When it comes time to make a purchase, customers want to know that they're getting the best value possible. For many shoppers, their first step to achieving that goal is to turn to the experts for advice and recommendations. And that spells opportunity for small business entrepreneurs.
The best way to position your business to reap sales from these customers is to become the expert that they turn to for information. However, you don't become known as an expert through wishful thinking. Try these three strategies to establish your credibility.
3 Steps to Establish Expert Status
1. Expand your media exposure
Earned media coverage has the dual benefit of increasing exposure for your business as well as adding to your credibility as an expert. You can find opportunities for free press both online and offline.
Meanwhile, newspapers -- particularly small local publications -- may be on the look-out for free and fresh content to print. Offering to write a column in your niche could be a win-win for you both.
2. Share your expertise for free
There's a reason that Home Depot lets you come in on a Saturday morning to build a free birdhouse. The same holds true for the local financial agent who provides a complimentary luncheon seminar on retirement options.
These types of events add to the company's and the individual's reputation as experts in their respective fields. Making them free creates goodwill and helps ensure a larger audience.
As a bonus, many of the people who attend free events and seminars are ready to buy. They want to put their newfound knowledge or inspiration to use, and you happen to be there, ready to sell.
3. Know your stuff
If you are going to be an expert in your field, you need to know your industry inside and out.
Using a computer doesn't make you an expert on computers, and your own personal experience isn't necessarily enough to make you the go-to person in your field. For example, if you sell insurance, you may know your state's regulations quite well, but unless you keep up-to-date on national trends in the industry, you probably aren't qualified to comment on issues occurring in other states.
Subscribing to trade publications and getting involved in industry associations are two ways to ensure you can speak intelligently on major facets within your niche.
If you want to boost your brand recognition and improve sales, think about promoting yourself as well as your business. With expert status comes the opportunity to expand name recognition for your firm as well as to pitch your services.
Maryalene LaPonsie has been writing professionally for more than a decade on topics including education, insurance and personal finance. She holds a Bachelor's Degree in Political Science from Western Michigan University.
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