To stand out in a cluttered world, become a recognized expert
There are millions of small businesses vying for our attention. Yet, because the marketplace is more discriminating and skeptical, it's hard to get noticed. To enjoy the greatest return on your marketing efforts, you need to rise above the crowd. You need an edge over the competition. In short, you need to become slightly famous by establishing an expert reputation.
Not so long ago, expertise was equated with the number of years you were in business or the college diploma that hung on your wall. That has changed as people have come to be more interested in results. If you can deliver, people will be interested in you no matter how brief your business experience or how bare your walls are of diplomas.
Experts are sought after. They get more business with less effort and command higher fees. Journalists come to them for information. They are asked to speak at conferences. They out-position their competitors and break out of the anonymity trap because they know more and are recognized as knowing more.
Becoming an expert can help you achieve "top of the mind" awareness among members of your target market. By packaging your knowledge into articles, speeches, and workshops your name can immediately come to mind or be the first one mentioned when members of your target market turn to others to find what they need.
Publishing articles, columns and books are powerful techniques to establish your expertise. Publishing pre-sells others of your abilities and exposes you to thousands of prospects. And reprints of published articles make excellent, low cost sales literature, easily replacing expensive brochures, mailers, and newsletters.
Kimberly Stansell says publishing created tremendous name recognition for Research Done Write, her Los Angeles-based consulting and training firm. Her syndicated column "Bootstrapper's Success Secrets" appears in dozens of entrepreneurial publications, association newsletters and business web sites. "The name recognition my column has given me is tremendous," says Stansell. "I get invitations to participate in events and other business opportunities. And I can automatically charge higher fees because people assume I'm expensive."
There are endless opportunities to publish your expertise. Thousands of business, trade and Internet publications covering every imaginable industry and audience are fairly easy to break into, even for beginners. If you have a good idea, tailored to a specific readership, there are thousands of publications hungry for articles from business professionals.
Find A Podium
When Robert Middleton moved his marketing consulting practice a few years ago, he had to find ways to generate new clients. He immediately contacted local chambers of commerce, business groups, and organizations likely to be interested in his three-hour marketing workshop. Within months, Middleton not only had plenty of clients but also made a name for himself in Silicon Valley as a marketing expert for professional firms.
On any day, there are thousands of speaking opportunities available to small business owners who take the time to seek them out. To find an available podium to promote your business, contact clubs and groups in your community that conduct speeches and workshops. If you have a good topic that is relevant to their membership, most will be happy to hear from you.
Middleton sends each group an introductory package. It includes a cover letter naming other groups that have sponsored his presentations, a biography, a short description of his suggested talk, and comments from those who have attended his seminars. Middleton now conducts three to five such presentations a month, tailored to individual audiences.
Virtualize Your Expertise
Have you noticed that many high paid, respected professionals publish information materials? You can establish expertise, generate additional income and develop a compelling brand identity by developing books, booklets, e-books, audiocassettes, special reports and other information products based on what you already know.
CJ Hayden began life as a professional coach ten years ago in San Francisco. After years of delivering her "Get Clients Now" program to local audiences, she franchised her ideas and took them to a national marketplace. "I trademarked the name, taped a workshop, and wrote a 50 page workbook. I created an "out of the box" package so others could produce my program on their own." The success of her "brand extension" strategy even helped her land a book deal to publish Get Clients Now! A 28-Day Marketing Program for Professionals and Consultants
The best strategy is to create synergy between your products, services and reputation. Send information products to prospects. Use them for "back of the room" sales at speeches and workshops. Boost your profile by promoting products in articles, press releases, and at networking events and trade shows. Also, list your products in the catalogues and directories of trade associations, book clubs and business groups.
Keep It Going
Investors know that the best returns go to those who are patient. Not every article, speech or workshop or information product will make your phone ring off the hook. But, if you are consistent, you will develop an expert reputation that will help you land new clients and customers while making your business a recognized and reputable name in your marketplace.
About The Author
Steven Van Yoder is author of Get Slightly Famous: Become a Celebrity in Your Field and Attract More Business with Less Effort. Visit http://www.getslightlyfamous.com to read the book and learn about 'slightly' famous teleclasses, workshops, and marketing materials to help small businesses and solo professionals attract more business.