Developing Your Point of View

June 29, 2022
The Recognized Authority Podcast Cover

The podcast that helps independent consultants & subject matter experts to get more clients without having to beg for referrals, or make soul-destroying cold calls!

Point of view is something that can distinguish you from the crowd.

It’s important, perhaps even essential, in building your authority and personal brand.

It’s also one of those concepts in marketing that is frustratingly hard to define: it seems to incorporate perspective, tone, voice, positioning, branding, and – above all – opinions.

Point of view

Regardless of definitions, we seem to recognize a point of view when we see it.

It’s how Jonathan Stark talks about hourly billing, or Blair Enns talks about procurement, or how Alan Weiss talks about just about anything:

  • Jonathan believes that hourly billing is nuts, and uses that to frame most of his writing and speaking.
  • Blair doesn’t think that procurement has a place in the conversation when it comes to expert services, and he’s pretty upfront about it.
  • Alan likes to poke people because “people need to be poked” or they will not grow and innovate.

They use their points of view to distinguish them from the countless other folks in their marketplace.

What’s interesting here is that the points of view I’ve listed are not necessarily their primary point of view.

For example, in Blair’s case the procurement issue is only a side opinion – but certainly strongly held – and his point of view that you can “win without pitching” is so important that it’s actually his company name too.

Let’s see if we can get a bit granular on point of view:

  1. It’s usually a strongly held opinion or group of related opinions.
  2. Often counter to prevailing beliefs even to the point of being controversial. In fact, being somewhat controversial is beneficial.
  3. It must be defensible.

For example, I have some points of view on positioning and business development for consultants:

  • I believe that trust is the most important factor in b2b sales.
  • I believe that referrals are dangerous.
  • I believe that inbound is superior to referrals.
  • I believe that inbound for experts means building authority.
  • I believe that specialization is essential in order to build authority.
  • I believe that vertical specialization is superior to other forms of specialization, to the point of potentially being a “silver bullet”.
  • I believe that podcasting is the best type of content to publish for authority.
  • I believe that marketing can be as simple as teaching what you know.

When I list them out like this, there’s a few things that I notice.

First, you can feel the controversy in many of them, it’s almost jumping off the screen. (But yet I know they’re defensible.)

Secondly, I don’t just have one opinion, my point of view is made up of many different interlocking elements. I’m sure that political, cultural, and other beliefs come into this to some degree.

In fact, I think it’s the unique combination of these interlocking opinions that make it a distinct point of view. And that’s what sets you apart from the crowd.

Going back to Jonathan, Blair, and Alan: from my perspective – apologies for getting a bit meta – their point of view is encapsulated in a primary idea.

That primary opinion is the tip of the spear, and can even be a catchphrase. In Jonathan’s case, it’s the wonderful “Hourly Billing is Nuts” and he’s able to tweak that to call his podcast “Ditching Hourly”.

The catchphrase is the headline or lede. It grabs attention but does not explain the whole.

In fact, it requires explanation and defense, otherwise it could feel like clickbait. But you don’t have space to defend it in a headline, and so that argument must be contained in the content.

Thus the point of view exists as a single headline opinion, and as a group of opinions, and as those opinions and their justification.

They are not necessarily laid out and defended in every piece of content – in fact that’s simply not possible.

But the opinions remain lurking beneath the surface, like the hidden mass of an iceberg, or the foundations of a building. Everything visible is resting on top of this structure.

Let’s bring this it back to a practical approach to help you in figuring out your point of view:

Start with your opinions related to the problem you help your ideal clients solve. Here are some prompts to help you get started, and use my examples above as a starting point if it helps.

  1. What commonly held beliefs do you passionately disagree with?
  2. What should your clients STOP doing or START doing?
  3. Are there any myths that you want to debunk?
  4. What concept do you want to pick a fight with?

Especially think about opinions that seem counter-intuitive (i.e. just plain wrong) if you leave out the explanation.

List these all on paper or in a document (or spreadsheet like I do)!

Wordsmith a bit – simplify, reword, consolidate, so that you end up with a list of 5-15 point of view opinions.

For each opinion, add a note justifying why you believe it. For example:

“I believe that inbound is superior to referrals because inbound leads are already familiar with your processes, thinking and ways of working, turn up already sold on working with you, and are typically not price buyers.”

The list of beliefs and justifications – or opinions and arguments, whatever you want to call it, the list IS your point of view.

Now you can start to figure out how to use it.

Think about what opinions are most important and what you could lead with. Think about how to reveal your points of view in conversations and in your content.

The opinions that seem counter-intuitive without explanation quite often make for great attention grabbers – use them for webinar and podcast titles, email subject lines and even as your actual brand name.

(It will feel a bit vulnerable putting an opinion out there without having the backup argument along side, but so long as you can justify it I think it’s worth the risk).

Not everyone can do what Jonathan, Blair and Liston Witherall have done, but if you can actually make your point of view your brandname, that’s even stronger:

  • Ditching Hourly
  • Win Without Pitching
  • Serve, Don’t Sell

In fact, that’s the reason I rebranded from “Marketing for Consultants” to “The Recognized Authority” last year. It’s not quite as catchy as some of the others, but it’s much more in line with my beliefs around marketing.

Now, over to you: do you already have a point of view that you use in your marketing? Do you have a lead opinion that is slightly controversial? If not, are you going to take action on this article and develop one?

I’d love to hear from you – please let me know more about your point of view, and your thoughts on point of view.

And if you want help, I’ve been helping some of my 1:1 coaching clients to develop a point of view. If you’d like to learn more about how I might be able to help you, let’s set up a call to chat.

Show Notes

➡️ Access the spreadsheet mentioned at rec.nz/povworksheet

Guest Bio

Alastair McDermott is the host of The Recognized Authority. Sign up for his email list at TheRecognizedAuthority.com

Transcript

SUMMARY KEYWORDS

point, beliefs, strongly held beliefs, view, authority, podcast, jonathan, talking, referrals, content, alan weiss, justification, recognized, hourly billing, email list, quoted, create, hourly, consultants, software engineers

SPEAKERS

Alastair McDermott, Voiceover

Alastair McDermott 00:00

In this solo episode of The Recognized Authority, want to talk to you about point of view, and how to actually develop your own distinct point of view, so that you can differentiate yourself from your competition and stand out from the crowd.

Voiceover 00:14

Welcome to The Recognized Authority, a podcast that helps specialized consultants and domain experts on your journey to become known as an authority in your field. So you can increase your reach, have more impact and work with great clients. Here’s your host, Alastair McDermott. Today,

Alastair McDermott 00:30

I want to talk about point of view and point of view when it comes to content marketing and writing for our audiences, and just how we present ourselves, you can think about this, in relation to getting on podcasts and being a guest on a podcast, you can think about it in relation to just how you angle your content posts and things like that. And point of view is one of these things, I think it’s really important to have a strong point of view, because it makes you stand out from the crowd. But it’s also kind of frustrating to define exactly what it is. And so what I’ve been trying to do is figure out how to actually help people figure out their point of view or develop their point of view. And so I’ve created a simple framework that I’m going to share with you, I want to get into a couple of examples, just three or four examples that I can think of that really stand out. And one of those is Jonathan Stark, his tagline is hourly billing is not, I don’t know if he actually has this as the title of anything. But if he wrote a book, like it might be called something like that. Maybe he already has a book like that. So Jonathan, sorry, if you do, his core concept, that hourly billing is not the right way to do things for consultants, and experts and software engineers, that runs through everything that he does. And so his podcast is a slight tweak of that. It’s called ditching hourly. And that’s his approach. So his point of view kind of feeds into everything that he does, and you can hear it, it comes through in everything that he talks about when he’s talking on podcast, when he’s writing to his email list or his blog posts. So that’s where a point of view is comes across is when you can see it in the content, or you can hear it,

Alastair McDermott 02:14

another person with a strong point of view that’s really clear, is Blair Enns. And there’s a couple of different ones that he has, he has very strongly held beliefs about the role of the procurement departments, or the lack of a role for the government departments, when it comes to selling expert services. He doesn’t believe that they have a place in the conversation, and I won’t use the words that he is. But he believes that quite strongly. I know that, because I’ve heard him talking about it a few times on this podcast, and maybe even I think he wrote an article about it. And again, it comes across through his content, it’s clearly a strongly held belief. And that’s not even like the primary thing that he talks about. It’s just something that he believes that is quite strong. His brand is actually called Wind without pitching. And that’s because he believes that you shouldn’t have to pitch he believes that you shouldn’t have to, you know, respond to tenders and, and go through the RFP process and all of that kind of stuff. That’s a point of view that comes across. And the fact that point of view is so strong, that that’s actually the name of his company. And again, it’s just a really strong point of view.

Alastair McDermott 03:15

Another person with a really strong point of view, if somebody I had on the podcast recently is Alan Weiss. And Alan Weiss is – I’m trying to choose diplomatic words here – he’s an interesting character who is quite polarizing, and he likes to poke people, because as he says, people need to be poked, and if they don’t poke, they won’t grow and innovate. And so he is quite happy to be the polarizing character.

Alastair McDermott 03:41

Philip Morgan sent an email to his list a few months back, where he quoted two consultants talking about the same topic. And when I read the quote from Alan Weiss, I immediately recognized like after my three words, I knew Okay, Alan Weiss wrote that just because of his no holds barred, kind of approach, his point of view was so strong, that it actually comes across in his writing so quickly, in his voice, I think there’s a relationship there between point of view and voice and opinions and there’s kind of all of these, they’re kind of all merged together.

Alastair McDermott 04:18

How does that actually help us to figure out our own point of view? Well, I think that it’s a strongly held opinion, or a group of related opinions. And I also think that there’s something there where it’s counter to prevailing beliefs, even to the point where it might even come across as slightly controversial. So for example, Jonathan’s already building his knots would be very controversial to a certain part of the audience, like for example, maybe lawyers and accountants, so maybe freelancer, software engineers, people like that, who are billing hourly. And so it’s counter to what they believe. The other thing that I think is important is you that you must actually be able to defend your point of view. So you must actually be able to argue the case for it. Now, you don’t always have to defend it. But I think that you have to be able to, so it has to be defensible. I’m going to give you some examples that I have when I’ll give you the examples. And I’ll give you the defense as well. For example, I believe that trust is the most important factor in b2b sales. And the reason I believe that is because b2b projects are usually high risk, and very transformative. And that means that there’s a big requirement for trust. And so I think that building trust is essential. I believe that referrals are dangerous. And the reason I believe that is because you can control referrals, their hope, marketing, and sometimes you’ll get referrals, and they’re bad, or they’re for an old service, or they’re just not the right types of people. And so I think that referrals are dangerous to depend on.

Alastair McDermott 05:55

I believe that inbound is superior to referrals. And that’s because inbound leads, when people are ready, they turn up ready to buy, and they don’t need convincing, they don’t need to be tucked around tucked into it. They usually even know already how you work. So they’re ready to go. And so I think that they’re vastly superior to referrals, if you can make him work for you. And I believe that inbound for experts means building authority. And so inbound marketing basically means that you have to create content. So what type of content do you do you create? Well, b2b sales requires trust. And so when you get the cross section of trust and content creation, it’s about creating authority contents, that’s the kind of content that creates trust.

Alastair McDermott 06:38

And then I believe that specialization is essential in order to build authority. And this because I think it’s impossible to be an expert in everything. And the lack of focus will kill your content, before you even start because it’s really difficult to write content, about everything for everybody. Another belief that I have is, I believe that vertical specialization is superior to other forms of specialization, to the point that I think it’s actually like a silver bullet. And the reason for that is because with vertical specialization, your target audience actually congregates together, they attend the same trade shows, they’re in the same memberships, they go to the same events, they read the same blog systems, the same podcast, they talk to each other, you know, so they congregates with much easier to actually find them. And so those are just some examples. And I have a couple more, and I’m going to share those with you in the spreadsheet. But yeah, I just want to give you some examples to go with this. What’s interesting to me is that we have the belief, and then we have the justification. And your point of view is the belief your point of view is also the justification but but the belief is the thing that you tend to put out there, for example, some people will absolutely disagree with me that referrals are dangerous. And if I just said referrals are dangerous on Twitter, I would get people arguing with me. And I’m in fact, I might just do that just just for fun to see. Because as Alan Weiss says that maybe people need to be booked. The thing is, you have to have the justification to follow up. But the justification doesn’t have to be right there.

Alastair McDermott 08:06

Like everywhere, Jonathan Stark has hourly billing is not, he doesn’t immediately have his justification for that. The justification comes in the body of work, people will see it as they read. And as they get into your content. For me, the important thing there is that you you have figured out what are my opinions? What are the opinions, I can justify that I have these justifications for these arguments for? And then what do I want to lead with, like what’s really important there. So I don’t tend to lead with referrals are dangerous. That’s not the one that is really important to me, I tend to lead with specialization is essential. Because that’s, that’s something that’s really core, it’s fundamental to what I’m doing. I think that what you choose to lead with is important. Another thing then is can you actually turn that into a brand like Jonathan has for his podcast, or Blair has for his company, you can actually take some of those beliefs and actually make them your brand name. I kind of did that with The Recognized Authority, because that’s the goal is to become The Recognized Authority. And I think that Jonathan, and Blair have done that more directly, and I think Liston Witheral has served don’t sell as his podcasts and his brand. And that’s just another example of somebody with a point of view as a brand. But to wrap it all up, how do you actually create your point of view? How do you develop it? Well, I think that if you start to list out what are your strongly held beliefs, and then also add to that, your justification, and it’s just nice to have that. But I think that the The important part is what is the strongly held belief? I’ll give you some questions that might help.

Alastair McDermott 09:43

The first thing is, it’s your strongly held beliefs related to the problem that you help your clients with. This isn’t talking about your you know, your personal beliefs, and things unrelated to business like this is specifically around the problem that you’re solving for your clients. What commonly held beliefs Do you passionately disagree with what is out there that you really feel people have this wrong? That’s a good place to start. Another one is what should your clients stop doing? Or what should your clients start doing? And if you answer those questions that might lead you to some of your beliefs as well. Are there any myths that you want to debunk? So is there something that you feel that this is a myth? This is totally wrong, you know, and that that becomes one of your, your strongly held beliefs. And that could be a point of view. So is there a concept that you can pick a fight with? So you might say that I’m picking a fight with referrals, or I’m picking a fight with being a generalist with the idea of being a generalist, or Jonathan Stark is picking a fight with the idea of hourly billing. So you can probably do this with an organization or a person, but it’s probably better to do this with a concept.

Alastair McDermott 10:57

And then finally, think about things that seem counterintuitive. Like, is there something that seems wrong, something that you believe that seems wrong, if you leave at the explanation, and so for example, hourly billing is not or referrals are dangerous, if we leave at the explanation, that becomes controversial. And that’s where you can start a conversation. But that might be a really core belief for you. And that might be a point of view. And finally, is there a core belief that underlies everything that you do? Is there something that’s kind of behind it all? And maybe that could be your leading point of view for you? So I’ve been thinking about, you know, how does all this work together. And, for me, the point of view, it’s like the intersection of all of these things, because all of these different beliefs together, that’s what makes you unique. That’s what gives you I think, Ian Brodie calls it a distinct point of view. And that’s what makes you stand out from the next person, because you’re going to be talking about something in a different way to them. And over time, you will solidify, you’ll figure out different ways of wording it you know, you’ll wordsmith things, you’ll learn what’s important to people what people react to.

Alastair McDermott 12:09

And over time, it may develop to the point where people actually recognize your writing, when they see it quoted in an email. I don’t know if that’s important or not. But it’s certainly interesting that that you can actually get to there. So that is point of view, I think it’s, it’s important to think about what your point of view is, and start to develop it, I’m going to share the spreadsheet with you, and let you plug in your strongly held beliefs and arguments for those. And that might help you in developing your point of view. Once you have that done. The next thing was to think about how do I incorporate that in while I’m writing what I’m saying, you probably do to some degree already. But I think it’s good to think about doing that on a more conscious level. And once you start thinking about this, I think that it will start to seep into the content that you’re creating. And it will help you create content that is maybe less bland, because you’re adding some thanks for listening.

Alastair McDermott 13:05

So the spreadsheet that I mentioned, is linked in the show notes. So if you click on the show notes, wherever you’re listening to this, it’ll take you to a page on my website, The Recognized Authority. You can access the spreadsheet, and you can just make a copy there and filled in yourself. There’s no email or any signup required. If you do like this any like this type of information, you’re more than welcome to go to the homepage of the website, and sign up for my email list there. It’ll send you a sequence of emails that are all around the topic of building authority, things like point of view, positioning, content, publishing, all of those types of topics are what I cover in the email list as well. I love to get your feedback. I really would. So please send me an email, or shoot me a message on LinkedIn. I love to connect there and talk to people about this kind of stuff. So if this is something that’s been helpful for you, I’d love to hear about that. So thanks for listening. See you next time.

Voiceover 14:06

Thanks for listening to The Recognized Authority with Alastair McDermott. Subscribe today, and don’t miss an episode. Find out more at the recognized authority.com