How to Unleash Your Inner Genius

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Whatever you sell, there is a way you can reach your target audience by educating them and demonstrating your personal, or your business’s, expertise.

Marketing is a necessary expense, but can leave you caught between a rock and a hard place: you often need to market your business to attract more prospects at a time when your marketing budget may be stretched. At times like this, you need marketing strategies that give you more bang for your buck and have longer shelf lives.
We all know that the first rule of selling is “sell yourself first,” but I want you to consider also making it your first rule of marketing. People like buying from people who are experts in their field. Why? Because they exude confidence, they have credibility, and they appear trustworthy.
But what is an expert? How do we define one in day-to-day life? I suggest that an expert is anyone who knows more than we do about a given subject. For instance, if you were going to get a pedigreed dog, say a golden retriever, you might decide to talk to a friend who has raised several and ask them to tell you all about the breed. Are they really an expert? Well, not strictly speaking, unless they have been breeding the dogs for several decades, but they do know a great deal more than you do about the subject, so you are more likely to listen to them and take their advice.
{advertisement} Think about adopting one of the following personas and attract prospects by sharing your knowledge.
The Professor
You don’t have to be a real professor to get people to listen to you. A friend of mine was laid off after working in the hospitality industry for several years as a human resource manager. Rather than look for a new job, she decided to strike out on her own as a consultant. She hung up her shingle and waited for her first contract to come in; it was a long wait. As with all new businesses, it can take time for people to get to know you’re there, and although my friend regularly attended industry association events, things were very slow at the beginning.
She decided to create a series of short talks and workshops on key HR issues and offer them to local business associations. She was personable, knew her stuff, and delivered information that was vital to the success of her audiences. At each event, she found that several people would come up, give her their business card, and suggest meeting for coffee or lunch. Over the next several months, she built a highly successful consulting practice; she now even teaches at Camosun College — so perhaps the moniker “professor” is now an apt description.
Whatever you sell, there is a way you can reach your target audience by educating them and demonstrating your personal, or your business’s, expertise.
The Expert Media Source
Becoming an expert media source may be a little harder to get into than setting yourself up as a professor, but many people do it and get loads of attention. When you read your local newspaper, watch out for quotes from local “experts.” You’ll find that the same names come up time and time again. Becoming a media source can be as easy as letting local editors or broadcasters know that you exist. Consider your area of expertise and find a niche within it where you have specialized or “inside” knowledge. Then approach local newspapers, magazines, radio, and television and offer your services should they ever need an expert opinion, or background information relating to your specialty.
Being a respected media source will bring great credibility to you and your company, and the good thing is that you can be an expert on just about anything from aardvarks to zabaglione.
The Blogger/Social Media Butterfly
I’m an avid listener to BBC World News, which frequently interviews bloggers on a wide range of subjects. Such is the credibility these new-media communicators have attained. Writing a regular blog about a specific topic can allow you to connect to, and potentially influence, thousands — if not tens of thousands — of people. It allows you to put forward your opinion and display your depth of knowledge and understanding about what you write. Although starting a blog won’t immediately bring you tons of business, it can be an important part of your credibility-building strategy. And a blog gives you plenty of material to use as tweets, which of course drive people back to your blog and your website.
One thing to remember: you don’t have to be a particularly good writer; it’s ideas, opinions, and information people are looking for, not literary genius.
The Author
One of the best ways of all to build credibility is to write a book and get it published. Until a few years ago, this highly successful marketing strategy was the purview of the handful of lucky souls who managed to attract an agent or publishing house to represent them. Today, with print-on-demand publishing, just about anyone can produce a book that looks at least reasonably professional.
Several years ago, a client of mine, Tim Paziuk, asked me to help him write a book on setting up professional corporations. The book was aimed specifically at doctors and dentists. Fast-forward to today and we are just about to publish the newly revised and expanded edition of the book. Paziuk has become a financial guru in his field, is constantly asked to speak at medical conferences, and has been featured in national newspapers. The prestige and credibility that comes from writing a good book cannot be overstated.
Think about what you have to say to your target market, or even to a small segment of it. And again, you don’t necessarily have to be a good writer — that’s what ghostwriters are for!
The Freelance Writer
If a book seems a daunting prospect for you, and the thought of writing 80,000 words gives you a case of the screaming heebie-jeebies, you might want to start a little more modestly and write an article for a local magazine, trade journal, or even your local newspaper. This approach can still be very effective, and as you get used to formulating ideas and presenting them logically, a book or a blog will seem like a natural progression.
So, go forth and express yourself. Show the world that when it comes to your industry or profession, you’re the go-to person.