Starting a business can feel like a risk at the best of times but in the current economic and social climate, it might be perceived as foolhardy.
Having said that, one thing 2020 gave us was fewer distractions and more time to assess whether or not our lives without them were the ones we wanted to live. Despite the circumstances, the UK private sector business population increased by 1.9% in 2020 and 22% of UK workers realised their current role didn’t satisfy them in the wake of the pandemic’s impact. For many, 2020 provided the time and space to envisage what their ideal business might look like.
Of course, if it were easy to do this, many more people would. It’s a truth widely acknowledged that starting a new business is a major challenge – particularly when it comes to establishing brand authority – the reputation a brand has that attracts and retains customers. This is something Dr. Izdihar Jamil found when transitioning from an academic to a brand authority consultant.
Having achieved a Ph.D. in Computer Science in 2008, Dr. Jamil worked in various teaching, research and tutoring roles before turning to self-employment when her family moved to California. In a new country with young children and few contacts, she focused on helping other stay-at-home mothers make and save money online using their existing skill sets, which then developed organically into a business helping self-made entrepreneurs make consistent sales. Now, the main focus of her business is helping entrepreneurs create brand authority through multimedia such best-selling book campaigns, TED talks and magazine and TV features to name a few.
“I see media as a client conversion system rather than just a ‘nice-to-have,’” she says. “As such, I teach people how to use media to solidify their status as an expert in their field and then to use this as a form of lead generation.”
Having been through her own struggles to gain brand authority, Dr. Jamil understands how difficult it can be – especially for women from marginalised communities. “Being a Muslim woman and wearing a head covering meant people had pre-conceived ideas about me and, initially, I struggled to be taken seriously. Given my culture and background, it also took me a while to build the confidence to put myself out there and accept the visibility that comes with building brand authority and get over the notion of guilt for accepting people’s money for my services.”
“Regardless of whether or not you employ the services of someone to help, there are certain things anyone can do to build that trust and recognition.” Here, Dr Jamil shares the five key pillars she believes will help any business owner develop brand authority from the ground up.
Focus on building trust
Edelman’s 2019 survey found that 81% of consumers say trust impacts their purchasing decisions. Trust is the foundation of any good relationship and when it comes to establishing one with a new employer or consumer base is one of the most important things you can do for your brand. For you, says Dr. Jamil, this means being reliable and delivering on your promises. “Your audience wants an authority who is going to deliver and who shows up. When you say you’re going to do something, follow through. For example, if you have a call scheduled with them, show up. If you say that you’re going to be sharing your story with them every day for the month, deliver.”
The key thing to remember is not to over-promise. It’s better to keep expectations realistic and deliver consistently than offer too much and break your word.
Little and often is the best marketing policy
When trying to establish your new brand, the key is to show up consistently, says Dr. Jamil: “When you take actions every day, for example posting every day in social media, your authority and likeability factors will grow as you’re consistently nurturing your relationship with your potential consumer base. They know they can count on you, so they look forward to seeing you every day.”
And though you might feel self-conscious at first, Dr. Jamil reminds us that it’s this drip-feed of appearances that create the like, know and trust factor that gets people to invest. “In the end, which authority are they going to choose? The one that’s showing up and taking actions every day or the one that shows up once in a while?”
Dr. Jamil suggests focusing on key, congruent messages that are non-contradictory.
Let people know who you are
Gone are the days when businesses could get away with faceless marketing. Now, 70% of consumers feel more connected to a brand when its CEO is visible and actively engaged. “People buy people,” reiterates Dr. Jamil. “Showing your relatability factor and sharing your challenges and journey creates a connection with your audience. It shows that you’re the right person to lead them.” This doesn’t mean airing all your dirty laundry; it means highlighting aspects of your own journey that they will be able to recognise on their own.
As most people know, visibility in the media forms a huge part of brand authority. “Whether you’re guesting posting for a publication, speaking at an event, writing a piece for a magazine, writing a book or being interviewed on TV, the more your audience sees you on those various platforms, the more credentials, recognitions and leadership that you will build,” Dr. Jamil points out.
If you’ve seen your favourite brand worn by someone you respect, you’re more likely to buy, just as if you’ve seen your brand spoken about on a trusted media platform, you’re more likely to invest. This is because third-party endorsement is impartial and authoritative and therefore develops trust – all of which helps solidify a brand’s position in the marketplace as a leader.
… But try not to overthink it
It’s easy to overthink everything when trying to build brand authority in a new field – what will people think? What if they don’t like my brand? What if it’s not perfect? – but, as Dr. Jamil found from her own experience, this only leads to stagnation. “Perfection is an illusion; a trap,” she warns. “The best thing you can do is start before you feel ready – things don’t need to be perfect, they just need to get done.”
It’s far better to show up with integrity but be a little rough around the edges than to show up with the rigidity of attempted perfection.
After all, adaptability, relatability and authenticity are the foundation on which every successful brand in the world sits, so this should form an integral part of your plan when building brand authority, too.
For more information on Dr. Izdihar Jamil’s work, visit her website here.