Technology has made it easier for customers and clients to switch to a better service quickly, so all companies need to be able to justify the fees they charge, and be constantly looking to improve the value they add to their customers' businesses.
A simple and incredibly powerful way to stand out from competitors, is to become the ‘go-to' expert in a niche.
Here are six tips that will help you establish yourself as an expert:
1. Choose a niche and focus, focus, focus
It's hardly rocket-science, but focusing on a specialist area will give you less competition, and a chance to really shine by utilising your sector specific knowledge.
It's tempting, but avoid trying to become ‘The Expert' on all things. Specialising will make your goal far more achievable.
Think about which area or specialist subject is likely to grow in relevance for your clients and customers over the coming five years? Consider any gaps in the marketplace.
Avoid just looking at what's happening within your chosen marketplace right now. Try and think ahead, and identify any changes or progressions that are likely to need different skills and new expertise.
Crowd funding is an example of a phenomenon that was practically non-existent ten years ago.
Your niche doesn't need to be rigid. As your influence and reputation grows, your niche will grow with you.
If you chose to try and become the ‘crowd funding' expert, for example, you could then grow your business in a way that means it generates a reputation as the place to come for alternative business finance options, avoiding traditional options like bank loans and private equity.
2. Choose a sound bite
Why do people choose to work with you?
If you can't answer that question instantly, in one sentence, then you need to spend some time thinking up a sound bite.
This simply explains what you do, and how you add value to your clients.
Here's a couple of examples – ‘I assist big brands in getting maximum value for money out of their marketing agencies.'
‘I provide advice to retail companies that helps them pay the lowest amount of tax that they can, legally and ethically.'
Your sound bite will become your suffix – which is what people will automatically think of when they hear your name.
Effective sounds bites instantly reveal who you target, and how you help them.
3. Start writing
People say that a book can serve as the most effective business card you'll ever own. Writing a book isn't easy, however, and not actually necessary.
You can build your reputation by producing blogs, articles, white papers and magazines. If you do want to, you can even write and distribute your own e-book.
Getting your ideas out there, into the wider business community, is a great way to get noticed.
Many people worry that they might reveal their secret knowledge, or lose a competitive advantage if they are too honest in their writing, however.
I can assure you that almost all relevant knowledge is freely available on the internet.
The thing that you can do to elevate yourself to expert status and create benefits for your business, is to use your ability to show understanding of what you're discussing, and highlight the ways it can be applied to meet the wants and needs of your audience.
This knowledge is why people are doing business with you already. Writing about your specialism will interest more people in your service, and encourage others to associate you with the niche. It will also show that your knowledgeable, and can talk with authority about your niche.
4. Use social media to build up your presence
To be labelled as the ‘go-to' expert, you need to impress your clients, prospects and introducers by creating an online footprint that oozes credibility, and encourages others to start engaging with you.
Social media platforms, such as LinkedIn and Twitter are great for this, as is your own company's blog. These allow you to share the content you create, connect with the movers and shakers in your industry, and build up awareness of your services amongst your target audience.
Sharing relevant articles and insight through social media, is a great way to get yourself on the radar of others, and to start networking effectively online.
5. Speak up
Social media is becoming increasingly central to establishing yourself as an expert, but presenting and public speaking skills are still very useful, and represent some of the best ways to gain exposure.
Practice public speaking, and offer to talk at conferences, events and teleseminars – anywhere you know you'll be able to reach potential clients.
6. Build a network of alliances
A good way to get the word out, and benefit from word-of-mouth recommendations, is to create strategic alliances.
Look out for people and companies within your niche who do similar work to you, that complement your services.
Getting to be part of a tightly-nit network of introducers will help you attract new business, and reach new prospects.
To summarise, becoming the ‘go-to' expert is never easy, but is definitely achievable with a little hard work. The rewards won't come instantly, but will be plentiful further down the line if you stick at it.