Are you ensuring that your business’ voice is being heard? Over the past year, the what, who, and where of what influences consumer decision-making has changed significantly, and in this period of rapid acceleration and rapid authority, it is becoming more important than ever to stop interrupting the market and start becoming a source of interest to your audience.
With over 20 years of experience decoding influence, Julie Masters, CEO of Influence Nation, has spent her career turning the expertise of business leaders into actionable market authority. For Julie, becoming an authority is dependent on three things: Speed of decision-making, rapid impact, and rapid action.
“You can now go from a nobody to a somebody in under 24 hours and in 280 characters or less,” Julie says “Those that can try new things, iterate, and keep going; those are the people, and the brands that we're going to see succeed in the next 12 to 18 months.”
Take a moment to think: What is the unique space that you operate in? Are you a fashion retailer who only ethically sources materials? Are you a jeweller who wants to educate people about precious stones?
More than ever, consumers are looking to connect with brands, rather than just buy from them. That moment between what your product is/what you do, and that extra experience or lens you offer to the market is what Julie shares as the ‘Impact Zone’, or the unique space that only you can own.
Step 1.Put five minutes aside. Message two to three people (that you trust) and ask them to Google you or your business. What space do they think you own? Is it what you expected? Is it too wide a market?
Step 2.Write down what unique lens you can bring to the macro space you’re operating in to give yourself a niche within that market.
Recent research into global brand trust noted that 81% of consumers rate trust as important in their buying decisions, with nearly 7 in 10 consumers adopting strategies to avoid mainstream advertising1.
So how can you ensure you’re reaching and connecting with your audience?
“Influence and Authority doesn't live in an algorithm, in social media or an email open rate. Those are just the places where all of our stories get amplified. Real influence is an inside job and it starts in the decisions that you make,” Julie says.
“Micro authorities get four to ten times more engagement than macro authorities.” But what does this mean for you? There are many platforms and ‘expert’ voices, and being hyper specialised, knowing your unique space, and talking to your customer in a unique and personal way will result in more impactful messaging.
Strategies of interrupting the market have been replaced by businesses showing a genuine affinity with the needs, wants, and concerns of their customers, and becoming fluent in their language. You wouldn’t use corporate business jargon in an article targeting everyday household consumers, would you?
According to Accenture, “Relational brands use credibility, reliability and intimacy to create trust, which 76 percent of CEOs say will be critical to business competitiveness in their industry in the next five years.”2 Yet, when it comes time to promote out in market, many businesses focus on perfecting their brand, and in doing so, strip the ‘realness’ from their content and lose focus on developing content that is personal, relevant to now, and emotive. “We live by story, we engage with story and we learn to trust through story.” Julie says.
“We’re not interested in perfection. We love reality TV and social media for a reason; that reason is that we want you to be real. We want that lack of perfection. We want to understand what it looks like behind the scenes in your world. We want your process and more than that, we want your passion.”
“Passion we buy into, Perfection we step back from.”
Step 3.Think about your audience. Write down what are the questions they’re wanting answered? What opportunities are there to engage with those challenges? What current trends are addressing this?
Step 4.What unique stories do you have access to that answer these questions? These could be personal stories, how-to guides, customer interviews, etc.
Step 5.Are you best placed to answer the questions of your market, or should you collaborate, bring in experts, or translate the stories of others? Identify the stories you want to tell, and then identify who the best people are to tell these stories.
Whether you have a business that speaks to a small but loyal market, or a large corporate, inspiring your values in a mass audience; it’s not about confidence. It’s about certainty in your decisions, actions and mindset. “Those are the brands that will stand out as authority. Those that can come to the marketplace with some certainty.”
1 2019 Edelman Trust Barometer Special Report: In Brands We Trust?
2 Accenture Strategy, “U.N. Global Compact – Accenture Strategy CEO Study on Sustainability,” September 24, 2019.
Julie shared these insights with Women in Focus as part of the Edging Ahead, Small business series. For more information on Julie Masters visit her website at juliemasters.com or tune in to her podcast, Inside Influence.