The Value of Being An Expert
Consumers like to do business with experts. The truth is they’ll even pay a premium for the ability to do so. This is true for either B2B or B2C.
You on the other hand, as a business owner or stakeholder are an expert. And you want to connect with consumers, especially consumers that would like to do business with an expert.
You work hard at your business and over time you have developed a very specific set of skills that qualify you as an expert. But how do you convey this to your audience and how do you convey this in a way that will resonate?
Why Your Business Blog is Critical
There are plenty of great reasons to blog for business. Some are more technical in nature while other reasons might focus on the human elements such as how to tell the story of your business or how to share the personality of your business. Other reasons to blog might be to position your business in a specific manner.
Another great reason to run a business blog, again focused on the art of emotion, is that by putting together an effective business blog you are providing very clear evidence that you are valuable. You are valuable because you have expertise. In a sea of abundance, expertise is one key factor that can really give your operation the separation it needs.
Of course being an expert and not being able to prove it are two distinct issues. This is particularly critical for your online efforts where perhaps much, if not most of your audience might find you through less personalized ways (Google search should leap to mind, but social media can at times be somewhat impersonal as well), so being able to quickly and confidently address the fact that you are an expert in your field could be a huge determinant in how well, if at all, you are able to move new visitors into your funnel.
Use Your Business Blog to Prove You Are An Expert
This is one area in particular where an effective business blog really has the potential to add massive value to your business. With a well done business blog you are on an ongoing base providing your digital audience with physical proof that you are worthy of their time and that they should seriously consider devoting their resources (likely money) to you versus a competitor.
The ongoing nature of blogging allows you as a business owner a great opportunity to include expertise as a big component of your business story – and yes, blogging is a great opportunity to develop a very customer focused narrative and you, the business owner should make the most of this. Your audience will greatly appreciate and respect that fact that you are committed to your craft and that you are also committed to making sure that your commitment to your craft is a component of the story you elect to share with them.
That is not to say you should brag about how much you know, and for that matter you probably do not want to focus on how little your audience might actually know about your field – but certainly as a business owner it is expected that you have pride in what you do, and for those companies kind enough to share some of their knowledge directly on their site, there are nice opportunities to provide your potential audience members with some really great reasons to choose you over your competitors.
Plan Wide and Plan Deep
I am a big believer in planning. Just like you did not wake up one day and suddenly you were an expert, you won’t wake up one day and suddenly be able to show that you are an expert. There are probably many facets to your business, many small nuances that are specific to your industry, and so too it will be with how you show the world that you are an expert. To be done right it will require planning. Take the time. Do it right. Plan.
As was alluded to up above, there is a big difference between being an expert and going online and proving it. For most of you, your business is not directly related to the area of communication so, this entire concept will feel a little bit outside of your wheelhouse. Therefore the need to plan is that much more important.
Unlike other posts within your site such as updates, sales, specials, general industry news and even product pitch posts, blog posts intended to help contribute to the overall sense that you are an expert are posts that you cannot afford to get wrong – done poorly these posts can actually turn around and be a detriment to your business. Done well they can be a massive value add.
Plan wide and plan deep: Planning wide is where your planning efforts are long term with an ongoing capacity to continue to build (you are going to be proving proof that you are an expert on an ongoing basis) whereas planning deep is focused on how within each “expert” post you will need to provide enough detail to be able to demonstrably provide evidence that you are an expert within the body of each post – each post will have to be “deep” enough to deliver on this specific objective.
Looking Like An Expert
If you are going to claim you are an expert your digital efforts should be in line.
One area that often does not get addressed at the level it should is that if you want to appear to be an expert you should look like one. Obviously as we are focused on digital marketing how you dress is not the point – how you “dress” your site is. Utilizing a professional web design is critical. If your site feels out of date your visitors are likely to quickly discern that either you are out of date or you do not care. PLEASE take the time, or spend the money, and make sure you have a good looking site. This is not break the bank type money so please make the effort here.
If you are going to go to the effort of planning and then of actively maintaining that you are an expert your website should help fortify this feeling. If you are not sure what that means specifically for your space go visit 10 or 50 other people in your space and see what they are doing – make sure your design is up to par as this is a hugely emotional area that has a huge impact on your visitor responses to your business. If your site is too far behind the rest of your field, you will have a hard time conveying to your site visitors your expertise.
Acting Like An Expert
When it comes to business blogging, so much of your effort is self-propelled. There is not a rule in life that says you have to blog. You are making a choice to do so. And assuming you’ve made that choice it is critical that you appreciate the pedestal you are placing yourself on and you are respectful of this unique role that you are carving out for your business. Weird right???
Showcasing your expertise is a great way to generate business BUT you have to be willing to walk the part. What that means is you have to be prepared to engage in a very long (never ending) dialogue and the beginning in particular will be particularly challenging (more on that shortly) but the idea is that between a combination of building an audience, being exceptional at what you do, integrating and utilizing technology and of course being really good at explaining what you do, over time it will be abundantly clear both offline and online that you are an expert.
Another critical aspect of “acting like an expert” revolves around how you present your information. There is plenty of material available regarding how to effectively display web copy – make sure to spend some time familiarizing yourself with the basic ideas (headlines, use of bullets and bold, block quotes, optimal paragraph lengths etc.) and if you want to go further there is also plenty of content available online to cover more advanced copy writing strategies. This would fall into the realm of “wide planning”…
Reacting Like An Expert
Another area that you should also look at in terms of utilizing your business blog in order to display expertise is the work your competitors are doing. If some of them are engaging in a serious business blog strategy you will want to pay attention to their efforts and to make sure that at minimum the effort you put towards your “expert” posts is at least as good, if not better than theirs.
This is critical. Google is a harsh mistress and she never serves up just one search result. Web users are very familiar with this idea and they “surf”. The surfing that you care about is when a visitor either enters or leaves your site and interacts with one of your competitors. This can become a huge advantage for you. It can also be a gaping liability.
If you see you are way behind in terms of the type of “expert” blog posts you are creating than be prepared to step up your efforts. Going home is not an option.
Being an Expert at Sea Level
In addition to providing expertise, it is also important with this strategy that you talk to your audience instead of over them. If your ability to convey your expertise is so far over the head of your audience, then you are no longer writing to them – you have suddenly moved into the realm of writing either for yourself or perhaps an entirely new audience.
Oftentimes when writing expertise blog articles, it is critical to understand the difference between writing to teach and writing to convince.
Writing to teach is wonderful and is an amazing way to establish your credibility as an expert. Plenty of potential buyers exist who will be very interested in learning first before they are ready to buy.
On the other hand, there are other buyers who really have no interest in learning to do it themselves, BUT they are extremely interested in engaging with someone who is an expert.
Both scenarios can lead to great outcomes for you as a blogger, but it is important that you consider the audience and make sure you are writing at a level that will add value rather than simply create uncertainty as a result of talking way over year readers’ heads.
What Experts Typically Do…
So now we get to it – the actual details of how to use your business blog to showcase your expertise! A few practical ideas.
Text: if you know how to type then you should be okay. Even if you don’t know how to type there are some pretty impressive speech to text programs out there…. Not knowing how to type is no longer an excuse. Most blog posts consist of written words. The posts you write that are tilted towards highlighting your expertise, or that of your business are no different than other posts in that they too will likely consist of words. I know… you were hoping for more.
More on Text… Rather than trying to convey the entirety of your expertise within each blog post instead “go deep” and really drill down. Help provide your audience with insider insights into how you pursue your craft. How do you buy. What do you look for in your partner vendors. How you hire. The ways in which you train your staff. How you address pricing. The absolute best way to tie a shoe! Many of these ideas are things that likely your customers do not directly care about – but they sure do care that you care.
Going Further with Text… Ongoing training. Certification processes. Re-certifications. Sometimes “going negative” and talking about the things your business will not do is very effective. Talking about how your business has changed. Sharing customer interactions and also going further and talking about how your staff addressed a specific issue and why.
More… More… More… Talk about the future. This is always a good one – probably not in your initial strategy, but the future of where you see your space heading automatically sets you up as an expert – only an expert would be able to talk about such things.
Customer needs is another good area to focus on. But again, consider taking it further and talk about how you as the expert have very specific understandings of what a great customer outcome is and how perhaps a customer might not be as familiar with the best possible outcome for them if only because they are not an expert – they are after all coming to you for a reason. The evolution of your customer is another solid area, and for that matter so is the evolution of your business.
REMINDER ALERT!!! It is important in your online expert role that you are able provide instances of expertise as well as to effectively communicate these instances to readers that are not standing in front of you… Always keep that in mind.
Images: moving beyond text, images are also great. Depending on your space you might even consider utilizing a “social image” outlet like Flickr, instagram or Pinterest. Images are great to utilize either in concert with your text or even as stand-alone instances of expertise.
Imagine you make wedding cakes for a living… Images would seem to be a great way to help display expertise. Of course if you are a consultant, perhaps images of you “in the field” might be more effective or if you are a retailer images of your displays and your staff might be your answer.
Images are great as they not only have the capacity to convey expertise, but they can also ground your expertise in a more human way which is another great way to access and activate your customers.
Video: Moving beyond 2D images, in the modern world of today, our ability to create and edit videos has never been greater, nor has it been cheaper. Video in my humble opinion is one of the great business equalizers of our time and as the usage rates for video continue to climb we’ll continue to see a greater value derived from them.
For most businesses, becoming comfortable in front of a camera is going to become an increasingly critical aspect of your communications matrix.
Video is also a very powerful asset in terms of establishing subject matter expertise. As a video creator you can focus the camera directly on you, you can focus the camera externally and narrate and of course you can edit as you see fit. If you want to take video to an extreme animation is always an option as well.
Also, all those ideas we covered for text are equally applicable to your business videos.
Outsourcing: Yes, it is okay to bring in a third party that is expert at helping you as a business owner to more effectively convey your story. And often times the right expert will do a tremendous job in helping to ensure that your subject matter expertise is being communicated effectively and in ways that will motivate your audience to act.
If you are looking for help in this area please feel free to contact me – this is after all what I do for a living, and perhaps by now you are inclined to believe that perhaps I might be able to help you… And don’t worry – there are many other extremely well qualified writing experts out there and you won’t hurt my feelings if you hire one of them instead of me. If outsourcing is going to be your great solution than I want you to pursue it with vigor and passion!
Ride the Wave
Okay… so we know you are an expert and we know that you are very aware of the benefits of being able to effectively convey that you are an expert… Bonus time! One of the great benefits of creating really spectacular “expert worthy” posts is that your audience now has at their fingertips many easy ways in which they can share their discoveries – I’m talking about social media in particular.
Expert A creates an amazing post that gets Tweeted. Suddenly it gets re-tweeted and Expert A is now in front of an entirely new audience. Some of members of this new audience elect to click on a link to the original post by Expert A and upon their arrival they quickly see that they are reading a post and are on the website of a real field expert. The likelihood that they will taken an action goes way up as this reader is not just a random person on a random website – they are in fact a real person interested in doing business with a real expert. The Value of Being An Expert…
The Need for Patience
In terms of expertise there are few things more exciting than sharing your knowledge. At this stage you have worked hard. You planned wide. You planned deep. You created amazing content that is likely “years” in the making. The need for patience at this stage is critical – you might be at the beginning of your “content journey” and that means that you are likely not seeing a great deal of traffic on your site. Your repeat visitors are nowhere near where you’d like. Google lists you on page 5+ for most of your key search terms. Facebook is slow. Your newsletter list is small…
Guess what – your ability to effectively communicate your expertise will go a long way in building all those measurements up but for now, as you are at the beginning prepare yourself for a marathon rather than a sprint. Just like it takes time to “build” a business, it takes time to “build” an audience. Just know that when your audience does arrive, your ability for them to view you as an expert will go a long way in their willingness to take the next step with your business.
Please note this post was originally published on July 10, 2012 and has since been updated.