Want To Give Yourself A Raise? In Personal Branding, It Pays To Be The Expert

There’s a constant theme that I repeat whenever I’m talking to business owners about their branding efforts. That theme is simple: it’s essential to brand yourself as an expert in your field.  I’ve written about this in books, given speeches about it, and referred to the concept often in this space.  Most people accept the idea without questioning it, because it’s logical and it sounds good. But there is much more to it than that, and the benefits of branding yourself as an expert deserve discussion. So today we are going to look at some of the benefits business owners can expect when they brand themselves as an expert in their field:

1) Experts draw customers in.  Think about it—when you need services, whether it be from a dentist or from a landscaper, who do you look for? You look for a respected professional who is truly great at what he (or she) does. Expert status means that customers will look for you, while your competition is forced to pursue customers. (Yes, it’s true that some customers will be looking for the cheapest service provider they can find—not necessarily an expert. But those aren’t the customers you want!)

2) Experts command higher rates.  Take two CPAs, identical in every way, except for their branding.  One is a typical, ho-hum accountant. The other is an exciting, dynamic expert in his field. Which do you think can charge higher prices? Obviously the expert—because most customers are willing to pay more money to work with the best in the business. Think about the last time you bought sports gear. Were you willing to pay more for a brand like Nike or Reebok than you would have for a generic brand? The same concept applies here.  

3) Experts build customer loyalty.  We mentioned earlier that you shouldn’t go after customers looking for cheap service. Why not? Because as soon as they find a lower price somewhere else, they will dump you and move on. When you brand yourself as an expert, customers choose you because of your qualifications and the quality of your service. These are the types of customers with whom you can build a real relationship—and relationships are the key to inspiring loyalty.  

4) Experts can set trends.  Let’s say you want to introduce a new business model to your market—for instance, a different fee structure for your wealth management firm. It looks a bit different than what you’ve done before, and it’s different than what your competition offers. If you’re a "no-name" business, chances are high that your innovation is ignored, because you don’t fit the description that your market is looking for. As an expert, your market will assume you know what you are doing. Expert status gives you the freedom to innovate without alienating your target customers.

More customers, more money, more loyalty, and more freedom.  Now do you see the value in branding yourself as an expert in your field?

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.

[Image: Flickr user Pete Prodoehl]

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  • Nick Nanton & JW Dicks

    Thanks for the comments David and Trevor!  I agree on both fronts!

  • Trevor Elwell

    JW and Nick,

    Great article, I think that part of the reason that businesses and/or individuals have a hard time marketing themselves as experts is because they choose too broad of a field.  Let me explain.

    There are two businesses both working in Real Estate.  The only difference between the two companies is that one markets themselves as a 'Real Estate Expert' while the other markets themselves as a 'Rental Property in Cape Cod Real Estate Expert'.  Who do you think is going to have an easier time becoming an expert? 

    This is why it is so important for businesses to find their niche, their target audience who they will tailor everything they do for.  These are your loyal customers who connect with you on a variety of social networks and most likely read your blog religiously (what do you mean you don't have a blog?!).  If you do not have a niche, you do not have a leg to stand on.  Once you have established excellence in your particular niche, then maybe you can move on to a larger group.  You have to start from the bottom and work your way up. 

    -Trevor Elwell

  • David Kaiser, PhD

    To this I would add, for some of us, it is fun. I love reading and researching, then turning all of the ideas in my head into a new idea, a new theory, and new perspective, that can be of great value to me client. Sharing these ideas is rewarding for me, and it offers potential clients an idea of what they couuld get from engaging me, so that they see they are getting somethign of value just by paying attention to my ideas and me. This is my kind of marketing.

    David Kaiser, PhD
    Time Coach

    "Time to be Extraordinary!"