How to Develop Your Public Persona as a Trusted Expert

Do others look to you as an expert? Do people online tend to trust you and follow your lead?

Even if you have a product rather than a personal brand, you would do well to develop an appealing public persona. Your customers might like your product just fine, but they’re more likely to stay loyal if they’re inspired by you and your expertise.

Read more to learn how to develop your public persona as a trusted expert.

Develop Your Public Persona

Russell Brunson writes that people may check out your business because they’re curious about your product, but it’s your personality and their relationship with you that will convince them to stay. Therefore, he advises that you create an attractive public persona and then build a relationship with your customers—specifically, one in which you act as an expert who can guide them to achieve their goals.

(Shortform note: Marketers often refer to this type of leader as an influencer—someone whose opinion (usually publicized on social media) is highly valued and who can convince others to make purchases because of that. Many businesses now conduct influencer marketing by hiring these influential people to recommend their products. Some have called this the contemporary version of celebrity marketing. Brunson’s advice to develop your public persona might be seen as advice to become your company’s personal influencer.)

Inspire Your Followers

Brunson notes that leaders of movements are inspirational. Thus, to attract people to you and your message, aim to inspire them. Encourage them to dream big and aim for high goals, and calm their fears by helping them see hope that they can achieve the goals they want. 

Also, make them feel you’re on their side against their enemies. Show them that you care about their struggles, can identify with what they’re going through, and want to help them vanquish their enemies. Help them understand that they’re not responsible for their past failures but instead, the previous systems and tools they used were flawed. This will create an “us versus them” mentality through which they’ll see themselves as part of your team, and which will foster loyalty to you. 

The Dangers of the “Us Versus Them” Mentality

Leaders often appeal to an “us versus them” mentality to inspire their teams by making them feel part of a “winning side.” This approach taps into the instinctive desire of people to feel part of an in-group—an instinct that evolved because of the survival advantages it brought.

While appealing to this mentality can increase a company’s popularity—either with customers or employees—some warn that too much of this attitude can harm society as a whole. When people are encouraged to see others as enemies, it can lead to political polarization that makes it hard to govern, prevents consensus, and even enables dictators to hold power by invoking a fear of outsiders.

The danger of this mentality is typically associated with political movements, though, not business movements, and thus, Brunson’s advice seems unlikely to cause societal upheaval. Still, business leaders may want to be careful about pushing too hard to base their company on an “us versus them” attitude—or on their own personality, as Brunson also recommends. When a founder’s star power becomes too large, it can backfire on them: Even if a leader starts out aiming to inspire their followers in a positive fashion, their company can come to be seen as a cult, which can bring in negative press and lead to an unhealthy working environment. 

Become an Expert

Your customers will stay loyal to you and your company if they see you as an expert who can guide them toward their goals. To become an expert they’ll trust, learn as much as you can about your field. Read, go to seminars and events, and even start a show or podcast, which will enable you to interview experts you otherwise wouldn’t have access to. 

Once you’ve developed expertise, it’s time to get people to see you as the expert you’ve become. To do so, Brunson advises that you share your message consistently and frequently. Publish daily for at least a year. This will help you develop a unique voice that will set you apart from your competitors. 

It will also ensure you work through the initial phase of putting your message into the world—the phase when you haven’t fully developed your voice and your posts aren’t high quality yet. He writes that everyone goes through this low-quality phase, but not to worry: In the beginning, you won’t have a large audience, so few will notice. By the time you’ve attracted a sizable audience, you’ll have developed an effective voice and a strong message. 

Where to Start When Developing Expertise

Brunson’s advice to commit to your project for a long period of time may not only be the best way to convey your message but also might be the best way to develop that message.

In The Talent Code, Daniel Coyle notes that people who commit to mastering a skill or field of knowledge over a long period of time are far more successful in developing that expertise than people who commit to shorter time frames—even when putting in less practice or study. He theorizes this is because people who’ve committed long-term see the project as part of their identity, and thus get more out of their practice sessions. He notes that when long-term commitment is combined with a lot of practice, success rates skyrocket.

Thus, if you commit in advance to developing your expertise for a lengthy time period, as Brunson recommends, you may get more out of the seminars, events, reading materials, and so on that you absorb.

What Should You Publish?

Brunson notes that the idea of publishing every day can be intimidating because people often don’t think they can come up with content daily. He offers some tips to get past this difficulty.

Make it easy. Instead of creating lengthy, original content full of teaching or marketing materials, simply document your thoughts: things that are important to you, your journey, your process, what you’ve learned, and so on. This is still original content, but it’s easy to come up with.

(Shortform note: The advice to unload your thoughts daily has become a widely accepted approach to building a following. Social media experts note that you can then get more mileage out of any content you come up with, without further effort, by publishing it in different formats on different platforms—you can start by publishing something on your blog, then refer to it on various social media channels and link to it in an email newsletter. Techniques such as these not only make daily publishing an achievable goal but also help decrease the anxiety people feel when faced with the need to message that frequently.)

Be a little strange. Don’t shy away from saying things that are slightly unusual or controversial. No one gets rich by being ordinary because run-of-the-mill ideas don’t attract attention and people won’t pay for them. Brunson notes that even if some people don’t like your message because it pushes boundaries, that can work in your favor: When people are vocal about their dislike, they can bring even more attention to you. However, he cautions that your message shouldn’t be too off-the-wall because, if you appeal to a too-narrow niche of consumers, the mainstream will view you as too weird and won’t pay attention. He advises that you find the sweet spot between “strange enough” but “not too strange.”

(Shortform note: When a company seeks attention by saying or doing strange things, it’s engaging in buzz marketing, in which it tries to create word-of-mouth publicity through unusual ad campaigns. While Brunson warns not to be too strange so people don’t consider you too far outside the mainstream, some warn of another danger of buzz marketing: If people see too many buzz marketing campaigns, they’ll recognize them as a trend and will see your campaign as unoriginal—in other words, you’ll become the mainstream. This is what happened with marketing techniques like pop-up and banner ads, which were considered groundbreaking in the early days of online marketing but are now considered annoying.)

How to Develop Your Public Persona as a Trusted Expert

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  • A how-to guide for creating excitement for your business ideas
  • How to tap into your audience’s emotions to create loyal customers
  • Tips for identifying and targeting your core market

Elizabeth Whitworth

Elizabeth has a lifelong love of books. She devours nonfiction, especially in the areas of history, theology, and philosophy. A switch to audiobooks has kindled her enjoyment of well-narrated fiction, particularly Victorian and early 20th-century works. She appreciates idea-driven books—and a classic murder mystery now and then. Elizabeth has a blog and is writing a book about the beginning and the end of suffering.

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