Expertise is a beautiful thing when you run a small business. If you are in the right business, you have probably spent a long time building your expertise in whatever your industry happens to be. Whether you provide consultative services for your customers, or use your expertise to help sell retail products, the expertise can be what sets your business apart.
Unless you are in a Web-related business, though, chances are you don’t necessarily think about how to use your expertise online. When you do, it can be a great way of building the overall reputation for your small business and bringing more customers through your doors to work with you. So assuming you have some expertise, but need a nudge to help use it effectively online, here are a few ideas for how to do it.
1. Proactively answer questions.
There are more and more ways for people to ask questions about nearly any subject today. LinkedIn Answers is popular with professional audiences who ask questions to their own networks. Facebook status updates and tweets on Twitter often include people seeking others' opinions or experiences. Finally, social answering sites like Quora are getting a lot of buzz right now because they let people ask questions to a crowd and then bring answers together.
Each of these is an opportunity for you to demonstrate your expertise. To do it, just create an account (if you don’t already have one) with four sites to start: Facebook, Quora, Twitter, and LinkedIn. Then search for relevant questions that relate to your business and try to make it a point to answer one to two questions per day based on your expertise. Over a span of time, the quality of your answers will bring people to your site and your small business.
2. Create a “how to” video.
Several recent studies have shown that one of the most popular phrases searched for on YouTube or Google is “how to.” That means that if you want your video to be found by the most people, make sure you use the words “how to” in the title of the video. In terms of the content for the video, think about some of the questions you most commonly get from your customers or things that people often wonder about when considering who to work with. For example, if you have a dental practice, a good video could be “how to choose a great dentist.” The videos that address a big question that many consumers are likely to have are the ones that will ultimately get the most views and be seen as the most useful. Then make sure it is easy for anyone watching the video to learn more about your business and your expertise.
3. Be a guest contributor/author.
There are already key media sources that people are going to in order to learn more about topics that relate to your business. Instead of always trying to compete with these, consider how you might get featured on a relevant site so you can share your expertise with a built-in audience. For this to work best, you need to think in terms of a freelance writer. What topic would the maximum people be interested in reading about that fits your expertise? Is it topical and relevant to what is happening in the world right now? What makes you the best person to write this piece?
Once you can answer these questions, you can approach the manager/editor of any site online and offer to create a guest contributed article for their site. Volunteer to do it without payment, give them an idea of the topic you would cover, and share a bit about your background and why you’re qualified to write that piece. As long as it is clear your piece won’t be overly promotional, you would be surprised how often site managers would be willing to publish content like this -- and it can do wonders for your reputation.
4. Publish an evergreen “content bomb.”
One of my favorite terms in the world of blogging is what I call a “content bomb.” This is essentially a piece of content that can act as a land mine (but in a good way). It will sit online for days or months or years, but when someone searches for something relevant to it, they will uncover this piece of content and it will address their question while also demonstrating a deep level of expertise on the part of the writer. Good examples of this are two- or three-page PDFs, eBooks, topical blog posts, or videos. This content can be anything you like, and it can be posted on your own website or through a third-party site. Either way, choosing the topic is the most important thing -- and it needs to be something that people always want to know about.
Rohit Bhargava is the author of the best selling marketing book Personality Not Included, a guide on using personality to create a more human small business that employees love to work for and customers can’t wait to buy from.