In the noisy world we live in, it can be easy to slip underneath the current—no matter how hard you yell and scream for attention (traditional advertising), no one seems to be buying your product or services. I understand your frustration, and I think I have some useful advice for you.

Author and Virtual Mentor Michael Hyatt claims that what business builders need to get noticed is a platform. He says, “Very simply, a platform is the thing you stand on to get heard. It’s your stage. But unlike a stage in a theatre, today’s platform is not built of wood or concrete or perched on a grassy hill. Today’s platform is built of people. Contacts. Connections. Followers.”

To phrase this a bit more practically, what you need as a small business owner are people who want your advice on things BEFORE the sale—yes, that means making information available to someone before they pay for it, which sounds like one of the seven deadly sins of small business.

The fact is though, the internet has made information accessible—and if your potential customers are searching for it, you want them coming to you to get it!

In a later post we will delve into the practical ways to accomplish this without giving away SO much that you can’t have paid products, but just so I don’t lose you for the rest of this post, I’ll give you a good, relevant example:

I am writing a post on why YOU should become a thought leader. In a moment, you will read four benefits I have “thought” of in order to “lead” you in a certain direction. Now, if I wanted it to be, this post could just be one step in the sales funnel, leading you to a course, eBook, or another piece of paid content teaching you how to do it, step-by-step.

There are multiple ways to distinguish between what should be paid vs. free, I just want you to understand that there IS a difference, and you should not let your hesitations get the best of you on this.

Trust me. You NEED thought leadership in your business model.

Here’s why:

Benefit #1: You, the Thought Leader, are the Hero

 

Everybody wants to be the hero of the story. This is a lesson we learn as kids—very few are satisfied with being Robin if Batman is an option. It’s the same way in small business today. When you put yourself out there as a thought leader, you are making a statement to the world that says simply says, “I know my stuff, and I can prove it.” Successful thought leadership manifests itself when someone wants to know the answer to a question and they turn to you instead of just searching Google. Why would they do this? Because they know you are knowledgeable on the subject, and they know they can trust you to give solid, truthful information. The internet is full of liars and ignorant people. Sorry, but it’s true! Keep people coming back for more (for free), and eventually, they’ll pay for it.

Benefit #2: Your Sales can be on Autopilot

 

Imagine a world where the bulk of the marketing and advertising was a somewhat automatic process? Thought leadership can be just this way! Now—I’m not trying to fool anyone here. Thought leadership is hard work, time-consuming (especially in the beginning), and frankly—its the slow road. It may take you years to become the thought leader your small business needs to really thrive. But three years from now, you’ll really wish you had started today! You may have to do some traditional advertising while you’re building your thought leadership platform, and that’s ok! The main thing is to get started because content marketing and thought leadership, in the long run, are cheaper, leaner, AND more efficient than traditional advertising—it just takes time to get to that point. But once you are, your sales are on autopilot! People come to you because they are already interested in what you have to say or sell.

Benefit #3: You Reach People at Just the Right Time

 

In the context of a sales funnel, there are different “stages” your potential buyers will be in at any given time. Also, there are different places they could enter. The general rule is, the earlier in the buying process you get the customer, the better. Studies show customers are very loyal to the first organization or individual they receive good information from on a subject. This means that you will not only play a part in potentially providing a solution for your customers, but you will be with them from the beginning of the process when they are just starting to research and learn more! This is a powerful way to build and maintain trust from the very beginning.

Benefit #4: Others (Even Competitors!) are Encouraged to Share

 

Word of mouth has always been the most effective method of advertising. The Internet has both positively and negatively affected this process. While it’s certainly easier than ever to share your interests with others, people are now much more selective about what they share. If it’s not valuable, it’s dead in the water. But if it is, you’re golden! This is because everyone is tuned into WIIFM (what’s in it for me), and if your content will make someone else look good, they will share it! This is true even for those would be, in the traditional sense, competitors. So now your current customers, potential customers, and even your competitors are sharing your knowledge for you! If you have the right processes in place to capture potential customers once they land on your knowledge, you have successfully built a stellar marketing system that should keep you busy for years to come.

If your potential customers are searching for it, you want them coming to you to get it! Click To Tweet

Don’t mistakenly dismiss authoritative and educational marketing until you’ve given it a fair shake. While it will take time, it can have a profound impact on your business for years to come.

Question: What results has your small business seen from authority marketing? Would you ever choose traditional instead? If so, why? Answer in the comments below!

Steve Schramm

Steve is a WordPress and Content Marketing Consultant, and the owner of NorthMac Services. He helps small businesses develop a strong online presence, build trust and win more customers. NorthMac serves North Carolina and beyond with WordPress and Content Marketing services as well as Apple IT solutions.

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