One way to help increase business and attract attention is to become an expert in your field. When potential clients seek the help or products you provide and your name pops up, you may be able to reap the benefits of the exposure.
“Expert positioning aligns you with the best-of-the-best in your industry," says business and brand specialist Debbie Allen, author of The Highly Paid Expert: Turn Your Passion, Skills and Talents Into a Lucrative Career by Becoming the Go-To Authority in Your Industry. “An expert is recognized as an authority who knows in-depth knowledge about a specific subject. Such individuals solve problems, and when they offer invaluable solutions to make pain go away, people pay top dollar for their advice, wisdom and expertise."
When you establish yourself or your business as a leading authority in your industry, clients reflexively seek your assistance, which can help drive repeat business and recommendations, says Kristi Marsh, founder of Choose Wiser and author of Little Changes.
It can be surprisingly easy to become a go-to expert today. “There's never been a better time to launch yourself as an authority," Allen says. "The internet, social media, video marketing and the print-on-demand industry have made it entirely doable."
Welcome to the New Marketing Model
If you're interested in how to become an expert in your field, consider embracing a new marketing model. “Expert marketing that positions a business owner or entrepreneur as the go-to authority focuses on offering valuable, free information in the form of videos, articles and media, rather than the push of advertising and selling one-on-one," Allen says.
The bottom line? You may have to give before you can receive.
“Becoming an expert means taking on a level of responsibility to support others with your knowledge," says Allen, who notes that this doesn't mean offering people a cookie cutter get-rich-quick scheme.
—Linda Scott, owner, eFrog Press
“True experts are those who offer personalized, proven solutions and give people lasting results," she explains. “Authorities offer valuable assistance, not only from their heads but from their hearts. They share their wisdom freely, and in the process they get paid well in return."
To excel at becoming a highly paid expert, it's important to lay the groundwork, which can stem from education-based marketing. Consider trying these three tactics that may help you become an expert in your industry.
1. Establish yourself as an author.
Publishing can be an excellent way to claim authority in your field and become the go-to expert, says Linda Scott, owner of eFrog Press, a one-stop shop for entrepreneurs who want to self-publish.
Start with a blog, suggests Scott. “Blog what you know. Writing original, regular posts on subjects in your area of expertise showcases what you know and gives you an opportunity to find your writer's voice. Comments from readers to your posts help you understand where you need to clarify your message and, even more importantly, what works."
Develop a blogging schedule and do your best to stick to it. In addition to being good for SEO, regular content shows your readership and potential clients and customers that you're serious about your specialty. Blogs also allow you to build a community that is interested in you and your work. From this community and on your website, you can develop a list of newsletter subscribers. Try sending out regular newsletters that also contain your expert tips and insight.
Your blogging community may include some super fans. Such individuals are devoted to you and your cause and will actively spread the word about your expert status. Super fans tend to share with friends and family more than average fans. They're generally active on social media and are likely to share your blog posts to a wide audience.
You can make sharing your expertise easy for all of your fans by keeping an active presence on social media. Posting your blogs when they're published is another good way to become an expert in your field.
If you create categories for your blogs and keep adding detailed posts, you may soon have enough chapters to put together a book. “When you can say you have literally 'written the book' on a subject in your field, you immediately gain expert status," Scott says. “Forevermore, 'author' will be added to your introductions at conferences and speaking engagements. Online reviews on Amazon and Barnes & Noble will further increase your credibility and exposure, and posting your book cover on your website is a subtle reminder to all who visit that you know what you're talking about."
Books that feature a problem-solving format can be a good choice for developing expert status. For instance, you could write about how to become an expert at a particular topic.
If the idea of writing a book overwhelms you, keep in mind that short books are preferable to many readers. “Concise, well-written books that distill a topic into easy-to-read language are preferred," says Scott. “You don't need to write a 400-page manual. Books that are 100 pages can allow you to become an expert in your field."
Writing not your strong suit? Consider getting the assistance of a ghostwriter or editor. “Poorly written communication can backfire," advises Scott. “You won't look like an expert if your writing has grammatical errors, typos and is hard to read."
2. Become a communicator.
Speaking is another opportunity to establish yourself as an expert—so consider accepting every chance you're given to present. Also, try hosting your own live events, both online and offline. It can help if clients and customers actually hear you speak, but it's almost as beneficial if people are aware that you regularly speak on your chosen topic.
In addition to public speaking, Marsh advises, "share educational tidbits, tips or lessons through video blogs or vlogs. The combination of your storytelling or speaking style, along with value-added tips, can solidify your image as an expert. It used to be that this opportunity only came through being interviewed on television, but sharing through video messaging is now affordable, easy and under your control. The result is educational, informative tips that are shareable by consumers."
Podcasts offer another opportunity to appear as the go-to expert in your field. There are a wide variety of niche-driven podcasts, so it's possible you may find one in your area of expertise. Such podcasts are presented to targeted audiences containing followers who are likely to be interested in you and your subject area. Most podcasts are open to guests. Appearing on a podcast gives you the opportunity to pick up more fans and readers for your blog, books and newsletters.
To further cement your status as a go-to expert in your field, consider starting your own podcast in your specialty. When creating a podcast, focus on providing entertaining information that educates, informs, inspires and motivates. While you want to do some promoting, it's important that the listener gets something of value from listening.
Whenever and wherever you present, always take your book with you, Scott adds. “Bookmark a short, interesting passage to read aloud, either on the podcast or during your speaking engagement. If your book is a work-in-progress, or even if it's still in the conceptual stage, remind audiences of your expert status by saying, 'In my upcoming book on ...'"
3. Rebrand and refocus when necessary.
It's possible that the current setup of your business may not lend itself to you becoming an expert. This may mean you'll need to shake things up a bit by rebranding or refocusing your business. For example, if you've spent 20 years in the carpet cleaning business and want to launch yourself as an authority and become an expert, you could reposition yourself as a carpet cleaning expert who teaches other carpet cleaners how to run a successful business, Allen explains. “Essentially," she says, "you take off one hat—running a carpet cleaning business day to day—and put on another hat as a thought leader and expert."
In order to effectively rebrand to highlight your expert status, it helps to look closely at your product or service and how it relates to your target market. For instance, if you run a bakery, what sort of customers do you attract? Are they health-conscious and looking for baked good alternatives for individuals with sensitivities? In that case, you can promote yourself as a healthy baker. If you run a florist shop and have a high percentage of bridal orders, you can become a bridal flower expert.
The bottom line is that your business has given you unique expertise that makes you the go-to expert in your field. “Be proud of that expertise and capitalize on it," suggests Scott. “Chances are there's no one else with the unique spin you have on your business and in your field. Customers and clients want authorities to look up to and to learn from. There has never been a better time to become an expert in your field."
A version of this article was originally published on August 20, 2014.
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