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brand yourself as an expert in your small business

Do you want to stand out from your competitors? Would you like to be thought of as an expert in your industry? Do you want your name to be the first to come to mind when potential clients are looking for solutions? Then you need to position yourself as an expert. And you’re in the right place. In this post, we’ll share specific strategies to help you brand yourself as an expert in your small business or niche.

But before we get into how to do this, let’s look at why branding yourself as an expert is worth the time and energy.

Why You Should Brand Yourself as an Expert in Your Small Business

The time and energy that you invest in branding yourself as an expert is absolutely worth it.

Why can I be so positive about this?

As a small business, you are fighting against the noise of so many other brands in your industry — some might even be quite a bit larger, making you feel like a small fish in a big pond.

Being an expert helps you to stand out amidst all the clatter in your industry and get noticed. And it’s not just because you are the loudest or the flashiest.

In a legitimate personal branding strategy, you prove again and again that you have the needed knowledge and expertise people want. You also show others that you are authentic and trustworthy. This a powerful combination that attracts others to your brand.

And this is supported by hard facts. Consider a few statistics from a recent study on thought leadership

  • 54% of businesses reported that they decided to purchase a product or service from an organization based solely on the thought leadership content they saw.
  • 65% of buyers said that a company’s thought leadership significantly changed the perception of that company.
  • 64% of buyers admitted that they use an organization’s thought leadership content to assess the organization’s capabilities and competency.

There’s just no substitute for being viewed as an expert in your industry.

With that in mind, let’s look at 10 ways you can boost your image and brand yourself as an expert in your small business.

How to Brand Yourself as an Expert in Your Small Business

1. Learn More About Your Audience

In any situation, it always helps to know whom you’re talking to. Thought leadership and personal branding are no different. You need to know your audience and potential clients before you start to position yourself as an expert in their eyes.

So do your research. You can do this in a variety of ways, using all the channels at your disposal. For instance, you could…

  • Check out what people are posting on social media.
  • Look up questions people ask about your industry on sites like Quora.
  • Perform customer interviews.
  • Ask your sales team what questions and issues arise in their conversations with customers.

When you collect the information, evaluate it. Focus on common questions people have and challenges  they face.

And expect this information to evolve as your business grows and times change. You may have to perform regular research to keep up with what is going on in your small business and the industry as a whole.

2. Leverage Social Media

Social media gives you access to your audience on a scale that is nearly impossible to replicate with other methods. With zillions of people on some networks, there is an audience for everybody

In the beginning, just focus on posting regularly and sharing valuable insights. It can be slow for small businesses to gain traction at first, but with regular engagement you will begin to see your audience grow.

What should you post? Create content that speaks to current industry issues or that disrupts the status quo and gets your audience to think.

Video is another piece of content on social media that is incredibly popular with audiences. But you don’t want to be too scripted when you do video — in fact, consider throwing out the script. Have a topic or theme in mind, but allow your expertise and personality to really shine. Audiences want to see the authentic, genuine you — not a scripted, stiff version of you.

3. Build a Blog

A blog gives you freedom that no other platform does. You can write about whatever you want, without getting editorial approval or sharing the space with others. It is all yours — content you own and control forever.

A blog also gives you the space to talk about your company. Use it to share updates on your brand and new product releases. After all, people follow your blog because they’re interested in your brand, so as long as you include other industry topics, they’ll appreciate your news.

Starting a blog on your company’s website gives you the most control. But if you feel that your company website isn’t the right place for a blog, you can also start writing blogs on platforms like Medium or LinkedIn. These sites have a built-in audience you can use to your advantage.

4. Host a Podcast

The popularity of podcasts has exploded over the past few years, with podcasts on a wide range of both fun and professional topics.

Why do podcasts work so well? For starters, they’re portable and convenient. Your audience can listen on their way to work, while they exercise, or even as they wash dishes. Not many other platforms can say that.

Another plus to podcasting is that it’s very inexpensive. You can use a free tool like anchor.fm, which gives you a space to host your podcast episodes and distributes them to all of the most popular podcast apps effortlessly. 

And podcasting doesn’t have to take a lot of time or be complicated. Start off releasing an episode every week or every other week. Talk about issues that are facing your industry and provide a recap of the most important issues people need to know.

5. Guest Blog

A guest blog strategically published on a popular industry website puts your expertise in front of a wider audience — and can lead to more people visiting your website or your social media posts.

But because of the rising popularity of guest blogging across industries, this strategy is getting more difficult.

What can you do?

First, start small. Focus on smaller blogs that cover your industry. This gives you practice pitching to other websites and writing industry content.

Once you’ve written for smaller blogs, it gives you a portfolio of work that you can then use to secure bigger guest blogging opportunities.

6. Reach Out to Local Media Outlets

Local media outlets, such as local news and radio stations provide a rich opportunity for local small businesses like yourself to really shine.

And it’s easier than you might think to start a working relationship with these outlets. Oftentimes a quick search will give you an email address or you can look up specific reporters on Twitter. Once you have a way to contact them, shoot them a line letting them know about your professional background and offering yourself as a subject matter expert should they need one.

Once you have an established relationship with these outlets, you can pitch them ideas for stories and segments that feature yourself and your brand.

Being featured locally is a definite boost to your credibility. And once you have been featured, you can use that clip to your advantage. Feature it on your website or within your marketing kit.

7. Promote Your Content

So you’ve followed the above strategies and created content for your blog, social media, podcast, and other platforms.

Now what?

Now it’s time to promote your content. After all, just because you’ve built it doesn’t mean that people will find you. It takes work to make that happen.

There are a number of free strategies to help you promote your content. On social media, post content on your regular feed, share it with groups that you’re a part of, and ask your audience to share it. If you’re promoting your blog, work to improve the SEO of your blog posts so they appear organically on search engine results pages, such as Google.

On the other side, you can also pay to promote your content. Depending on your strategy and budget, this can be a powerful tool without breaking the bank. You might pay to promote a post on social media, appear on Google for a specific keyword, or get more eyes on a recent campaign.

Whatever tactics you choose, don’t neglect to promote your valuable content in some way.

8. Share Your Accolades

Have you earned accolades or awards in your industry? Publicize them!

How?

Create a section on your site dedicated to accolades, including press mentions. Here you can features your awards, honors, press mentions, interviews, and anything else that pertains to you or your small business. All of these help you to position yourself as an expert in your niche and win the respect of your audience.

9. Learn About Your Competition

Most likely, there are already thought leaders and experts in your industry. Check them out and learn from them.

For instance, as you comb through their various channels, you might ask yourself…

  • What are they doing well?
  • What are they doing poorly?
  • Where can I do better?
  • How does their content perform?
  • Do they get a lot of engagement on their posts?
  • Which social networks seem to provide them with the best results?

The answers to these questions can help you to shape and hone your own strategy.

10. Track Your Results

You’ve worked hard to brand yourself as an expert in your small business or niche. But don’t forget to analyze the results from your hard work. Data from social media and other platforms can help you understand how your content is performing. This can tell you which topics and content formats hit the mark with your audience and which might not be worth your time in the future.

Such analysis helps you to really make your efforts count in your personal branding strategy. So don’t forget this vital step in the process.

Concluding Thoughts on How to Position Yourself as an Expert in Your Niche

Of course, there are other strategies to brand yourself as an expert in your small business, including writing a book or speaking at industry events. The more you look into seriously positioning yourself as an expert, the more strategies you will find. And that’s the great thing about personal branding and thought leadership.

The point is to try different strategies and find out what works for your brand. After all, every small business and industry niche is unique — so your strategy will also need to be distinctive.

I hope these suggestions give you the impetus you need to start branding yourself for success. 

Photo by Quino Al on Unsplash

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Wendy Marx

Wendy Marx

Wendy Marx, author, coach and marketing and branding authority is the founder of Thriving at 50 Plus, a coaching program that helps baby boomers find more purpose and meaning in life. Wendy over the last 30 years has helped many business owners and executives become well-known, going from Anonymity to Industry Icon™. Her business articles have appeared in The New York Times, InformationWeek, Inc., Advertising Age, & Fast Company, among other outlets.

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