Having authority in your niche is a golden way to help you reach more customers, build instant trust and get to “yes” a whole lot faster and easier. But how?
In our last two pieces we:
- covered how and why building authority for your brand is so crucial to your success,
- shared Jane’s EVAA paradigm, four critical factors for building authority for pet brands and
- discussed how to tell whether you can be a credible authority in something.
But now what?
It’s time to take your first steps to become the authority in your community and the rockstar expert all your clients want to work with.
Ready? Awesome. Let’s go.
Focus is Key
The key here is recognizing that, as Jane’s always saying, you don’t need to be everywhere. You don’t need to do everything and you don’t need to be everything to everyone. In fact, this works better if you’re not.
So say that with me:
I don’t need to be everywhere…
I don’t need to do everything….
I don’t need to be everything to everyone…
In fact, it works better if I’m not.
So let’s choose together where you’re going to show up and how. (For more on this, check out How to Have It All Without Having To Do It All.)
The 10 Best Paths to Building Petpreneur Authority
We’ve collected the top 10 ways Nic and Jane have seen and helped Petpreneurs grow their authority. Read through each of them and then use the workbook to pick which is best for you.
1. Testimonials from third parties
Simply put, if you’re not collecting and sharing reviews from happy customers, stop reading and pick this path first. Studies show that the majority of customers, media and other businesses who connect with your ideal clients will read up on you before reaching out – and that includes reading your client’s reviews on platforms like Google, Facebook, LinkedIn and more. Just as important, one study found that customers frequently spend 31% more with businesses with excellent reviews.
Don’t worry, you don’t need to have reviews on all of these platforms and you don’t need to use them everywhere. BUT, if you haven’t started collecting feedback from customers yet, read up on this simple system for getting feedback and then consider asking those who give you top marks to help you out by publishing a review. And for you overachievers, consider hooking into a third party verification software, like Feefo, to automate the process and make it sooo much simpler.
2. PR: Get Interviewed
Similar to the effect of testimonials and online reviews, getting interviewed by respected news outlets provides instant authority and trust for your brand. In fact, while PR isn’t usually seen as a straight-sales tactic (meaning it’s more-often regarded as awareness-generating over direct sales in the sales funnel), one study found that regular PR significantly increased sales for German car companies, which makes perfect sense. Really, the more people you can entice into your sales funnel, the more chance you have of converting them.
So, in this way, more PR=more visibility + authority=more awareness=more sales. As our very own business-PR specialist and Working with Dog Member, Reyna Gobel, says, “When you’re able to get press both inside and outside of the pet space, it expands your market. You never know who will be your next client. And for some, local is better than national press.”
For more tips on this, check out this month’s tips and tricks for getting interviewed and give a listen to our PR master chat.
3. PR: Write for others
Few people realize how many media outlets and blogs will readily accept content from experts – as long as you vow not to run a straight sales pitch for your business. The trick is really matching what the reader’s want and need with what you can offer as an authority. For example, is summer tick season coming up? Perhaps your dog walking business can pen a simple reminder on the value of flea and tick prevention on the trails, or share how to remove a tick. Offer it to your local paper as an op-ed and remind them that 68+% of US households have pets. It’s a win-win. They get free, quality content and you get recognition, a link back to your website and a town-full of potential customers exposed to your expertise. Reyna notes: “Don’t get discouraged if you don’t hear back right away. It may take a few weekly follow ups or a second story pitch. If the editor or reporter responds and mentions something good about your idea, it’s always worth at least one more email.”
Check out our simple pitch checklist to get started.
4. Public speaking
Is a pet expo coming to town, or are you planning to attend an industry conference next year? Apply to speak! If your audience has a B2B component, speaking at local, national and international industry events not only establishes you as an authority for those who get to see you – it does the same for everyone you tell about it. And you WILL tell everyone about it.
The psychology is simple – if this industry conference thinks you’re good enough to talk about something, so will your potential customers. The hardest part is figuring out which ones to pitch and what to tell them you want to talk about. Touch base with Jane (jane@workingwithdog) if you’re interested in this, as she often coaches and helps Petpreneurs get started.
5. Build a following and get the numbers on ONE platform
As we discussed in this month’s piece “How Do I Know If I Can be An Authority?” sometimes building authority is less about being a factual expert and more about taking people on a journey with you. Whether your brand could benefit from working with big brands, getting the attention of publishers and, perhaps, storytelling on a broader scale, or you just need to grow your following to increase awareness of your brand, focusing on and building your following can give you instant authority on the subject. It’s called the principle of social proof, or how we as humans look around us to determine how we should behave and act. But it’s important not to spread yourself too thin. Pick ONE platform (if you need help, take a peek at the planner work for January and how to pick your content platform) and really focus on making that outlet fantastic. Then you can leverage that one to build out others, if you need.
6. Show your work: share client lists, case studies or portfolios
Do you have amazing clients, success stories or case studies that you share with prospective clients? Then make sure you’re sharing them elsewhere, too! For example, journalists often love a good case study and it could be the reason they choose to feature you. Showing off your great work, or the fact that great clients trust and turn to you, can provide an instant authority boost and invites potential clients to see themselves in your work. Make sure you’re getting permission and then set yourself a goal of creating at least one case study for each kind of service you provide over the next few months. Then check out this case study guide and template.
7. Write a book
Want instant credibility and something you can hand to people that builds authority wherever you go? Consider a book! While writing one is no simple feat, this is one of those tasks that can not only help you build authority, but also get super clear on your thoughts, approach and strategies for the services or products you provide. Why? Because the process of writing forces you to think through things step-by-step and get it all on paper and out of your head. After, you have a gem that you can give away, sell as passive income and use to expand your business offerings. Plus, there’s really nothing that compares to saying to someone, “oh, you’re experiencing this issue? Here, I wrote a book all about how to solve it, or my personal journey through the same thing.” BAM. Done. If this step is one you’re interested in, check out our Fast Lane content on Getting Started With Your Book.
8. Win awards
Third party verification can be a huge bonus and shortcut in letting people know who you are and why they should trust you, building authority for your business. And, the great news is that people instantly “get” the meaning of awards. They’re translatable to just about every person and immediately impart the facts that:
- You were recognized for something you did
- By people who are “in the know” about that kind of thing
- And only an exclusive group can say the same
The sticky part is that awards can take up a lot of time and mind space, so be selective. A great place to start is with your local small business association and newspapers. Many offer local awards and give them annually and typically don’t have entry criteria that take too long to gather. Even if you don’t win, being a finalist or getting an honorable mention can help you get in front of potential clients and raise awareness of your brand as an authority for what you do, where you do it.
9. Beef up your network through relationships & access
It’s always astonished me how small the pet space is for a 60+ billion dollar industry. Seriously, after 16 years of networking and working with pet businesses, it’s rare that I come across one I haven’t worked with or don’t have a contact for – and it pays off. But it doesn’t have to take you 16 years to do the same, especially if you’re sticking to one area of the industry or geographic location. Start by writing a list of 20 people (or job functions) you’d like to know better and feel you can be helpful to. Consider your local experts, and fellow Working with Dog-ers. Who can you help? Who can help you? Set a goal of reaching out and connecting with at least two each month, then ask to add them to your newsletter list or send them a free copy of your book. By the end of a year you’ll have 24 great new contacts and people with important relationships thinking of you and your brand when they meet someone who needs you.
10. Become the expert’s expert
Similar to speaking at conferences, being the expert’s expert focuses on two things:
- Getting recognized by and helping your peers and
- Telling everyone what you did.
The psychology here runs very similarly for your customers, but beware because this one can backfire. Not for the faint of heart, getting up in front of your peers to teach them similar skills can sometimes feel a bit like a firing squad – competitors can get, well, competitive and may publicly contradict you. While this is a risk with numbers 2-4 above as well, providing expertise in a forum of experts and peers can sometimes invite it more publicly. Likewise, customers don’t always understand what these forums are, so leverage these sparingly or turn to other types of experts and be their expert on what you’re great at.
Think of it like this: Nic’s our resident branding expert and Jane’s our resident data geek & marketing strategist. We turn to each other and recommend others to each other without trying to be experts in the other’s realm. Voi la! Instant authority with everyone the other’s worked with.
Ok, remember, don’t feel like you need to try or do all of these things. Pick one or two to start and really focus on. And, if you feel yourself hitting up against that big ‘ole perfection monster, jump back over here for a quick reset. Like with developing an MVP, there’s really no such thing as perfect or done here, so the most important thing is to take a step, then another, then another. Pretty soon you’ll look back and be amazed at how far you’ve come!
Now grab the workbook and let’s do this.
Understand the potential ways to build authority in your niche and with your audience. Select one and go!