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 ]