By Phil Dunn, co-author of The 7 Essential Steps to Successful eBay Marketing

Your customers and prospects live in an information-driven world. They respond to the latest news, product developments, insights, tips and announcements, and they build relationships and purchase accordingly. By inserting yourself into the news stream and building targeted audiences online, you become part of the authority system and enhance your value to prospects and existing customers.

This sounds like a difficult thing to do, but it’s not. Follow the steps below to launch a few key initiatives that improve the quality and quantity of your leads, and increase your profits.

1. Establish authority and expertise online and in the press by automating a news gathering, posting and dissemination system for your specific niche.
Once you’ve established a few Web pages for company news, press releases and updates that are focused specifically on your niche audience, you need to automate its ongoing development. Use someone in your own company or outsource this updating process. The key is to keep the information fresh and dynamic. Subscribe to news alerts and RSS feeds. If the stories are copyrighted, have the staff summarize them and then link to the article/post. If not, you can re-post the content with a link to the attributed source in many cases. Direct prospects and customers to your news site/blog when articles specific to them materialize. As this system matures, you’ll be seen as a very focused expert in your particular business niche. Yet, all you’ve really done is employ the services of outside journalists and news gathering systems.

2. Create a link on your site for press inquiries, speaking engagements and interviews.
Make sure your blog or news micro-site has a highly visible link that shows journalists how to contact you and the process for scheduling interviews or event engagements. Use this page as a filter, so you can weed out time-consuming inquiries and busy-bodies that have little value to you. You can do this by writing a short description of your specific expertise and experience. You’ll also want to set up auto-responders for the email link you provide here.

3. Post to industry/niche-specific discussion boards.
Many of your blog posts and ideas can be posted as advice, instruction or step-by-step processes on discussion boards that focus on your particular technology, niche or business audience. Find the communities where your prospects congregate for information, and post.

4. Reference testimonials and case studies.
One of the best ways to establish authority is to have others do it for you. Use quoted testimonials from existing and past customers to toot your horn for you. Make sure they’re specific to you personally (if you’re a sales person) and to your specific expertise/niche. Make this a part of your ongoing business development process, and use them everywhere. Put them in the right side margin of your news site/blog. Use short testimonials as signatures for emails. Print them on the back of business cards and post cards that you send out.

5. Maintain trust by eliminating hype, sticking to facts and offering help.
When you’re writing copy for your sites and lead-generating materials, pay particular attention to your tone, style and choice of words. Keep it simple, clean and free of excess. No excess verbiage, adjectives, adverbs or claims. Don’t post rumors, half-truths or agenda-driven articles. If you’re truly offering value, then you don’t need to sugar coat it or pump it up with “marketing-speak.” You can be enthusiastic, of course. Emotion helps you sell in all of your selling-related endeavors. But, be aware that the emotions and feelings you’re looking to build—trust, confidence and respect—are best established with clarity, straight-forwardness and expertise. Most importantly, make sure every piece of information you pass along to your audience has genuine value for their particular needs and interests.

Source: Phil Dunn writes marketing materials and provides strategic consulting for Fortune 500 companies. Visit his Web site at