Brand Authority: Your SME Brand’s Only Step To 360° Success

Brand Authority

Learn to build brand authority. It may surprise you that your SME brand needs only this one goal to get going.

The more you build on your brand authority, your 360° business success will automatically follow … like traffic, conversions, sales, revenues, profits, market leadership, and expansion opportunities …

Most small/medium (SME) businesses and brands begin with entrepreneurial eagerness and excitement. But they don’t quite know where to begin the journey towards success. They aim at all the wrong goals and often too many of them.

A lot of time, money, and effort gets wasted in planning and pursuing these wrong starter goals. It’s said that hardly 5% of all SMEs get past the early first year to survive into the next one.

I have you covered here with 8 sterling ideas to start focusing on growing brand authority. Don’t waste more time on peripheral objectives that you’ll achieve anyway. Focus on the big one that delivers all.

Contents ...

What is brand authority? How do you define it?

One definition of brand authority I resonate with is this one from Paige Weiners in Forbes.com:

Page Weiners

"Brand authority is a big part of helping consumers trust a company, and trust is absolutely critical to acquiring and keeping customers. Having brand authority means consumers will feel confident that you know what you’re doing, and thus that their money is well spent with your company."

Paige Weiners

A simpler way to define brand authority is this other one from Shannon Curley in Trailblaze.marketing:

Shannon-Curley

"Brand authority is the extent to which customers trust your brand and view your brand or business as a subject matter expert in your space. Being an expert isn’t about knowing everything; it’s about knowing what’s important to your audience or customers. In order to earn brand authority, you need to prove that you know what you’re talking about."

Shannon Curley

We can gather from ideas like these that brand authority gets built as market and customer trust in your brand gets built. Trust makes people believe you’re more than capable of giving them exactly what they want. Trust also hinges on the fact that you’re as good as your word on the expertise you imply you have.

The 8 super-practical steps to building brand authority

Here is my list of 8 important but practical steps to build your brand authority. It’s a battle-tested plan I have used to grow my entrepreneurial venture.

1. Demarcate your niche or sweet spot of expertise

Your niche (meaning “corner”) is the area or topic where you are either experienced or knowledgeable. It could also be an area of deep personal passion or a field of activity in which you love to immerse yourself.

The more the topic absorbs and engages you, the more expertise you develop. Because you are constantly interested in learning more about it, you have a natural lead over others in how much you know.

Your niche also needs to be an area where many others would want the specialized knowledge you have, either as knowledge or as products or services. There has to be a good demand for your help that makes your niche profitable for you.

You should be able to charge for offering products and services in this niche. When you spell out your brand authority, discover and demarcate this niche to make it your own.

2. Get into smart micro marketing within your niche

What is micro marketing? It calls for intensive focus on small groups of target audiences. You then can build several nuanced products that serve small groups.

How does micro marketing help you grow faster? In micro marketing, you address small groups of people and get to know their pain points in depth. Your brand authority gets very concentrated on their needs.

Your words resonate with these small audiences better. You relate to audiences at an emotional and empathetic level. Your audiences instinctively begin to feel that you know them and their issues very well. They enjoy the “customer experience.”

They feel as if you are writing for them, almost on a one-to-one basis. Trust bonds develop faster when people feel “understood.” As trust builds, so do sales.

3. Gather social proof to burnish your "brand aura"

Edward Thorndike, the psychologist, wrote about the “halo effect.” He suggested, “We often make judgments based on our overall impression of someone we think wears a halo of authority.” That’s why we believe anything that experts endorse must be great because they are more knowledgeable than us in their area of specialization.

We think we buy a quality product just because a quality celebrity endorses it. We trust “user reviews” as we believe they have experienced a product or service, unlike we who have not.

It’s no surprise, therefore, that if our brands are vouched for by experts, celebrities, online authorities, or users, they acquire part of the halo of brand authority.

Other forms of social proof that further add to the halo effect of a brand are the wisdom of the crowds, wisdom of your friends and family, and certifications. Is it surprising how much brand authority is earned over social media these days?

4. Find and express your authentic, consistent brand voice

Most small businesses aren’t clear about what “brand voice” means or how to cultivate a distinctive one. The secret here is that you do not need an artificially-created brand voice if your brand is authentic in all its content marketing to its target audiences.

Every business owner is distinctive in a natural way, and the brand created by such an owner would naturally reflect the owner’s voice the most in any small business.

It would help if you watched over all your various types of communication pieces. Do they all sound like a coherent harmony – where they are from the same brand?

Or do they sound like a cacophony of different people from your marketing team saying what comes to mind about the brand? Brand authority comes from being “on brand” in whatever you or your team says or does.

5. Stand for an opinion that's clear (and deliver on your word)

People don’t like other people who are wishy-washy in their opinions. People learn to respect those who are forthright and straightforward regarding their positions on various issues.

That doesn’t mean you cannot change your opinion should the future take us all on a different track from the one we are on now.

To stand for something is to be always on the side of a fact or truth you know it to be so at the time you speak of it. And, and always be true to your word if you give it. If you should need to change your mind, explain to people what inflection point changed your opinion.

At all times, we all evolve – and so do our thoughts. If you or your brand leads others with your valuable analyses and points of view ahead of the market – and only changes courses with absolute clarity on why you did so – you’d always be a respected brand.

6. Offer problem-solving helpful content on blog posts and emails

Nothing brands you as an authority like answering potential customers’ questions and helping solve their pain points. Many marketers like to keep busy doing various other sides of their business, including some fancy “customer service.” Still, if there’s one thing to always make time for, it is to be available to help people simply.

You know how hard it is to sell yourself to others. Why would you not want to help those who reach out to you on their own? Never stint on the quality of helpful problem-solving marketing content you can give others because that is what magnetizes people to you. Do it through your blog, chats, simple emails to those who contact you, and newsletters.

In my early career days, I remember reaching out to many A-listers with small SEO doubts I had. When I had problems finding answers to queries via search engines, I always approached biggies in the business via short unfussy emails without hesitation. But some never had the time to help.

The ones that did make a massive difference to me. I had so much trust in their “one-line email help” that I went on to buy many of their more extensive courses, products, and consultation offers. That’s when I realized brand authority needn’t be a big word with a significant impact. It can be a simple one-line sentence that helps point someone struggling in the right direction – and earn their gratitude and trust.

7. Collaborate with brands and influencers that build your authority

As we head into the rest of this year and the next one, the collaboration will be critical. Technology – and the pandemic – have changed and will continue changing everything about our lives, including how we work and what we do.

As we all become islands of WFH (Work From Home) professionals, we will need a supportive network of various other industry experts to help us get known and respected faster.

Your brand reputation gets a good rub-off from the kind of company you keep. If you keep looking out for joint ventures, partnerships, influencers, and co-petitors (friendly competitors) who can take your brand forward, you’ll scale your business faster than you would otherwise.

Piggy-backing on others who are further ahead than you are through a win-win collaboration is a great way to earn and learn from the success tricks they’ve used to build their brand authority.

8. Be an active participant in your industry events and community

Small brands need all the authority they can get, and the one smart way to get it is by volunteering to officiate on the apex bodies of your industryIt always surprised me that some people seemed to have all the time in the world to manage their businesses and be on various committees in diverse industry lobbies.

That was till I saw how far you could go with all the networking you can do with industry leaders and innovative startup entrepreneurs you get to know.

Suddenly you have a reason to stay in touch with loads of important people, all of whom you can write to in your capacity as an office-bearer, without offending them with business offers. You can be seen by the best and the biggest in your industry as a go-to person of value to them.

Through the “good offices” of the body you work for, even competitors of your business can become your cheerleaders. What more social proof would you need than to be an office-bearer on an industry-action board?

Pro tips to take away in summary ...

1. The more you build on your brand authority persistently, and in many ways, the more every other form of 360° business success will automatically follow.

2. What can having strong brand authority do for your SME business? There are at least 6 priceless benefits to begin with. Exploit them.

3. Feel free to use my list of 8 eminently do-able steps to build your brand authority. It’s a battle-tested plan I have used to grow my entrepreneurial venture that hit high places quickly.

Learn to be ever-conscious of the need to build brand authority. It’s about the only goal – the overarching marketing strategy – your SME brand ever needs to have, now and for always. It gets you everything else your brand may wish for faster than you’d expect.

BONUS: How to use content marketing to skyrocket your small brand's authority

You can easily give your brand and business a massive boost if you approach content marketing strategically and write content smartly to build brand authority. It’s simple … let me help you.
 
Let’s have a free, no-obligations Zoom chat. We can locate the potential to power up your content marketing and brand building. Let me know your goals and budgets, and I will offer you some readily implementable suggestions. 
 
If we’re a good fit for each other, you could consider outsourcing your content marketing to me. I am confident I can take your business to an enviable position. 
 
Click the button below to book a free 20-minute online ZOOM meeting, and we’ll take it from there!
Shobha Ponnappa

"In small brand marketing, there is a tendency to hover over the small details without looking at the big picture as big brands tend to do. If you do look at the big picture, you'll see that brand authority ranks first, second, and third among the goals to set and achieve. The size of your business will disappear before customers' eyes when they see the bigness of your brand authority."

Shobha Ponnappa

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