How to become an industry leader

How to become an industry leader.

If you’ve ever wondered how you can become an industry leader quickly and easily then this is the post for you! Unfortunately, you might not like what I have to say…

Recently a client emailed me with the following request:

Dear Paula,
I want people to find me. I want business to find me. I want a significant label as an “ ____ industry leader”. I’m too busy to  meet with you, so if you could just tell me how much it will cost that would be great. 

His request also included a long list of website bells and whistles including a membership shopping cart, a survey tool, a scheduling calendar, detailed analytics, and video based courses. Plus he asked for it to be built in a tool that someone with zero Internet experience could manage by themselves.

While what he was asking for is possible to create, it’ll be challenging to execute without significant effort, time, and money. A dash of luck, high market demand and low competition will also be helpful.

Here is what I think it takes to become an industry leader:

Pre-Launch Research:

Before you do anything, conduct keyword research to determine what key words/phrases you need to rank for…i.e. what your potential clients are searching for when they want to find businesses like yours. Next, research who you competitors are and what they are doing online to attract the attention of these very same potential clients.

Write a lot of content:

  • Create static pages for your website describing your company, it’s mission, and how you will solve your client’s problems.
  • Write a consistent stream of blog posts (at least one a week) demonstrating your subject matter expertise and personal style.
  • Write compelling descriptions of your products/services/workshops etc.
  • This content must be “laser focused” on your clients and fulfill a real need in the marketplace. 

Build the website:

Next, you need a uniquely branded, search engine optimized, website to house the content you have written and that facilitates sales. Make sure your site has robust hosting which includes an SSL certificate (required for shopping carts).

Social Media: 

Create social media accounts using the same branding and logo you used on your website. Choose social media sites your target market frequents and that your competitors are having success with. Examples include: Facebook, LinkedIn, Google+, Pinterest, Instagram and others.  Plan on cross posting your blogs (along with other content, including evergreen content) to your social media sites, visiting regularly and being social!

Online Marketing:

Beyond the social media marketing customary in your industry, I highly recommend sending a monthly (or weekly) email newsletter to your target audience. This email would include one or more of your blog posts, a list of your upcoming service offerings/sales/workshops and a strong call to action. Make sure your email template matches your website branding and use a reputable email marketing service. You’ll also need to cultivate a distribution list of people (potential clients) to send your email to. I would encourage you to create a content calendar, so you know what message you are sending out each month. Be strategic!

Ongoing support:  

If you have the time and are knowledgeable of online marketing techniques, tools, and strategies, you can skip this part. If not, consider hiring an on-going support person or team to create and distribute content, manage online advertising and social media, assist with customer support issues, and help produce videos, podcasts and other multi-media.

Startup budget:

You should budget $15 a year for the domain name, $100 a year for the SSL certificate, and around $300 a year for managed hosting and or shared hosting with someone doing maintenance for you. The initial website build, with the shopping cart and other bells and whistles could run between $3k and $8k depending on who you engage and how much of the content you are willing/able to write yourself. Make sure you hire a reputable designer with references and a proven track record. Prices vary for keyword and competitor research. I recommend you do this piece yourself; the knowledge you’ll gain about your industry is be invaluable and will help direct your overall marketing strategy. Prices also vary for ongoing marketing support – in general you get what you pay for. 

Caveat #1: In order to rank QUICKLY as a leader in your industry you might try purchasing Google pay-per-click advertising. Unfortunately it’s expensive. You could start with a few hundred dollars a month using their DIY tool and see if that works for you. If you’re in a highly competitive market bump that estimate to between $2k and $5k a month. I also recommend hiring a PPC specialist or agency to manage this for you.

Caveat #2: Even if you do all of the above, you’ll also have to actively network (both offline and online) to cultivate contacts and sales leads. 

Caveat #3:  All of the above will take time to roll out. I’ve helped other clients do it, but most took months just to get everything created and years to establish themselves as industry leaders. While I’ve seen a couple of overnight sensations, five to seven years is a realistic average. 

Caveat #4:  Even if you do all of the above there is no guarantee the marketplace of life will respond to what you are selling. 

Are you mad at me yet? Have I destroyed your dreams? Please forgive me, but I have to be honest with you; I’ve had too many clients over the years hire me to “build it, and they will come” only to discover “they” won’t come without a lot of time, money, effort, and luck.  

If you are still reading this, and you have the content, drive, and desire to become a true industry leader then please contact me. I would LOVE to work with you and help you make your dreams come true.