Establishing yourself as an expert in your market is one of the best ways to boost your business or land a better job. If you’re seeking a job, citing your expertise can set you apart from other applicants, get you more interviews, enhance your hiring appeal, and earn you a higher salary. If you’re promoting a business, expert authority can distinguish your brand from your competition, create more promotional opportunities, lend authority to your sales presentations, and enable you to command higher prices.

So how do you establish your expertise? Defining your brand, presenting your credentials, and promoting yourself are all components of an effective authority-building strategy. Here are seven steps to help you establish yourself as an expert in your field.

1. Define Your Brand

Establishing expertise effectively starts by projecting a clear branding theme. Your brand is the look and feel and focus that sets you or your company’s personality apart from your competition. Mickey Mouse gives Disney a different face than Bugs Bunny gives Warner Brothers. The Big Mac has a different flavor than the Whopper. An iPad gives users a different experience than a PC laptop.

Your brand is built from your market, your medium, and your message. Who is your target market? Describe their demographic, needs, beliefs, values, purchasing patterns, and other defining marketing characteristics.

What media are best for reaching them? Do they watch TV, listen to the radio, surf the Internet, read newspapers, study trade magazines, browse Kindle books?

What message will appeal to them? Which problems do they need solved? Which benefits will interest them? What words and images will connect with their hearts and minds?

Your brand should set you apart from your competitors. Your slogans and logos should emphasize what makes you different than other experts in your field. If you stress the same points as everyone else, you’ll blend in instead of standing out. Find something that makes you similar enough to attract the same audience, but different enough to stand out from the crowd. If everyone else on the block is selling burgers, sell pizzas or tacos. If everyone else is selling soft drinks, sell coffee.

2. Put Your Key Credentials First in Your PR

When expressing your brand in your publicity material, it’s important to stress your key credentials by putting them at the forefront of your message. For instance, if you’re writing a biographical sketch of yourself for a resume or website or book cover, you’ll want to list your most important credentials in your opening sentences. The same principle applies if you’re creating a corporate profile of your company or a description of a product or service. Lead with your strengths.

3. Assemble Your Resume

What kind of credentials contribute to an authoritative expert resume? Elements can include work history, life experiences, publications, speaking appearances, achievements, awards, hobbies, personal details, and photos. The first few items build credibility, while the last few items can add a personal touch that puts a face on your resume and makes you more memorable.

4. Build a Portfolio

Your resume will grab more attention if you convey it visually through an eye-catching portfolio. Samples of your writing or designs, photos and illustrations of you and your product or service, and videos can all enhance your portfolio. Try to collect at least three items that showcase your best selling features.

5. Collect Testimonials

Your credentials will be more persuasive if your praise comes from someone else and not just from you. Get in the habit of collecting testimonials from customers, business partners, and others who are in a position to witness to your skills and character. If you have regular sales, you can collect testimonials from past customers and set up a system to systematically elicit them from new ones. If you’re just starting off, you might consider giving away some free samples in order to gather your initial testimonials. If you can collect three, you’re off to a good start. More is better.

6. Establish a Blog as a Publicity Base

Communicating expertise to your audience requires a publicity campaign. One of the easiest ways to start getting cost-efficient publicity is to launch a blog and use that as a base for promotion. A blog gives you a platform for showcasing your credentials in a profile, and it also gives you a vehicle for publishing short articles and videos. You can then syndicate this content using other media such as Facebook, Twitter, forums, email lists, and other tools.

7. Network with Established Experts

One of the best ways to promote your blog and other publicity materials is to team up with other experts who are already established in your field or related but non-competitive fields. Established experts already have the customers you want and the communication networks in place to reach that audience. Tapping into these existing resources will build your business much faster than relying on your own publicity alone, and will also help you grow your own customer database faster. Reach out to other experts with guest blogs, cross-promotional campaigns, and joint venture offers that benefit both parties.

When you’re busy writing a book, you’re probably not thinking much about building a mailing list; but when it comes time to publish and sell your book, you’ll find you’re much better off if you’ve already got a list of email subscribers. Email marketing is one of the best ways to create pre-publicity buzz for your book, shape your book to fit your audience, promote your book, and sell your book. Here are eight ways email marketing can help your sales and why launching your list before your book comes out makes sense.

Building Your Audience

A mailing list lets you build an audience for your book before you publish it or even before you write it. You can do this by starting a blog to promote articles and videos anticipating topics from your book. Syndicate your blog content using tools like Facebook, YouTube, and Twitter to connect with people interested in your topic and invite them to visit your blog. When they do visit, make sure you have an opt-in form they can use to sign up for your mailing list. Offering free information as an incentive is a good way to get them to subscribe.

Doing this lets you connect with your readers early, setting the stage for sales later. It also gives you several other huge advantages.

Conducting Market Research

Once you have blog visitors and a mailing list, you can use your list to conduct market research and find out more about who your readers are and what they’re interested in. Blog comments, polls, forum conversations, and email conversations are a few ways to gather market research information from your subscribers.

Use these tools to ask basic market research questions about your readers. What demographic groups do they represent? What problems do they need solved? What benefits do they hope to get from reading about your topic? What do they think of your competitors? What do they like or dislike about what you have to say? What would the like to see in your book?

Promoting Your Book

When your book comes out, you can use your mailing list to promote your book. You can send out advance announcements about your book’s impending publication as well as post-publication announcements.

Developing Joint Venture Promotions

Having your own mailing list makes it easier for you to recruit joint venture partners willing to do cross-promotions where they promote you to their lists in exchange for similar consideration. You can also earn commissions from promoting others’ books and products this way.

Selling Your Book

Your mailing list serves as an effective tool for selling your book. You can use your list to announce early-bird sales, regular sales, and follow-up promotions. You’ll find this works most effectively if you combine your announcement with email marketing tactics like newsletters, discounts, bonuses, and contests.

Generating Repeat Sales

Your list can also serve as a platform for turning your book sales into repeat business. You can sell spin-off products related to your book’s topic, such as information presented in other formats like audios and videos, sequels to your book, or consulting services related to your book. You can also promote other products and services of interest to your list.

Generating Reviews

Asking your mailing list to review your book is one of the best ways to get successful reviews posted on Amazon and other sites, which is a key to successful book promotion. You can encourage reviews by giving away free review copies to key subscribers who are in a good position to promote you, and by offering incentives such as bonuses to other reviewers.

Generating Referrals

Finally, you can ask your list subscribers to refer you to others who would be in the market for your book. An effective way to do this is to offer an incentive for referrals, such as a bonus or coupon.

These are a few reasons to start building your list before you publish your book. If you follow this advice, you’ll find that selling your book comes much easier with much less stress and much more sales when it comes time to publish.