A huge part of building your personal brand is creating expert status. The big mistake that most people make is they make a very wrong assumption: that people know you're an expert. Even if your clients and prospects know you're an expert, they don't know how much of an expert you really are. That's what this post is all about. The video below will reveal the secret to displaying your expertise to rise above the sea of others in your market and dominate your competition.
In our last Brand or Die blog, we talked about how you've got to get out of the business you're in and you've got to get into the business of being an expert.
So, if you are printing company you're only ever going to make a limited amount of money printing paper. But, if you can become an expert on how to print the paper, or more importantly how to create mailing campaigns that help people maximize their return on investment, you're always going to get paid more money. So you have to become an expert.
Which leads us to what we're going to talk about today, the secret that everyone misses. We all think that our clients and prospects can see inside of our heads, and they know exactly what we're thinking. Obviously, that's not true. So, here's what we've got to do, we've got to display our expertise. How can you do that? Let me give you some examples.
Get into social media. To get started, you can utilize what I call "the Napoleon Hill factor". Many of you have read the great and popular book "Think and Grow Rich" by Napoleon Hill. By reading that book alone, I know he has other works, but by reading that book alone we don't really know if Napoleon Hill is good at anything other than interviewing other experts and finding out what they're good at and sharing their secrets. NOTE: they aren't Napoleon Hill's secrets, they are the secrets of others!
So you can do the same thing. Through social media you can start out by simply passing along great information from other people. You can quickly and easily become a "curator" of the best content that you can find and pass it along. That's one of the fastest and easiest ways to start displaying your expertise and start building a following.
Start a blog. The next thing you need to do is start blogging. Blogs are awesome. There's practically a blog for every subject you could ever think of, and people went nuts for a while thinking every blog would be profitable, which we now can see is not true. But again, it's another way for you to lay out your expertise so that anyone who wants to follow along can see that you really know what you're talking about. If by nothing else other than the fact that they can see "wow this guy's got a hundred blogs" or 20 blogs or 30 blogs on the same subject. The other thing is that putting out those blogs will be great for search engine optimization, SEO, if you use the keywords that your customers are searching for, you'll figure out some "long tail" search terms that you weren't expecting or didn't think of. For example, one of the sentences that you write in your blog, not expecting it to be the superstar sentence, can end up delivering traffic to you. And there's another secret, but it relates to articles too, so let's talk about articles.
Write articles. Articles are usually just a little bit longer than blogs. The secret is that you're able to syndicate them in a different way. Syndication is the key—you can think of syndicating articles much like the old concept of syndicating radio shows or newspaper columns. It's the concept of taking your content and pushing it out over someone else's network that already has readers or listeners
There are Web sites that handle article syndication and blog syndication. Articles, have to be just over 500 words to qualify for syndication on many of the article syndication sites. Blogs can be under 500 words. That's the main distinction, but the key is once you write them you don't just want to put them on your Web site or your own blogs. You have to syndicate them and put them out there for hundreds of thousands of Web sites to see. And a crucial step for maximum return from your blogs and articles is to include a byline about you that has a link back to your Web site, which not only drives SEO it also drives traffic to your Web site if someone reads your syndicated content and wants to go back to your Web site to learn more. A great secret is to offer a free report, or something else of value, to the reader for coming back to your Web site. Again, articles and blogs are great strategy, but you've got to make sure you get them onto the syndication sites. You can find great syndication sites by searching for "article syndication", "article marketing" and "blog syndication" on your favorite search engine.
Press releases. Press releases are awesome because they look like someone else is talking about you. Fortune 500 companies have been guarding this secret for years. The words we hear on the news about the newest car, or the newest products that launch usually come out of press releases that were written by the company that is responsible for the product or serve. So, you can use press releases as a way to build third party credibility for you and your business. When someone searches for you and they find a press release that you just signed a new deal with a client, or you were named as one of the top business people in your city, or anything else that is happening in your business that would be interesting to your ideal prospects, and it looks like someone else wrote about you, you're going to get a bump in credibility. So, use press releases to build your expertise.
Again you want to syndicate your press releases. There's a bunch of places to do it. One of our absolute favorites is PRLog.org and it's free. I think you're going to love it. It's free and it SEO's really well.
Newsletters. There's two forms of newsletters: online newsletters (often called Ezines) and offline newsletters. Ezines and online newsletters are great. They're easy to set up and you should absolutely have one of those and use it to communicate with your clients and prospects on a regular basis to stay in front of them.
While we're discussing newsletters, here is a key point: most businesspeople make the huge mistake of letting their prospects control the communication flow between the business and the prospect. I can't tell you what a mistake this is. You've got to capture leads from business cards from the people you meet as well as the contact info of visitors to your Web site, so that you can control the communication. It's a huge advantage.
So send out those e-zines to remind them you exist and incite them to action with interesting, valid, concise content that's relevant to your prospects and clients today.
Now, let's talk about offline newsletters. Most businesses don't pay attention to this concept, and I (Nick) didn't either for quite some time. Jack convinced me several years ago we needed to create a physical newsletter. I said to Jack, "Why? No one reads the mail anymore." But he convinced me to give it a try and here's the real secret I found out by doing it: As much as we try to make our e-zines and our e-mails personal, look it's never going to be the same as getting e-mail from your mother or from your best friend or from the guy in the office next door, or worse yet the next client. In the email inbox, an Ezine is one of the most impersonal pieces of communication we get because it's competing with hundreds of one to one messages a day. This makes the perceived value of the content go down, which is not what we're after.
But a physical newsletter, in someone's mailbox, that's written like my friend, Dan Kennedy, suggests, and I quote "as if you're sitting down to have a cup of coffee with your prospects and clients each and every month." The key here is you have to write conversationally and you've got to be interesting. A good newsletter includes content about your life and your lifestyle but always leads back to informative and educational content. That's always going to be the most valuable piece of content most people get in their mailboxes because it's one of the more personalized pieces of content that your client or prospect is getting in their mailbox. Their mailbox in front of their house, or their mail bin at the office is usually full of flyers and bills. Most people send personal correspondence now through e-mail, so we take our newsletter to a different playing field, out of the inbox and into the mailbox, where it immediately increases in value based on the competition: in the mailbox you're mostly competing against junk so it's a much easier battle to win. The other secret is you have to introduce your newsletter correctly. When sending out the first copy of our physical newsletter to a prospect or client, we put ours in an 8 by 10 inch canvas envelope that is solid black with our law firm logo on the outside of it in silver foil. We can assure you it gets opened! That's how they get the first one.
There's also a customized welcome letter in there. Look, if you send us something that says, "Dear Valued Prospect or Customer," we're not going to read it and either is anyone else. The people sending messages like that make it feel like they didn't even take the time to know who you are. We have mail merge at our finger tips now, use it! Make your message look customized. We send a customized letter that welcomes them, tells them the value of our newsletter, that some even people pay for it, but we'd like to gift it to them free, and here's what they can expect and we welcome their feedback. That's the setup. That way it's not just another rag in the mail. Then when they get it every month and it's not in any special packaging, they know what it is and they value it more than "just another rag" in the mail.
Another great strategy is to put your picture on the front of it because people associate that with you, and even if they don't read it they'll see you every month and they'll remember who you are. I (Nick) often tell of the first time I went to this annual industry convention and no one knew who I was. Then, Jack encouraged me to send our newsletter to 100 of the most influential people that attended. Can you guess what happened? I couldn't! The next year, when I went back to that same convention, people were walking up to me saying, "Hey Nick how's it going?" Wanting to tell me their side of the stories and comments I'd been writing about in the newsletter. It blew my mind. One guy even walked up and said, "Hey my business coach circled this and told me I need to talk to you about it." And the guy actually wanted to hire me based on the recommendation. There's not much that you can do as inexpensively as a physical newsletter that will have the same impact.
Books. Books are the trump card in credibility. Many people dream of writing a book but most don't know where to begin or they think it's too hard. You get the ultimate respect from having a hardcover book out in the marketplace. Simply put, a book is a physical, tangible expression of how much you know. If you're competing with someone else for the same client, a book practically says, "Hey I know this much. How much does the other guy know?"
We also like the "thud factor,"— that you can drop a book on a desk and it makes a loud thud. That's always kind of fun too. So, books are absolutely the trump card.
The easiest way to begin writing a book is to make an outline of 20 things you want to talk about surrounding your subject matter and write about 10 pages on each one. It's really not that hard!
Special reports. These are underutilized but can be a great tool. You can take any blog or article your write, or take a chapter from a book you previously wrote, or write a specific special report that will interest the people who want to do business with you. For example, if I were real estate agent in today's market, I might write a special report on the top 10 ways to move your house in 10 days or less for top dollar. If you were trying to sell your house, don't you think you'd be interested in that? Absolutely. So, a special report on that subject, that you design and print and give to people, instead of giving everyone a business card, at a networking meeting—or better yet, if you take that special report, put it in the mail and send it out to your prospects and clients, is so much more engaging than a business card. It reveals your expertise and it's something that they're going to look through and possibly even pass on to a friend. It's just much more engaging than a business card.
Information products. Information products are great because they allow you to take information that you already know, package it up in the form of a product, and sell it. You could give it away, but most people associate an information product, or "info-product" for short, with an item that is sold. If you want to leverage one of our previous strategies to make this process go by even faster, you could take that special report we talked about, the 10 secrets for selling your house for top dollar, and you could turn each of the tips into a question. Now, you've got 10 questions, you can give them to a friend, you both call into FreeConferenceCall.com and your friend can interview you and ask you the questions. You can record the call, download it, you can have it transcribed or you can use the special report already wrote, and you can make that an information product. Bundle the audio and the transcripts or the audio and the special report and create a product you can sell.
But, don't make this one mistake that most people make: whenever you create something like this, whether it's a physical product or a virtual product, whether you're giving away for free or not— put a price on it. By doing this, your clients and prospects will value it more. If you sell it they'll know the real value and it's also a great tool to then give away your top prospects and say, "Take some time to review my product, I normally sell this but I'm going to give you a copy of it because I know it will help you take the next step."
It's also a neat way to get paid to teach people why they should hire you. It's a great strategy.
There you have it, 8 strategies for displaying your expertise. We'll be back with more for youI soon.
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JW Dicks (@jwdicks) & Nick Nanton (@nicknanton) are best-selling authors that consult for small- and medium-sized businesses on how to build their business through Personality Driven Marketing, Personal Brand Positioning, Guaranteed Media, and Mining Hidden Business Assets. They offer free articles, white papers, and case studies at their Web site. Jack and Nick have been featured in The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, USA Today, Newsweek, FastCompany.com, and many more media outlets.