Personal brand authority: when you’re recognized as a leading expert by your sweet-spot clients and buyers.
What’s it buy you?
Which gives you the power to influence—and often to lead—the conversation in your niche. Your ideas get aired and you become THE go-to authority. Oh and did I mention it also paves the way to price yourself at the top of the heap? So there’s that…
Building personal brand authority is a highly personal journey—after all, no one else has exactly your talents, your experiences, your dreams and your story.
But I’ve found most experts—consultants, coaches, advisors, authors, speakers and freelancers—tend to be wired primarily in one of five categories: the evangelist, the journalist, the alchemist, the rocket scientist and the rock star.
If you’re an evangelist—in personal brand authority terms—you’re the visionary. You’ll take risks to put your belief system out into the world. You may well have an untraditional background that powered your journey and becomes a critical part of your story.
Many evangelists build their initial authority through business success, like Steve Jobs, Seth Godin and Alexa von Tobel.
If you’re an evangelist, you want to lead with your spin on why your belief system is worthy of latching onto. Your audience thrives on high-touch, emotional connection. So how you use story will be incredibly important—both your own and the transformation stories of your clients and buyers.
If you’re a journalist, you are the interpreter. You dig deep to make connections between events, ideas and people. Your genius lies in your insight—you’re often an astute observer far beyond your core area of expertise. And you like nothing more than the interview: a conversation where you get to ask the questions that intrigue you.
Think actual journalists—like say Malcolm Gladwell and Ron Lieber—or those who think like journalists: Dan Pink and Gail Sheehy for example.
If you’re a journalist, you want to lead with your insight—since your highest value to your audience is in sorting through conflicting ideas and data. You build your authority by interpreting data and interviewing the right people. You can vary the form (written, podcast, video) based on your style and audience.
If you’re an alchemist—you are the change agent. Busy turning lead into gold, your gift is a high touch approach with your audience. They feel seen and heard and understood. They feel that you care deeply about their transformation. You may well be a creative seeker—looking for new ways to practice your alchemy.
Think Deepak Chopra, Christiane Northrup, Marie Forleo.
If you’re an alchemist, you want to lead with your belief system, with your manifesto. You want to demonstrate it in as many high-touch ways as possible, since your audience needs to trust that you’ll deliver them into the new golden state you’ve promised. Like the evangelist, it’s your stories that cement their connection with you.
If you’re a rocket scientist, you are the sage—you lead with your intellect. You might have made your mark in academia or a big firm or maybe you just love yourself some research. You’re entranced by ideas and data and making connections between them.
Think Rosabeth Moss Kanter, Jonah Berger and Brené Brown—all classic rocket scientists.
If you’re a rocket scientist, you’ll typically build authority through publishing your findings and insights—heavily supported by data. But if you want to mesmerize a broader audience, don’t be afraid to stir up the pot and give us something we can get emotionally excited about.
If you’re a rock star, you’re simply transcendent—your audience idolizes you far beyond your original expertise. Your genius is being able to connect your audience directly to their dream. Chances are, you also tend to speak your mind—sometimes bluntly—which wins you raving fans (and die-hard haters).
Think Suze Orman, Dr Phil, Tony Robbins, Martha Stewart.
Rock stars tend to build authority based on where they started—typically as an evangelist, a journalist or an alchemist. You’ll see the occasional rocket scientist—like a Dr. Oz. But they are all creators—building content and relationships with their audience.
If you want to be a rock star, focus building your authority on your key strengths. If you’re an alchemist for example, you keep creating powerful experiences that your clients and buyers and viewers SHARE. You have to not only create concrete transformation, but be willing to do it on a very high-visibility platform.
Now of course, you’re probably not just one of these, but a combination—and there lies a clue to designing your unique road to brand authority. Are you an alchemist who pours over data like a rocket scientist? Use data—in a way that promotes transformation—in your platform.
Or maybe you started out as a journalist but got so intimately involved with a topic that you’ve become its leading evangelist. Use your insight to spark conversations that spread the word.
The key is to start. Because while authority doesn’t come in a day, you never know which building block will become your break-through.
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