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Leveraging Your Expert Status

So, you’ve followed some of my suggestions in this series and have begun to position yourself as the go-to guy or gal within a niche. Great!  Now what? Your work, dear reader, is hardly done. You’ll want to continue your promotional efforts to further cement your expert status … and profit from it.

Continuing your efforts is important. People are fickle. If you stop or lag too long in your marketing and promotional efforts, I can almost guarantee you’ll fall off your prospects’ radar screens in favor of a competitor or three who are making a splash.

What’s the point?

Beyond building a marketing machine, cranking out juicy articles, white papers and such, the point of all these efforts is getting work – Work that pays you what you’re worth. And, you’re probably worth more than you think. Here’s why. During the process of building your niche knowledge and brilliantly solving some gnawing problems for a few clients, you’ve likely gained some unique experience. You’ve also done the detailed industry research and know it like the back of your hand. That knowledge and experience provides value.

Think of it this way. You wake up one fine morning, feeling like an elephant is dancing a jig on your chest. Sure, you’re going to call your doc, right quick. But, odds are, you’re going to want to see a cardiologist – a specialist – who is likely charging [much] more than a general practitioner.

When the problems are big and painful, most folks aren’t going to risk hiring a generalist. They need the reassurance that comes with seeking out a well-respected expert. Also, they’re much more likely to dig deep into their pockets to have that expert make the painful problem go away.

One of the key words in the previous paragraph is “seeking.” A wonderful thing happens when you’re perceived as the authority. Prospects start contacting you, instead of the other way around. How nifty is that? Marketing has just become a whole lot easier. Your competition might be sitting around hoping the phone is going to ring. You know yours is going ring.

Don’t rest on your laurels

But this is not a time to bask in the sunshine of your niche notoriety. Sure, having prospects contact you is great, but you can do more. It’s time to use your position to get referrals.

Your clients are much more apt to refer you to their associates if you’ve gained a bit of a name in their industry. They might even think they’ll impress them by knowing that they work with you. Back in the Darren Stevens’ days of advertising, it wasn’t too uncommon for top brass to hire a superstar ad agency for the golf course bragging rights.

Either way, don’t wait for your client to blurt out their best bud’s name and contact info. Ask for referrals. This is especially good to do right after you finished a project where you made them shine. When they give you a referral, don’t forget to also ask, “Is there another associate who might benefit from my services?” You may just find yourself leaving the meeting with a bunch of new business possibilities.

Also, be a nice person. If a client gives you a referral, send them a thank you note, by snail mail, even though you thanked them in person. Receiving a thank you note in the mail is a rare occurrence these days. It will make an impression. Want to make an even bigger impression? Stuff the note with a Starbucks or similar gift card.

Like everything else, don’t stop there. If you land a gig from the referral, send another thank you. This time, though, up the ante. Think gift basket or an American Express gift card loaded with enough dough to cover a nice dinner for two.

Do theses simple things and you’ll soon build up a stellar rep for providing not only great service and solutions, but also being a peach of a person.

You’ve Got Money!

Leveraging your expert status means more than prospect’s contacting you and generating referrals. It can also mean developing new revenue streams. With all your niche smarts, consider writing some special reports or whitepapers to sell on your site. It’s easy as pie to set up a Paypal account and “Buy Now,” button. There’s something to be said for waking up in the morning to “You’ve Got Money!” in your inbox.

Perhaps you’ve developed a special process, research or other information for a client’s project. You may be able to repackage it, without any client-centric and/or proprietary information, and sell it.

If you’ve tapped into your knowledgebase to write articles for marketing purposes, you may consider pitching some editors paid article ideas. You might even land a regular column in a trade publication. A good place to start is Writers Market. They list loads of places to sell your words.

The first cousin to this is paid speaking gigs. As I mentioned in my previous post, consider joining a speakers bureau and talk for dollars. You may not make near as much as a major guru demands, but hey, several hundred or even thousand, plus travel expenses, a room and dinner or lunch at the gig isn’t a bad deal.

The Big Kahuna, though, is landing a book deal. Writing a book about an important topic within your niche can not only skyrocket you to niche stardom, you may also be able to negotiate a nice advance with several zeros.

E-books are nice and the best ones generate a hefty stream of revenue. But, they’re on the bottom of the credibility list. In the middle are self-published books. They’re not too tough to do on-demand these days with online publishing services such as Lulu.com, iUniverse and Author House. Here’s a link to reviews of several on TopTenReviews.com. Although industry trade books may not generate a lot of revenue for you, there’s nothing quite like your book being published by a major house for a huge credibility shot in the arm.

If you can get your book published, the tactics mentioned below can easily fall into place. You’ll do speaking gigs, interviews and such as part of the book’s marketing. Some may be fee-based. But, you may be able to adapt parts of your tome as reports and other information products to sell on and offline. Chapters may be adapted into paid articles. The idea is that once you have a body of content, think of ways to adapt parts into other information products that provide additional income.

In wrapping up this series, developing a name in a niche will goes miles toward building your business and making marketing significantly easier. Sure, there’s a fair amount of work involved, but the rewards are worth your efforts.

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