Okay, this needs to be said:
We are drowning in a sea of “experts”.
With anyone able to call themselves an expert, it’s given rise to the hack job, the wannabe and the self-titled “gurus” who offer shoddy service.
“Not me” I hear you say (and I believe you, you’re a Harrisonamy reader 🙂 )
But here’s the problem…
Even as a proper expert, this landscape is dangerous for your business.
Because the noise of the mediocre is stomping all over the whispers of talent.
Customers are confused
Since everyone these days has a website, blog, newsletter, autoresponder, free report, it’s harder to separate the wheat from the chaff.
and having those pieces of content marketing in place for your business is not enough to prove you can be trusted.
Knowledge is not enough
A study on the Psychology of Experts by James Shanteau at Kansas State University concluded that to be seen as an expert you needed to exhibit certain traits in addition to knowing your stuff
As Shanteau states:
Knowledge is a necessary, but not sufficient condition for expertise.
Which means unless you’re displaying these following traits, it’s likely you’re being ignored by the very people you can help.
1: Show extensive and up to date content knowledge
Displaying up-to-date knowledge or your niche is critical. Just a couple of ways you can do this includes:
- Sharing relevant stories in social media from industry blogs
- Using your blog to comment on the latest academic studies, articles and relevant news stories.
2. Display perceptual or attention abilities
This is a fancy way of saying you can spot how to solve your customer’s problem (when they can’t).
How can you communicate this?
- Case studies of recent clients
- Critiques or evaluations on your blog (for example as a web designers, you could offer to feature someone’s website and then analyse in your blog how you would improve the design)
3: Know what is irrelevant
Shanteau found that experts know what can be ignored when it comes to getting the job done.
For example, doctors knows what symptoms you should be wary of and which are just little “quirks” of the human body.
You can prove your worth to your customers by telling them what’s really important when it comes to their problems.
This helps to cut through the overwhelm and will be a welcome relief to your audience.
So you could include blog posts such as:
The only social media site you should use as an orthodontist (and why you can ignore the rest)
The number one training program for a beginner’s marathon
3 ways to beat the blank page and start any sales page
4: Simplify complex problems
Can you deconstruct relevant legislation to your customers?
Perhaps put together a “beginner’s guide” to a tricky subject?
Your audience is busy, so if you can give save them time by simplifying the complex the value of your content will increase.
5. Handle adversity better than others
We turn to experts when things go wrong so if something is troubling your customer, this is a chance for you to keep your cool.
The sites that took a stance on the recent SOPA legislation, and campaigned against it notched up expertise points for ability to simplify the complexities and show others how to proceed.
So what can you do?
Providing answers and help in your blog, email marketing or products without prescription positions you as someone who knows what to do when they have a problem.
But if a crisis appears on a larger scale you can respond by issuing more authoritative content such as a free report, or a white paper. For example:
How to recession-proof your business
How to protect your job in light of new employee legislation
Get your asking price even with house prices falling
If you can stay calm and gathered whilst your audience are stuck or anxious, you will become an indispensable source of assistance.
6. Adapt knowledge to exceptions
With increasing numbers of content mills and sites regurgitating theory-based “how-to” advice, content quality has decreased.
For example, the blogging arena is filled with people telling you that to build a successful blog you have to create quality content, post regularly, interact with your community, etc etc.
That’s a lot of same ole same ole to stand out in.
But you can create more unusual posts such as:
- Use These Copywriting Tips When You Feel Like A Fraud
- There is No ROI in Social Media Marketing
- The “Content is King” Myth Debunked
If you apply your expertise to situations outside the norm, you’re going to illuminate your expertise over someone who’s read a couple of books.
7: Communicate your expertise
“An expert is anyone who can persuade someone else that he (she) is an expert” (Dino & Shanteau, 1984).
Now, you might think that unfair, but as Shanteau discovered, knowledge is not enough.
To be honest, I don’t care about the hacks.
What I find most tragic is the expert filled with value and waiting to be discovered.
Use these above steps to keep communicating your message, cut through the confusion and prove to your audience that there are amazing resources still around on the Internet.
And you are one of them.
Please reTweet this (using the green retweet button at the top) if you think real experts deserve to be seen and heard!
What do you think?
What kind of experts do you take notice of and which ones do you ignore? What traits can you see in yourself and which ones attract you the most to someone?
Let me know in the comments below.
Click here to read the full study on The Psychology of Experts
If you want to know more about getting your message across as an expert – sign up for the weekly Fast Copy Fridays copywriting tips, and you’ll also get details of the next Personality Entrepreneur Sales Page Boot Camp.
Monique Lusse says
Thanks so much for this post. I especially love #4: Simplify the Complex.
It seems to me that ALL the other six can be subsumed into this one . I truly believe that when one simplifies, one also:
knows what is irrelevant
adapts knowledge and
Seems that experts are seen as experts not because of their certifications or education, but by how well they communicate their experitse to the layperson.
Thanks again for the post!
You’re welcome Monique, thanks for joining in the conversation!
Love your perspective on this. It’s a difficult reality to face that your customers don’t care as much about your qualifications as how you present your knowledge to them. However, when you crack it, you see a real turning point in how people respond.
Marianne Cantwell says
I agree Tina. The thing I struggle with is how would someone know if the expert is a real expert from the ‘outside’ (ie: when you see the public face only). That’s why I love Amy’s post – it’s got advice that a less real expert could definitely try but IMHO would struggle to replicate. x
The internet is a free for all, with very few barriars to entry.
It therefore attracts the usual variety of characters in huge numbers who are fast buck artists, starving artists, crooked artists, crooks in general, and so on.
It is also a very rich source of information, with a lot of good people, providing honesty and integrity. As with all business, it remains everyones responsibility to sort the wheat from the chaff. Caveat Emptor.
Definitely, and Anything that helps the wheat stand out from the chaff can only be a good thing. 🙂
Tina Yarbrough says
Great post! I agree with Marianne. I think I may be a Rarity (not for my agreement). I’m the one looking to expand my knowledge. My husband does make six figures in his field of work (not writing, the man couldn’t make a list) which has given me the privilege of staying home.
That being the case, I am free to pursue my passion which is writing. I’ve always been a writer and I’m always wanting to expand my knowledge. Going on the Internet, I’m inundated with “experts”. I want to learn from a person who has paid his dues, and suffered through the madness, not the person who woke up yesterday and is trying their hand at a totally different field and is on Lesson Two of the “Manual”.
Sady, we’re living in an “instant gratification” society. If you can’t make six figures in X amount of days/weeks, it’s not worth my time. And if you you ask me to pay out a small fortune for all the “added bonuses”, “seminars” and ” daily updates” to get me to that end, well, you’re a hack.
My wish is for people like me to Do Their Research! To find those quiet whispers of REAL experts. Progress is falling on your face and doing it again and again til you get it right. Until you know it like the back of your hand. And then do it some more. Success is sure and steady, very rarely is it achieved in six days or less. If you think otherwise, I got this great product/ website/ course for sale….
But that’s just my six figure cents.
Thanks for your six cents Tina 🙂
It reminds me of advice my dad gave me from his days at the dog track:
“Take your betting tips from the quiet man with a Rolex, not the braggart with worn out shoes”
Marianne Cantwell says
Hell yes! This is a great post Amy. I’m going to be uncharacteristically negative for a moment (cause I agree with you so much!) and expand on this with a variation on this trend that I’ve noticed: there seems to be a growth in people who decide that they are going to go self employed by teaching other people how to create a successful self employed business… without having done it themselves. Ever.
So they go to seminars on the topic, join mastermind groups, think ‘hey I can teach this stuff and be an expert too!’, then they partner up with others and do telesummits touting other self styled experts each promoting each other. The killer part is that, all the while they are still struggling to do the very thing they claim they can teach you to do.
It’s really sad because usually these people are not scam artists, they are nice well meaning people who genuinely want to help others, they are just going about it in a pretty inauthentic (and ineffective) way.
Rant over 🙂
Has anyone else noticed this trend?
Hey Marianne – I’m with you on this one, especially regards to the fact that they’re probably not trying to mislead anyone.
I’ve notice it happening when people follow a leader, but forget to remind themselves that this person probably has years of experience building businesses.
However, this fact is often overlooked (especially if they’re “new” online) because the:
“I built a successful business in 3 months”
is more attractive than
“I slaved at several businesses for years, often not knowing what I was doing, including a great deal of hard work and at times, grave self-doubt (and madness). That is the reason why, with my experience of building business from scratch and getting them to a profit after years, and from failing and trying again, I’ve managed to sell out this seminar you’re attending…”
But it’s so easy for people to see their current results and think that the tools they use are going to get them the same results (I’ve seen people feeling awful because they didn’t get their 20,000 subscribers overnight).
The ironic thing is that they’ve usually got talents and expertise that they could turn into a business, but they get distracted by giving “how to build a business” advice instead.
I know some people say you only need to know a little bit more than the next person to be an expert but that makes me uncomfortable.
I’d really like a surgeon to know a whole heap more on the subject than I do, rather than just being 2 steps ahead.
What does everyone else think?
Paul Cormier says
Amy, good post! I find myself frequently engaging clients to perform “cleanup” behind so-called “experts”. This seems to be especially true with the “SEO experts” who really are only experts at “take the money and run” and finding excuses. For me, simplification and realistic expectations is what I find works best with these clients that have been “had” by the “expert”.
Thanks Paul! I’ve seen this in copywriting as well and it’s frustrating to see someone lose money on a poor service. We need real experts to get out there, be seen and deliver great results to change the current landscape and restore trust! 🙂
Nigel Merrick (Photography Coach) says
I really loved this post – it’s right on target. What’s really interesting for me is that many of the symptoms you talk about here with regard to the “expert economy” has already happened on a huge scale in the photography business, where everyone can be a photographer.
Many of the real professionals are spending too much time complaining and whining about the influx of destructive amateurs, rather than searching for creative ways to illustrate to their clients why they are clearly a better choice for them.
From what you’re written here, it appears that the photography industry is not alone when it comes to this type of problem, and I’ll be thinking more about the ideas you raised here, and especially about how they can be applied to help my own clients.
Great post – thank you!
Hi Nigel, thanks so much for your comment – it’s really interesting to hear about it from the photography industry, I can imagine that with the advancement of technology it’s lowered the barriers to entry for people setting up as “photographers.”
People try and fight against how things are, and talk about how it “should be” but to do so, you miss the opportunities to get ahead whilst others complain.
Good luck promoting your own expertise!
Nigel Merrick (Photography Coach) says
Thanks, Amy, and you are right about the barriers to entry for photography being almost non-existent! The problem is that it seems like an easy profession to be in, but the reality is that most of the newcomers don’t understand pricing, marketing, sales, branding, or even the mindset needed… 🙂
Looking forward to reading more of your blog later.