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 comes down to 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.”

More than ever, consumers are looking to connect with brands rather than just buy from them. Take a moment to consider what unique space 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?

The Impact Zone

The extra experience or lens you offer to the market is what Julie calls the "Impact Zone", which is the unique space that only you can own. Try taking the following steps to find yours:

  1. Put five minutes aside. Ask two or three people you trust to Google you or your business and ask them what space they think you own. Is it what you expected? Is it too wide or undefined?
  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.
  3. Think about your audience. Write down the questions you believe they want answered. What opportunities are there to engage with those challenges? What current trends are addressing this?
  4. What unique stories do you have access to that answer these questions? These could be personal stories, how-to guides, customer interviews, etc.
  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.

Research by Edelman found that 81% of consumers rate trust as important in their buying decisions, with nearly 70% of consumers adopting strategies to avoid mainstream advertising.

How to ensure you’re reaching and connecting with your audience

“Influence and authority don'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% of CEOs say will be critical to business competitiveness in their industry in the next five years.” 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.”

Whether you have a business that speaks to a small but loyal market, or a large corporate, inspiring your values in a mass audience isn't 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.”

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Things you should know

  • This article represents opinions and views of the interviewees’ personal experiences only. It does not have regard to the situation or needs of any reader and must not be relied upon as advice. It is not intended to imply any recommendation or opinion about a financial product or service. Before acting on this information, consider its appropriateness to your circumstances. Commonwealth Bank of Australia ABN 48 123 123 124.