Experts are everywhere. Whether they are the nerdy neighbor next door who knows everything there is to know about Wi-Fi, the manager at the auto parts store who can rebuild an entire engine or the aunt in Cincinnati who can out-bake Martha Stewart - we look to them for their expertise. More importantly, when they recommend a product, we listen. We also look to higher profile experts like Warren Buffett for financial acumen, Microsoft's former CEO Steve Ballmer for software savvy or Andy Grove, former leader of Intel, for his wisdom.
In any event, experts sell. They sell visions, products, concepts, and new ways of thinking. Now that's pretty powerful. Why not become an expert in your own right to promote your company and products?
It is easier than you may think if you have the desire. While there are many ways to establish yourself as an expert, one of the most powerful is to pen your own article. Known throughout the PR and journalistic ranks as contributed or bylined articles, these pieces are valuable tools to gain recognition for your knowledge, skills or opinion. By doing so you are also promoting both your company and its products.
It's All About Education
Education is a compelling element of selling, particularly for technology-related products and services. And education plays an integral role in how perceptions are formed – which leads to decision making. Contributed articles by their very nature are educational and provide a great forum to get your message across.
The Ground Rules
Okay – so you're ready to engage the power of your own expertise, here's what you need to do:
- Take a step back and think about your target audiences and what topics and information they would find helpful and interesting. Naturally, you'll want the topic to support your overall marketing goals.
- Next, you'll create an abstract that describes the proposed content of the article.
- Once the abstract is accepted, you'll need to write your article according to the author guidelines provided by the publication.
- Your article must not be product specific, overly commercial or a blatant attempt to promote your products or services. In fact, rarely will you be able to mention your product or company name in the body of the article. Remember, the power of a bylined article is in its educational capacity.
- You and your company get attribution in the byline where your name, title and company are credited for authoring the article. Congratulations...you've earned a very powerful implied endorsement from the magazine by having your article published under their masthead!
The Big Pay Off
You may be wondering if the effort to write something that does not prominently display your logo and sales pitch, is really worth it. Absolutely. Nothing helps fuel the sales cycle better that the use of experts. In this case, you are expanding your influence beyond staff writers at publications that may write about your product, or an industry analyst that may point to your company as the next winner, or a customer that may provide a testimonial. Of course enlisting all of these experts into your program is wonderful and a great complement to your marketing efforts.
But again, don't stop there – promote yourself as the expert that you are and persuade through education. Then with the article in hand, be sure to share it with all your targets. Post it on your web site, put the link in your email pitches, spotlight the article in your newsletter, blog about it and share the link via Facebook and Twitter, re-post it in a LinkedIn group, etc… – the possibilities are endless. The credibility factor of the magazine is huge. By running your article, the publication has endorsed you as an industry expert and has given the thumbs-up that you have something of value to share with its readers.
Don't be shy – show off your expertise and win more sales!