How does an individual rise above the crowd to get her ideas heard, vision shared or concepts accepted? The terms “industry leader” or “visionary” simply boil down to mindshare. You can likely count on one hand the names of people in or outside your industry whom you believe have earned this coveted spot in your own mind. Perhaps your list includes names like Mark Zuckerberg, Mark Cuban, Beyoncé, Gordon Ramsay or Gisele Bündchen. What each of these individuals has in common is mindshare. People easily recognize their names and chosen professions and may even be able to list what they’ve done to earn themselves the title of “visionary.”
There are three important elements that contribute to their success.
It starts with an idea. The most important is the ability to contribute fresh ideas or unique insight to an industry. Mark Zuckerberg brought his fresh technological vision to personal communication with Facebook, which virtually eliminates physical distance between and mass-connects people across the globe. Gordan Ramsay, celebrity chef and restaurateur who has received a whopping 15 Michelin Stars, added both culinary expertise and personal dramatic flair to the global food industry. Individuals like Zuckerberg and Ramsay became iconic figures and industry leaders by contributing leading, innovative intellectual property – a formula that both grows their own brands and creates lasting vitality within their industries.
Show up. The second element to earning an industry leadership position is presence, or the ability to appear across traditional and social media, publicly address large audiences, procure awards for work contributed and give back to communities served.
Call in backup. The final piece of the puzzle is the involvement of a savvy marketing executive, campaign manager or public relations professional who works tirelessly to introduce, position and educate audiences about the unique qualities of an individual, product or business. These are the efforts that ultimately catapult these big names to the tippy top.
For a small-business owner who has something exceptionally unique to share, a crowded, competitive marketplace and challenging path ahead may seem too arduous to consider. However, in our increasingly socially connected world, the possibility of achieving mindshare actually becomes much more plausible – as long as you have support to maximize your opportunities as you ascend.
1. Know what you know better than anyone else. Businesspeople recognize Mark Cuban not only as the owner of the Dallas Mavericks, but as a self-made billionaire entrepreneur who offers useful business advice. Cuban admits that his rise to success was littered with failures, but also shares that from each failure, he learned something exceptional that helped catapult him toward a new success. Cuban is technology-savvy, outspoken and charismatic. Some may construe him as socially aggressive, but his individual approach aside, he maintains the credentials to back up his brawn and knows how to work a crowd – from the media and sports fans to monied Fortune 500 business owners. His expertise spans several areas, but because he knows how to promote what he knows, he’s earned notoriety as an entrepreneurship expert. Dissecting and focusing on your own subject matter expertise often becomes the very foundation upon which you can build an industry leadership campaign.
2. Hyper-focus on your “secret sauce.” If there’s one thing that entrepreneur-focused reality television (Shark Tank, Dragon’s Den) has done successfully, it’s promoting unexpected innovations across more than a dozen industries. ChordBuddy, Kisstixx and Scrub Daddy all solve problems or infuse fresh creativity into outdated concepts. For Scrub Daddy, it was formulating a new solution to replace sponges and copper scrubbers in one convenient tool. For ChordBuddy, the secret sauce was to create a compelling and extremely easy way for even the most novice musician to successfully learn how to play guitar. Each business owner/inventor’s unique knowledge base (or “secret sauce”) is what helped him to create position as a visionary not only in the minds of investors, but the public as a whole.
3. Publicize your uniqueness. The crucial step in gaining recognition is, obviously, to make others aware. Public relations professionals know how to adeptly use traditional and social media, public speaking engagements, awards programs and other forms of promotion to ensure that you or your business is viewed as the go-to source. You may already be a trusted advisor, but if people don’t know about you, your expertise won’t reach beyond your inner sanctum. One of the best ways to exemplify thought-leadership is to watch the news. The press frequently calls upon proven experts to provide regular commentary on news broadcasts. For science matters, well-known minds like Bill Nye (aka The Science Guy) and Neil deGrasse Tyson are the go-to resources. For financial matters, Suze Orman and Dave Ramsey have achieved the pinnacle position as trusted financial advisors. Connecting with a seasoned public relations professional or agency team can prove to be a useful tool in helping you become the go-to source in your industry.
If you desire recognition as a subject matter expert, give Axia Public Relations one minute a month to share with you the tools you need to begin the process. Simply register to receive our 60-Second Impact, a series of tools and tips for using PR to promote and grow your company.
Wendy Bulawa Agudelo has more than 15 years of experience in technology, business, consumer and non-profit public relations. In addition to serving on the Massachusetts Down Syndrome Congress PR Task Force, Wendy enjoys cooking and rooting for her favorite New England sport teams.
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