Google the phrase “never before have we known so much about” and you’ll be bombarded with endless subjects we now know more about than ever before.
And it’s little wonder that phrase is bandied around. Information on every topic imaginable is available immediately wherever we are – on our phones, at our desks, on our TVs.
I’d like to introduce a new phrase, one that will at first seem cynical: “Never before have we known so little about so much.”
We’ve all seen the sentiment of this phrase in action. Your co-worker watches a Weather Channel special on cloud formations and is now making meteorological predictions with authority from the office window. Your mother browses Web MD for hours and is prepared to diagnose a sneeze — if only she could write you a script!
We’re all a bit drunk on information and imagine that we know more than we actually do. We need to be reminded that Mike Nelson is likely better informed to announce a tornado watch, and your mom was also the one concerned that your pimple was cancerous. We may know a lot of things these days, or at least have greater access to more information, but that in no way makes us an expert.
What does this have to do with marketing? Well, you are the expert in your field. Whatever it is that your business or organization does professionally, you are the real expert. You are the Mike Nelson of accounting; the M.D. of child care. Problem is, you are surrounded by modern fools brandishing information garnered from Discovery Channel like they are the actual experts. How do you distinguish yourself? Be the actual expert.
Of course, you already are the expert, but does everyone know that? Would the Coloradoan or NoCO5 call you if they needed expert commentary on a story?
Perhaps not surprisingly, since it is coming from A-Train, we recommend greater community involvement as a means of establishing yourself as an expert. And we see a twofold path: community engagement and involvement.
Engagement is the area where you can really let your expert medals shine for all to see. This may come as a surprise, but all the information gluttons out there masquerading as experts have a voracious appetite. If you give them an opportunity to get their information from you – a neighbor and community member expert, as opposed to the information highways – they are likely to take you up on that offer.
Venues abound: Consider hosting a panel discussion in your field with your company as a sponsor. Write a letter to the editor commenting on a relevant news story or issue with your professional opinion. Produce a monthly newsletter that offers value to readership beyond marketing your business.
What is key to consider when engaging the community in your expertise is topic. Remember, you are not actually dealing with experts. This is not a panel like at an industry conference where jargon is commonplace and dialogue is at a post-grad level. You are trying to engage the general public. When considering content, spark curiosity about the subject you cover. Make it accessible and fun with a bit of pop culture. They will respect your expert authority while not feeling patronized.
While engagement is a publicity tool to establish your expertise, involvement is about using your expertise to make a positive impact on your community. You may not immediately recognize the marketing rewards, but you will make meaningful connections that will pay off in surprising ways.
Surely, no matter what your field, you know where your talents and skills can be applied within the community. Decide how much time and energy you have to give, and offer up services. You can do this as direct pro-bono giving of your primary services, or you can find auxiliary outlets to share your expertise: Join a board of directors for a non-profit looking for someone with your skill set. Host a clinic: For instance, if you are an accountant, offer to host a seminar on personal finance for local high school kids. Perhaps you can host a scholarship-type program where you award a community member in need your services pro bono quarterly or annually. Or perhaps you can use your expertise to drive legislation related to your field.
Your involvement must be given without expectations of a return, but you should also not be afraid to accept recognition for your contributions towards positive impact. And hopefully a part of that recognition will be notoriety for being an expert in your field.
Daily, we see advertising where companies declare themselves the experts. And surely, most of them are experts in their fields. But the term is thrown around so much that the audience they intend to reach doesn’t pay attention to the term. By becoming an active community member that shares expertise, you will be better recognized for being the best than stating it in an ad.