By Lyndsey Hall
Everybody looks up to somebody. Whether it’s first-time investors looking up to Warren Buffet; enthusiastic young entrepreneurs taking inspiration from Richard Branson; or human rights advocates admiring Malala Yousafzai, everybody is influenced by someone.
The trick is to become the one influencing others in your chosen field.
But, how do you become an influencer/thought leader/expert in the eyes of your peers? It’s quite simple really, and we’ll show you how in just 5 steps:
Share your knowledge
That’s right, give all your best stuff away for free. If you’ll let anyone read your best blogs, articles and white papers for free, they’ll wonder just what they could get if they paid for it!
We live in an information age where you can find out almost anything online, but still some people are worried about giving their knowledge away free of charge. I can tell you now, if you don’t share valuable and accessible information with the public someone else will, and when your potential customers head to Google to find something out, whose webpage are they going to find? Not yours.
Telling people how to do something themselves won’t make you lose customers, it will help you gain new ones; for every person who reads your blog and thinks, “I don’t need you, I can do that myself” several others will think, “Wow, this person really knows their stuff”, and if you’re lucky they might share it on Facebook and Twitter. They might even email it to their friend who really needs a [insert your product/service here]. And how great would that be?
Create a niche
You know how we said everybody looks up to somebody? Well, everybody wants to be looked up to as well. There’s a lot of competition for our attention out there – on every subject; from 13th Century Hispanic poetry, to Extra-terrestrial sightings. The likelihood that someone else is already writing and talking about your industry is very high; but fear not, there’s room for everyone!
You need to find a niche where the number of blogs, advisors and thought leaders is relatively small. Maybe there’s a little known piece of tax legislation that you have had some experience with, or an industry with a unique set of requirements that you have worked in previously. Anything that makes your knowledge and skills unique can be developed into a strong niche that you can use to carve out a little corner of the business world for yourself.
Keep it simple, stupid
Have you ever thought to yourself “I really fancy trying [insert new hobby here], I’ll search for a tutorial online” and then found yourself reading an article with more jargon than a coding convention? (What is a Raspberry Pi, anyway?) I bet you clicked ‘Back’ pretty quickly, am I right?
Your target market is not just people who speak your language; it’s people who are looking to get into your industry, people who need your product or service but are complete beginners, and people who didn’t even know that they needed you, but managed to stumble across your page while they were searching for something else. You don’t want to frighten these timid newbies away with big words and confusing rhetoric. Einstein famously said, “If you can’t explain it simply, you don’t understand it well enough.” And that is absolutely true, but he also said “Everything should be as simple as it can be, but not simpler.” You need to aim for the middle ground – treat your audience like intelligent adults that have simply never been informed about your industry.
Video is your friend
This one is not for the camera-shy! The latest figures show that many young people now head to Youtube before Google when they want to search for something. Youtube videos are also appearing near the top of the first page of Google now (Google bought the video sharing website in 2006 for $1.65bn), so the chances of being found in a search increase exponentially if you have a Youtube account.
Marketers are now focusing heavily on video, as research by Video Brewery has shown that 59% of senior executives prefer to watch a short video than read a paragraph of text, and if your home page includes video visitors are more likely to stay on your site for an average of 2 minutes longer. According to a study by Brainshark, 65% of viewers watch at least three quarters of a video, and in 2017, 74% of all internet traffic will be video.
Video can even help improve your email marketing; it is proven to increase open rates by 20%, and click-through rates by 2 to 3 times; and can even reduce unsubscribes by 26% when you use the word “video” in the email subject.
If the camera loves you, why not upload a weekly or fortnightly podcast? Tutorials are always popular: you could put together a series of ‘How To’ videos, showcasing your skills. You could also run webinars; which could lead to public speaking engagements, or even TV appearances!
Write a book
Have you been writing great content for a while now, sharing it online, and getting good engagement, but wonder when the money will start rolling in? You’re not alone. Digital marketing, no matter how good, isn’t about generating an immediate ROI; it’s about long term investment and building a strong reputation and a loyal following for your brand. The upside to this is that you now have a stack of well written articles and blog posts that, with a little editing, could be turned into a book.
The benefit of a book is that anyone who has spent money and taken the time to read the whole thing will probably be a pretty loyal follower; now, if not before. It also gives you a whole new market to reach out to, especially with the rise of the e-reader, meaning books are immediately downloadable wherever you are – no need to pop into Waterstones or WH Smiths anymore! You can even self-publish now, using Amazon Kindle, so what’s stopping you?
Becoming an influencer in your industry won’t happen overnight, but if you follow our 5 steps, in time you will build a strong, loyal fan base who will share and promote your content, watch your videos and buy your books, and when the time is right, make the transition to become customers of your business.
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