With everyone in a services business claiming to be an expert, how does an unknown provider stand out?
It takes more than having the expertise to solve client problems. You also need the know-how to make buyers aware that you’re the real deal.
The true expert advantage
Expertise marketing is about exploiting the true expert’s advantage over less qualified competitors.
Wannabe experts must search for marketing ideas or curate blog posts from others—but true experts already have compelling content in client plans and proposals. You don’t even need a huge portfolio—a few examples of successful engagements and satisfied clients can start building your reputation.
By the way, if you’re not convinced that expertise is a key driver of service business growth, this market survey from Hinge is an eye-opener.
How expertise creates marketing leverage
Leverage is a strategic or tactical advantage that amplifies the results you get from a resource. When you have limited marketing resources, you need all the leverage you can get.
To see how marketing leverage works, divide your business activities into two sets—core and context. Geoffrey Moore describes this technique in an informative presentation on innovation strategy.
Moore defines core as the processes, or the projects, or the features, or the services, or whatever else that you do that differentiates you from your competitors. Anything that is not core is context.
Adopt a strategy to differentiate your core and deliver ‘good enough’ context. “If you don’t establish a really strong core-vs-context discipline—if you don’t get up in the morning and say, core before context—you’ll get trapped in the context monster.”
Differentiate your expertise
For service providers, subject matter expertise is core. Focus on developing innovative expertise and feature it in your marketing content—blog posts, webinars, emails, an authority book, and so on.
Expertise leverages limited marketing resources because the cost of creating core content is a fraction of your context activities—a factor of 1 to 4 is typical—but it has a huge impact on their performance across the sales cycle.
Useful content that communicates your expertise on topics important to your target audience drives web traffic, click-throughs, blog readership, sharing, subscriptions, download rates, email opens, and more—all of which increase qualified leads and lower customer acquisition costs.
All of these content marketing activities are context. That’s not your wheelhouse, so don’t try to out-market your competitors. You’ll just dilute resources from your core—differentiating your expertise.
Choose marketing tools and techniques that are good enough to deliver your content, capture and nurture sales leads, and report marketing performance, but don’t spend time to enhance them.
When and what to outsource
The constraint for boutique firms, independent coaches and consultants is time. Even a modest content marketing and social media engagement strategy that fully leverages differentiated expertise requires day-to-day, hands-on involvement that small firms can’t provide without impeding client work. Moore’s “context monster” looms large.
But find an agency or consultant whose core is expertise marketing and you can get the best of both worlds.
First decide on the scope of work to outsource.
Context activities are a no-brainer. And while creating differentiated expertise is core, writing about it can be core, context, or a combination—depending on your writing skill and experience.
Most subject matter experts believe that publishing an authoritative book is the most convincing way to communicate expertise. But that doesn't mean the expert has to write it. Make a cost-benefit decision.
Leverage your expertise even further by blogging your book content as it’s written. You will generate reader feedback to keep the manuscript on track with the interests of your target audience, and create buzz for the forthcoming book while you attract qualified sales leads.
That’s the power of marketing leverage. One idea begets another and the leverage snowballs. It’s best to outsource the entire process to marketers, so that leveraging opportunities—what content marketers call growth hacking—don't get siloed and overlooked.
But perhaps the strongest argument for outsourcing content is to maintain a perspective on what matters to each client or prospect—not how much you know.
As Hinge reports: “Buyers want you to understand their specific situation and show that you know how to improve it. The highest priority is to convince buyers that you can solve their problem.”
Get marketing leverage by downloading our ebook
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Malcolm Gladwell wrote that "ten thousand hours is the magic number of greatness." At the TrueExpert blog, our goal is to help shave a few hours off of that.