How to position yourself as an expert to attract clients – Part 2
Wouldn’t it be great to be considered an expert in your field? What better way to attract business. It’s not a mystery or out of reach for most people. There are specific actions you can take to help you become a go-to resource. We covered 5 tips already in our previous post. Here are 5 more:
6. Maximize your reach through owned, earned and paid channels. Owned distribution channels refer to channels you control – i.e. your website, blogs, social media, direct mail and email. Earned channels are public relations and media opportunities. Paid channels are advertising related, including paid search, sponsored content and other outlets. Use all these ways to get your message out.
7. Listen to and engage with your audience. Ask for feedback from clients, prospects, referral sources and other contacts. Join groups where you can become an active participant in discussions on the issues important to your audience. Their experiences will inform your thinking and also make it more likely they will stay interested in what you’re talking about.
8. Involve employees. Your employees can be a great resource for content ideas as well as help to disseminate your message. Often they are the ones that talk to clients about day to day matters – questions, complaints, etc. Ask them for input on what you should be writing/speaking about. Also employees can share your content via their own social media channels, which gets you in front of more people.
9. Use social media. Social media has a lot of great uses. First, it’s a tool for listening. Monitor what your clients, prospects, industry and media outlets are discussing. You should also look at what your competitors are doing. Social media is also a distribution outlet. Promote your content via the social media channels your target audience uses. However, remember when sharing your own content you should repurpose it for each outlet. Don’t post the same content in the same way for Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and other channels. Finally use social media to find key contacts. For example, you can mine LinkedIn to help you find people in your industry, influencers, groups, or potential clients.
10. Cultivate relationships with other experts, organizations, influencers and media. You are judged by the company you keep. In building relationships, it’s always better to give than to receive. Reach out to individuals and groups and help them spread their message. As you build credibility with them, opportunities may arise to work with them, or get them to share your work with their audience. With organizations, get involved in committees and look to take on a leadership position. It is a great way to stay informed on the issues and make key connections.
Hopefully these 10 tips will put you on the path to becoming a go-to resource who attracts clients. It’s not easy to position yourself as an expert, but the rewards are worth it.
How to position yourself as an expert to attract clients – Part 1
How can you be seen as an expert people turn to for help on a particular problem? In an increasingly competitive marketplace, you need to do more than say you have “years of experience” or a “proven track record.” There are specific tactics that can help you get noticed, stay top of mind, and attract and retain clients. The key to success is consistently delivering the right message to the right audience at the right time.
Here are 5 tips for positioning yourself as a go-to-resource:
1. Know your stuff. It’s almost too obvious to say, but you need to know what you’re talking about. Keep up on new developments and trends, understand your audience’s concerns, and develop your own insights instead of just regurgitating what other people say.
2. Focus on a niche. It’s a lot easier to be an expert in a very focused area. Look at where you have the most potential. Who are your best clients and what do they have in common? What is your most profitable work? Where do you have the most/least competitors? You want to carve out a specialty that will help you compete successfully. For example, there are lots of personal injury lawyers, but how many focus on motorcycles or dog bites. Many accounting firms work with small businesses, but fewer have a niche with restaurant owners or construction companies. The point is to think narrow. Don’t try to be an expert in a broad area. It won’t work.
3. Identify your unique value proposition. What skills, education, experience, or background do you have to differentiate yourself? Do you have special training or an insider/outsider perspective? Are you active in relevant organizations or have key contacts? You want to look for ways to distinguish yourself and your practice from your competitors and help highlight why you are qualified to be an expert.
4. Create and share content. Write and speak consistently. There are lots of options and ideally you should incorporate as many as possible – articles, blogs, newsletters, eBooks, white papers, infographics, video, radio, live events, webinars, PowerPoints, etc. The key is to deliver relevant content. And don’t forget you can also share other people’s content. However, make sure you add your own insights. In other words, don’t like just “like” an article. Add a comment, raise a question, or share an experience.
5. Think like a publisher. Publishers know their audience and consistently produce high-quality relevant content for that audience. It doesn’t matter whether you’re publishing content yourself or going to a third-party; the same rules apply.
In our next post, we’ll cover 5 more tips to help you become a go-to resource and attract clients.
5 musts for being a thought leader
Your clients and prospects are inundated with information online to help them solve their problems. Some of the information is genuinely educational; most of it though is self-promotional or generic. How do you stand out and get noticed as the one they should turn to for help? One way to break through the clutter is to focus on thought leadership.
What is a thought leader and why do you want to be one? There are lots of definitions, but I like this one from Forbes:
A thought leader is an individual or firm that prospects, clients, referral sources, intermediaries and even competitors recognize as one of the foremost authorities in selected areas of specialization, resulting in its being the go-to individual or organization for said expertise … [and thereby] significantly profit[ing] from being recognized as such.
As the go-to expert, you’re likely to profit in many ways. Regardless of whether it directly brings in new business, thought leadership helps to differentiate you from competitors, expand your reach, and build relationships and trust with your audience. You’re also educating people and promoting deeper and more informative discussions, which is a public service.
That all sounds great, but how can you be a thought leader?
1. Understand your sweet spot. In his book, Epic Content Marketing, Joe Pulizzi defines the sweet spot as “the intersection between your customers’ pain points and where you have the most authority with your stories.” Take the time to really research your audience’s needs and concerns. Then consider what expertise and insights you can offer to help them. Don’t spend time talking about areas where you are not well-informed and don’t have much value to add. Focus on what you know best that can assist your clients.
2. Differentiate your message. Your strongest competitors will be trying to do the same thing you are doing – providing valuable content. Know what they are saying and doing and look for ways to be even better or different. For example, focus on a narrow niche, survey the industry and share research, have an opinion, identify trends, and provide insights. Give specific and actionable strategies taking into account whatever new developments are occurring. The point is to go beyond sending out a typical client alert that sounds just like the ones from every other firm. The Forbes article mentioned above provides a great example, but we’ve all seen examples of thought leadership. We know who is going above and beyond.
3. Have a strategy and goals and align the two. Being a thought leader is a lot of work and you want to be clear about what you’re doing, why you’re doing it and what you hope to get out of it. Seems pretty obvious, but the reality is too many firms start down a path without thinking it through. For example, you have an attorney who happens to be a prolific writer and speaker in a specific area of the law. The problem is that area is not very profitable or high priority for the law firm. How much effort do you want to put behind promoting expertise that isn’t a good fit for the firm? Or maybe the thought leadership is great and would be good for the firm, but it’s not being seen by the right niche audiences. Sometimes firms focus on getting the content piece right, but spend less time making sure the promotion and distribution is getting to their target market. You need to bring both parts together in a strategic way otherwise how are you going to profit from being a thought leader.
4. Write, speak and share information consistently. You can’t be a thought leader if you don’t put your thoughts out there. Write articles, blog posts, whitepapers, and books. Curate and comment on other people’s content. Speak at online and live events. Create video. Use social media. You don’t have to do them all, but put out content in different formats to maximize your reach and appeal to different audiences. And do this regularly. Thought leadership is a long-term strategy. People have to hear from you on a consistent basis. An occasional article or speech isn’t enough, even if it’s really great. Of course, there are lots of ways to repackage that great content to get more life out of it, but make sure you’re doing that. You must be visible on a regular basis.
5. Cultivate relationships with other experts, influencers, industry professionals, and media. As you develop your thought leadership, reach out to other authorities. Gather and share their insights with your audience, make introductions and give referrals, and offer to help them with their content. By assisting others, you’re getting your name out to key contacts in your field, developing deeper relationships, and it’s likely at least some people will reciprocate by helping you. It will also make your thought leadership better informed because you’re incorporating insights from others.
Becoming a thought leader is a long-term commitment and a lot of work. However, successful firms know the investment is worth it in order to not only survive, but thrive against the competition.