Look up “authority marketing” online and you’ll quickly see that the name Adam Witty appears repeatedly. Witty is the founder and CEO of Advantage Media Group and Forbes Books.

He views authority marketing as the “strategic and systematic process of positioning an individual or a company as an expert and leader in their community, in their industry, in their marketplace.”

Many people, Witty says, have “latent authority.” These people have the relevant credentials, experience and recognition, yet they haven’t leveraged those elements to get a competitive advantage in their marketplace. Naturally, consumers are unaware of these would-be authority figures.

In response to this all-too-common situation, Witty came up with his “seven pillars of authority marketing.” It’s not necessary to use all seven of these interconnected principles to attain authority, he says. Just make sure that you go all in with the principles that you do tap into. He stresses that “authority marketing is a marathon, not a sprint.”

The underlying premise, he says, is that “if you educate your clientele as opposed to advertising to your clientele, you’re going to build deeper relationships and people are going to be much more interested in what you have to say.”

Here are the seven pillars that can establish and sustain your authority:

Branding – Aside from building your company brand, Witty notes the additional – and often more significant – value of establishing a personal brand. Consumers find it easier to relate to actual people, as opposed to faceless companies. Start to create your brand by identifying what makes you unique in the marketplace. It helps to have a story. Stories can be enticing and memorable. They give you an edge when it comes to relating to people. Also, your brand will be most effective when it’s recognizable and consistent.

Content marketing – Deliver information that presents your value as an expert. You can attain this through a variety of ways: your website; newsletters, videos, blogs, podcasts and webinars. The key objective is to offer high-quality content for your target audience. When devising your content marketing strategy, keep these vital considerations in mind: who are your target consumers; what are the best ways to reach them; what problems are they contending with; why do these issues matter to them; and how can you help them solve their problems.?

Referral marketing – Work on getting the people in your target audience to refer you and your company to others who also need your expertise for solving specific problems. Do a good job with your existing customers and they are apt to recommend you. Testimonials have great value. As your referral network expands, so will your authority. Also, take advantage of influencers, the people who have sway with your audience and can endorse you – a result of their own personal authority or their status for cultivating online followers in connection with a certain niche.

Lead generation – Once you project authority, people in your market will believe and trust what you have to say. Credibility becomes your currency. It becomes easier to get leads for new business when your target customers recognize your authority regarding issues they relate to. The important thing here is to approach customers and potential customers as an open source of knowledge. These people are looking for specific solutions. They are not waiting for another salesperson to approach them. Email marketing can be extremely valuable for generating leads.

PR and media – When you or your ideas appear in various media outlets, people tend to see you as an expert. (Of course, it’s another story should you appear in a negative way.) PR, or public relations, goes beyond being in a newspaper or on TV. It’s all about advancing your reputation and letting people know about your product or service. Take the lead. Become a reliable resource in your community and establish your presence within your target market.

Speaking – Public forums can be a great way to share your stories and ideas. You can offer to speak at meetings of other organizations. Or, you might prefer to address audiences through your own seminars, webinars and podcasts. When you are a public speaker, you’re taking the role of authority. Speaking appearances are one of the most effective ways to generate leads. The more professional your presentation, the more you will connect with your audience.

Events – Whether it’s your individual event or one in which you’re a featured presenter, consider these occasions as platforms to convey and reinforce your ideas. Events, as Witty says, provide opportunities where “loyal tribes of customers come together.”  Your target customers have made the decision to be at these events because they expect them to be of value. No one’s looking to waste time. The people there view you as an authority. They may have familiarity with you or they’ve come because others they know have recommended their attendance.

Gerald H. Levin is a freelance writer and editor who specializes in content development for business. He is a member of the Chamber. Reach him via email or his website, www.ghlevin.com.

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