Whether your product is sold directly to the public or you're a B2B operator, being known and trusted is a crucial factor when it comes to people choosing your brand and buying your product.
What happens when you walk into a business conference? Do heads turn? Is your name on people's lips?
And when you introduce yourself to someone, do they already know about you? Are you the person they were hoping to speak to?
If the answer is yes, congratulations! Influential people are far more likely to talk to you, potential clients will flock to your business, and they will be far more comfortable committing to a business deal with you, thanks to your personal reputation.
Whether your product is sold directly to the public or you're a B2B operator, being known and trusted is a crucial factor when it comes to people choosing your brand and buying your product. Big companies spend millions on advertising to build their reputations and ensure this happens, but you can overtake them in the trust stakes by building your own personal brand through hard work and passion.
Become a thought leader.
As an entrepreneur or business leader, you should already have a unique niche in which you are an expert. What's more, your activities and opinions are inherently interesting to others. You already have what it takes to be a thought leader. And while "thought leader" is a marketing term that can be both misleading and off-putting, you don't necessarily need to be saying anything revolutionary. You just need to be seen as an acknowledged expert in an area of interest relevant to your client base.
If you're stuck for ideas, a good approach is to consider current hot topics and write up your opinion on them. True, everyone has an opinion. But on the other hand, yours is unique. And if you can pinpoint the issues that are of interest to your client base and provide an insightful angle on them based on your specific knowledge, they will listen.
Once the creative juices are flowing, the following three-step approach will help you get published in newspapers, magazines and websites. And you may have journalists calling you for your opinion.
Here are three steps to becoming an expert in your field.
1. Build your online and social media presence.
Unless you or your business are already well-known, you need to build a basis from which to launch your media career. A blog, in particular, is a great way of proving to the professionals that you can deliver good content.
Try to be disciplined and write regularly, picking subjects that are of interest to your client base. Too many thought leaders write for their peers, rather than the sectors they sell to. This is not only a harder niche to break in to, it's far less commercially useful.
Write your blogs to the length of a newspaper column (700 to 1,000 words), and offer a well-rehearsed argument that considers different perspectives. Re-read your article before posting it, and follow it up with as much social media engagement as possible.
Questions that encourage people to tweet back are good, and you should also directly target journalists and other opinion-makers.
2. Break into the media.
This sounds daunting, but it isn't. Remember, the media is always looking for content, and you are offering it for free. Many trade press websites carry regular expert opinion, so pitch an article idea to an editor, including a link to your blog to prove you can deliver.
It's worth working hard on these initial approaches, because the first pitch is the hardest part. Once you have contributed something valuable, you may be asked to provide content regularly.
For small businesses, it's worthwhile learning about your local and regional media outlets. Talk with a reporter and explain your niche. They might be willing to reach out to you for comment when a story breaks.
3. Target speaking opportunities.
Instead of just going to conferences, what if you spoke at one? As with writing, you could start small, perhaps with a local business event, then work up to bigger audiences.
Pitch your ideas using your past media coverage and local experience as proof. If you run a business and have a string of published articles to your name, you're already established enough to pitch yourself as an expert, which, in your field, you are.
Next, use your speaking engagements to promote your blog, and use your articles to highlight topics coming up at conferences you are involved in.
Before you know it, you'll be that person everybody wants to talk to!