This post is by Jason Gracia.
Last May I went shopping for a consultant to help with the launch of my latest project. Though he was the most expensive, though he lived thousands of miles away, though we’d be meeting just one day, I chose JR out of everyone else for one reason: he was the obvious expert.
Much has been said about becoming a recognized expert in your field–especially by me. As you’ll see, few things are as powerful or persuasive in business. Unfortunately, few things are as misunderstood.
Today we’re going to fix that.
We’ll begin with the seven reasons you must position yourself as the go-to expert, followed by eleven of my favorite methods to make it happen. Let’s dive in.
Why Position Yourself as an Expert?
In every buying decision, be it hiring a consultant or finding a good mechanic, we all want experts. We want someone who appears to have a proven solution and not someone who may waste our time and money. But that’s the bird’s eye view of things. I prefer to dig into the details. So let’s dig…
1. Stand Out in a Crowded Market
Without attention, no business can survive. Problem is, you’re probably not alone in your market. In fact, you’re probably one fish in an ocean of alternatives. So how do you stand out? You become the go-to expert. By establishing your brand as the obvious choice for those who are choosy, you rise above the noise and sameness. It happens every time. You become the shining star among the night sky.
2. Become the Prize
Humans want what they can’t–or what is difficult to–have. As you become the recognized expert, you gain prestige and popularity, becoming the prize to be won by your prospects and customers. No longer do you chase leads; instead, they clamor to work with you.
3. Get Media Attention
Open any newspaper or scan any news blog and you’ll see references to experts up and down the page. They are essential to media. When reporters develop a story, they need quotations, opinions, facts, and findings from people who know the topic better than anyone else. And, so, they turn to experts.
4. Deliver Results
We are hardwired to listen to authority figures. By wrapping your particular message in the authority that expert positioning brings, your information will not only get attention but it will also get absorbed and used. Your knowledge will be respected enough to break through the clutter and deliver tangible results.
5. Charge Higher Fees
Jim and John own home-improvement businesses. Jim is a jack-of-all-trades, offering everything from lawn care to window installation. John updates kitchens–nothing more. Who do you think is going to charge more for a kitchen remodel? It’s obvious.
Because John only does one thing, we assume he does it better than Jim. In turn, we expect to pay more for the extra knowledge, know-how, experience, and quality. The same is true for you. When you are seen as the expert, people expect to pay for the extra value, allowing you to charge what you’re really worth.
6. Gain Partnerships
The same tendencies that draw people to an expert also attract business partners. If you want to rapidly grow your business, you need to partner with the other authorities in your field. Arranging these partnerships, however, isn’t always easy–unless you’re seen as a fellow expert. In that case, your positioning instantly grants you credibility and respect, opening the door to new audiences and opportunities.
7. Satisfaction & Fulfillment
When you commit to becoming a true expert, you’re committing to much more than getting into print or associating yourself with success. You’re committing to being one of the best in your field.
This dedication to mastery, while equipping you with expert knowledge, will have a side effect: you’ll be happy. Satisfaction and fulfillment are natural offshoots of throwing ourselves into something we’re passionate about. You’ll constantly be learning new things, solving challenging problems, and immersing yourself in a world you love, and you’ll be the happier for it.
Now that you know why expert positioning is so important, let’s take a look at eleven things you can start doing today to be seen as the obvious authority in your field.
How to Position Yourself as an Expert
Many people wait for it, but sadly no one is going to tap you on the head with the expert wand. It’s up to you. By shining a better and brighter light on what you already have–and filling in some gaps along the way–you can position yourself and your brand as one of the leaders in your field.
1. Own It
“But I’m no expert.” Sometimes, this is true. Often, it’s not. Even after spending years in a field and producing consistent results, people are wary of standing up and asserting themselves as true experts. It can be scary; the pressure to deliver certainly increases when you claim expert status. But if you’re ready, if you can help your audience get the results they’re after, it’s time to own your expert standing and shout it to the world.
2. Define Your Expertise
Don’t be wishy-washy about what you do. Be bold and clear. Would you rather work with the woman who says, “Well, I guess I help people, um, get more visitors and stuff like that,” or the one who says, “I am an online traffic expert”?
3. Create an Expert Hub
One of the most effective ways to communicate your authority status is to create an “expert” website. Many elements are involved, but key among them are professional headshots, professional design, highlighting your social proof numbers (subscribers, followers, fans), and highlighting the places your work has been featured.
4. Create an Expert Intro
Useful with videos, articles, interviews, and live talks, an expert intro is a powerful tool for establishing your authority with new audiences as well as ingraining your expert status in the minds of your loyal fans.
For example, Brendon Burchard begins his videos with, “Hey everybody, it’s Brendon Burchard, author of Life’s Golden Ticket and founder of Experts Academy.” You don’t have to be an author to have a powerful opening though. You can state your area of expertise, your tagline, or even the name of your website (“creator of…”).
5. Share Your Credibility Story
Your expert story is critical. It connects you to your audience, establishes authority, inspires hope, and motivates action. How do you accomplish all that with a single story? Start by sharing your struggle to succeed, allowing people to relate to you. Then describe your sources of deep knowledge to demonstrate why you know more than the average tinkerer (certifications, degrees, years of experience, firsthand trial-and-error, etc.). Finally, share your personal stories of success as well as the stories of your successful clients and customers.
6. Go Beyond the Blog Post
There are dozens of ways to share your message outside of your blog, but one of the most effective at positioning you as the expert is public speaking. This generates the obvious credibility that comes from having an audience show up and listen to you speak, but, on a deeper level, speaking in public elevates your status because so few people are willing to do it.
Most are terrified by the idea, so the fact that you’re able to get on stage and deliver puts you on another level. (Bonus Tip: Feature shots of you speaking on your website and marketing materials as an added authority boost.)
7. Play Hard to Get
The harder something is to attain, the more we value it. It’s human nature. So while you should be available to your audience, you shouldn’t be too available. A prime example is free coaching sessions.
The non-authority will open the door to anyone and everyone who wants a free session in the hopes of converting a percentage to paying clients. This tactic gives the impression that you’re begging for business. The true authority, the one people clamor for, offers free sessions one day a week, by application, and with the use of a waiting list.
8. Get Media Attention
Get in print, on radio, on television, and on other websites and blogs. Then feature the media pieces on your site and in your materials. Working with media can seem overwhelming, so start small. Email small blogs in your industry. Contact local radio stations or newspapers that serve small markets. Reach out to friends who may have contacts in the industry. As you build your portfolio, bigger opportunities will emerge.
(Bonus Tip: As you know, reporters are constantly looking for experts to use in their stories. A popular method to find these experts is HARO, which stands for Help a Reporter Out. After signing up as an expert, for free, you’ll receive daily emails from reporters looking for particular authorities. When there’s a match, you simply reply by email.)
9. Associate with Success
Authority is like glitter–those who come in contact with it can’t help but leaving with a little on their sleeve. If you knew nothing of Corbett’s skills or abilities, only that every leader in the field considers him a friend and brilliant businessman, Corbett would adopt authority by association; if other authorities mingle with him, he must also be an authority.
You can gain the same respect and status by associating with the leaders in your industry. Among other things, you can interview them, write guest posts for them, review their products, or invite them to speak at your live or digital events.
10. Gather Testimonials & Endorsements
Some dear readers will be kind enough to send unsolicited testimonials. We love those people. But hundreds more are waiting to lavish praise on you if you would only ask. So ask.
Send an email to your list asking about the effects your work has had on them. Reach out to colleagues, asking them to offer an endorsement of your expertise. Offer free coaching sessions (if coaching makes sense in your field) to people willing to be part of a before-and-after case study to be featured on your site or blog.
Social proof is among the most powerful expert triggers. Instead of waiting for it to fall into your lap, take an active role and gather as many honest and compelling testimonials as you can.
11. Create an Organization
Creators of organizations, summits, and conferences have forever been granted instant authority; we subconsciously assume the creator must have the approval and respect of the industry, otherwise they wouldn’t have succeeded in pulling it off.
Chris Guillebeau’s World Domination Summit, Scott Dinsmore’s Live Your Legend events, and the LinkedIn meetups orchestrated by Lewis Howes early in his career are just a few examples of industry authorities creating an event and leading a community. If you knew nothing of these men, only that they founded their summits and events, you would consider them experts. Such is the power of creation.
So, what could you create? If a conference or summit is too ambitious, could you gather a few dozen people together for an evening of industry information and entertainment? Perhaps a digital event run from your kitchen table?
There you have it, the power of expert positioning and a few tips to help get you started. You can’t long mask a lack of skill or experience with expert triggers, but you can explode your business when you use them to highlight true knowledge and ability.
What is one thing you could do TODAY to better position yourself as an expert in your niche? Let us know in the comments below this post.