If you’re a service provider, few things can help grow your business like being viewed as a leading authority in your niche. While using blog articles, social media and other online resources to share your knowledge can go a long way in this, the most effective way to become a top expert in your space is going to be through your services.
As an expert, others expect your service to be superior to the competition. They believe and trust that you can and will deliver meaningful results, for the clients you choose to take on, through your tried and true methods.
Your brand message is the expression of what you deliver and it is crucial, but the way any entrepreneur truly distinguishes themselves is through how well they provide their service to clients. Your brand is just a hook, the total experience of working with you is going to determine your status among the competition and validate your brand’s promise (or not).
So while achieving top “expert” status is not easy (otherwise we’d all be the “top” experts in our space), it is far from impossible and there are real steps you can take to move towards it.
Use Deliberate Practice
We’ve all heard the cliche “practice makes perfect.” But most people know that this isn’t really true.
After all, you could spend countless hours “practicing” how to shoot a basketball. But if you don’t ever take the time to learn the right techniques, your practicing could actually make you worse, not better. (And be a huge waste of time.) Because of this, many experts recommend that those wanting to improve any skill — be they entrepreneurs, athletes or authors — engage in “deliberate practice.”
Writing for the Harvard Business Review, K. Anders Ericsson, Michael J. Prietula and Edward T. Cokely explain, “When most people practice, they focus on the things they already know how to do. Deliberate practice is different. It entails considerable, specific and sustained efforts to do something you can’t do well — or even at all.”
Research across domains shows that it is only by working at what you can’t do that you turn into the expert you want to become.”
So, start by evaluating your current abilities as a service provider. Are there areas related to your business where you do not have as much knowledge or skill as you should? Are there things your competitors are doing well where you are falling behind? If you’re not sure what your weak points are, there’s an easy way to find them, they’re usually the things we “hate” to do in our business. The most common ones being things like sales, networking, collecting payments, saying “no”, etc.
Once you’ve recognized the areas where you are falling short, start dedicating yourself to deliberate practice. Learn how to do these tasks and practice diligently. By overcoming your weaknesses, you’ll improve your services and become a more well-rounded expert with a better chance of increasing your authority among competition.
Differentiate With A Deeper Sub-Niche
Another way to achieve “expert” status is by further specializing within your niche. Coming up with a more unique way to differentiate your offerings from those of your competitors enables you to focus on a more specialized group. Your unique expertise in this area will make your services that much more desirable.
I recently found a great example of this in an email exchange with Yoav Blat, CEO of APT212. Speaking of his company, Blat explained, “We started as a traditional brokerage, but that was a crowded market in New York. So we quickly evolved to become a thriving marketplace for short-term, furnished rentals. A tighter focus on our services has helped us achieve expert status in this particular niche. Thanks to this focus, we’re now a go-to resource for making the rental experience easier and more convenient for renters and landlords. The result? Growth.”
While it’s true that sub-niches generally have a smaller potential audience than larger industry niches, they also have reduced competition. They have fewer “experts” available to fulfill the needs of their customers so you can climb to the top faster.
When you step into a sub-niche with a competent service that delivers on its promises and actually meets the needs of that market group, you can quickly attain a level of credibility and authority that might take much longer to achieve if you remain focused on the larger industry.
Quality Outcomes In Every Way, Every Time
Ultimately, your best path to becoming an expert is by delivering high-quality services to your customers in every possible way (not just the service you provide). What does this mean? Always meet every deadline (yes, one day late is a missed deadline! – it’s crazy how often I have to tell “experts” this), be a leader in the process of delivering your service (if the client has to ask you for it, you’re not leading) and above all, fulfill on every single promise that you and your brand message made during the sale.
Potential customers aren’t going to make their final judgment on your level of expertise by what your logo looks like or what you say and claim on your website. Your credibility will depend on your ability to walk the walk, not just talk the talk.
This means you must know your service inside and out. If you are a copywriter, that means you’re not just someone who can write creatively, you need to know the fundamentals of grammar and content organization. If you provide home remodeling services, it means you know how to complete installation work properly and can troubleshoot when unexpected issues come up. Having top expertise status in your industry means you know the common obstacles and mishaps that derail projects and you are prepared for them. The less your client has to do or think about and the more ease with which you deliver your service, as well as handling the inevitable bumps, determines how much of an expert they will remember and refer you as.
By consistently delivering quality results through a high level process for your clients, you will gain their trust. They will want to do business with you again. Or they will leave a positive review, rave about you in industry conversations and send referrals your way. This word of mouth will not just increase your traffic, but also grow your reputation as THE go-to expert for your service niche.
Studies have found that people have a tendency to remember bad events more easily than good ones. The same is true of your services. Any problems or even just an average experience won’t leave a good lasting impression. But an experience that is exceptionally good (or bad) will stand out to your customers forever. By living up to your promises, you will earn their trust and the top expert status you seek.
Top Experts Work Hard
Becoming an expert through your services won’t happen overnight.
It requires continual effort as you improve your own skills, identify sub-niches where you can more easily stand out and work hard to continually deliver on your promises. That being a top expert is hard work is not a bad thing – that’s what keeps so many competitors from achieving, but for those willing to work, it’s very possible.
All that work will pay off in the long run. By consistently building your reputation as THE expert, you will get more leads, better clients and the ability to charge higher rates. Customers will come, leave happy, and refer a steady flow of potential clients your way, because they know that you will deliver on your brand’s promise.
*If you know you’re an expert, but your brand message isn’t getting that point across to potential clients, then some brand work is in order. Download my mini Brand Shrink HERE, which is a portion of my $4,000 on-boarding interview I do with all my high level service clients before we overhaul their brand.