Authority Marketing Strategy – Expert Interview with Andrew S. Kaplan (Part 1 of 3)

FunnelProfit’s Founder and CEO Lawrence Klamecki interviews expert author, podcaster and digital marketer Andrew S. Kaplan.  In this three-part series Andrew goes in depth about authority marketing strategy, launching and marketing a successful podcast, engaging an audience with creative content, and getting content out of an expert’s head to create impact in your industry.

Authority Marketing Strategy – Launching a Podcast

Lawrence:  You’ve recently launched your Shatter the Mold podcast, which is now in the top 200 podcasts on iTunes.  How long did it take to go from inception to the top 200?

Andrew: Only about six weeks.

Lawrence:  That’s amazing. What motivated you to start your podcast as part of your authority marketing strategy and what alternatives did you consider instead of a podcast to achieve your goals?

Andrew: Well you know, it’s funny you asked what are the alternatives that I looked at. The alternatives are already there and I’m already following them. In fact that’s the reason for the podcast.

As a marketer — and I think anybody that even has one toe in the marketing pool today — they know that there are certain rules that you have to go by.  You know you have a niche and you have to be specific and do all these things. And I am not saying that that’s wrong. But I do know that for me personally, if I’m going to contribute in the right way and if I’m going to give my best to people, I also have to give myself permission to break some of those rules.

The podcast… who knows, it may ironically end up being the best example of following the rules in the long run… but right now short-term it’s really just my outlet for doing whatever I want, however I want, without a specific commitment to following those rules.  I believe and hope that will give me a better outlet for creating better, more inspired content. Then I can either keep in that lane or transition to something that’s a little bit more traditional.

Lawrence: You know, when we met you had a corporate training job and you’ve had your own enterprises over the years.  You’ve written a couple books — some pretty impressive work that you’ve done. It just seems that you’ve really made a turn into something that fits your personality and the value you want to bring to the world in a new way.  Do you have any specific goals for the podcast or is this an authority marketing strategy platform for you to develop your messaging?

Andrew: So I do and I don’t. And what I mean by that is obviously I want this to be a healthy platform. I want it to be a large platform. I want it to be something where people can find me and ideally, hopefully, I would love if this was a big enough format that if I wrote a new book, I could tell people about it on the podcast and automatically have an audience installed in there.  If I have any kind of new project and I want to share with people, that would be a great way of doing it.

But by that same token — and I don’t even know if this is an intelligent move yet or not — I’m not letting those goals dictate the way the podcast is going. Because simultaneously my goal has to be that the podcast is actually good and that it actually serves people. And while I want it to be a platform that I can sell from, I can’t make that the primary focus.

The primary focus has to be something that either educates, inspires, entertains or does a combination or all three of those. So the main goal is having something that’s quality and ideally once it’s quality, then I may want to gear it in a way that I can easily use that to leverage more business. Or worst-case scenario just make better connections and make better friends in different industries and expand who I am and my business all at once.  

So there’s a loose game plan and there’s potentially a really specific game plan. But right now for the long term it’s just having a better platform for better business. Right now the goal is just being good and offering quality content that people can really connect with and get something out of.

Lawrence: I’ve been listening to your podcast episodes every other day as I’m going from meeting to meeting. The quality is there.  And one of the things the podcast format is really great at is weaving different concepts together at a deeper level than what might be possible in a sound bite-sized or even a blog post-sized piece of content.  One of your core skills is your ability to bring really interesting and powerful ideas together in a transformative way, you know. You’re just not staying the same lane, right? You pull different lanes together and you’re showing how these things can inspire the other to make what some people call a “blue ocean”.

Andrew: Oh absolutely. I appreciate the compliment.  The funny thing is, because everyone’s got their own method and their own way of doing things, I have a specific method to my madness as I do it.  But what you just described there… that’s kind of a happy result and that wasn’t the specific intent. The real specific intent and a lot of what I do is just to get people thinking from a new angle.

It’s gratifying to hear from someone like you that I’m kind of bringing it home and getting to the point for people. But mostly I think, fortunately, that’s just a result of my personality, and the way I sum things up and just the things I’ve been through. The ultimate goal a lot of times when I record my podcast is I just want people to think and have a new perspective.  They may agree with it or they may not agree with it, but at least they’re gonna have another angle that might open up a whole new gateway or a whole new possibility for what they’re doing in their business.

Expanding Your Authority Marketing Strategy with a Podcast

Lawrence:  Moving on a little bit… and bringing in what we do as business. We work with B2B clients in what I like to call knowledge-based businesses. Some technology, consulting, innovation, deep expertise types of business offerings. And we’re big into authority marketing strategy.  We believe that one of the critical steps that most executives and business owners skip or fail to invest in is to develop their market authority.

We’re not talking about just consultants or coaches. That’s obvious — people who help transform through sharing their knowledge.  But even for a product like software. What does authority marketing have to do with a software product?

My question is: how do you think a podcast can be utilized to expand an authority marketing strategy?

Andrew: Right, right.  Well I want to preface the answer with ideally, if you are running your own podcast, you want to know what you’re talking about.  You want to be thoroughly researched, you want to make sure you’re sharing information that you could really get behind. Something that’s been demonstrated to you so that you’re not just spouting theories and nothing else.

With that in mind the whole the whole point of a podcast or any platform where people hear from you regularly, and where they see different sides or different angles… it comes down to the whole “know, like and trust” element of marketing.  A podcast is really just an opportunity for people to get to know you and for you to demonstrate your authority, by the depth and the wisdom of what you actually say.

Whatever you’re talking about, if you’re actually caring about giving people something that’s going to help them and giving them new information, it’s gonna translate automatically into value.  

Think about something completely off-topic from what I’m doing — like a weight loss program. Imagine you have the greatest weight loss program in the world and even though I don’t believe in a one-size-fits-all weight program, let’s just say for the sake of argument it’s one-size-fits-all program.  Anyone can use it and it’ll work as long as they do the work. But if the people listening to your podcast don’t actually believe in you and they don’t trust you and they don’t see the value in you, they’re not gonna trust in the viability of your opinion enough to give the weight-loss program a try.

So they’re basically not going to have the opportunity to succeed through it. So it’s really important that, whatever you’re selling — whether it’s a product or service — you want people to know, like and trust you enough so that they’re actually going to use what you’re selling. So they’re actually going to get the result that they were looking to give them in the first place.

Effective Authority Marketing Strategy = Know, Like & Trust

Lawrence: So, you’re making a couple important points. One, if you want somebody to use your advice or your offering, they need to trust you, if you are the face of that offering, right?

Andrew: Without a doubt.

Lawrence: With all marketing, even if it’s a corporate website without anybody’s headshot on it, you know it must have a trust element to it.

The second point you described is actually a product or system.  To be implemented — it could be a technology or service-plus-knowledge-plus-technology — it’s essential to develop “know, like and trust”. These three elements are generally required to purchase, invest in and utilize a seller’s product.  It doesn’t just apply to a personally delivered program or consulting advice. My opinion is “know, like and trust” can benefit both service or knowledge offerings, and a product offering. And it’s essential develop that through your authority marketing strategy.

Andrew: Without a doubt. And it’s one of those things where people think that once they identify themselves as being in sales, whether they’re a CEO or a founder or whatever, they think that half the work is done. But that’s actually not true because even if you’ve taken the step of understanding that you’re responsible for sales, you still may not have taken into account the key elements of making the sales that you’re responsible for.  

It’s not just about getting people to buy from you, it’s about getting people to use what they buy. And I don’t know if we’re taking things off topic now… but this is where storytelling comes into play, for example. You want to tell stories about how people succeeded using your product or service and why they succeeded with details. Because again you want the people that buy your product to be inspired and motivated and enthusiastic enough to actually use it. Otherwise or it’s gonna sit there collecting dust if it’s a physical product or just sit there on your computer never to be opened again.

Authority Marketing Strategy:  Being Personal Drives Sales

Lawrence: Yeah an excellent point. You know, as you were talking, something is really striking me these days about how competitive markets have become and how easy it is for buyers to get the information that they need to make a decision to purchase something.  I read a recent study that says something like 60 to 70% of the buying journey for B2B products and services is conducted online before the buyer ever makes contact with the company or a salesperson.

Andrew:  Wow.

Lawrence: And clearly that’s the case with consumer products and services, right?  With business-to-business I think marketing has tended to be focused on traditional sales model type stuff. But even then large purchasing organizations are spending much more time researching and making decisions on product features, benefits,  pricing, et cetera. Long before they ever talk to a person.

You know the personal element is essential for developing a use case, or telling the story about how a product or service can be used. Uncovering the benefits and the pains of the prospect so that you can you can craft the conversation about your product or service to match their needs.

So if 60 to 70% of the buying journey is being done online and you have a traditional sales process that’s dependent upon salespeople having some sort of human conversation, how do you bridge that gap?

This is where implementing an authority marketing strategy comes into play, right?

Andrew:  It’s funny because the answer was technically hidden within the question. Because if it’s something that depends on having conversations then you want to get people into conversations. You might not have the resources to do this. But if something depends on conversations, then you want to do marketing activity that’s going to facilitate an eventual conversation.

That could be a simple thing. Like when you’re posting on social media you need to understand in the back of your mind that people are going to be lurking.  You want to be speaking to those people knowing that they’re not saying anything right now and they might not say anything for another six seven eight months, maybe even 24 months.

But a key piece in all that — and this is really just more for saving your energy and not driving yourself crazy — is don’t try to be all things to all people. Make sure you’re actually speaking to your avatar, to the people that are going to buy from you.  And even repelling the people that are not going to buy from you. Because when you’re doing that and you have that level of specificity your message is gonna cut through a lot deeper so that the lurkers do feel welcome to have a conversation with you.

And just to extend a little bit on the conversation part… this could be a simple thing like you make a post on Facebook. I’ll do one like… I’ll say “hey guys I’m gonna be giving out free content on how to easily come up with social content to post for months at a time for your audience that’s perfectly catered to you. If anyone’s interested, leave a comment or shoot me a PM.”  

Something like that… automatically it’s a thing where if people are that interested they’re leaving a PM.  So the conversation’s already happening or they’re posting a comment. And when they leave that comment they’re inviting the conversation to start so you haven’t lost your positioning.  Then of course it makes sense that you’re going to be talking to them. So whatever you can do to facilitate that conversation in one way or another, whether it’s right away or over the long term, that should always be in the back of your head whenever you’re producing any kind of content or doing anything where people are looking at you.

So, you’re presupposing essentially that you’re having the conversation when you’re creating the digital content. And I believe that in some way, shape or form you should be having that kind of conversation.  If you have something conversational and you’re using storytelling as part of your authority marketing strategy, and you’re basically being human, that’s the stuff that people are going to gravitate towards to and notice more anyway.

Now  I’m not saying that’s the only way to do it.  I’m just saying that’s a really useful way of doing it that simultaneously helps you with your market positioning and your authority marketing strategy. It allows you to embrace who you are as a person, and refine your brand as you’re doing it.  You basically get more and more used to operating that way and being who you are and demonstrating your quality and your expertise and your personality.

Continue to Part 2 >