Positioning yourself as an expert

Last week I attended an industry convention in Chicago. One of the key elements I took away from the conference was about positioning yourself as an expert. While the lecture was specific to health insurance agents, I think the message is valid for any industry. Customer service is worthless. The presenter wasn’t indicating that customer service isn’t necessary. Instead he stated that people (customers/clients) are no longer loyal to one brand. In order to set yourself apart in your industry, you have to become an expert. You have to WOW your clients and build a raving fan base. If you don’t make some noise, your customers will move on.
So how do you position yourself as an expert? This is what I learned:
  1. Offer online educational seminars and web interface for current customers and potential clients
  2. Interact with clients on Facebook
  3. Interact with your own industry and clients on LinkedIn
  4. Spend money on  your website – lots of it
  5. Introduce innovative solutions that no one else is offering
  6. Present professional history
  7. Don’t give clients a reason to leave your partnership

Internally, the speaker recommended hiring the best employees and keeping them with

  • fringe benefits
  • good vacation package
  • fun days outside the office (team building)
  • every other Friday in the summer off (for example)

Over and over again the speaker encouraged investing in technology, which in this day and age, creates customer relationships

  • Create communications tools (e-mails, newsletters)
  • Archive those educational webinar presentations that make you an expert
  • Provide tools and resources, such as an online library that clients will want to return to
  • Blog, blog, blog

His final piece of advice was to pay it forward. That means gift of self to your community in the manner of character, leadership and respect, which leads to admiration. “Get behind a cause in your community because you have to be holistic. You have to have it all,” he said.

Give yourself five action steps to become an expert and start with the basics. Ask yourself what you want to accomplish in the next 12 months and then communicate your action steps. If you make them public you’re more under the gun to actually complete the goals you set for yourself.

What do you think? Was he dead on or did he go a step too far? I would love to hear your thoughts.

2 responses to “Positioning yourself as an expert

  1. Hello, Colleen.
    While spending “lots” of money on a website, time interacting on social media sites, and competitive benefits can certainly help the organization to come across as an expert, I would have to say Point #5, “Introduce innovative solutions that no one else is offering,” is the most effective for establishing thought leadership.
    For instance, several well-funded think tanks and market research companies have produced surveys of self-reported LinkedIn activity, but the study in the link below is the first to use a self-weighted random sample to make findings generalizable with a calculated sampling error:
    So despite a virtually non-existent budget except for the time of the principal investigator and the incidental costs of monthly Internet connectivity and electricity for the researcher’s computer, the author has produced a more scientifically valid study than what had previously existed.
    Joseph Ohler, Jr.

  2. Great article – very true on many levels! I also think you’re correct that this concept can and should be valid to just about any industry since “Customer Service” plays a vital role in any business, more now than ever and should NEVER be worthless! I also feel that loyalty is not just a client/customer phenomenon of today; this extends to employer/employee relationship too. The knowledge base of employees should always be “expert”, they should seek that out and employers should offer appropriate educational opportunities to make this happen. Hiring the “best” employees is vital to the success of any company, so providing a healthy work environment is both smart and beneficial. Happy employees make better workers and happy employers have successful business. And in the end they are both striving for the same thing, success, gratification and money in the bank (aren’t they?) Something I know a bit about (ha) these days . . .

    Thanks Colleen for sharing this!

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