Commanding Authority to Boost Marketing Efforts
If Warren Buffet called you with a stock tip would you listen? If Martha Stewart e-mailed you with the perfect turkey recipe would you open it? If Mark Zuckerberg, Tony Hsieh offered you advice on how to improve your companyâ€™s customer service would you hear him out?
Buffet, Stewart and Hsieh have all cornered the market on probably the single most powerful, yet rarely achieved influence tactics that exists in any marketing realm. Theyâ€™re seen as authorities in the marketplace. And as weâ€™ll see in this blog post, authority, now more than ever, is worth its weight in marketing gold.
The Anatomy of Authority Marketing
White papers, case studies, media interviews, expert opinion, tip sheets, websites, blog posts, e-books, all are examples of companies engaging in authority marketing. Itâ€™s the Google ad that says â€œ4 out of 5 doctors prefer X,â€ or the HubSpot â€œfreeâ€ marketing graderâ€”a badge that tells everyone who comes to your website how great your digital marketing skills are. Think about it? Would you hire an Internet marketing firm that had a poor Hubspot grade? Yeah, we didnâ€™t think so.
Establishing your company as an authority goes beyond setting yourself up as an expert in the field. Authority marketing sets you, your company and your service as THE AUTHORITY. Beyond being an expert, you project a sort of air of extraordinary ability as seen through the eyes of othersâ€”customers, media, academia, etc. When you engage in authority marketing your company is seen as the undeniableâ€”the best of the best.
The Value of Authority Marketing
To understand the immense power of authority marketing we have to travel back to the 1960s and look up my favorite social psychologist, Stanley Milgram. If you are even thinking about marketing in social media or in the digital world you have to read Milgramâ€™s book â€œThe Individual in A Social World.â€ Itâ€™ll make creating marketing content sooo much easier!
Anyway, Milgram, a Harvard-educated psychology professor, established the influential power of authority in what is probably the most controversial public social study experiment in modern history called â€œObedience and Disobedience to Authority.â€ Milgramâ€™s experiment saw ordinary people administer electric shocks of near fatal doses to others, basically because someone in a white coatâ€”someone in authorityâ€”asked them to. In the experiment, peopleâ€”who couldnâ€™t see the person that received the shocksâ€”were asked to press a button that they knew would administer an electric shock. People continued to administer the shocks even when they heard blood curling screams from the unseen victim or complaints of heart problems.
Authority Marketing Strongest But Hardest
Milgram, who did the experiment as a way to study the madness that produced the rise of the Third Reich and the acceptance of their â€œFinal Solution,â€ by ordinary Germans, theorized that people are generally incapable of defying authority whether real or perceived. (The electric shocks werenâ€™t really being administered, though the study subjects didnâ€™t know that until after the experiment was finished.)
As Milgramâ€™s experiments prove, there is real (frightening) value in authority. When it comes to marketing, authority can be the single best reason a customer choses your product over your competitor.
Authority is the reason Google typically values URLâ€™s that end in edu. over other some ordinary blog. Authority is the reason Jason Sadler gets interviewed by ABC News on social media subjects while thousands of social media marketing firms that are bigger do not. You can use authority to influence customers, clients, even competitors and the press that your brand is elevated from others. Both Apple and Wal-Mart establish their authority through priceâ€”Appleâ€™s high price gets them top of mind when it comes to quality, while Wal-Martâ€™s low price gets them top of mind when it comes to value.
How to Establish Your Company as an Authority
Establishing authority as a marketing strategy isnâ€™t for everyone, mostly because itâ€™s the most difficult influence tactic to execute. It takes forethought, planning and strategy and a commitment. But for a startup in a realm where more than half a million new businesses are starting each month, establishing your company as an authority can be the marketing completive edge you need. So how to you do it? Try this:
- Find your sweet spot and stick to it. You can be an expert on a lot of things but you can only be an authority in the marketplace on one thing. So find your sweet spot. Is it efficiency? Is it processes? Is it customer service? Pick one and stick to it.
- Push your sweet spot. Every content marketing plan, blog post, e-newsletter, white paper whatever marketing information you put out should have your sweet spot front and center. You establish authority by being the go-to person on a topic/subject etc., and you become this person by pushing content out about it. Your brand, logo and contentÂ should push your sweet spot. HubSpot does this brilliantly for inbound marketing with its free e-books, webinars, case studies and its library of marketing resources. Send press releases, do live interviews, do podcasts, set up live stream casts, videos on YouTube, whatever, just create content that informs on your sweet spot.
- Land grab your sweet spot. Facebookâ€™s growth guy Chamath Palihapitiya helped the social network get to 500 million users in record time. He did it, he says, by not worrying about the usual marketing segmentation. Basically he told his team, â€œItâ€™s land grab time.â€ And when youâ€™re establishing authority you want to do the same. Have everyone sign up for your newsletter, invite all comers to your blog, give out your white paper to anyone who asks. Because you want all people talking about you and your sweet spot not just who you think your customer may be.
Remember, authority can be real or perceived. Either way it can be a powerful influence tool. If youâ€™re setting up your startupâ€™s marketing strategy see if you have what it takes for authority marketing. It could give you the edge you need to best the competition and grow your company into stability.