Use Your Expertise to Drive Your Brand
Your brand is the face your business presents to the world and is how consumers differentiate you from your competition. In oversaturated industries, many companies blend into the marketing noise, making it difficult to stand out from the crowd.
What to do? A simple and effective way to make your voice heard is to brand yourself as an expert.
Share your journey.
Expertise comes in many forms, and an impactful one is sharing your path to success. “Your journey is unique and should be incorporated into your brand,” branding expert Ajay Sirsi, a marketing professor at the Schulich School of Business in Toronto, told me. “For example, a man who couldn’t find a safe and healthy food for his pets decided to start his own pet food company. His products are now sold across North America."
"This journey differentiates him from his competitors and is an integral part of his brand,” Sirsi added of this entrepreneur, Will Post, of Atlanta, who founded Hound & Gaots.
So do as that pet lover did: Incorporate your inspiration for starting your company into your brand. Describe the obstacles you overcame and the resources you accessed to address specific challenges. This story will engage your target audience and establish your expertise and entrepreneurial credentails.
Develop brand credibility -- the authentic kind.
In an industry or market niche that relies on a specific skill set or knowledge base, capitalize on your expertise, to establish brand credibility. Audiences are overwhelmed with meaningless jargon that may carry the glitter of expertise but has no underlying substance -- something those audiences soon discover.
When you consistently deliver true expertise, be it in marketing, fashion, app creation, finance or construction, people will notice and respond. Your goal isn’t to be an expert in everything, but to focus on those unique skills and experience you have garnered and applied to your field. This knowledge doesn’t have to be degree-based, but it does need to be authentic.
Become a media darling.
One of the best ways to become an expert is to have someone else declare that you are one. With a 24-hour news cycle, the cable networks, multiple podcasts and YouTube, thousands of venues need experts to share their insights on everything from dog training tips to the latest crafting trends.
You can become one of the people those venues choose.
Jordan Donich eschewed the traditional law school path of interning with a prestigious firm to in order to make partner down the road. Instead, he founded and is a principal member of Donich Law, a Toronto law firm that represents clients in criminal defense.
Donich's brand is built on his dynamic personality and the belief that holding a different perspective about the law provides better service to his clients. “I didn’t take the traditional career path, " Donich explained in an interview. "Instead, I launched my law firm the moment I became licensed. I believe that by forging my own trail, I truly learned how to practice law rather than go through the motions.”
As he gained a positive reputation in the legal community, respected print and on-air organizations sought him out to serve as a commentary expert to address trending legal topics. These opportunities strengthened the value of the Donich Law brand and continue to bring new clients through the door every day.
Serve as a subject matter expert.
When your expertise is in a crowded field, select a specific topic or subset group as your focus to provide value and a unique perspective. As a subject matter expert, you provide depth of information on a needed segment of the broader topic and gain a reputation as the go-to person to address this issue.
Once you’ve established yourself in as an expert in the narrow topic you represent, your audience will trust the information you provide and ask for more. From this base, you can add related areas of subject matter expertise, delivering quality and value each time. As a subject matter expert, you can also market yourself to select print and on-air platforms to become a media darling and extend the reach of your brand.
Take the stage
Speaking at a conference, either as a sole presenter or a panel member, automatically establishes you as an expert. You also have a captive audience willing to give you the benefit of the doubt, so you must deliver the goods.
Provide real solutions or insights about your topic and don’t worry about giving away too much information. Inexperienced conference speakers often make the mistake of using the platform to deliver a sales pitch when they should see the event as a branding opportunity.
So, show that you have experience with the topic and know how to achieve outcomes or avoid pitfalls. Give the audience value and share unique perspectives to establish yourself as a true expert rather than a waste of their time.