Ask SUCCESS is your place to get questions answered on how to market more effectively. In each issue, marketing expert Bob Serling is joined by another expert to answer your questions. Have a question you’d like answered? Just email it to firstname.lastname@example.org
Today’s question, submitted by Tom Waldon, is: When you’re just starting out, what is the best way to showcase your expertise and credibility, since I don’t have any social proof, testimonials or customers yet?
John Jantsch: Well, if you’re just getting started you find yourself in that dilemma. I’ve come up with 3 Ps that are easy to focus on. They are publish, partner and podium. What I mean by publish is that you have to start sharing your expertise. A lot of blogs and sites in your industry or your community will take guest content. Print publications for an industry niche or community are looking for contributed content. You’ve got to start committing to sharing your expertise that way—not selling, just letting people realize, “Hey, this person knows what they’re talking about” or has a good point of view.
Partner. In many cases in your past life, perhaps you’ve worked with an organization or with a group of folks in your community that share your same target market. It might be a bank or an accounting firm or something else. In my case, I’m a marketing consultant, so those make great partners. You start by going to them and offering to do a workshop for their clients, free of charge, providing good information and education. Again, nothing to do with any kind of selling, but let those folks start introducing you to what is likely going to be your target market. That’s a great way to generate social proof because these people—your hosts—say you’re great. Those are some of the easy ways to get started.
Then the last one, podium, is simply getting out there. There are so many groups that want speakers who have something to say that is valuable, that’s educational. You may start at the knitting club to give your first free presentation, but go out there and get in front of audiences and start sharing your story, your point of view, your methodology, whatever it is. Eventually what will happen is there’ll be three people in the knitting club audience who actually belong to an organization that really is your target audience and they really want you to come speak.
It all comes down to sharing content and sharing your knowledge, but focus on doing it those three ways.
Bob Serling: Thanks, John. Actually my suggestion dovetails exactly into what you said. I think what we really strongly agree on is that you have to get your content out there.
One of the techniques I like is what I call “content plus social,” which is to distribute your knowledge like you recommend, but using social media to do it. One of the best ways to do this is to participate in LinkedIn groups or Facebook groups. The way you participate is by sharing your knowledge without asking for anything back. You just keep contributing your knowledge in various ways.
There are all kinds of forums on both LinkedIn and Facebook. I prefer LinkedIn for business, Facebook for consumer type marketing. In these groups, people ask questions and you can join in the discussion, answer intelligently and eventually people are going to hear about you and they are going to want to know more.
After you’ve participated like this for a while, without it being very hyped-up or promotional, you can say, “By the way, this is my take on how to write a better subject line and I’m kind of limited for space here. I do have a complete post on my blog that gives twelve different ways to create subject lines” and you then direct people to your blog or website that way. But it has to be nonintrusive, and you don’t want to do it right away. You need to wait until you’ve participated long enough to build a bit of a reputation.
Another way, especially with consumer products, is to use YouTube. Put out a demonstration video. If you have a blog on eating green, then you can put out a little video on how to make a great green smoothie or something like that.
These videos can attract a lot of attention. They start to build your credibility and people will then contact you and want to know more about you.
John: I think the bottom line is that we’re both saying there are lots of people out there hungry for answers and solutions and information. So if you’re the one putting it out there, they’re going to find you—I think that’s the key. It doesn’t happen overnight necessarily but commit to consistently doing that and you’re going to be the one who they find. Hopefully the quality and the value that you put out there is something that makes them say, “I want to know more about that person.”
Bob Serling helps business owners and entrepreneurs generate more traffic, make more sales, and do both more often. Get his free ebook of interviews with 30 leading experts, including SUCCESS Publisher Darren Hardy, at www.ProfitAlchemy.com/success
John Jantsch is a marketing consultant, speaker and best-selling author of Duct Tape Marketing, The Referral Engine, and The Commitment Engine, and the founder of the Duct Tape Marketing Consultant Network.