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.

A good way to visualize marketing strategy is to picture a pyramid. A pyramid has four points–a triangular base plus a peak–so we can call this approach “Four Point Marketing.”

Marketing Pyramid

The Marketing Pyramid

At the top of the pyramid is your product or service. This connects with the three points of the base, which represent you, your customers, and your competition. Each of these three lines of connection represents a different key to marketing strategy.

A successful marketing strategy addresses all three keys to cover all four points of the pyramid. Let’s look at each of the three keys in turn.

Marketing Key 1: Expertise

The line connecting you with your product or service represents your expertise. Your expertise defines your relationship to the field of knowledge or skill your business represents. Your education, your experience, your publications in your field, and testimonials from other experts and consumers all help establish your expertise.

You can also think of expertise in terms of credibility or trust, which is something all four points of the pyramid aim to build. Your expertise helps give you credibility, and gives your customers one reason to trust you and buy from you.

Marketing Key 2: Benefits

The next line of the pyramid, connecting your product or service to your customers, represents the benefits you offer your customers. It relates your product or service to your customers’ needs and desires by defining what problems you can solve for them, what you can do for them, what value you offer them.

The issue of credibility or trust also comes into play here. Customers want to see some evidence that the benefits you offer are real and not just sales hype. Testimonials, case studies, statistics, and quotes can help make your case here. Guarantees, free trial offers, and other risk reducers can also help ease consumer concerns.

Marketing Key 3: Positioning

The third line of the pyramid, connecting your product or service to your competition, represents positioning, which is also sometimes called branding. This defines your relationship to your competition, identifying where you stand out in your market niche, what is unique about your brand, what you have to offer that no one else can offer.

Credibility and trust on this front are strongly influenced by consumer reviews. Collecting testimonials from satisfied customers and monitoring online reputation management are two tools for covering this base.

A comprehensive marketing strategy should cover all the points discussed above, including other angles besides those highlighted here. The marketing pyramid is merely a visual aid to help represent the complex set of relationships between your business and the market forces that affect your sales. Use this image as a tool to stimulate your thoughts as you reflect on how to optimize your marketing strategy.