Boy, people are flocking to launch online courses these days, aren’t they? Entrepreneurs, arts & crafts aficionados, fitness experts, science and tech maestros — everyone wants a piece of this pie.
After all, who in their right mind would turn down the chance to wake up with more money in their bank accounts?
And, with courses being so easy and cheap to create and deliver, the craze makes total sense.
Think about it — you work in your niche, there is none of that renting expensive physical spaces to conduct classes or workshops. And, when it comes to the number of students you can impact, the sky’s the limit. Once you set the wheels in motion, the best part is that it’s essentially websites or LMS applications doing all the heavy lifting for you. Meanwhile, you sit back and reap the rewards of your labor.
It just so happens that there’s abundant course traffic out there. As course sellers, you aren’t just vying for customer attention but also competing for market share.
So amidst this hullabaloo, how do you stand out and convince your audience that you are the real deal? How do you ensure you are seen as a trusted industry leader worth paying more for, who people turn to every time?
It all boils down to two words: brand authority.
No, that’s not some empty marketing jargon. If you hope to bowl over the competition and take your brand to new heights, you need brand authority more than anything you might have been told.
Budding online coaches, we are looking at you! You might want to pull up a chair and start taking notes. We will be covering everything you oughta know about brand authority, so here we go!
What exactly is brand authority?
In practice, the phrase “brand authority” isn’t easy to pin down in concrete terms; it has more to do with how a brand is perceived universally — both by its audience and competitors.
Think of it as the recognition of your expertise within your niche; if your audience acknowledges you as the absolute expert on a topic, it is safe to say that you have authority in your industry.
For instance, the founder of Found My Fitness, Rhonda Patrick, is a nutritional health expert with proficient knowledge of cell biology, aging, fitness, nutrition, and longevity.
Being the master at breaking down complex subjects into thoughtfully structured, informative, and actionable language, she’s undoubtedly the go-to subject matter expert for scores of people who trust her blindly for critical, health-related information.
What we are saying is, it’s not just what you know, it’s how you showcase your expertise to your audience, consistently address their pain points, and win their trust and loyalty.
When implemented thoughtfully, brand authority strategies can forge a deep connection between your company name and services, so much that the two can become synonymous with one another.
Isn’t it curious how we “Google” a product and not search it? Or use a “Post-It” to write a memo, not a sticky note? And regardless of what digital marketing or entrepreneurial information we are looking for, it’s Neil Patel we end up seeking out?
Well, that’s not by chance. The unparalleled influence and authority brands strive to achieve in their respective industries by consistently delivering winning solutions. Google, Post-it, and Neil Patel have done a helluva job of it.
So, to sum it up:
- Brand authority represents the degree of precedence you command in your industry.
- You can influence how your audience perceives you.
- It’s the element of trust your customers assign to you.
If you have an online course, your goal should be to be seen as the best of the best. In other words, your brand reputation should precede your offerings, so people don’t think twice when buying a course from you over another online coach in your niche.
Here’s a detailed look at why you need to establish brand authority as a coach, and how this can spell success for your online coaching business.
a) Separate yourself from competitors in the online marketplace
So many coaches. So many courses. How would you stand out if you don’t have specific authority in your niche? How would you transform your status from an average coach to a dignitary?
While some online coaches sell courses to share expert know-how and earn some additional revenue, there are others who have erected legit brands by hacking this massive U.S. $250 billion (that’s billion with a ‘B’) online learning industry.
Think Neil Patel, the multi-millionaire digital marketing genius who has been sharing his wealth of knowledge and providing value for years now. Go on, Google any marketing topic. You are bound to find his blog featured at least in the top five search results, if not on #1.
It’s clear how he’s pulled that off, isn’t it? By constantly educating his audience. One might even say the marketing maestro has drowned his viewers in a sea of valuable content.
Creating authoritative content focusing on your audience’s pain points and articulately delivering value establishes your brand as a credible source of information and helps drive relevant traffic to your courses.
Your end goal is to make people realize that you are better than your competitors, so they turn to you when it comes to seeking guidance.
b) People are more likely to turn to you for guidance
Which one of these feels more impactful?
“Blockchain technology has seen tremendous growth in recent years. Blockchain developers are currently in huge demand.”
“Blockchain technology has seen tremendous growth in recent years. Did you know the global spending on blockchain-based solutions is set to hit 6.6 billion U.S. dollars in 2021 and a whopping 19 billion by 2024? It’s no wonder that skilled blockchain developers are in huge demand. In fact, there was a 300% increase in blockchain-related job postings in 2019 alone.“
On the one hand, we have a coach plainly stating a fact likely to be true of any booming industry. It doesn’t make them appear knowledgeable or particularly well-informed.
On the other hand, a coach that cites trusted stats and research findings to back their arguments is who people will turn to for guidance. This way, you don’t just seem well-read and cognizant of the latest trends but also become automatically more reliable in the eyes of your audience.
Plus, it doesn’t hurt to sound enthusiastic about your industry and demonstrate that you possess a continued interest in unveiling new insights.
Let’s understand this with another example of Dr. Rhonda Patrick. Ever so often, she shares academic articles and easily digestible facts sourced from recognized publications, giving her audience a reason to visit her pages over and over again.
In fact, if you are looking to maximize the impact of your authority campaign, you can conduct your research by surveying a sizable sample pool and asking them thoughtfully designed insightful questions.
For instance, if you are a fitness coach, you could find out the most significant obstacles keeping people from pursuing their fitness goals — whether it is a lack of motivation, expert guidance, or resources.
You can leverage your social media platforms to carry out your research if you already have a considerable following. If not, there’s always survey/questionnaire tools like Survey Monkey or Typeform to help you out. The more your findings are shared, the more it will boost your status as an authoritative figure.
The added benefit of creating original research or reports is pitching them to the media for coverage.
c) You cut through the BS and offer only relevant information
Successful coaches do not hide behind giant mountains of content and make their learners work through a dense, iterative narrative to get to the point they’re making.
If you want to be recognized as an industry leader and authority, your course should be well-structured, crisp, and super effective. Get rid of all the fluff and focus on delivering critical information. If you’ve restated the same argument or idea in five different ways, sooner or later, your audience will see right through it.
Remember, more chapters or modules do not mean more value. All that does is overwhelm and frustrate learners. And there goes your recognition out of the window.
Authority is about constantly serving your customers, which means delivering high-quality content concisely and coherently, minus the B.S. Don’t make your learners skim through paragraphs and paragraphs to get to the critical information. With valuable information at a click away in the current digital age, you’ll lose them in a second.
You’re an expert who has knowledge that others don’t. Leverage it to create a course to help your target audience, and they will always associate you as an authority source.
d) You provide in-depth analysis while others just “talk” about it
This is a big one. Too many coaches, lovingly charismatic and genuinely funny, deliver their courses with no action points or proof of expertise. They stick religiously to the course material when they could be capitalizing on personal experiences and case studies to win customer favor and loyalty.
Successful coaches use real-life street cred to prove they know what they are talking about. They know their shit and do not hold back when sharing specific methods or secrets or providing insights that nobody else will.
THAT is what separates them from their competitors. It boosts their recognition as an authority and can build trust because people appreciate openness and honesty.
For example, if you are a life coach who has four kids and a business to look after, and your approach to time management and organization at home helps you maintain personal and professional balance, make sure your audience knows that.
Or, how about the reason why you are an expert on nutrition is that you have personally dealt with health issues? Sounds highly relevant to your course. Tell your customers that!
Whether it is by highlighting your brand’s success or sharing intellectually creative anecdotes, make sure you deep-dive into every subject you tackle to demonstrate your expertise in a way that can’t be replicated.
There’s a reason why Tony Robbins, the life and business strategist, is touted to be a world authority on leadership psychology. Despite being massively successful, he doesn’t speak like a faceless corporation. He has the experience to back his material which contributes to relatability and reliability.
Frankly, if people were looking for a robotic recitation of course content, there would be no need for coaches and mentors in the first place. Students come to you for your unique ideas and personal guidance. Consider this your chance to stand out and boost your authority status.
e) You challenge your customers to think beyond the obvious and expand their thinking
Take any best-selling course, and you’ll see that it challenges you to think out-of-the-box; there aren’t just bland classes and assignments administered week after week.
The best online coaches know that if they want to provide lasting results and leave an indelible impact, they need to make learning meaningful.
So, they craft lessons thoughtfully, ask insightful questions, hold brainstorming storming sessions — basically capitalize on students’ interests to push the boundaries of their thinking capacities. Whether discussions happen orally or via chat and forums, they invite students to contribute to their learning experience.
The goal is to capture their attention and engage their abilities and knowledge base beyond the scope of what is being taught. This provides them real active opportunities to help develop cognitive thinking by reflecting on their perceptions and experiences.
For example, Robert Sapolsky, a professor of biology and neurological sciences at Stanford, begins his 25-part lecture on Human Behavioral Evolution by posing a riveting question that involves evaluating utterly bizarre and reckless behavior on a decent and docile 40-year old guy’s part. You just know his audience is instantly hooked!
He challenges his student’s thinking throughout his lectures with interest-piquing scenarios and thought-provoking questions to keep them on the edge of their seats, immersed in the course.
If you hope to command high recognition and authority in your industry, you need to go beyond the obvious and tease out this enthusiasm in students. Conduct polls, present complex scenarios to get students to deconstruct it, hold comprehension exercises, analytical QnAs, etc., as you keep a tab on their progress and provide feedback.
The bottom line is, your end product should not be one-sided; it should invite participation, input, and ideas from learners so they associate value, top-notch knowledge, and excellence in mentorship with you.
f) It leads to increased loyalty and product sales
How do your students know you are capable of helping them achieve their goals? How do they know that their money is well spent on you? In other words, how do they trust you?
For instance, take a look at Osho. He was an eccentric spiritualist who emphasized the need for meditation, free thought, and creativity throughout his life. That is a mighty impressive feat in itself, but there are thousands of other spirituality experts out there who teach the importance of meditation and mindfulness, but why is Osho thought to be the real deal?
In fact, when you think of spirituality and meditation, only a handful of names come to mind—for example, Sadhguru and Sri Sri Ravi Shankar.
Or, when it’s modern classical music you aspire to learn, there is no stone you would leave unturned to be coached by pioneers like Jóhann Jóhannsson, Ludovico Einaudi, or, hell, Hans Zimmer himself!
That’s frigging brand authority right there!
These legendary musicians and spiritualists have carved an unmatched position of authority in their fields by demonstrating unique expertise and excellence over and over. You trust them with your goals. You are 100% convinced they’ll provide you with a transformative learning experience, and thus you would choose them EVERY time.
If you are in the coaching business for the long haul, that’s precisely what you should aspire to — irrevocable loyalty from your audience.
And, brand authority gets your audience to assign that element of trust to your services.
When you communicate your expertise and knowledge through real-life experiences and provide immense value and actionable results, it creates that aura of confidence, making people want to trust you. Your customers should want to buy from you because they know what you’re really like and how meaningfully you can serve them.
Believe us; they’ll stall their purchase until you are ready to launch a course on a subject they want. Have you ever known Apple fans to switch phones until the new iPhone comes out?
Awareness vs Authority: The Difference
Most online coaches are under the misconception that bolstering brand awareness is the key to building an authoritative online presence. In reality, though, if you aren’t providing value to your customers, no matter how far and wide your reach goes, there’s little good it’ll do anyone. You’ll be back to square one in no time.
Brand awareness is how the public recognizes your brand. It has to do with how familiar your target audience is with your products or services. For example, you know Amazon is an online shopping website. One look at its logo or courier gear, and you know who you are dealing with.
However, acknowledging Amazon as the BEST and most reliable online shopping website is brand authority. Choosing to shop on Amazon for its wide selection of products and quick customer service is brand authority.
See the difference?
Brand authority means to go beyond being memorable and recognizable. Rather than your audience being aware that you are a fitness or personality coach, they should acknowledge you like the business’s best fitness or personality coach. Your buyers should instantly know that buying YOUR course is the ideal solution to their problems. There isn’t an experience more uplifting than that.
Brand awareness and brand authority usually go hand in hand, and both are necessary to deliver unforgettable experiences. While the former guarantees students instantly recognize and associate inherent value with your brand, the latter inspires loyalty, trust, and perceived dominance.
What it takes to convert awareness into authority
The goal is to remain consistent — whether it is with the level of value you provide or how meaningfully you design your learning experiences.
You could be engaging your audience with your courses, posting blogs, or quizzes/live sessions on social media, but is each one of these interactions registering as a valuable learning experience in your audience’s mind?
- Does it demonstrate inimitable expertise and separate you from your competitors?
- Does the element of familiarity your audience assigns to you translate to authority?
- Are you able to inspire trust and loyalty?
More importantly, are you optimizing your marketing efforts to address the need and timing of your customers?
Converting awareness to authority means ensuring you are not just in the eyes and minds of your buyers at all times, but especially when they need you.
This has plenty to do with staying on top of your customer’s journey, knowing which stage they are in — are they merely aware of your course? Are they seriously considering buying your course? Or have they made the purchase decision already?
For example, you know Stayfree exists. You see their ads everywhere. But you don’t need it until your next cycle. Is your course “appearing” in front of people right when they need it?
Or let’s assume a potential customer is considering taking a guitar course. They’ve narrowed down three brands that they believe can achieve their goals. Are you volunteering helpful reviews and testimonials to nudge them in your direction?
The most successful coaches today combine the visual and verbal elements of their brands to deliver memorable experiences that demonstrate ringing authority.
Various factors can influence brand authority, including improving your branding strategies, ensuring an active online presence, building credibility through P.R. campaigns, influencer marketing, and guest appearances, putting out compelling content — while consistently providing value.
Don’t take our word for it. See it for yourself how it’s done —
Examples: Coaches that Drip Absolute Authority
1. Neil Patel
Are you aware that there are approximately 5000 posts on his blog NeilPatel.com? The “content-producing machine” has delivered intricately detailed and informative content on SEO strategies, digital marketing, and brand development for over a decade.
From blog posts, whitepapers, incredibly value-driven podcasts, and YouTube videos to ebooks, newsletters, courses, effective marketing tools, you name it, Neil’s been there, done that.
He boasts a resounding online presence that encompasses social media platforms like Instagram and Facebook, and of course, search engines like Google. It’s no wonder he is the average aspiring entrepreneurs’ go-to resource for digital entrepreneurship.
2. Rich Girl Collective
Anyone familiar with the 40-year old author, digital marketer, and business strategist knows that Tiffany S. Williams commands commendable authority in her niche.
Her journey from a 9-to-5 senior sales consultant to a “passive income queen” with a million-dollar, one-person business on her back results from experimentation with several revenue streams until she finally landed on to Rich Girl Collective.
Using her knowledge and experiences, she has transformed the lives and careers of millions of women struggling to quit their mundane jobs and pursue their dreams. Her mentorship programs and courses comprise actionable blueprints to help women build a profitable online business.
What makes students click with her? The honesty, charisma, and authenticity she emulates, causing customers to relate with her and trust her guidance all the way.
3. Matt Bailey
Speaking of dripping authority, we have Matt Bailey, who is a top-tier online marketing professional and a proficient speaker. In addition to selling high-quality courses on search engine marketing, social media usability, and optimization, he speaks at conferences.
One look at his reviews, interviews, testimonials, and you’ll be convinced that his expertise in search engine marketing, social media usability, and optimization has empowered countless people to attain true entrepreneurial growth.
With close to three decades of experience in the industry, Matt Bailey speaks the language of authority. What makes his high-quality courses stand out? They are “accessible, practical, and understandable”, — which Bailey believes is key to attracting and retaining customers.
Brand authority is oft-used in marketing circles, where it is invariably acknowledged as a key determinant for success and entrepreneurial growth.
As novice course sellers competing for market share, if you hope to make a mark in your niche, you should direct your efforts to achieve unattainable authority in your niche.