Personable brands have one huge advantage over big brands – we can use story telling to accelerate connection.

The reason that storytelling is so powerful is that stories are an ancient, pre-cognitive form of communication.  Myth lives in the limbic system (where some believe our collective unconscious lives), the universality of reaction to a powerful story.

Stories activate our emotional response and allow us to connect on a human level.  Well managed and genuine, they can also create a container for vulnerable sharing.

Ok, so now you’ve got positioning and connection nailed.

Uh-oh – not nailed?  If you’ve missed some brand foundations, I invite you to my short training called “The One Page Brand”  – it is a free download (for now anyway)

Now it’s time layer TRUST onto those strategic foundations by building authority.

 

AUTHORITY is perceived legitimacy to enforce rules, provide a diagnosis, teach, give advice or state an opinion.

Who do we listen to?  Who do we learn from?  Who can change our minds or influcence our actions?

We are more likely to open our minds to new data when we perceive a teacher or advisor as having legitimacy and credibility.  Authority accelerates trust and respect.

SO HOW DO WE decide who to trust and why?

We were all born knowing nothing about the world, we were raised by parents and taught by adults who asked for (from most of us) obedience and respect.

Humans are shaped to understand hierarchy and read pecking order.  From school age we can perceive who has authority.

Authority has signals, such as uniforms, titles, weapons, even confidence or swagger.  (Authority is a bit masculine actually …. but women can shape it to suit them).

At some point in childhood we learn doctors went to school for six years, which gives doctors authority to diagnose our health problems and give us a cure.

This early conditioning creates an unconscious regard towards perceived authority.  The authority bias persists throughout our lives – meaning we are hardwired to accept the opinion of someone who is seen as an authority.

So we listen to the teacher, or our scout leader or the person with the microphone.   Our lizard brain confers authority to the person we see on the TV news or standing on stage, hear on the radio or in the paper or see standing on stage.

Can we as business owners leverage authority bias to accelerate trust and commitment?

Yes we can.

Are You Ready to Be An Authority?

Start where you are

Use what you have

Do what you can           …………    Arthur Ashe

Ok, so here’s the truth.  You are never going to feel “ready”, there will never be a day that you have the breezy confidence that you envy in others.  There will never be a day that you have your ducks in a row or know all there is to know.

You don’t need anyone’s blessing to step up and be an authority. In fact, others may recognize and nurture it in you well before you “claim” it for yourself.

Confidence comes from doing.  And especially from stretching.  From taking on projects that you weren’t quite ready for and pulling it off (or perhaps not pulling it off and learning a the hard way).

Here is my “one question” authority test:

Do you have evidence that by following your guidance, your clients have experienced positive outcomes or transformations from what you’ve taught?

Yes?  You are ready to build your Authority.

Isn’t our ultimate goal to be useful? …. We all get our joy from enriching the lives of clients so they get results that transform their businesses or their lives?

Remember that win win success cycle?  The greater esteem you are held in  –  the more your clients will listen, learn and implement.    It follows that building your perceived authority sets up a cycle of success for you and YOUR CLIENTS – the same people you care so deeply about helping.

Authority is not about manipulation and slick sales tactics, it is giving people a true reckoning of our know how, experience and ability to help them solve their problems and improve their lives.

So on the days you struggle with self doubt and low confidence?  Believe in this:   The outcomes your clients experience.

That is the reason you put in all the effort that you do.  That is what gives you a giant dose of fulfillment.

If you are like me, witnessing transformation is your “big WHY” – your inspiration – that underpins the self belief you need to step into your authority.  The rest will come with results.

Confidence is like a bank.  Deposit there now by writing a list of the times that you’ve felt really stretched and you’ve made it through (or event triumphed).  Collect your war stories.  You’ve shown a lot of fortitude to get where you are today and that will serve you well.  (I have mine in a “tough days” folder with thank you notes, testimonials and positive comments)

A great person once said “doubt is the great thief of dreams”

I’ve found this to be true …. that said, let’s acknowledge that the voice of doubt has a job (which it generally does with enthusiasm).

Doubt works hard to keep us comfortable and safe.  It prevents us exposing ourselves to risk or harm.   And so the voice of doubt inevitably says “who are you to be doing this?”

Well, who are you to turn your back on the people who are waiting for you help?  Who are you to hide somewhere safe when people’s lives could be transformed with what you know?

It’s unlikely you are a narcissist and quite likely that you have no desire to perceived as one.  I acknowledge that you have to s-t-r-e-t-c-h and  there will be some discomfort.

You’ll probably have to push yourself.  But you’ve done that before.  You can do this.  And you can do it your way, you won’t turn into an off putting braggart overnight.  In fact you can be humble and highly credible.

The word Authority, like it’s edgier cousin “Expert” is intimidating, particularly if we are in the early stages of positioning.  It requires us to raise our head above the parapet, get into the arena and put skin in the game.

It means taking a position and having an opinion.  (A discerning, well argued, fair and balanced opinion is good, but an opinion none the less)

You’re becoming a teacher, an advisor, a leader – which means people will listen to you and actually act on your advice, with (presumably) positive consequences.

So you must believe in what you know, what you’ve learned or taught yourself, the lived experience you’ve had.

You’ve made a huge investment in time, energy and usually money in acquiring know how.  And because you can’t “unknow”, (revisit your “before knowledge” mind), you can’t see that what comes easily or naturally to you is not simple for everyone.  Or that what you know is anything but common knowledge.

Every single thing you know how to do, you had to learn.  Everything was hard before it was easy.   There are hundreds, perhaps thousands of things, you’ve learned about your field that others want (and need) to know.

Most people are at the early stages of a trip you’ve taken years ago. Your “obvious” is their “breakthrough”.

Believe it.

Here is a great article about “imposter syndrome” that afflicts so many people as they step into their power.  Don’t let doubt stop you creating the life you want, a life that creates a positive ripple effect on the lives of others.

The Ultimate Authority Branding strategy post continues with the following  …….

  • The sources of credibility in the market place and propose a segmentation framework that will help you determine yours.
  • An examination of the personal attributes of Authorities
  • Will audit what you already have in your kit bag that can be leveraged for greater authority
  • Show examples of authority signifiers used by leading authorities on their websites
  • Will give you 6 approaches for building authority so you can choose your own adventure and play from strength.
  • Be it
  • Borrow it
  • Broadcast it
  • Bond it
  • Brazen it
  • Buy it

 

This is the most effective and simplest strategy for know how entrepreneurs to increase your impact, your profits, your opportunities and your fulfilment.  And this post lays it all out for you, to apply in a way that feels aligned.

There are 3 learning options for you to continue on this journey of discovery – an E-book, a 6 part email training series or an audio file.  Please join us by choosing your favourite medium below.