Last week I had the distinct pleasure of attending Authority Intensive, a live training event at the Curtis Hotel in Denver, sponsored by copyblogger. The two-day event provided insights into creating an integrated marketing strategy combined with how best to implement it.
For some, the name “Authority Intensive” might not make immediate sense, but the term “authority” has become the new focal point for digital marketing practices. Dan S. Kennedy, the Godfather of Direct Marketing, once said, “The simple truth is, if you aren’t deliberately, systematically, methodically – or rapidly and dramatically – establishing yourself as a celebrity, at least to your clientele and target market, you’re asleep at the wheel, ignoring what is fueling the entire economy around you, neglecting development of a measurably valuable asset.”
Brian Horn, author and blogger, explains, “This is the basis of what is now known as authority marketing. In a nutshell, authority marketing helps businesses leverage their knowledge to gain authority status in their industry. This authority status allows them to dramatically amplify their message and convert their new audience into higher paying customers. In other words, it’s the process for positioning yourself as an authority, or even a celebrity in your marketplace.”
While Authority Intensive was an overall learning experience about the practice of authority marketing, the main focus over the two days was on a branch of authority marketing called content marketing – the idea that useful content should be at the core of your marketing practices. The Content Marketing Institute describes the process of content marketing as a marketing technique of creating and distributing valuable, relevant and consistent content to attract and acquire a clearly defined audience – with the objective of driving profitable customer action.
Best selling author and blogger, Seth Godin, elaborated on this notion in his keynote speech Thursday morning. Godin offered his insights into what it takes to build authority and how to use this “authority” to become a successful business in today’s online world. Godin defined business success as a series of choices. “After 15 years on the Internet, we can safely say shortcuts never work,” said Godin.
Godin argued that in order to become an authority in your market you need to become unique. “Do you get authority from playing it safe, or do you get it from being the first to do something?” he asked.
And once you have taken that unique approach, you must become trustworthy. People tend to buy from people they know, like and trust, and establishing authority in your marketplace is the key to establishing this. Godin referred to the term, “meaningful specific.” Are you the one and only? You could be. If you have authority, people will show up for you when you ask them to. If you are trusted by people they will ask you to solve their issues/problems and that is how you separate yourself from the pack with authority.
“It turns out that people like doing what other people are doing,” said Godin. He goes on to say that change only works if people want it. In the end, it has to be something that people want to be a part of. If you make something unique and can connect tribe members who like it, you will create something irreplaceable.
Pick a tiny niche, gain authority within this “tribe” and you will be well on your way. Godin encouraged brands to focus on their advocates … “It’s important to remember that a brand has 1,000 people that care about it, and that they are the actual authority drivers. A brand has to reciprocate, and you are about them.”
Chris Garrett, online business consultant,” took this idea of authority even deeper by offering his insights on how to maximize lead generation and sales. Its simple he says, “Be authentic and consistent. Have integrity and make the customer the hero of your story … they will see the sellers where they want them to be.”
But, you may be asking how to establish this niche or “tribe” as Godin referred to? Well, content marketing was really the focus of this event and some of the speakers from Day One went on to talk about how to generate and disseminate content using the Internet. Content marketing’s purpose is to attract and retain customers by consistently creating and curating relevant and valuable content with the intention of changing or enhancing consumer behavior. Instead of pitching your products or services, your are delivering information that makes your buyer more intelligent and therefore hopefully rewarding you with their business and loyalty.
Copyblogger author, Sonia Simone, offered up some advice in her presentation, “What it Takes to go From the Little Leagues to the Big Leagues.” She says, “It’s the same rules, just different execution. It’s your game, our voice, your rules.”
Simone urges you to find what gives you “juice” and to keep looking at that and pay attention to it evolving. Indicators that you have reached the big leagues are when people start digging what you’re doing. “Authority always derives from the audience,” she says.
Arienne Holland, Director of Marketing & Customer Experience for Raven Internet Marketing Tools, then followed up with a session on communicators, and why you need to be a communicator and not just a content creator. In summary, “Content is not enough. Content needs communications, and many of us are passive communicators.” She continued, “Content marketing is not the same as communication. Make sure your content communicates. Content is ideas. Content marketing is the sharing of ideas. Conversation is the exchange of ideas. Communication is to share or exchange ideas with mutual understanding.”
Holland describes the process of communication in content marketing as if you were talking to your mother. Once must be clear, concise, compelling, honest and sincere, as well as Answering any question with truth, reinforcing mutual Value, and Anticipation of the customer’s next question (AVA).
Author Anne Handley then challenged practitioners to go beyond what they know of the traditional publishing world. Ninety-three percent of marketers are creating content, but just forty-two percent of marketers say their content is effective. Ann noted that she is a proponent of content and that it is a great thing, but the rise in content is also scary because there is so much of it out there that it is becoming hard to stand out. So how do you stand out from the competition?
“Take what we know about publishing and give it a makeover,” she said. “Focus on empathy and experiences, relevance and inspiration, and focus on useful from the customer’s perspective.”
“A writer can be inspired by data, creativity and customers, and that creates great content. It means taking chances and risks,” stated Handley.
“What will people thank you for,” she says. “The best marketing doesn’t feel like marketing at all.”
Look for a recap of Day Two of Authority Intensive coming shortly to a computer screen near you.
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