Turning the flywheel involves a continuing effort that gets the ‘wheel spinning faster and faster until success begins to flow from [that]’.
“We will all be known forever by the tracks we leave.” – Native American proverb.
As someone who has been working really hard over the last 18 months to build a reputation, now seemed like as good a time as any to reflect on what I’ve learned so far. Overall I’ve come to realise it is true what they say; building a name, a brand, and a reputation is bloody hard work, particularly if you have “real” work to do at the same time. I have learned, though, that it gets easier as time goes by.
More and more frequently now I find myself fortunate enough to be building blocks on top of existing blocks rather than being forced to lay the foundations over and over.
What’s a flywheel?
The dictionary definition is a rotating mechanical device used to store rotational energy. But in a business context, it refers to a much more interesting concept.
The concept originates from Jim Collins’ best-selling book Good to Great. Will Critchlow from Distilled, a prominent advocate of the idea, put forth the concept in this post: “There is not necessarily a eureka moment when everything comes together, but rather a continuing effort that gets the wheel spinning faster and faster until success begins to flow from that and the momentum starts to take on a power of its own.”
When I started thinking about my reputation or brand awareness in a flywheel context I quickly came to recognise the importance of doing things that help with momentum rather than seeing each activity as a standalone entity.
As a theory that’s all well and good, but what does this really have to do with building a reputation?
6 ways to turn the reputation flywheel
#1 Be everywhere
Pat Flynn, from Smart Passive Income, and Danny Inny, from Mirasee, preach the idea of being everywhere. As a marketing strategy, it is extremely effective and not as difficult to achieve as you might imagine.
You need not be everywhere but you do want to be all over the radar of your prospective clients. There are quite a few ways to ensure you are chipping your way into your client’s conscious mind.
I personally opt for blogging, relationship building, guest blogging, and social media automation to ensure I am at least a blip on my audience’s radar (hopefully an increasing blip but a blip nonetheless!) nearly all of the time. Something that I am going to be exploring for the rest of 2018 is coordinating our marketing efforts at Blurbpoint Media to ensure that individual activities become much more integrated, thereby increasing their effectiveness.
See Pat Flynn’s How to be everywhere presentation for more ideas.
#2 Use mental cues
A small hook I like to use is opening blog posts (particularly guest posts) with links and references to my other work to help jog the memory of the reader as to where they might know me from. Referencing something they’ve read before (and potentially liked) could help build a positive sentiment towards my post and what I’m saying before they even get into it.
Linking your work together can shift people’s mindset from thinking “Cool, that was a useful post” to “That guy has written quite a few useful posts, I think I’ll follow him on Twitter/subscribe to his blog/send him an email about this need I have in my business“.
#3 Set a standard and commit to it
I could probably create a book out of all the blog posts that I have written and not been satisfied with. I am a relentless perfectionist and you could argue that I’m being too picky but I set myself a personal standard and a standard for the kind of content you’ll find here on the Blurbpoint Media Blog. If it doesn’t make the grade then you won’t find it published here.
The same goes for guest posts, I want me and the Blurbpoint Media brand to be known (everywhere on the web) for consistently adding value. We all have off-days of course, but I find it best to set the bar high because changing people’s perceptions of you is much more difficult than it is to make a great first impression.
#4 Maintain a consistent style and tone
It really got me excited when a reader commented that they liked the imagery on my posts and how it was always consistent. It pleased me because I work really hard with the imagery.
The same goes for the language I use, depth of the post, style of writing, and all that I can control about a post.
Consistency is how you really accelerate the flywheel because people will recognise your work much quicker. If you are in the UK then you’ll be familiar with Innocent Drinks. Just a few years back they were a complete unknown and now they are a household brand. Part of the reason (aside from their tasty smoothies) is that they were consistently (across all their advertising and packaging) a bit quirky, conversational, and therefore memorable.
#5 Plan your publishing
Copyblogger introduced me to the idea of publishing strategically – planning your editorial calendar around key product or service launches and your larger business goals. It is a simple idea but a really powerful concept. It helps you avoid producing content with no clear goals in mind.
Now, I would be willing to admit that not every one of my posts has been devised with this in mind (yet!) but we’re getting there.
If you run WordPress – take a look at this great plugin for creating an editorial calendar.
#6 Develop your niche
The first time I met Richard Baxter (founder of Builtvisible) was at the London SEO meetup, when the A4U Expo was on in 2011. We got talking about the speaking gigs he had lined up and what topics he would be speaking on. It immediately led me to realise that he was (either consciously or unconsciously) talking on concepts or areas he has become well-known for…think keyword research and gamification.
If you work hard at becoming the go-to person for a particular niche area, it exponentially increases your chance of becoming the person or business that people remember when they are looking to hire a consultant for X, Y, or Z.
For example, being the SEO guy is too broad an area and Rand, Aaron, or Danny could occupy these spots. But who do you think of when you think about SEO patents? Or Local SEO? Or Broken Link Building? Yes, we all have a variety of skills but it is tougher to promote yourself as a generalist than it is to be a real specialist – we can’t all be great at everything.
(Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of YourStory.)