How will they know?
How will the people you serve in your business know that you can help them? How will they know that you know what you’re talking about? That you’ve spent a ton of time working day by day to improve and master your craft?
Will you tell them “Hey, I know what I’m doing”?
Will you rattle off a bunch of degrees and certifications that are supposed to “prove” that you know your stuff?
Or will you try to rustle up a long list of clients to showcase a portfolio of all the work you’ve done?
All of these methods require your customers to take a leap of faith that they won’t be handing their hard-earned money over to a bumbling fool who won’t be able to give them the transformation they seek.
That can be a difficult leap to make. Or you can take a smarter approach to lead generation.
One that positions you as the expert. One that lets you add value to others in a way that demonstrates your knowledge. One that gets your ideal customers to seek you out, thus making the competition irrelevant.
And it comes by doing something most of us already do in some way, shape, or form: sharing your ideas.
Here are a few additional reasons why you should.
3 Great benefits of freely sharing your ideas with the world
The time and energy you’ve spent becoming an expert at what you do weren’t so you could keep what you know a secret. It was so you could use what you know to make life better, both for you and the others who can benefit from it.
Your skills are valuable.
And when you organize your ideas in a way that is beneficial to others, you position yourself to reap some important benefits that get your ideal customers to take notice of you.
The goal is to get your business’s soul mate to know, like, and trust you enough to move forward and take the next step with you. That next step could be becoming your customer. Or it could be as simple as clicking through onto your website to learn more about you.
That’s the objective of the content you produce. Here are the ways publishing your ideas will help you do that.
Earn trust through association
The customers you want to serve all have people, organizations, and entities they trust. If they see you are connected to those who have influence in their minds, it lends additional credibility to you.
That’s why you’ll see large brands working to get celebrity spokespersons. The celebrity often has more equity in the minds of their fans and followers, and the companies are hoping to capture some of it by showcasing they are connected.
You could earn trust through association by publishing your ideas in a place your customers trust.
Ramit Sethi, best-selling author of I Will Teach You to Be Rich does this well. He’s got a lot of authority within his industry. But when new visitors who may not be familiar with his work come to his website, he gives them a reason to trust him, by highlighting that he’s been featured on well-known media platforms.
Showcase experience & social proof
Another way to get your ideal customers to know, like, and trust you without you having to say “I’m awesome” is to highlight your experience in a way that demonstrates you know what you’re talking about.
Sometimes that is through featuring certifications or customer testimonials. You can also do it by presenting proof from the masses that you are someone worth listening too.
Often that happens when you’ve got a following that’s large enough that makes others stop and take notice.
Rafal Tomal is a web designer. He showcases his social proof well on his website homepage by highlighting that nearly 20 thousand people have joined his email list and downloaded his free design tools.
With such a large number of people who follow him, it helps to lower the risk for someone who hasn’t had experience with him.
Teach and introduce new ideas
Another great way to demonstrate you are someone your ideal customers should invest their precious resources in is to put your knowledge on display.
As you teach and introduce new ideas in various formats, the people who engage with it will easily be able to tell that you are the real deal, rather than someone who is just regurgitating a bunch of stuff other people have said.
The more you cause them to consider a situation from a different point of view, or shed new light on a familiar problem, the easier it will be for others to get curious about what else they can learn from you.
I used this technique a few months back when I taught at a workshop here in Buenos Aires.
How to start becoming the recognized expert in your field
With all the benefits that can come from publishing your ideas on a consistent basis, it’s just a matter of starting to do it.
The good news is that it is easier now than ever to put your ideas out there. Here are a few different ways to think about how.
1. Mediums to publish
I have a friend who’s told me for years “the medium is the message.” I never fully understood it, but the more I produce content in different formats, the more I am starting to “get” it.
In essence, it boils down to this:
What has been communicated (message) has been less important…than the particular medium through which people communicate.
The medium is the format. And increasingly, the medium is starting to influence the choice of what type of content is produced.
There are really three different ones to consider: written, audio, and video. Let’s walk through each of them.
Note: I am not covering traditionally visual content, like photographs, because unless you are a photographer, photos alone would make it difficult to establish yourself as the “go-to” expert. If you know someone who has, please let me know. I would love to check out how they do it!
This is the one most commonly associated with content marketing. This is the medium you would use if you want to write a book, blogs, articles, or even create infographics.
This format is often the one most commonly produced because it is SO easy to publish a blog. There are even several 3rd party sites where you can publish your ideas and broadcast them to their built-in audiences (more on that later).
It doesn’t just work for individuals and small businesses. It works for larger companies too.
HelpScout is a customer support software that helps businesses show their customers some love on a consistent basis. They have grown their following significantly, to more than 70,000 through their written content. Their blog focuses on what they do best, customer support best practices and techniques.
A lot of people balk at the idea of writing. Not sure if they were traumatized by having to do it so much in school, or if the aversion came from somewhere else. But if this medium isn’t one that you feel like you can thrive or communicate effectively in, consider one of the other options.
One of the things I love about written content is that it translates smoothly into other formats. For instance, you could start with an article or a blog post, and later use that post as a basis for a book. Or you could use that written content to create podcasts episodes or videos.
If talking is more of your thing, then using your voice as a means to communicate is something to consider.
You can share your ideas through podcasts and presentations.
Podcasts are really just on-demand radio. I publish a new I Am the One: Entrepreneur Edition podcast episode each week where I interview business owners. But that’s just one way to do it. You can have a podcast on any number of topics, and set up the format in a ton of different ways. The only limit to what you can do is your imagination.
Don’t want to launch your own podcast? No problemo. You can use the same approach and pitch yourself to be a guest on the podcasts of people who have an audience similar to the folks you want to reach. That way, you are still able to showcase your expertise, without having to take on the responsibility of hosting your own show.
Another form of audio content is to give presentations or speeches. There is a visual component of this, because you would be live and in the flesh, but in essence, people are listening to your words and ideas. They are listening to your message, and it’s coming from a place of authority.
Donald Kelly was able to quit his job and build his business full-time, as a result of the authority he gained from hosting his podcast, The Sales Evangelist. As a result, he’s attracted sponsors for his show, built up a 1:1 coaching program where he helps people improve their sales skills, created a group membership program, and even a paid course.
But the podcast was the launching point for all the great things to come in his business afterward. His podcast established his expertise as a sales expert.
This is the one that everybody and their mama is probably telling you that you can’t ignore.
Video is the content of the future. When you look at the data, it is easy to see why:
- YouTube is the second largest search engine behind Google
- One-third of all online activity is spent watching video
- YouTube reports mobile video consumption rises 100% every year
- 92% of mobile video users share videos with others
- Mist Media reports the average internet user spends 88% more time on a site with video
- Including a video on your homepage can increase conversion rates by 20%, according to ReelSEO
Also, with the rise of live streaming on Facebook, and Instagram, video is only going to become more important. And just like with the other content mediums, there’s a ton of stuff you can do with it. You just have to get creative, spend some time testing and learning what will work for you and your audience, and keep publishing.
Gary Vaynerchuk established himself as an expert in wine, and dramatically transformed his family’s wine and liquor business when he started Wine Library TV, a weekly YouTube series. The family business exploded, and now Gary V has become a household name among entrepreneurs. As a strong believer in the power of the medium, he still records videos, the #AskGaryVee show, even as his focus has shifted to marketing.
2. Where to publish
There are a number of places where you can put your ideas out there. And all of them have their own pros and cons. There are definitely some guidelines that can help you decide what makes the most sense when it comes to figuring out what content to put where.
This is by far the easiest place to publish because you just have to log into your account, string a few words together and done.
Because publishing on social is so easy, that’s why TONS of people get in trouble with it. They don’t take the time to think through as much what they should say, the tone of it, how they want it to be received, or even the objective or outcome they want as a result.
As such, terrible posts like this happen:
So take a lesson. Do publish on social, but only when you know what your objective is, and you know exactly why you’re posting.
Remember, the goal of social media in the context of this article is to publish content that establishes your expertise.
To do that, you could give tips on your topic. You could engage and connect with your audience. You could curate relevant content on topics that are related to your subject matter and provide a brief commentary that showcases that you are in-the-know. Or you could do a combination of all of these.
Petra Foster does a fabulous job on Facebook of giving tips to help her followers improve at selling and raising their rates. She does this through longer posts, that educate.
Remember, the medium will significantly dictate what type of content you publish. So as you’re thinking through your strategy, take some time to consider what works for the platform, then go from there.
What worked on Instagram may be different on Facebook, and Twitter, and LinkedIn.
3rd Party platforms with built-in audiences
Another way to get your knowledge and ideas into the world is to publish them on platforms that welcome any and everyone to come and share their content.
These platforms have large, built-in audiences, and if you’re strategic with how you publish, you can build up a good size following of your ideal customers there.
LinkedIn Pulse, Medium, SlideShare, and even YouTube are places that have millions of people visiting their sites each day in search of content.
Srini Rao is an author and host of the Unmistakable Creative podcast. He’s helped to grow his following for his podcast by publishing consistently on Medium. This approach has worked so well for him, he’s amassed a massive amount of followers on the platform, and it has become one of the top sources of traffic for him back to his website.
Another unexpected benefit that came from sharing his ideas on a regular basis, was getting a book deal. A publisher read his work on Medium and reached out to him as a result.
Another option is for you to publish your content on larger platforms that also have built-in audiences and a reputation for being a leading authority in a particular field. The key distinction between these and the ones in the previous section are that these are not open for anyone to publish.
There are gatekeepers and key criteria that you would have to follow to get approved to contribute, often in the form of editors. That’s why people place so much value on being featured in these publications: they are not easy to get into.
I’ve focused in on this particular strategy over the past few years. As a result, I was able to land my column over at Inc.com and elevate my profile.
On your own platform
This last section is probably the one that most people don’t pay as much close attention to, but it can pay serious dividends for you. And that is to publish on your own platform. Specifically, this means to publish your ideas on an asset that you own, such as your own website.
Your website is your digital home. It is the place where people go to find info related to all things associated with you (in a curated fashion of course). Think of the other places covered as distribution channels to further carry your message out to broader audiences.
This is essential for you to maintain control of the audience you are building. Just like it’s your business and your rules, it’s your platform and your rules. You publish what you want when you want, how you want.
These other 3rd party channels own their platforms, and they can change the rules at any time. And they do.
So it is better to publish your primary content, your original content, on a house that you own. That way you can have a clear and cohesive message that showcases your ideas, your philosophy, and your expertise in a way that helps you accomplish your goals.
And then to amplify your content, you can publish it, or variations of your ideas on the other channels noted above.
Kevin Curry of Fit Men Cook does this seamlessly. He’s got a large following on YouTube, where he posts a ton of useful videos.
He’s got an even larger fan base on Instagram, where he’s adapted the format slightly (remember, the medium is the message).
But all of his content (plus more) can be found on his home base, his website. So anyone who follows him can find his full body of work there.
3. What to publish
When you’ve nailed down the format and channels for publishing your ideas, the big question you must answer is what you should say.
One of the biggest mistakes people make when they are trying to use content as a means to grow their businesses and establish their expertise is to be random.
They publish, and publish, and publish, and then stall out at some point when they don’t get the results they are looking for. No bueno.
The key for you is to make sure you are creating content that helps push you forward toward your goals. To do that, there are 2 things you need to consider.
What your audience wants to consume
Remember, your content isn’t about you. It is for the people who are going to be digesting it and using it as a way to learn and solve their problem.
So it’s not about what content YOU want to produce. It is about the content your audience wants to consume.
Think of it like you are trying to feed a toddler. You know they need nourishment and cannot survive on a diet of chicken nuggets, pasta, and jell-o all day every day for an entire year.
But if you try to feed them broccoli, brussel sprouts, and spinach which would totally be good for them, you will likely set yourself up for a pretty strong fight on your hands.
You’ve got to figure out what it is your audience wants. You’ve got to have a degree of intimacy with them that you know what their burning pains are. You’ve got to know their highest dreams, desires, fears, and frustrations. Then you’ve got to create content that speaks directly to those key issues that are top of mind for them.
So give your audience the pasta. But do it in a way that it accomplishes your goals too.
What highlights your core message
Pasta doesn’t have to be just pasta. You can do pasta in a way that delivers broccoli and spinach at the same time (maybe not brussel sprouts, but you get the point!).
Your content needs to have a unifying thread to it. One that highlights your message. One that gives your audience exactly what they need. One that is a win-win for all.
This will require some creativity yes. But if it didn’t, then the content you produce would just be another boring version of the same stuff you see plastered all over the internet that nobody really cares to read.
That’s not what we want or need. And that’s not worth your time. So figure out how to give your audience what they crave, and in a way that oozes you.
Then map out the topics into categories, particularly the ones that align nicely with the core areas you want to be known in. You can use this as a guide to create a content plan that enables you to deliver on the topics your audience most wants while being sure to cover the key areas that prop up your strengths.
It’s time to get recognized as the expert that you are
You’ve worked hard to get to this point. You’ve spent countless hours acquiring the skills and know-how that enable you to create transformations for your customers.
Now it’s time to put the needed attention into smart lead generation, that attracts your ideal customers, the people you are best suited to serve, to you.
And a proven way to do that is to start publishing your ideas. Strategically.
Put your expertise on a stage where it belongs.
You’ll have to do a whole lot less “convincing” your people that you are “the one” they need as a result.