Have you ever lost out on a piece of work that you were perfect for, maybe to a larger competitor?
Do ever wish there was a way that you could even the playing field a little?
Well, there is, it’s called becoming an authority in your field.
The term thought leadership has been hot topic for years. It was being written about on Huff Po back as far 2014. Over time, thought leadership has evolved into authority marketing.
Authority marketing is the concept of marketing from authority.
Marketing from authority means being positioned as an expert in your field, so that your arguments come from authority.
When your arguments come from authority, people take note.
Why does authority matter?
If you were being offered advice by two people and one of them was a published author and perceived authority on the subject, the other just another practitioner, who would you listen to?
If both of them had equally compelling arguments, the argument from authority would likely win out.
This is the same concept as testimonials and social proof. Businesses often look at who you’ve worked with, and have you done work in their field.
Social proof is the lifeblood of the B2B sales industry. It’s very hard to get by without it, and it becomes easier and easier the more social proof you have. As Barbara Corcoran would say: “Everybody wants what everybody wants, nobody wants what nobody wants”.
Look at Neil Patel, for example. If you’re a large enterprise and want the best marketer, who are you going to listen to? Generic large marketing agency or the guy endorsed by Forbes, Obama and the United Nations.
Gaining a competitive advantage
Marketing is about staying ahead of the competition.
If all your competitors have adopted inbound marketing, have good testimonials and decent case studies, how do you differentiate yourself?
Why people purchase is essentially about three things:
- Product/market fit
- Perceived value
Perceived value is how much someone thinks you’re worth (or your product).
Are Apple’s phones worth the large fees people pay for them? If you broke the cost down into just nuts and bolts, then of course not.
But Apple are perceived as the authority as far as smart phones go for the general public, so people happily pay top dollar for their products (and their brand).
Think zebras, not cows
How do you stand out in a crowded market?
You do something different.
The past two years every man and his dog has started using Facebook ads.
You can’t go 5 minutes without being bombarded with a sales page type advert from some guy who works 5 hours per week from a beach somewhere while his business does 1 mil per year on autopilot for him (I didn’t know it was so easy!).
Who remembers the PPC glory days of 5–10 years ago when it was possible to achieve success online just by hammering money into Pay Per Click?
I do, I was one of those people who profited from this amazing marketing channel.
But, as with all marketing trends, eventually everyone gets clued up and starts adopting it. The cost of using the platform goes up dramatically and the effectiveness goes down dramatically too.
Everybody pays attention to the zebra
If everyone in your field is doing 1 thing, do the opposite.
If Facebook is awash with poorly executed ads, kick it old school.
Write a book.
Writing a book in 2018 isn’t difficult, compared to 10–20 years ago.
There’s a reason cold calling still works too, it cuts through the noise. If your prospects are drowning in digital ads, blog posts, white papers and webinars, cut through the noise with a well researched book, establishing your authority.
You’d be surprised at how effective self publishing a book on your expertise can be if accompanied with a targeted promotion strategy.
What’s the CEO of a company going to pay more attention to…
The 1000th email he’s got that month asking for 15 minutes of his time, or a hand delivered book to his desk with a catchy headline and well designed front cover?
I can guarantee you that email is going straight to junk but the book will sit on his desk lodged in his mind.
Give me an example
Ever heard of Tim Ferris?
He wrote a little book called the 4 Hour Work Week.
Virtually nobody had heard of this guy until he wrote this book. Once he did, he blew up over night.
The 4 Hour Work Week has sold over 1,350,000 copies and spent over 4 years on the New York Times best seller list.
This book was published back in 2007 when the internet was a different place. We’ve come huge leaps and bounds since then, and publishing a book today is infinitely easier.
The point I’m making is, nobody had heard of Tim Ferris before this book. After he took the time to capture his value in the form of a book and promote it properly he became one of the most influential self help writers of our generation.
Authority as a lead gen tool
It’s about one upping the competition.
If everybody is trading free ebooks for emails, trade a real book for emails.
As the barriers to entry for digital marketing become lower, and the power to create and run digital campaigns is within the grasp of even the least technical business owners, so too will the competitiveness increase.
For instance, the biggest blog in the world Huffington Post publishes one post every 58 seconds. This is 1600–2000 articles per day, it’s gone up by at least a few hundred more per day now.
How many business owners publish books each day?
I bet it’s nowhere near as high.
How is authority generated?
Authority is generated in 1 of 3 ways:
- Implied authority
- Authority from social proof
- Authority from thought leadership
A good example of implied uniform is the uniform.
If we see a police officer on duty it is immediately implied they have authority.
They are in charge of enforcing the law, their uniform implies their authority, their training and their position. A doctors white coat is another good example.
A doctor doesn’t need to publish a book for us to know he’s an expert in his field, his white coat says it all. This person spent years in education and the uniform is hard earner.
Robert Cialdini writes about the concept of implied authority in his book Influence: The Psychology of Persuasion, which is well worth a read if you’d like to know more on this topic.
Authority from social proof
This is where testimonials and case studies come in, and why they are so important.
Social proof tells others you’ve done something well before and you can do it again.
It’s a trust signal that lowers the risk factor as far as the decision making process goes. If you are trusted by others as an authority, it’s easier for me to view you as an authority.
A company that has mastered social proof is Shopify. They have cornered the market as far as do it yourself small online stores go.
Are there better solutions out there? Sure, Woocommerce to name just one.
But, they basically came out of nowhere and captured a huge chunk of the market with their incredibly customer success focused marketing.
They have a huge number of success stories across basically every vertical and write tons of well researched, long form content on how to bootstrap and grow shops from scratch, referencing their own customers who have done the same on their platform.
Authority from thought leadership
You could also call this the proof is in the pudding approach.
Authority from thought leadership is gained by doing.
By demonstrating you know what you’re talking about, by giving away free value to others.
This is the whole point behind blogging and content marketing. Nobody knows what you know, until you tell them.
Creating useful, informative content and either giving it away or selling it to others demonstrates first hand exactly how much you know.
If you truly are a thought leader, prove it!
When I think of marketing thought leaders the first names that come to mind are Neil Patel, Seth Godin and Gary V.
Everybody knows Gary V from his crazy inspiring videos and the story of how he grew his family wine business.
Neil Patel won me over with his incredible blog that I stumbled upon at the beginning of this year. Seriously, if you need to learn anything marketing related, go his blog.
I bought one of Seth Godin’s books almost 8 years ago and he still has real estate in my mind as far as marketing goes. That just goes to show how powerful having a book is.
How to gain authority from thought leadership
Building thought leadership is not a new concept.
It’s been around since the dawn of time, under one guise or another.
Politicians, business people, academics, trades people, friends at the local bar, we all do it.
We do it by providing compelling arguments.
Whether it’s convincing a friend or colleague that a particular car make is the way to go through your powers of persuasion, or generating new leads from a particularly compelling webinar.
Thought leadership is earned by giving value and ‘selling’ that value through how effective your communication is.
At a certain point, after giving away x amount of value, you become an authority.
The threshold is different for every industry and every prospective customer.
You might find you pick up leads or sales from one video tutorial, or it might take months and months of effort to generate anything.
A book is authority building on autopilot
One thing that is particularly powerful about a book is that it is physical and tangible.
A book will earn you authority as well as occupy physical real estate in someone’s office or home.
Not only this, but if you sell your book, the the psychological act of paying for your authority even if a small purchase, makes it easier to sell more.
It opens the door to larger purchases and doing further business with that person.
There are entire books on this alone, like Selling To Big Companies by Jill Konrath, which, among other things, talks about the importance of starting small with big companies, earning their trust and building this into bigger business.
How to self publish your expertise
Self publishing a book is not the same daunting task it once used to be.
As someone who helps businesses self publish their books and has successfully helped publish and launch hundreds of books, I can tell you it’s now within the grasp of each and every one of us.
All it takes is the drive and patience to put your expertise to paper.
Here are some simple tips for self publishing your book.
1. Write — start by writing 500–2000 words every single day.
A typical book is between 40,000 and 80,000 words, so if you could write 500 words a day 7 days a week, you could write your first book in 80 days which is under 3 months.
As Steve Jobs would say:
“Real artists ship”
2. Self publish 3.0
Publishing has gone through 3 stages.
Publishing 1.0 was where you had to publish through a major publishing house.
Publishing 2.0 happened when self publishing became trendy. For instance, there were 15 million books published last year versus 300,000 10 years ago (holy cow). It’s cheap quick and easy to get your book published by doing it yourself or some cheap quick fix option.
Publishing 3.0 is where we are right now. Thanks to the digital economy and the huge growth in freelancing and startups, hugely talented publishers, designers and marketers are striking out on their own and are independently charging for their services. Top tier service, small business prices.
This costs more than publishing 2.0, a LOT less than publishing 1.0, but is far more lucrative.
3. Build your platform
Traditional publishers won’t even look at you without a big platform.
But why do you need them when you can build your own platform?
Build an effective platform for your book by having an honest voice. Provide a unique perspective on your industry and don’t be afraid to say things others wont.
Guest blog on big sites, automate your social media schedule and be consistent in your promotion leading up to the launch of your book.
4. Have a killer title
Headlines are what sell!
Why do you think there’s been so much clickbait the last few years?
Everybody is hungry for clicks. Your book title is going to determine how many people give it a second glance.
Just like with sales, your opener buys you those next 10 seconds and those next 10 seconds buy you the next 60.
Look at these headlines from Amazon’s best selling business books list, not one of them isn’t extremely intriguing or compelling:
5. Design the heck out of it
The cover of your book is incredibly important.
Picture yourself the last time you went to a large book store.
There’s literally thousands of books. How do you decide which ones to pick up?
Enough said. Find a killer designer and make sure your title draws the eye and immediately tells people what it’s all about.
6. Edit your edits, then edit those edits. Hire an editor.
A good editor can literally make or break your book.
Listen to this by James Altrucher, a super successful published author and VC, on working with his editor:
Nils and I went back and forth on more than 15 different rewrites for my book. The difference between the original version and the final version is like the difference between chicken shit and chicken salad.
Chicken shit and chicken salad guys.
Nobody likes chicken shit, don’t be chicken shit!
7. Market your book
Do you think the world would go crazy for every iPhone launch if Apple weren’t marketing geniuses?
Of course not.
The same is true with your book. If you don’t market it, no one will know how awesome it is. Understand your audience and where they hang out.
Then make sure you poke your nose into those places and give them a bit of free value to introduce them to your book.
If your message and tone resonate correctly, it’s then a numbers game.
If you’re not confident on marketing your book, hire a marketer or a self publishing provider who can handle this for you.
Shout about it
Finally once you have successfully self published your own book be loud and proud about it!
Make sure you showcase your authority across your social media platforms, your website and in your marketing outreach.
Showcasing your book on your website landing page is bound to increase conversions and tip your social proof thermometer from lukewarm to smoking hot.
Thanks for reading!
I hope you found this article insightful and it gave you something to think about.