7 Steps to Becoming an Authority Brand

Liz Dennery Sanders, discusses how to become an authority brand. Picture of Liz, strong and confident, in her doorway.

In my work as a brand strategist, two of the most common questions I’m asked are “How do I stand out?” and “How do I position myself as a thought leader and the go-to expert in my industry?”

Today’s cluttered digital landscape can feel overwhelming. There is more noise than ever and everywhere you turn people are promoting their products and services. It’s no wonder that consumers have become jaded and are tuning out whenever they can.

There’s only one of you. You can’t help the people you’re meant to serve if they don’t see you. It’s your job to make sure you stand out and that they can find you.

It’s important to be clear about what you offer, and to make offers – repeatedly – and continue to provide value to customers who will become raving fans and sing your praises. The path to being seen and recognized is gilded with testimonials and Google and Yelp reviews.

If you’re ready to make your mark and stand out, here are seven steps to establish yourself as an authority brand and thought leader:

Get crystal clear about what you offer and the value you provide.
This is the important first step, the foundation upon which everything else will be built. If you don’t have clarity then you can’t expect your potential customer to have it, let alone buy from you. What are you providing your clients and what is the result they will achieve from your product or service? Why is it important and why should we care?

Here’s one of the formulas I use with clients to help them get clear about their message:

I help {ideal client} {verb} {their problem OR their desire} so that they {end result}. {You can also insert a sentence or two of your mission here.}

Using SheBrand as an example, I often say, “I help women entrepreneurs build their brand, their confidence and their bank account so they create more impact and abundance. At SheBrand, we believe the influence of women is necessary and revolutionary. If they don’t offer you a seat at the table, build your own table.

Get intimate with your ideal client.
Take the time to gather data, engage and connect with your past, current and future clients. It’s imperative that you understand who she is, what she struggles with and who she aspires to be. When you have a real sense of your ideal client’s life – her fears, dreams, and desires – you’ll be able to connect on a much deeper level with the stories you tell.

One way to do this is to create a survey through a resource like Survey Monkey. Include a few questions such as, “What are you struggling with most right now?” and “If you could wave a magic wand and change one thing in your life today, what would it be?” and email to your list if you have one and/or a handful of past and current clients. You can also use social media resources like Instagram Stories to ask direct questions of your followers.

Connect with people and be helpful. Make. More. Offers.
It’s imperative that you find ways to connect with other people, either in person or virtually. Obviously the past 18 months have been particularly challenging for connection because of the pandemic, but people have found a myriad of new ways to connect digitally. Facebook groups, online panels and events, and digital networking groups have flourished. Social media platforms provide a multitude of ways to engage and connect. But you don’t have to be everywhere and offer something to everyone. Find out where your ideal client spends most of her time online and pick one or two platforms to hang your shingle. Select one Facebook group where you can spend some time and go deep. Meet and connect with as many people as possible and make offers to help them.

Be consistent about creating helpful and authoritative content.
A blog post or email every couple of months isn’t going to cut it. Neither is posting on Instagram or Facebook once a week. Your #1 job is to build relationships, and helpful, inspirational, and entertaining content will help you do just that. You don’t need to get caught up in the how – just pick your favorite content vehicle, whether it’s video, email, blogging, podcasting, or posting daily to a social platform, and be consistent. You don’t have to be everywhere to be known, but you do need to be consistent and go deep with the platforms you choose. Create a content calendar and publish something pertaining to your area of expertise at least every week.

Remember, telling your story and being vulnerable is a critical part of building your brand.

Liz poses for press photos alongside Kelly Rutherford


Don’t underestimate the power of a good press placement.
I have worked in PR and marketing for 25+ years, and while the internet has leveled the playing field in terms of how businesses can reach consumers, there is still tremendous value in traditional media. A well-timed article about your business in the local paper or a quote in the New York Times or Wall Street Journal can drive traffic to your website and attract more customers. Press placements can also be leveraged on all your platforms as a credibility booster. Make a list of 5-10 media outlets where you would like to be covered and start familiarizing yourself with the writers and producers who create the content. Follow them on social media and comment on pieces you enjoy. You’ll find more tips on working with the media here and here.

Leverage other people’s networks.
One of the best ways to amplify your brand and broaden your reach is through other people’s communities. Partnering with someone in a complimentary field on a project, panel or event can be mutually beneficial, especially if they are “on brand” for you. Offer to teach a class in someone else’s program, speak on a panel at an event, donate your product for a giveaway, invite people with large platforms on your podcast or feature them on your blog, hire an influencer to promote your product or service, or research affiliate opportunities. There are literally hundreds of ways to connect with and leverage other people’s networks. You want to seek out partnerships and opportunities that are aligned with your brand and feel like it’s a win-win for everyone involved.

Kick Imposter Syndrome to the curb.
I can give you all the brand and content strategy in the world, but if you are consumed with self-doubt and limiting beliefs, you will consistently hold yourself back from stepping into the spotlight. I often say to clients, “You can’t do the work without the woo.” In other words, you likely have past conditioning that is holding you back and keeping you playing small. This is particularly true for women who have been swimming in a patriarchal soup of “not good enough” their entire lives. To claim your authority, own your power and effectively use your voice, emotional regulation tools like tapping (EFT), meditation, journaling, therapy, and coaching can be tremendously helpful. There is no one size fits all solution, so it’s important to find what works for you.

Becoming an authority brand has a domino effect. The more well-known and memorable you become, the more likely it is that people will share your content and tell other people about you. Being seen and recognized is about clarity, connection and consistency and being in it for the long haul, one day, one action and one client at a time. It’s about having the courage to put yourself out there again and again, knowing that what you are offering is important and meaningful for the people you are meant to serve.