Recently I was speaking to a group of business people. During the Q&A, many said that “being seen as an expert” was one of the top problems they struggled with. They wanted to come across as the expert, go-to resource. But they didn’t want to describe themselves as “amazing” or “gifted.”
Their instincts were right on. In a popular HBR article, Dorie Clark points out that nobody will argue if you say you’re passionate about something. But, she says, “they can argue plenty if you call yourself a “social media expert” (or, heaven help us, a “guru” or “ninja”). You can’t crown yourself as an expert; you need to be recognized.
You can demonstrate your expertise by pointing to comments made by others,; by showing you were interviewed by notable media or respected industry leaders; and by being quoted in publications.
When it comes to attracting clients, you’ll often need to demonstrate expertise through copywriting. And as Dorie Clark says in the same article,“It’s important to demonstrate your expertise with stories, not words.
Saying ‘I’m great at pitching investors’ sounds pretty egotistical. But sharing a compelling tale of how you rounded up seed funding allows others to deduce your skill without having to make it explicit.”
When clients hesitate to hire you, the reason is often related to your position as an expert. Clients rarely question a source’s credibility. In fact, they’ll just hold back, thinking, “Something doesn’t seem to be working.”
Here are two ways to enhance your position as an expert.
1 – Position yourself as an expert with your story.
It’s important to understand that “your story” doesn’t always mean “your story.”
You can share stories about how you became an expert by solving your own problem. One consultant lost her bank account when she accidentally deposited a fraudulent check. She spent many hours researching solutions and wrote an ebook to save others from similar hassles.
But you can also share a story of how you helped clients. You can share stories that explain the concept of what you offer — using what I call concept stories.
2 – Position yourself as an expert with your content creation.
You show your expertise in two ways when you create content.
First, confident copy won’t draw attention to itself. Readers won’t find themselves thinking, “What a clever phrase!” Or, “What an unusual metaphor!”
They’ll get caught up in the meaning of the words and phrases. They’ll see their own problems mirrored in what you’re writing. They’ll get “aha” moments that resonate (and get remembered).
And second, write to your audience’s backstory. For instance, I often see home page copy that begins:
“You’ll be so happy you found our company. You’ll discover a company with the passion for completing your assignment and the skills to do it well.”
Focus instead on the client’s backstory …the stories your prospect Alan tells himself about his horrible experience with people in your industry. Or the stories Cheryl tells herself about why she can’t succeed in reaching her goal because she never went to college. Or the stories Marilyn tells about trying to save for a house and never quite getting there.
And you’ll come across as an expert because readers see that you “get it.” And now they’re looking through the rest of your copy for ways to reinforce their first positive impression.
If you resonate with this challenge, I have a course on positioning yourself as an expert by being seen as credible. Click here to learn more.