I had the pleasure of listening to my friend and colleague, Liz Dennery Sanders, Founder of SheBrand.com at the LTD (Live the Dream) 365 Expo in Pasadena, CA a few weeks ago. She was discussing marketing and branding for female entrepreneurs and the key elements necessary to build an authority brand. She articulated a very compelling point:
“The entrepreneurs who will thrive are the ones who humanize their businesses and understand that relationships – and making an emotional connection – are the key to success.”
This statement resonated with me. We do business with people we instinctively like and trust. When there is so much noise in the marketplace, standing out (authentically) is critical for success. More importantly, BEING someone whom people want to do business with will be the factor that differentiates you from everybody else. Communication is so much more than what comes out of your mouth. It’s about the messages you are sending with your mind, your body and your spirit. If those elements are in alignment, along with your brand, then you have created an authentic expression of your business. When you have confidence and enthusiasm about sharing your brand with the world, then you have customers (and lots of them!)
I hope you enjoy her latest article. She’s a true authority and one of the most authentic business owners I have ever met.
We live in an over-crowded, over-saturated and over-competitive world. We are inundated on a daily basis with more information than our brains can possibly handle. Attention is and will continue to be our scarcest resource. As such, it’s imperative that brands make an emotional connection with their target market in order to stand out above all the noise and clutter.
In 2011, branding isn’t optional. You are a 24/7 walking, talking billboard. Every day, in everything you do – how you interact, how you dress, what your website looks like, how you speak – you tell the world about yourself.
People are buying only one thing from you – the way the engagement (hiring you, working with you, learning from you, using your product or service, etc.) makes them FEEL. And the only way to become a brand of influence – an Authority Brand – is to earn a piece of real estate in your potential clients’ hearts and minds.
As Chris Brogan writes in his bestseller, Trust Agents, “With communications channels becoming narrower and much more numerous, it becomes less about control and more about being part of a dialogue. Brands will need to earn a place in our heads with a sense of personal intimacy.”
So how do you build a solid foundation and position yourself as an Authority Brand?
Here are the seven essential C’s that will move the needle from “expert” to authority:
CLARITY: You’ve got to get crystal clear about your WHO, WHAT, WHY and HOW. If you aren’t clear about who you are, who is your target market, what you offer, what is their most pressing problem and the value you provide, how can you expect your ideal client to be clear about you, and most importantly, buy from you?
CONFIDENCE: In every moment and in every interaction you are teaching others how to treat you and how to interact with you, and whether they should view you as a leader or a follower. If you make a conscious choice to be at the top, then ultimately, that’s what you’re going to get. Embrace who you are, what you stand for and why you do what you do. Step into your power and clients will seek you out.
COMMUNICATION: Effective communication is not a one way street – it’s a conversation, a back and forth, a natural flow. What works now is engagement, not the megaphone approach. The conversational depth of so many professionals today is one-dimensional. All they can talk about with any degree of complexity is what they do for a living. Bo-ring! Engage, ask questions, give examples, tell stories, show genuine interest and ignite a relationship.
CONTENT: One of the best ways, hands down, to position yourself as an authority is to create and repurpose great content that your target audience finds valuable. Notice that I didn’t write what YOU find valuable. Remember, it’s not about you (sorry, I know you’re shocked). You have to create content that your potential clients actually want to consume and consider valuable. When you consistently create and distribute valuable content , you create a perception of value in the eyes of your target market.
CONVERSATION: The power to define and control a brand has shifted from large corporations and the traditional media to individuals and communities. Social media platforms put the consumer (yes, you!) in control of the conversation. This means that each and every individual has the power to be a publisher, broadcaster, critic and a network. It also means that consumers are turning to their friends, peers and networks for information and recommendations over traditional means of advertising. There is a global conversation going on right now and if you want to be considered an authority in your industry, you better jump right in.
CONNECTION: In the online marketplace, it can be easy to get trapped behind a monitor and keyboard. You have to remember that business is about people, not numbers. It’s about relationships, not computers. In our rapidly evolving business environment, the entrepreneurs who are going to thrive are the ones who engage their clients and build long-term relationships. So get out there and develop your cheerleading squad, refer business to others, join a group and create joint venture partnerships.
CONSISTENCY: Does what you say, post, tweet etc. align with your brand? Is what comes out of your mouth consistent with how you dress, how you interact with others and what’s on your website? Branding should be a part of your DNA. Everything you do – every phone call, meeting, blog post, social engagement and personal interaction – is a unique representation of YOU. Positioning yourself as an Authority Brand is built through every activity, every interaction and every decision.
The foundation of an Authority Brand is built on these seven C’s. You are unique. You do have something important to offer. And whether you help ten or ten thousand people, being an Authority Brand allows you to MOVE people in a much more compelling way.
©Liz Dennery Sanders 2011
Liz Dennery Sanders wants you to build your buzz and be successful beyond your wildest dreams. As the CEO of Dennery Marks Inc., a brand development and celebrity outreach firm, she founded SheBrand, to help female entrepreneurs build powerful personal brands, attract more clients and position themselves as experts in their industries. You can reach her directly at firstname.lastname@example.org or www.shebrand.com.