Abraham Lincoln is credited with the saying, “Give me six hours to chop down a tree and I will spend the first four sharpening the axe.”
If your authority marketing efforts are falling on deaf ears chances are you may not be sharpening your axe. Most people (I would guesstimate 98.68%) only do two of the four stages necessary for successful authority marketing. They produce their content and they publish their content.
Both valuable steps to take but they only represent the second and third stages of authority marketing. There are two more stages: preparation, which as you would expect comes before the other two, and promotion, which comes after the other two. Preparation, is the axe sharpening bit.
As much as I dislike preparation - I’d rather just get on with the job - it’s critical to ensure: a) that your marketing is going to reach the right audience, and b) that you keep momentum up and don’t find yourself staring at blank screens come production day. Fortunately, it doesn’t take as long as it does for Lincoln to sharpen his axe. And even more fortunately, you only have to do this phase once every six months or so.
This week I take a deep dive into the first part of the preparation stage of authority marketing which is all about how to reach the right people with your marketing efforts. Get this bit right and your axe will feel sharper right from the get go.
If you prefer audio, you can hear me talk about it on the podcast here, and if you prefer reading, you can follow along with the transcript below.
How To Reach The Right People With Your Authority Marketing Efforts. Step 1 - Sharpen your axe #authoritymarketing #contentmarketing #leverage
Brett Jarman: Welcome aboard the Authority Elevator once again. Are you ready to take things to the next level? I hope so, because I am. Now we're taking things to the next level in kind of a literal sense today in that so far on the podcast we've talked about the what and the why of authority mapping. What is authority marketing? Why would you do it? Now we're getting into the boots on the ground, the how you actually do authority marketing. It's going to take us several episodes to work through this because we break it down into phases. So we have four phases in our process.
The 4 Phases of Authority Marketing
So the first stage is preparation. Second phase is production. That's where you produce your content. Third phase is publishing. So that's where you put your content out there. Fourth phase is promotion. Now where most people fall down is they don't do phase one or phase four. They don't prepare and they don't promote. So what they do is they produce content they probably shouldn't. They do it on a kind of ad hoc basis. And that's why they don't really get much traction. But trust me, if you do all these four phases, and you do them on a regular basis, you'll get much more traction.
So as you would expect, we're going to start with preparation. And that in itself breaks down into several phases. Some of them you would repeat on a regular basis, say every three to six months you'd go back to your preparation, and you would prepare.
OK. What are our themes going to be for the next quarter? How are we going to break that down? And what are the specific content titles that we're going to work towards? We'll get into that in a little bit more detail on a future episode.
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Reaching The Right People with Authority Marketing
Where we're going to focus today is how to reach the right people with the authority marketing efforts. Now what do we mean by that? Well, it's pretty straight forward. If you're in business, the people that you really want to be targeting are your clients, your potential clients. Those are the right people. Now, you may have quite a broad idea of who you think your potential clients are.
Let's say you're a coach, a life coach. That's a very broad definition. You'd want to be much more specific in who you want to be working with. So you might be a relationship coach, or you might be a life coach who helps people transition from work to retirement. Or transitioning from university to work, or people re-entering the workforce. Whatever. There's specific types of coaching you could be doing. We're big fans of being very specific. I'll get into that in a little bit more detail shortly.
Phase 1: Preparation, Creating your client’s avatar
So the first stage of the preparation is knowing who these right people are. The way that we do it and a lot of people in marketing do it is they create avatars. So this is something you would document in whatever form you prefer. It could be a word document, a Google document. You might prefer to work in PowerPoint. I do a lot of Mindmaps, that's my preferred mode because I like the free style thinking, and I like that I can attach images, and links or whatever (I used and recommend MindMeister. It’s browser based and ideal for sharing) . But whatever your preferred tool is, you can do it on a whiteboard and take a photo of it. That could work as well. But whatever you do, just document it. Don't do it in your head because I promise you, you'll short change yourself.
So an avatar is essentially a made-up person, a made-up identity. Why we do that is it gives you an idea ... once you've got a made-up identity in your head of who it is you want to be targeting, it actually becomes easier to produce the content for them because, like even as I'm sitting here now, I know who my avatar is for this particular episode. So I've got an image of her in my mind, and it's as if I'm talking to her. Now, it doesn't mean that anyone who is not that avatar can't understand what I'm saying. Obviously they can. But in terms of putting the content together, it's just so much easier if you personalise it, humanise it, rather than thinking I'm talking to the market. It's such a different energy that you bring to it.
Now you may, what we would suggest is that you have two to three, sometimes you might have four depending on what your market is. With most of our clients we find that we end up working with two or three. And that's because, depending on what it is that they're providing as part of their service. There are probably three different levels of service that they provide to customers, so there might be a basic level, an intermediate level, and an advanced level of service. That's an example of the three different levels. Or you might have three totally different product lines. Most of the people that we serve are service-oriented. So you might have three different types of service that you offer people. So you might assign an avatar to each of those services.
So let's say you're in a cleaning business. You might serve commercial premises. You might service people who are living in their homes. Or you might service people who rent their homes out for holidays. Those are just examples. So you would assign an avatar to each of those different levels of service.
How do you create your avatar?
An avatar has characteristics. You want to give them a gender. An age. Relationship status. What level of education have they got? What things do they like? What do they dislike? Maybe even what kind of car they drive. Where they live. All of these sorts of things. Personality characteristics, as if you were to describe that person to someone. What would those characteristics be? Now that may sound a little bit lame, but it does help you get very clear in your mind who it is you're talking to. Just trust me on this. The more detail you give them, and the more you document it ...
What we actually do with our clients and for ourselves, is we'll find a photograph that could be of that person. We'll give them a name, and we will document that. So it might be Mary Anderson. She's a 38 year old mother of three. Her children are teenagers. She's just coming back out of motherhood, getting back into the workforce. She has a degree in Business Management. And she drives a Toyota Camry. Lives in Sydney, so on and so forth. You get the picture, which is the point. You want to get a picture of who this person is so that you can personalise your marketing to them.
Now, be specific in how you serve them. I talked about the life coaching example before. And there are a couple of parallels to that I want to describe to kind of drive that point home. And this is the point of specialising. You think of the medical industry. This is an example I use a lot, so if you've heard me talk about it before, my apologies. But for those who haven't, it's such a critical point. And it took me years and years to get this myself. But once I got it, it just made such a huge difference to my business.
So in the medical field, you have your local general practitioner, doctor. In the medical industry there are also specialists. There are heart specialists, lung specialists, eye specialists, so on and so forth. Now, in that field, the people who are booked out the most, they're booked most out in advance and charge the most are the specialists. And that's because they can help people with a very specific problem. That's just the nature of business. The more specific you are about who you serve and what you do, the higher your value is. That's just the nature of the beast.
So I want you think in your field, how can you be more specific about who you want to be targeting. Now, the objection that most people come up with is, "Oh well, I can serve everyone. I don't want to exclude anyone from my services." That's fine. If you want to be the GP, that's fine, but you'll find you're the one that's probably overworked the most, and earn the least money. That's not to take anything away from GPs. There are those who do it and absolutely love it. If that's how you choose to run your business, that's fine. But if you do want to increase your value, seriously consider specialising.
Another example is a personal trainer. You could say, "Yeah, I'm a personal trainer. Anyone needing any personal training, come and see me." The more specific you are, like you might say, "I'm a personal trainer for pregnant women, for retirees, for menopausal women, for professional athletes." Whatever. The more specific you are, the more your target market is likely to gravitate towards you. And the more likely they are to pay more for you. If you're a pregnant woman, you'll probably going to be more willing to pay a personal trainer who specialises in pregnant women than you would a general personal trainer. So that's enough on that.
So your process of documenting your avatar is do it as a brainstorming session. Take 10, 15, 20 minutes on each avatar and document them. And trust me, it will be well worth your time.
Next thing you want to think about is, "OK, now that I know who these people are, where are they?" When I say, "Where are they," what are the platforms that you could use to reach out to them? So, with most of our clients, pretty typically with 80-90% of them, their clients can be found on Linkedin. Doesn't mean they're stalking Linkedin all day, or whatever. If they were to go on Linkedin and do a search of profiles, there is a very good chance that they could find people who match many of the qualities of the avatar. Not so much the personal qualities, but the professional qualities of the avatar. They would be able to find them on Linkedin.
If you are targeting pregnant women, there's a good chance they might be on Facebook. If you're targeting women who have a inkling towards crafts or design, there's a very good chance you would find them on Pinterest. So looking at your avatars, just think, "OK. If I was this person, where would I likely be hanging around?" And we're looking for the online platforms here. You're not talking about the local mall, or whatever. All that stuff is relevant for your other marketing efforts, but specifically here we're talking about your authority marketing.
Now having said that, it doesn't necessarily have to be online. There could be speaking opportunities. For example, if there are local craft groups, and your target market is the craft field, then obviously that's somewhere where you could find them. If you are targeting pregnant women as a personal trainer, then there would be local motherhood groups, or prenatal classes, whatever. Those are places where your avatars will congregate. And there could be opportunities for you to reach them through those. But for the purposes of our authority marketing, what we're talking about are online platforms.
So there are some examples discussed already. If your avatar is a commuter, if they regularly commute each day, you could consider podcasts as an avenue for reaching them because a lot of commuters listen to podcasts. They're bored with radio, it's pretty much the same stuff every day. Just recycled and reworded. So a podcast could be a good avenue for you to reach them.
So that's the point of finding out what platforms these people are on. It gives you clues as to what format might be useful for you. So if your people are on Pinterest, you're looking for graphic-type formats to reach out to them. If your avatars are on YouTube, then obviously video is how you're going to want to reach them. So that's where our thinking is along those lines. That's this part of the preparation stage.
What can you learn from Abraham Lincoln about authority marketing and growing your reputation?
Being your Avatar’s hero
So now we know who we want to be targeting. We've got a fair idea of where they are. And then probably the final stage of this avatar process is just to brainstorm. What problems do they have that you could solve? What questions do they have that you could be addressing in your authority marketing? And that's how you're going to make yourself attractive to them is by answering those questions. That's a process that you repeat time and time again. Even during the course of your normal working week, it's a great idea, if you take a telephone inquiry, notice what questions are coming up. And just think how you could be using that in your content marketing.
So for example, if you're a personal trainer targeting pregnant women, then someone might phone and say, "Look. I don't want to do squats. I've been told that squats are bad for pregnant women." I don't know whether it is or not. So that's the kind of question that you as a personal trainer could be asking. If you're a human resource consultant, and someone has a question around recruitment, then document those questions. And then be ready to answer those questions in your authority marketing.
I really like the approach that Cathy Love gave us. If you listen to the interview with her, I think it was episode five on the Authority Elevator, she said the way that she worked out how her content is going to flow, is she thinks of three major issues that her potential clients have. And then she thinks of three sub issues that belong to each of those issues. So just in that thinking process, she will have nine different ideas for a potential blog post or a podcast episode, or whatever. So that's an approach you could take.
And if you struggle to find what problems or questions they have, then of course you could ask your potential clients. So jump on forums on-line, in Facebook groups, in Linkedin groups. Send emails to current clients, past clients, or potential clients who are on your books and say, "Hey. I'm just working on my offering at the moment, and I'm interested to find what are the biggest problems that you face doing X." Whatever it is that X might be.
So use all of those avenues to find out from people what their problems are. What questions they have. And that's going to become the basis of your authority marketing efforts.
So we'll go into more detail in future episodes on where to go next. But that's the first stage of your preparation is defining who it is you want to be working with, where they are. What problems and questions they have.
So that's it for now. We'll tie up this episode here. Hope that was useful to you. Do tune in on future episodes. And we'll take you further down this process of how to do your authority marketing. Take you to the next level, and beyond, and beyond, and beyond. And of course here's my opportunity. You tell me what problems or questions you have in relation to authority marketing. Just drop us a line. Send it to: firstname.lastname@example.org. And, yeah, just let us know what problems you've got. What questions you'd like answered on the podcast, and I would be more than happy to address them.
So that's it for today. Thanks for tuning in. And I will see you next time.
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