I’ve been a college professor for almost two decades. In the halls of the academy, being known as an educator with a genius-level understanding of their subject matter is vital to professional advancement and respect. Authority and expertise are easy to spot in higher education. It’s all about the terminal degree. The letters you have after your name matter, and the Ph.D. rules them all. It means your knowledge is at the expert level. We work hard for the distinction.
Spotting authority and expertise isn’t so easy when it comes to brands. Don’t tell Dr Pepper or Dr. Scholl’s, but sticking a designation in front of your name doesn’t carry the same clout in product branding as in higher ed. You have to focus on building brand authority to make people trust and respect your brand.
What is Brand Authority, and Why Does It Matter?
Brand authority is the trust people have for your brand and you in relation to it. It’s based on whether they see you as a reliable expert in your niche and industry. Brand authority is vital because authority leads to trust, which is essential for sales. People won’t do business with you if they don’t trust you.
The need to establish trust for your brand to succeed is greater now than ever. The 2022 Edelman Trust Barometer found that 68% of consumers say trust is more important to them now than ever. This increase likely is due to younger generations — Millennials and later — who are known to make statements by where they spend their money. They look for brands that adhere to their values and work to make a difference in the world.
In the same study, Edelman found that 57% of people will buy new products or services from a brand they trust, even if the price point is more. Trust allows you to price your products and services at a different level.
Finally, in what seems to be a critical finding, Edelman found that 61% of people who trust your brand will advocate for it. This advocacy looks like recommending it to others, displaying it in their homes, and talking about it on social media. Since word-of-mouth still is tied directly to sales, it’s a benefit you want for your brand.
So, brand authority means sales. If people trust your brand, they’ll buy it, even at a higher price than what may be industry standard, and they’ll advocate for it. The problem is that building trust isn’t easy, and it’s becoming more difficult by the day.
Public trust is at an all-time low. We’re skeptical of everything. So, you must prove that you and your brand are worthy of their trust. You have to actively work to establish and build your brand authority.
12 Tips for Building Brand Authority
None of these 12 tips for building brand authority is challenging. But taken together and done consistently, they will help you establish and build your brand authority. As you read them, consider what you’re already doing well and ways your business can improve.
1. Establish Your Platforms
Where will you show up for and communicate with your customers? Focus first on the places you own, like your brick-and-mortar store, website, blog, and email. Supplement and support your efforts with posts and engagement on the social media outlets where they already gather. Remember to limit the number of platforms you choose to use to what you can excel at. You can’t be everywhere all the time and run a business.
2. Share What You Know
Share what you know so that others can learn and grow from it too. Don’t keep your knowledge secret. Don’t give away trade secrets, but share everything else you have that can help people. Most businesses don’t have some kind of secret sauce. They’re simply sharing what they know and helping others.
And don’t underestimate the value of what you know. Just because something seems like common knowledge to you doesn’t mean it is to everyone. Sharing basic information serves as a learning opportunity or a reminder. More advanced information builds on what you’re teaching your customers.
If you’re scared to give away too much because you’re worried about someone taking your ideas and improving them, it’s time to take a long look in the mirror. The fear suggests that you know you aren’t serving your audience at the level you should be and it’s time to improve your offerings.
3. Know and Serve Your Audience
You can’t know too much about your audience. Learn everything you can about them and serve them through every bit of information you share. Keep them at the forefront of every decision you make.
Keeping your audience in focus is where customer personas come in handy. A persona is a fact-based story about someone in your audience. Use customer research to find out geographic, demographic, and psychographic information… everything you can about your typical customer. Then use that information to write a little story about that person. Give them a face and a name. You may even assign someone you know to the profile. Then make your decisions based on and for that person.
4. Show Up Regularly
This tip may be the most challenging one to implement. You can’t just build your online presence and expect people to flock to it. You have to show up regularly for them and cultivate community. Being there helps establish your authority and show your audience that they can rely on you.
Showing up regularly online means:
- Having a strong website that serves visitors with the information they need and is intuitive to navigate
- Blogging at least twice a week
- Promoting your blog posts on Google Business Profile and having a complete profile there
- Posting to social media according to best practices for the platform — typically one to five times a day
- Engaging on social media
- Responding to questions on your chatbot using a tool like Podium
- Sending an email newsletter at least monthly
- Fielding emails from customers and potential customers
5. Display Social Proof
Social proof shows people that others use and love your product or service. You’re giving them visual indicators of support, which create a fear of missing out and minimize the risk of trying your product or service.
Ways to display social proof include displaying:
- Academic credentials, certifications, or accreditations
- Customer testimonials or recommendations
- Counters that show followers, number of buyers, or customers numbers
Don’t be afraid to share the great things your business is doing and what makes it better than the competition. If you don’t brag about your business, who will?
6. Show, Don’t Just Tell
Don’t just tell people how your product or service works and why it’s amazing. Show them at every opportunity. People believe their eyes more than your words. Show video tutorials, before and after photos, and data that proves results. Provide potential customers with anything you can to prove your brand’s worth beyond, “Our product is excellent. Trust us.”
7. Use Data
Data makes a big impression. Don’t just tell people a certain product is good. Tell them that 93% of people who shop on your site buy this particular product. Don’t just tell people they need to have their chimneys swept yearly. Tell them that 25,000 fires happen each year because of blocked chimneys. Back up your claims with data. And the data doesn’t even have to be original. Just make sure you’re crediting reliable, authoritative sources.
8. Delight Viewers
We love being delighted, whether someone buys our coffee unexpectedly or our favorite author retweets us. Work like it’s your job to delight your customers — not just with your products or services, but in how you engage with them.
Delighting customers builds relationships, and relationships are the brand authority jackpot. They mean your customers will continue purchasing from you over time and recommend your business to others.
9. Stay in Your Lane
You can’t be everything to everyone, and you shouldn’t even try. Instead, niche down. Do what you do and do it at the highest level. If you focus on being the absolute best at what you do, you’ll become known as an authority in that area.
10. Admit What You Don’t Know
You aren’t expected to know everything, even in your niche. It’s acceptable to tell people that you don’t know the answer to their question, then help them find it or point them to someone else who can serve as a resource. Not having all the answers is human. Just don’t leave people spinning in circles looking for help. Always be a resource.
11. Build Up Others
You’ve probably heard the saying, “Confidence is quiet. Insecurity is loud.” Spend as much time building up others as you do promoting your business. Brag about your partners, incredible customers, team, and even competitors who excel at things different from your business. Put good out into the world. Others will reciprocate.
12. Love What You Do
If you love what you do, you’ll always be excited about it. People will notice that excitement. They see that you’re giddy about what you do for them, and they want to be a part of that. Excitement that leads to a desire to join creates brand authority.
Let Content Journey Help Build Your Brand’s Authority
We said before that all of these 12 components are easy on their own, but taken together, they take a lot of time and expertise. It’s difficult, for example, to show up regularly for your audience while trying to run a business. That’s why Content Journey is here to help. We can guide you in establishing your brand’s authority, then implement the necessary components while you take care of the rest of your business. Book a call, and let’s talk about our partnership.