Thursday, August 11, 2011

Give Away More - It Builds Your Authority

In a recent webinar about Web sites, one of the participants asked me, "How much should I give away on my Web site?"

The answer is: A lot!

I'm surprised at how many business owners are reluctant to share information freely on their Web site. They seem to think that if they give away too much, clients won't want to hire them, and audiences will be bored because they've seen it all before.

But this is exactly the wrong sort of thinking.

Clients and audiences aren't booking you purely for your content. If you think clients won't book you because you've given away all your content on your Web site, you've got a pretty low opinion of your skill as a presenter! They aren't buying the content alone - they are buying your ability to share it with them and their people.

In fact, if you hold back content, you're more likely to face the opposite problem: Clients won't book you because they don't know enough about your content.

As Internet marketing expert Chris Brogan says:
"If you’re not blogging about your message, no one knows what you’re going to say on their stage."
If you've been in business for a long time, you might disagree with this statement. After all, you might be getting most of your work through repeat and referral business, so you don't need to convince new clients of your expertise and authority.

Even so, it would be dangerous to assume this situation will continue forever. Clients change, the world changes around them, your referral sources might choose to refer other people, and past performance is no guarantee of future success (as financial planners like to say).

So it's important that you become an authority.

An authority is not just an expert, but an acknowledged expert. More and more, this means demonstrating your expertise on-line.

When you're an authority, you leverage yourself into a position of choice with your clients - for a number of reasons:
  • You stop competing on price. Your clients choose you because of your authority, not because of your fees.
  • You deliver value. When you establish a clear and direct connection between your fee and the increased value you bring to your clients, your fee becomes an investment rather than a cost.
  • You work with your clients, not for them. Being an authority puts you in a different position in your client's mind. You'll be seen as a trusted adviser, not a pushy salesperson.
  • You solve problems rather than pushing products. When clients and prospective clients find you on-line, they are asking the question, "How can I solve problem X?", not "Where can I buy product/service Y?" Salespeople and order takers address the latter question, but authorities make the real connections, because they answer the former.

How to build your authority on-line

Don't start with social media - that's the third step in the process.

The first step is to build a high-quality Web site, which identifies your ideal site visitor and their key problems, and leads them to the solutions you offer.

But that's just for starters. Many people won't find your Web site first - they will find you on-line in other places. So build up a body of work that demonstrates your expertise and authority. In particular:
  • Publish a high-quality e-mail newsletter every week or two weeks (or every month at worst).
  • Post regularly to your blog.
  • Write high-content articles that address your market's problems, and publish them on your Web site, blog and article directories.
  • Write a special report or "white paper" discussing the key problems of your target market.
  • Create short, high-quality educational video clips and publish them to YouTube.
  • Publish a regular podcast, which is an audio newsletter.
  • Create short, high-quality educational slide shows and publish them to Slideshare.com.
Don't have time to do all of these things? That's fine. Do the first two (newsletter and blog), plus one of the others.

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