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The term Authority Marketing has become quite popular in business circles in the last five years. While the components of this unique marketing approach are not new, they have come together to form a pretty effective approach to visibility and relevance when done right.
Authority Marketing is, in many ways, an evolution of Influencer Marketing. While Influencer marketing involves a partnership with Influencers and well-known brands (Authority Brands), riding on their leverage to build your brand visibility and clientele, Authority Marketing refers to all the strategies you can utilize to build that leverage and become an authority brand yourself, as opposed to just getting your brand advertised by authority brands and Influencers.
It is safe to say that while Influencer Marketing’s success rests on the status and ability of your chosen Influencers, the success of Authority Marketing Rests on How much you can grow your brand’s status, Influence, and abilities.
Few agencies have educated me on the power and impact of Authority Marketing like Runway Influence has. Their clear-cut results in pushing brands from obscurity to authority have seen them work with Iconic brands across the influence spectrum from brands like Adidas, Tiktok, McLaren, the Food Network, and Wild Fox, to mention a few.
After several recommendations, I caught up with the people at Runway Influence to discuss their sterling strategy. The result was both simple and magnificent. According to Runway Influence, here are the four pillars of successful Authority Marketing and how you can apply them.
1. Trust people over ads
“We trust people over ads,” one of the major slogans used at Runway Influence, is both impressive and instructive. This slogan highlights the need for brands to focus a significant amount of their energy on people-driven visibility and marketing as a means to building authority.
Anyone can run ads and paint a grand picture about their brand and services, but few can get people (or afford to get them) to do the same. The New York Times stated it succinctly when it said, “The advertising industry has a problem; People hate ads.”
While ‘hate’ might be a strong word, it is clear that the trust for ads has fallen significantly in the last five years due to unethical practices. However, according to Runway Influence’s CEO, Ernest Sturm, “People will always trust people and so the goal is to get trustworthy people around brands.”
PR and Media are on the list of strategies Runway utilizes for their clients, but their prescription is that brands do something worth reporting on, as opposed to just getting featured. Your authority must rest on verifiable actions.
User-generated content is also a powerful people-driven strategy that works, and of course, Influencer marketing takes center stage in Runway Influence’s strategy. The key to repeatedly having successful Influencer campaigns rests on your pre-campaign research. Reach is not everything. Niche is sometimes more important.
People may not believe what you say about yourself, but if you get the right people to say it about you and say it to the right people, you suddenly have huge potential on your hands.
2. Consistency across the board
The topic of consistency in brand appearance, tone, and feel is usually a class startups take at the inception. However, in Runway’s experience, some brands skip that class, and by the time they are trying to build authority, they come missing one or more links in their ‘consistency chain.’
The lesson Runway tries to teach repeatedly is that to build authority, you need to make sure your chain is rock solid. The recent release of the now trending Dahlia Tequila into the market was anchored by Runway, and one of the most important objectives that Sturm had to tackle on the road over 200k followers on social media for the Dahlia brand was securing the name @dahlia for them on social media.
It may seem trivial, but the effects have been huge. There used to be a time when brands were advised to check out their chosen names in the state or national company registration registries before settling for the name. Today, in addition to that, they need to check for its availability on social media. This ensures that your brand can be found with a simple search all the time.
In business, perception is everything, and people often perceive you as having less authority if your brand name differs on different social media platforms. An authoritative brand would show their dominance first of all in the most important thing about them; their name.
3. Create content that stands out
Content marketing is another form of marketing relevant to authority marketing, but everyone worth their salt creates content. It is what you would call common knowledge. However, the quest to create unique and helpful content is what is required to build authority.
Content about your brand is good, but it can also come off as sales-y. Runway’s strategy is to push brands towards creating industry-relevant content and content that addresses your audience’s pain points.
If your content is often helpful and applicable and non-promotional, you position yourself beyond your competitors. It might be writing a book or starting a video series around a pervasive industry pain point. The idea is to create content that is not easily created to show your brand off as adding the extra to the ordinary.
4. Concentrate your powers
Sturm puts it rather humorously when he states, “You don’t need worldwide fame to build authority, you only need to be famous to those that can give you money.” Runway has built their agency’s name largely on their utilization of supermodels as influencers to boost brand visibility.
Having worked with big names like Sara Sampaio and Allesandra Ambrosio to catapult the Dahlia brand to notoriety, Runway has emphasized the need to get your brand in the faces of only those that matter to you.
It takes far more energy and resources to reach a diverse and wider audience, but it is considerably easier to conquer a smaller niche that forms the core of your base. According to Sturm, there are many ways to concentrate your powers beyond your choice of Influencers; Events are one of the most powerful ones.
This is why Runway’s strategy has involved bringing brands to the grandest of stages from the Coachella to the Cannes Film Festival. The idea is to feature in your industry’s most prominent events and build powerful networks while at it.
Another effective means is to start an event under your brand and gather industry-relevant names and other influencers periodically. However, Sturm warns that these events must tackle a pain point or be socially relevant if you are to avoid the risk of attracting the wrong type of publicity or missing out on building authority altogether.
Authority is not just a desirable trait that brands should aim for. It is becoming necessary in an increasingly competitive business space. The science is not quite perfected yet, but with these pillars, the results have been proven.