What could you achieve for your business and yourself if you were more well-known? Could you reach and help more people with your message?
To explore how to become a recognized expert in any industry, I recorded a special episode of the Social Media Marketing Podcast.
I share a method that works for becoming well-known—regardless of what industry you’re in. It doesn’t matter whether you’re a plumber, an ADHD expert, or a B2B or B2C.
What I’m about to share with you will greatly increase the likelihood that you’ll succeed, reduce your risk of failure, and accelerate your success. Are you ready to hear what I have to say?
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Why is Michael Stelzner talking to you right now about becoming well-known?
In the mid-1990s, I started my own creative agency. We did everything from copywriting to market research to corporate identity, which included logo designs, website design, product marketing, and market research. We served mostly high-tech companies by assisting with all of the creative aspects of getting their message out there. We were just like every other agency on the planet in the 1990s.
In the early 2000s, I pivoted to focus on a specific kind of writing. I started a blog called Michael Stelzner’s Writing White Papers and I experimented with ways to get my message out. I started writing for other people’s blogs that were much bigger than mine, like Copyblogger and MarketingProfs. My message started resonating with a lot of people—and most of those people were writers and marketers.
I started a website called whitepapersource.com. No, it wasn’t a source for getting white paper. Instead, it was kind of a precursor to Social Media Examiner. It was a place where you could learn how to craft and market with white papers. Before Facebook groups, there were forums. We had a forum where hundreds of people would come to discuss various topics around the idea of white papers.
In 2006, I wrote and self-published a book called Writing White Papers, which sold 10,000 copies. Many people referred to me as the world’s leading expert on this topic. I had a lot of big businesses as my customers: Microsoft, Hewlett-Packard, Motorola, FedEx, SAP, Qualcomm, VeriSign, Dow Jones, and Monster. They were all lining up to work with me and I was able to raise my rates. I was set. If I had wanted to do this for the rest of my life, I could have.
Then, in 2009, I pivoted again. I decided to go behind the scenes this time and create a movement that wasn’t about me. Instead it was about helping others. Social Media Examiner basically started as a website with how-to articles.
Part of what I did in 2009, and have done over the last decade since I founded Social Media Examiner, was to really pour myself into helping other people become well-known in the industry that we’re in. I privately advised, coached, and mentored a lot of people you probably know, including Amy Porterfield, Mari Smith, Sue B. Zimmerman, Molly Pittman, Natasha Takahashi, Pat Flynn, Marcus Sheridan, Joe Pulizzi, Roberto Blake, Ray Edwards, Owen Video, Carlos Gil, John Lee Dumas, and Leslie Samuel.
I worked with a lot of these people when they were just starting out in their careers, and with my experience, I helped them become very well-known in their various niches.
A little more than 7 years ago, I launched the Social Media Marketing Podcast. All of a sudden, I became well-known again. To this day, the Social Media Marketing Podcast is probably one of the things I’m most known for.
So why am I qualified to teach how to become well-known? I have become well-known in two different industries: writing and social media. Also, I’ve helped a lot of other people become really well-known. I feel like I’ve got some wisdom to share so I’m going to do that now.
But before I do, I want to give you a little warning. If you want to become well-known, this isn’t a “fame and fortune overnight” kind of method. You’re going to have to do the work. That might be a little scary but I’ve met enough of you—in person at Social Media Marketing World and over the years—to know that work doesn’t scare you. I also know that you know that all valuable pursuits require work.
So if you’re willing to put in the work that I’m about to share with you, it’s going to make your path to becoming well-known so much easier it’s not even funny.
Why It’s Important
The decline in organic reach that we’ve seen on the social platforms over the last couple of years has made it increasingly harder for us to get our content and message out there because the algorithms’ job is to suppress that content. This method allows you to rise above those algorithms by leading more people to talk about you one-on-one and share the amazing content that you’re creating privately over DMs.
We operate in a world of digital distraction. There’s a lot of research that shows that we’ve never been more distracted. We have all these different devices with lots of different opportunities to distract our brains. When you’re well-known, you don’t have to compete with all of that because people seek you out. They want to listen to what you have to say. That allows you to get above the fray and distraction.
The truth of the matter is, because of the internet and social media, we have a lot more competitors than we’ve ever had before. But here’s the good news. What I’m going to share with you will allow you to rise above your competition because they won’t be doing it.
The DREAMS Method
If you follow my DREAMS method, it will help your dreams of becoming well-known convert to reality.
It’s a step-by-step process. You’ve got to go through each piece of this process one after the other, just like walking up a set of stairs. If you follow it, it’s going to radically reduce the risk of failure and accelerate your growth. It really does work.
This is where you’re going to create a super-clear vision of who you want to become and why—and what could be holding you back.
Think about depicting as creating a drawing or visual storyboard of your future. What do you want to achieve? Do you want more revenue? Do you want to help more people? Do you want to achieve personal goals like recognition, acknowledgment, or acceptance?
Do you want to speak on more stages or make more podcast appearances, or maybe get a book deal? What is it that you want that you wouldn’t even dare tell your closest friends or even your family because you know they would pooh-pooh your ideas?
Think about it for a second. What do you really want?
Once you figure out what you want, the next step is to imagine what kind of roadblocks you might face. This is especially important because if you anticipate what kinds of challenges you might run into and prepare for those challenges, you can route around them.
Michael Hyatt refers to these roadblocks as “limiting beliefs”: beliefs that limit our abilities. Michael says you need to take these limiting beliefs and reframe them, restating them as “liberating truths.”
For instance, one of the challenges you might be thinking about is, “I don’t have time for the work that would be necessary for me to become well-known.” You can reframe that as, “I make time for everything that’s truly important to me.”
And you know that’s true. If your family is important to you, you make time for them. If your business is important to you, you make time for it. If listening to this podcast is important for you, you choose to make time to listen to it when you know you could be listening to something else. Reframe that time challenge as, “I make time for everything that’s truly important to me.”
Another thing that a lot of people struggle with is the idea that there are too many competitors. I want to give you a podcasting example. If you pull up the Apple podcast directory and type in the phrase “real estate,” you’re going to see tons of real estate podcasts from people you’ve probably never heard of before. You could look at that and say, “Wow, there are dozens of them. Too much competition. No room for me.”
Or you could reframe it as this liberating truth, “There’s a lot of people interested in this topic and thankfully people have gone before me and proven this.” Said another way, “Others have already justified that a market exists; therefore, full speed ahead!”
My good friend Cliff Ravenscraft says another really great thing about reframing competition: “No matter who’s out there, there are some people who will never respond to anyone’s voice but mine.” Make that statement personal. There are some people out there who will never respond to anyone’s voice but yours. That’s a great way of reframing that roadblock.
How about fear? Fear is a biggie. I think we all face it. I like to think of fear as my green light. I reframe it to say: “When I’m scared, that means I need to move forward.”
Joseph Campbell, the author of The Hero’s Journey, has an amazing quote. He says, “The cave you fear to enter holds the treasure you seek.” If you were standing in front of that cave and you knew for a fact that everything you wanted was inside, would you go in? Some people wouldn’t but some would. If you knew with absolute certainty that it was in there, why wouldn’t you do it? Of course you would. That’s how we’ve got to rethink fear.
How about, “I don’t have a plan. I don’t know how”? Here’s a great way to reframe that: “It’s not essential to know how. I believe it’s possible and that I will find a way.” I often refer to “how” as “the how weeds.” We get stuck in the how weeds and we never get out. Don’t worry about the how. Move into it and just know you’ll figure it out.
Here’s the other good news. I’m giving you a plan, a framework that you can follow. By the time you’re done listening to this, you’ll have a little bit more understanding of how you can do this.
Another important question to ask in the Depict phase is: What makes you special? Some of you may have no idea what makes you special—so ask other people. What are you known for? What are you an expert in? What makes you special?
I also want you to ask yourself: If you could overcome your limiting beliefs—the roadblocks that we just talked about—what could you achieve? What could you achieve if you just stepped into it? How could this achievement transform your business and your life?
I’m going to give you a quick example. I dream of teaching more people how to become well-known. My own roadblock is that while I’ve done it behind the scenes for a select few, I’ve never done it in public. I’m not known for this thing that I’m talking about with you. I reframed this in my mind to say that I have all the knowledge I need to teach this. I know that I can teach this because I’ve done it. And it doesn’t matter whether I do it one-on-one or one-to-many; I know I have everything I need.
What could I accomplish? The ripple effect of helping other people like you achieve your desires of becoming well-known could be absolutely enormous. I could change the world through people like you.
In the Research phase, you want to discover exactly what the struggle of your target audience is. Which of their challenges can you solve? And what about your competitors? What makes them amazing and what are their unique specialties and strengths?
Research is super-important but everybody seems to skip it. Then they wonder why things don’t work. Research is critical.
There are two sides to research. The first is researching your audience. Who exactly do you want to reach?
You might be thinking, “I want to reach people like me.” While that may be true, don’t assume that they’re just like you. Chances are pretty good they’re actually quite different from you because there’s no one else just like you.
If you know who you want to reach, try to figure out what their struggles are. What are their frustrations, and which of those can you help with? No matter what topic you want to be well-known for, you can’t possibly help everyone with every little piece of that big topic but you can help with certain aspects of it. That’s where you want to be intellectually honest with yourself and say, “Okay, these are the struggles they face. These are the ones that I’m uniquely equipped to help with.”
How do you know what their struggles are? Ask them. Talk to people. I did a little research project in a Facebook group for the Social Media Marketing Society. I asked people, “Do you want to be well-known in your industry? (And it doesn’t need to be related to the social marketing space.) If so, I’d like to talk to you.”
I had 77 comments. I selected about 10 people, did interviews with each of them, and had the interviews transcribed. After I transcribed them, I started tracking certain phrases they said, certain words that kept coming up over and over again.
In the process of interviewing these people, I realized that only a few were actually the target market that I wanted to reach. So I knew I needed to do more. I went out and surveyed people. In our case, because we have a lot of customers, I targeted about 270 of them. I sent them a really detailed survey mostly consisting of open-ended questions like, “Why are you interested in becoming well-known?” “Has becoming well-known been a struggle? Why?”
This is where the solid gold came out because I started noticing certain kinds of struggles that they were facing and the kinds of words they were using. I started making a lot of notes and documenting everything I discovered.
Another part of the research phase is to understand your competitors. Who are your competitors? Who are they targeting? What are their strengths; what makes them awesome?
For instance, some people have compared me to Gary Vaynerchuk. Gary’s amazing strength is that he’s always out there engaging with thousands of people every single day. Because he’s on the front lines talking to so many people, he has insight that most marketers don’t have. He’s creating content at a level that no one can possibly keep up with.
His strengths are that he’s a content machine and he’s always aware of new things, experimenting a lot with new tech and new social platforms. Who is Gary targeting? I think Gary’s targeting a very aspirational audience. I think a lot of people he speaks to are younger individuals who desire to make a name for themselves. That’s what makes Gary special.
Now if you were competing with Gary—which I don’t think I am—how could you be different? That’s an important question to ask yourself. In this phase of the process, you really want to document who your competitors are, what their amazing superpowers are, and who they’re targeting.
Then maybe you could say to yourself, “All right, I’m targeting someone slightly different,” or “I have different superpowers and I’m talking about slightly different things.” Maybe you’ll begin to wrap your mind around the fact that you can coexist in the same marketplace.
This is where you take all of the messaging that came out of your research phase and put it to the test. You want to make sure that you’re in front of the right audience and your messaging is correct. You want to keep running experiments until those certain right signals happen and you start hearing people say, “Oh my gosh, I love this. This is absolutely amazing.”
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In this part of the process, it’s okay to make mistakes. It’s okay to fail. The goal here is to take the research you discovered about your audience and what their struggles are. Then begin using that language and experimenting with messages targeted at your ideal audience. You want to run what I call “low-friction experiments.” To visualize this, you might do a poll on an Instagram story or you might start a discussion in a Facebook group.
Like a good researcher, you’re looking for certain kinds of signals. Are you hearing the word “love”? Are people saying, “Oh, my gosh, I love this! This is amazing,” or is it ‘crickets’, with no one saying anything? This is really important because if no one is saying anything, then either your message is off or your audience is off, and you’ve got to try to retarget to a different group. Just keep running experiments until you find what works.
This is where you begin to think about your own talking points. You now come up with your own methodology, like my DREAMS method. You identify the stories that you’re going to tell, whether they’re your own or other peoples’, and then you begin to work out your content strategy. You decide which medium is best for you: spoken word, live performance, edited videos, or the written word.
To augment means to make better or improve. This step of the process involves taking those messages that made it through your Research phase and developing them into something greater. You can develop core talking points in this phase of the process, like: “Who exactly am I for?”, “The unique problem I help them solve is (blank),” and “What is my solution, simply stated?”
In the Augment phase, you really want to focus on a phrase that I like to call “desired outcomes.” What’s the desired outcome for your audience? What do they want most?
I’ll give you a quick example. Social Media Examiner helps millions of businesses (that’s who we’re for: businesses) discover how to best use social media (that’s what we help them solve: how to best use social media) to connect with customers, drive traffic, generate awareness, and increase sales (these are the desired outcomes).
I’ll say it again. Social Media Examiner helps millions of businesses discover how to best use social media to connect with customers, drive traffic, generate awareness, and increase sales.
Develop your own core talking points. That way, everybody knows exactly if you’re for them and what they might achieve or gain if they were to participate in whatever it is that you’re doing.
The Augment phase is also a great opportunity to do something exciting. Have you ever noticed that some of the most well-known people in any industry have come up with their own methods? To illustrate, Gary Vaynerchuk has “jab, jab, jab, right hook.” Those of you who are Gary Vee fans know what that means. It’s give, give, give, and then ask.
A lot of other people have published books or talked about their processes and methodologies. They’ve figured out a plan to describe it in a way that’s super-easy, kind of like what I’m doing right now with this DREAMS method.
In the Augment phase, you want to come up with your own method or process that is unique, easy to remember, and makes a lot of sense.
Using the Augment phase, you also want to come up with some stories that you can tell. For example, in 2009, I went to a trade show and interviewed (on video) a guy named Scott Monty, who worked for Ford Motor Company. I asked him, and lots of other people like him, questions about social media because I knew nothing about it. They helped me understand a lot more. I produced those videos and my audience watched them and loved them. I’ve been telling variations of this story over and over again for the past 10 years. What stories could you tell?
The benefit of stories is that they help people quickly understand a concept. Stories provoke an actual physical response. Our brains absolutely love stories. A good story releases the hormone cortisol, which helps us make memories. And what do we want as marketers? We want to be remembered. Dopamine is also released. That allows us to lean in and be engaged.
What do we talk about all the time in marketing? We want to create engaging content. And oxytocin is released and that helps us with empathy and connection. We always talk about wanting to make great connections.
I love this quote from Ira Glass: “Great stories happen to those who can tell them.” So figure out a way to tell amazing stories. They don’t have to be your stories; they can be other people’s stories. But you’ve got to figure out how to tell them.
In the Augment phase, you’re also going to begin working on your content and your social strategy. You’re going to have to create content. This is where you’re going to have to think about which medium makes the most sense: the written word, spoken word, video, or live video. That’s the Augment phase.
This is when you begin to make content—and you now know that it’s going to be awesome because you’ve put in all the work. This is when you can do it without having to start from scratch by leveraging the platforms of others.
This is the exciting part of the process that everybody seems to jump right into. They go straight from a depiction to making, and everything falls apart because they haven’t done all of the crucial steps in between.
This is where you begin to make a name for yourself by making sure you show up on a regular basis with great content. I’ve been doing this with this podcast. I’ve been playing clips from videos that I’ve been creating. This is my way of making sure I show up. It’s my signal to you that this is something I’m familiar with and I know something about. Of course, I’ve been publishing these videos all over the place. They’re out there on YouTube, Facebook, and LinkedIn.
This is so important. This is why all of this stuff begins to come together. This is why you’ll greatly increase your likelihood of success if you follow this method. When you get to this point in the process and you’ve worked through all of those other steps, you’re going to know exactly who you want to reach and what their struggles are. There’s not going to be any guessing.
You’ll have done your research. You’ll have experimented with your message. You’ll know which messages are going to resonate. You’ll have developed your talking points and your process. All of this is going to make it so much easier when you get around to leaning in and actually making the content that you know is ultimately going to connect with people.
Now, in this phase of the process, you also have to decide where you’re going to publish your content. Here’s the good news: you don’t have to go out and create something from scratch. You can leverage other people’s platforms, which is amazing. We’re going to get to more of that in just a second.
Remember the competitive research that I talked about earlier? I want you to go back to your competitors at this stage of the process and see where they’re publishing content.
For instance, Gary Vaynerchuk is releasing a new podcast called the WeeklyVee. He also was recently on the CMO Podcast. He tweeted about it and he said it was a great experience. So if I wanted to be in front of his audience, I could experiment with audio content—or maybe I’d let Gary have the audio content. Maybe I’d figure out a way to leverage my skills—maybe the written word—and I’d go out there and write content for that audience.
In this phase of the process, when you’re making content, it’s really good to go back to those competitors and figure out where they’re showing up. That can really streamline things.
You might have the gift of gab so podcasting might be a place you want to lean in on. What’s great about podcasting is there are lots of interview-based podcasts that you can show up on.
As an example, Rich Brooks has a great podcast called the Agents of Change. He interviews a lot of experts on that podcast. You can study the Apple podcast directory, see which podcasts in your industry do interviews, and try to get yourself on those podcasts. That gets you in front of the right audience and can give you a huge accelerant.
Maybe you love showing up on video. You could partner with some of your peers and do story takeovers. Lots of people do live video shows on LinkedIn and Facebook and you could be a guest on those shows.
Maybe the written word is your specialty. You can go write for other blogs. Social Media Examiner is just one of many multi-author blogs where we’re always accepting guest writers. If you check out Medium, they’ve got huge publications like Mission.org, where you can try to publish your content in front of their gargantuan audience.
What about speaking? Many people aspire to be like our solo speakers on stage at Social Media Marketing World or other large events but how about just starting with webinars? How about partnering with other people and doing joint webinars? I’ve been on webinars where I’ve just been interviewed.
If you do an event, how about being on a panel? Being on panels is great because there’s much less friction. You’re not the one doing all of the talking. You have an opportunity to listen and add more value instead of having to come up with original content. What about moderating panels? These are incredible opportunities that can get your feet wet.
Now, in the Make phase, as I mentioned, you can do audio, video, written word, and live performance-based content. I really want to encourage you to just do whatever type of content that’s best for you because the truth of the matter is that it’s very rare to have the ability to do all types well. You probably want to start with just one area and lean in on that.
Next, start tracking your performance. If you’re at a live event, watch to see whether people come up to you afterward to ask questions. Watch to see if people leave the room. If you’re on a webinar, see whether people leave comments. If you’re on someone’s podcast, give a call to action at the end. Then see if anybody reaches out to you or encourage people to connect with you on the social channels with their questions.
Track what works and what doesn’t because if you get no response, maybe you were in front of the wrong audience or maybe your message was off.
Okay, so far we’ve talked about Depict, Research, Experiment, Augment, and Make. Now the last letter in DREAMS is S, for Sync. This is when you build out those strategic relationships and you begin to take things to the next level.
This is where you begin to work with other people. You may even begin to work with your competition. At this point in the process, if you’ve been making content for a little while, you’ll have gained some traction and start to be recognized by your peers. You’ll have opportunities to naturally work with them and partner with them.
To illustrate, Derral Eves has an event called VidSummit that’s a competitor to Social Media Marketing World. I’ve been a speaker there multiple times. Derral and I don’t see each other as competition. Instead, we see each other as friends, even though we both have events with some of the very same speakers targeting very similar audiences. We’ve figured out how to add value to each other’s lives and audiences for a triple win: it’s a win for him, it’s a win for me, and it’s a win for the audiences.
This Sync phase is an advanced part of the process. Identify people you would love to collaborate with. This is where going back to look at those competitors is so valuable. Don’t think of them as competitors—think of them as potential future collaborators.
I recommend going to events held by competitors and collaborators. For example, I’m friends with Jim Louderback, who’s the CEO of VidCon, a gargantuan 70,000-person conference in Anaheim. We figure out ways to support each other.
Reach out on social media and make a video or provide some value to these peers of yours or get them involved with your content creation. Figure out a way to add value at this stage of the process.
In my second book, Launch, I introduced a concept called the elevation principle. It’s a simple formula: great content plus other people minus marketing messages equal growth. You all know what great content is. The “plus other people” part is where you can begin to collaborate and partner with other people. The “minus marketing messages” means don’t promote anything.
I think of marketing messages like flaps on an airplane. When you’re coming in for a landing, those flaps come up, and it slows the airplane. If you want to be more well-known, you need to try to strike out those marketing messages because your goal is to just get out there and be more well-known. That’s how you can achieve growth.
Do you want to go deeper with me into this process?
For the first time ever, I’m teaching a comprehensive course on this method. I’ve taken all of my knowledge and wisdom, and I’ve created an amazing course that I believe is the best thing that I’ve ever created.
Every single phase of this process is a module in the course, and each module has many sections in it. There are videos, worksheets that you can do, and you’ll be live with me at the end of every single week.
This is a 6-week course and it’s going to be absolutely amazing. You’ll have all of the audio and the transcripts. We’re going to have an exclusive Facebook group and I’m going to give you lifetime access. When we launch this course, if you get in now, you’re going to be in forever. As the course continues to improve over time, you’re in and you’re in for good.
I want you to think about what you could achieve if you didn’t have to hustle and grind. What if you didn’t have to work so hard to be in front of an audience just for minutes on social platforms? Instead, you’d have people out there constantly evangelizing for you.
If you think this is super-exciting and super-interesting, I want you to go to becomingwellknown.com. That’s where you can see more details about this course, and I’ve got everything mapped out there for you. I hope you decide to join me.
Key Takeaways from This Episode:
- Read Michael Stelzer’s books: Writing White Papers and Launch.
- Follow Michael Stelzner on Instagram.
- Learn more about Becoming Well-Known at becomingwellknown.com.
- Watch exclusive content and original videos from Social Media Examiner on YouTube.
- Watch our weekly Social Media Marketing Talk Show, live on Fridays at 10 AM Pacific on Crowdcast.
What do you think? What are your thoughts on how to become a recognized expert in your industry? Please share your comments below.