Being recognized as a leader in your industry instills trust in your brand name and creates unique marketing opportunities. Best of all, any size business can take advantage of this opportunity. Here are six ways to begin establishing your brand as an authority.
Have a Professional Online Image
Before seeking opportunities to speak as an authority, your company needs a professional image. Professionalism will not establish your company as an authority, but unprofessional appearances will quickly undermine any efforts you make. For most small- and mid-sized manufacturers, the company image is primarily its online presence. Make sure your company is dressed to impress with a well-done online presence. Here are some specific suggestions:
Hire a web designer to create a unique website that looks good
Implement an online sales portal so your B2B customers can order and answer their own account questions 24/7
Focus on only a few high-performing social media platforms and eliminate mediocre ones
Get Mentioned in the Media
Being mentioned in the media costs nothing, increases brand exposure and provides a reference. To find media-related opportunities, have someone sign up with HARO (Help A Reporter Out).
Once signed up with HARO, you will receive three emails each day. Each email is broken down by industry and lists requests from reporters for sources. Quickly search for anything related to your company, and respond to any relevant requests. Even if there are no requests directly related to your industry, you will likely find some indirectly related. For instance, a reporter might be doing a series on how the current economy is affecting American manufacturers.
If a reporter is interested in your company, you may land a mention in anything from a local paper to the New York Times. Once you are mentioned, be sure to feature that prominently on your company’s website and social media profiles.
Reach Out to an Industry Publication
The goal of this strategy is the same as the previous one, but this strategy focuses specifically on industry-related publications. Most fields are too small to support a site like HARO that connects reporters with sources, so you will have to reach out to publications directly.
Contact any magazines or journals directly related to your industry and ask how your company might partner with them. Of course, you could place an ad, but perhaps they would be interested in including your company in an upcoming article. If they do not currently have anything, perhaps you could submit a short piece.
Attend Trade Shows
Simply attending a trade show hardly qualifies your company as an industry leader, but repeatedly attending shows increases your brand’s visibility. Once others in your industry repeatedly see your company at shows, they will begin to remember your brand. After attending several shows, your company will become a known entity in the industry and develop a reputation.
Few small businesses have the budget to attend every trade show in North America, so they must carefully select which ones they will go to. If you are trying to decide which shows would provide the greatest return on investment, prioritize shows according to how directly related to your products they are. While big-name shows with lots of attendees may be tempting, the most promising ones will be those where your products are most relevant. They will provide the targeted prospects that you can turn into customers.
Commission a Report
Commissioning a report sets your company apart from virtually all your competition, and it likely costs less than you might think. Identify an area your customers would like to know more about it, and find a way to investigate it.
If your budget allows, you may want to hire a firm to do a scientific investigation into how different materials perform under certain conditions. A report does not need to be this involved, however. It could simply involve one of your employees sending out an email survey to your customers and similar companies, and then compiling the results.
Give Your Content Marketing Authority
With insights from original research in hand, you will be able to create truly unique, helpful content. Publish the findings from your report in as many ways as you can think of, through blog posts, charts, infographics, tweets and emailed newsletters. Also share it with others in your industry, asking them to cite your company as the source of the information.
These six suggestions will not yield an immediate increase in sales, but they will have long-lasting results that benefit your brand. As you build up a respected brand, others in your industry -- including customers -- will come to you first. It will not happen overnight, but this is a sustainable, long-term plan to grow your company.