In the realm of professional services, expert positioning and thought leadership are the buzzwords du jour. Regardless of their popularity, expert positioning and thought leadership are the best way for a professional services firm to boost awareness and generate leads. Unfortunately, as with most marketing, many professionals are committing the seven cardinal sins of expert positioning and thought leadership. Are you guilty of any of these?
Cardinal Sin #1: Pride—Calling Yourself an Expert or Guru
In my personal experience, a self proclaimed expert or guru usually isn’t either one. The real experts see themselves more as teachers and mentors and are incredibly humble and honest about their experience and their limitations. They let their work, words, and actions speak for them and they always act with integrity and professionalism.
Cardinal Sin #2: Wrath—Attacking a Competitor
Some professionals think the way to rise to the top is to tear down another professional, especially their closest competitor. This only makes the aggressor look petty and childish. Often, it comes with tremendous repercussions as those loyal to the competitor will defend their current provider and shun the attacker. A true expert isn’t afraid to acknowledge and praise a quality competitor and stays focused on what’s best for the client, even if the client isn’t theirs.
Cardinal Sin #3: Envy—Trying to Build Your Platform By Copying Others
No two people bring the same experiences, knowledge, and insights to the table. Each professional and each firm has their own unique personality and value. One can learn valuable lessons by studying what other professionals have done, but when it comes to building your expert positioning, you have to do it in a way that leverages your unique mix of skills and experience while conveying your personality and values.
Cardinal Sin #4: Gluttony—Putting Your Interests Above Others
People seek out experts to answer questions and guide them toward solutions. The professional/firm who only thinks about him or her self fails to connect their expertise to the needs of others. Without that connection there is no customer.
Cardinal Sin #5: Sloth—Not Keeping Up with Trends and Technology
Failing to learn and stay plugged in can make a business or professional irrelevant and out of touch. True experts never stop learning and are continually engaged in their field so they can stay abreast of what is happening.
Cardinal Sin #6: Lust—Focusing on Power and Prestige Instead of Service
As noted earlier, experts serve as teachers and mentors. By nature they are people of service. A professional or business obsessed with power and prestige is blind to the needs of the customer. Power and prestige are fleeting, but a company that serves its customer will have a loyal business relationship that gives back over and over again.
Cardinal Sin #7: Greed—Not Providing Value
Those that ask for something while giving little to nothing in return are charlatans, not experts. Nickel and diming your customer for overpriced info products, fluff seminars, and unfulfilled contracts poisons the well for the entire profession. True experts provide value first, and they profit as a result.
Bottom line, focus on the needs of your market and look for as many ways as possible to provide value and service. Think of ways you can educate and guide members of your target market and build positive relationships with competitors. Integrity and experience will rise to the top.