Every single business or marketing guru will recommend it. Write your own book, they say. Demonstrate your thought leadership. Show that you’re an entrepreneur worth listening to.
That’s all well and good. I agree that sharing your expertise can help boost your reputation. After all, that’s why I’m writing a book and publish a weekly blog and podcast. However, I know that publishing your thoughts is massively time-consuming and may not actually connect you to your ideal customers.
So, is it worth it to invest in content marketing and publishing? Will you miss out on opportunities if you don’t regularly release content? The truth is, it doesn’t matter, as long as you authentically engage with your audience — whatever that entails.
Publishing in a crowded market
Because every entrepreneur and business owner has been advised to share their ideas, the market is absolutely inundated with content. And sadly, much of that content is the same. Too many business owners are leveraging the same ideas to demonstrate their supposedly unique brand authority.
However, the purpose of one’s brand authority is to demonstrate distinctiveness. So, if you’re only rehashing the ideas from popular articles, you’re missing out on a valuable connection with your ideal audience.
As with anything, to stand out in a crowded sea, you must be brilliantly unique compared to your competitors. There honestly is no right or wrong content. Rather, it’s how uniquely you express your top values and areas of expertise in a way that resonates with your dream customers.
As the saying goes, a rising tide floats all boats. That means there is room for all entrepreneurs to share their ideas in this market. However, to stand out, we must embrace your authentic side, and that entails our inevitable interactions with our team, audience, and the market at large.
What makes your brand unique?
Your content is a way for you to go beyond digital sales pitches or knowledge sharing. It’s essentially a conversation with your dream client. Many experts will encourage business owners to publish a book, host a podcast, or otherwise corner their niche in the publishing market. I understand the benefits of that, as I have a podcast, Simplifying Entrepreneurship, as well as this post blogs to my site, Medium and LinkedIn page.
However, the existence of these channels and the uniqueness of each is not the key factor in setting aside my brand from others. Rather, it’s that I take an authentic approach to sharing my insights. As you know if you’ve read any of my previous articles or tuned into the Simplifying Entrepreneurship podcast, I tell real stories from my endeavours as an entrepreneur and small business owner.
Let’s face it: anyone can talk about the logistics of business. Anyone can share the mental and emotional struggles of running your own enterprise. Anyone can rehash their lessons from business school, entrepreneur bootcamp, or whatever training and education they received.
What makes it unique, and what minimizes your burden in sharing your ideas, is to treat everything as a conversation. Writing a book or whitepaper can be an enormous expense of time and money. And what if that content does not capture who you truly are and why you run the business that you do?
The power of authenticity
Consumers respond to authenticity, and it does not matter whether it’s a full-length book or a tweet. They simply want to see that value. What draws them into your brand are the valuable insights you have to share.
The format certainly matters. People will invest more time and a long-form article or white paper than they would have tweet. The key is to know which format better suits your goals for your marketing and branding. Which is going to best connect with your ideal customer at the right moment? Which would be a waste of your time and energy when another format might suffice?
So, when considering the authenticity of your content, consider how your delivery affects your engagement with your audience. I will say that formats such as articles or social media posts are often more digestible, especially for prospects who are not yet familiar with your brand.
Overall, though, your ability to authentically engage with your audience makes all the difference in your overall content marketing success.
Identifying your brand authority
Many entrepreneurs don’t know what to talk about to demonstrate their expertise. That’s not surprising. What really sets aside one business owner from another are the stories and experiences they have to share with their audience.
When the reader associates with those stories, feels that you have empathy for their situation, as well as the authority to help them through to a better future, you’ll have a loyal reader!
Sticking to bird’s-eye, surface-level views lead many entrepreneurs to believe their brand authority — and therefore their best topic for a book — is the nature of business itself. What truly sets apart a business owner is somewhat intangible. The great thing about content is that it can reveal those hidden key differentiators.
What separates you from your competitor is not necessarily your location, price point, targeting, commitment to customer service, etc. It’s usually how you approach your promise to your customers. What is the why that drives your business? How does that translate into an overall experience for your customers and team?
That’s something you can easily talk about that instantly sets you apart from every other competitor. So if you’re thinking about writing a book to grow your brand, pause and consider what truly sets you apart as an entrepreneur.
It’s likely not the logistical decisions you’ve made for your business. Nor is it the specific education or training that went into your endeavors. Rather, it’s your overall philosophical, emotional, practical, and didactic approach to how you conduct business.
Of course, you don’t necessarily need to write a book about that. But that sort of content should influence your overall marketing strategy, as well as how you engage with your customers. And if you do choose to publish a book or whitepaper, or to otherwise invest in content marketing, let those invisible values drive your message.
They are the key ingredients of authenticity that will encourage your audience to “know, like, and trust” you. In marketing circles, the Know–Like–Trust formula is essential to success. It is also an affirmation of your appeal and sustainability as a business and a brand.
In sum, before you begin investing energy and or money into long-form content or e-book writing, consider the core message that you want to send. It must stem from an authentic expression of your business’s prevailing values and the promise you make to your customers. As I have written about the five Ps of entrepreneurial freedom, promise drives all the other Ps, including your product, people, process, and profit. Too many entrepreneurs simply rehash their process or their people or a combination thereof when writing their books. And their stories end up sounding the same, because at a certain point, many entrepreneurial journeys are quite similar.
But every single entrepreneur is unique. And therefore, they can and should share their unique story to authentically connect with their ideal audience. The message can take whichever form is most suitable for the ideal customers. The key is to invest your energy in the best way to nurture loyal relationships with your customers.
This blog was inspired by an interview with Michael DeLon, business consultant and host of the Expert Speak podcast.