There's a favorite restaurant of ours, right in our neighborhood, walking distance away. It's been there for 20 years and they are very good at what they do. They're especially good at hiring — they have great chefs, hosts, and waiters and they always have.
When we go, we always ask for Nassar. In a place that routinely has handsome waiters, Nassar is not. Most of them are young and vivacious. Nassar is not. But Nassar knows every dish they make and I'm certain that he has tasted every wine on their large list. But it's not just that. He knows food, he knows wine, and he knows people.
He questions, "How would you like your medium rare steak prepared?" with a gleam in his eye. When you try to order a chardonnay with your steak, you find yourself drinking a cabernet (and liking it) and wondering how exactly he talked you into it.
I'm not sure the restaurant owner even likes him. But there would be a riot if he tried to get rid of Nassar. Nassar has authority.
He didn't get it overnight. But I suspect that he's had it for a long time. You can Nassar up your own market by following his model.
Establishing authority requires layering. You paint it on, coat by coat until it is deep and lustrous. Put helpful information out in the world in forms that have permanence, or at least longevity. Create white papers, articles, videos, and tools that make the lives of your prospects easier. Create a reputation that you know your stuff.
More than that, create a reputation that you know your stuff better than the next company. The other waiters know the wine list. But Nassar knows which wine you'll like. Demonstrate that you know what your prospects need.
Nassar has figured out how to chat nonchalantly with everyone in his section without any other patron feeling neglected. He doesn't have to tease or tell stories to be a good waiter. But such giving of himself stands out.
So give. A lot. It makes a deep impression that pays dividends later. In marketing you often encounter the right people, just not at the right time. But if you've been consistently giving, when the time is right you'll be top of mind.
I'm not sure Nassar would allow someone to order a steak well done. He's put a stake in the ground about what is good food and he consistently sticks to it.
So be bold. Be vocal about what your company stands for. Science is notoriously slow-moving and then, WHAM! Everything changes. Have your ducks in a row first, of course. But if you have breakthroughs to give, share them with the world, loudly.
The ultimate long game is to earn your reputation on your own. I suspect no other waiter will unseat Nassar anytime soon — he will be the alpha dog as long as he chooses to stick around. You too can earn your way to the top slot in your chosen market. Do more, have more to offer, and be more of what your customers need and earn that number one spot.
The up-and-coming waiters can't be Nassar, but they can certainly learn from him and borrow his methods. If you see it being done well by someone else in your market, mimic what's working.
Leaders change. Do what the leaders in your field do. And if you can, do it better. Leaders are often complacent about their position. Even Nassar could be dethroned by someone hungry enough who worked hard enough.
You may already have a great reputation; it's just in another area. So shift your authority from where you have it to where you want to go. When Nassar says, "Remember that Cabernet Franc you were afraid to try but then you loved it? Trust me when I tell you that the best thing on our bar menu is the Cucumber-Jalapeno Margarita." I was dubious but Nassar was right again.
Remind your audience that they love you for X and, by transference, they can trust your entry into the Y field. Borrow what market leaders are doing to create authority. Then earn your way in.
Sharing the expertise of your company in such a way that it benefits others is not just some ego-driven endeavor. It's not just about crossing swords with the competition. Rather, it's about building a reputation that's not easily contradicted. In the end you aren't trying to destroy the competition, you're just making them less relevant. If you do that, when people are looking for the products and services that you provide, you'll in effect become accustomed to hearing, "Can I be seated in Nassar's section?"
Stephanie Larae is Marketing Outreach Manager for BitesizeBio.com. Since 2007, Bitesize Bio has helped life science marketers reach and gather leads from what has become over 200,000 bench-based bioscientists each month.