Branding Tools for the Visible Expert℠
This is Part 5 in a series on Becoming a Visible Expert℠. In this series we cover why your firm should consider developing these high profile experts, the strategy behind it, and how to do it, step by step. An accompanying Executive Guide is available as a free download.
Creating an influential, high-visibility industry expert can lift an entire firm to a new level. In previous posts I've provided an overview of the entire process and discussed the development of a strategy.
Today I explore the tools you’ll need to promote a Visible ExpertSM. Some of the tools are simple, others are quite complicated, but each has an important role to play.
While the specific branding tools an individual will use to promote themselves will vary from person to person, here is a list of tools that are commonly used by most Visible Experts:
1. Your expert positioning statement. This is a carefully crafted statement, usually a few sentences in length, which lays out the nature and scope of your expertise. It also positions you relative to competing experts and specifies something of your perspective on key issues. Just as your firm has an overall market positioning, a Visible Expert has a positioning in the marketplace of ideas.
This statement is useful in preparing a wide array of promotional materials, such as bios and intros, and it influences subsequent content generation. For example, positioning a tax expert as “the insider’s insider” would be very different than positioning her as “the voice of small business.”
2. Professional photography. Most professionals have a single formal headshot. Often, it is out of date and lacks personality. A well-conceived series of photos that reflect the Visible Expert’s positioning and status is very useful. Use them to promote speaking engagements, in “about the author” segments or as part of press packages. Have a variety of styles available to use for different purposes.
3. Press packages. An up-to-date and complete press package (or press kit) is very useful in a variety of circumstances. It provides useful background information for reporters, speaking engagements and radio and television interviews. It will contain a background piece based on the expert’s positioning, a bio, photography and a sample of past publications relevant to the subject at hand.
4. Bios of various lengths. It’s useful to have a series of bios of various lengths — for example, a full bio of 100-200 words and a shorter series of approximately 50, 20 and 10 words each. If they are crafted carefully, each will consistently convey the Visible Expert’s standing and positioning. They can be accompanied by scripted intros of various lengths for speaking engagements. Don’t make the person doing the introduction guess what is most important about you or, even worse, read a full-length bio in its entirety. Yuck!
5. Video. Two types of video are most useful. The first is an overview of the Visible Expert’s credentials and experience told through the eyes of others. Filled with testimonials and facts, it can be the most compelling branding tool in your kit.
The second video should be a sample of an expert’s presentation skills and guest appearances. This removes the element of risk as someone considers whether to book your expert to speak. Make sure these videos are professionally produced and of the highest quality. They will make an impression, good or bad.
6. Issues papers. Where does the expert stand on the issues that matter to potential clients, reporters and other influencers? These are the issues that you will identify in your Visible Expert strategy. Be sure to clearly articulate your positions and unique perspectives. You can write a series of papers on these issues or use previously published articles and/or short, internal position papers.
7. Robust web presence. There are two components to a strong web presence. One is to accumulate all the relevant biographical and descriptive information and important links on one page of your firm’s website. Think of this as the “About the Expert” page. Many high profile experts even have mini sites devoted to this purpose alone.
The second component is a series of web pages on the relevant issues. Each page should be optimized for SEO to make them easily findable online. It should present the expert’s perspective on that issue (much like the issue papers outlined above) and contain links to relevant publications or videos.
8. A consistent and robust social media presence. Apply the positioning, design and copy to the expert’s social media pages, as well. You can expect these to be important sources of activity and engagement within the market. They are every bit as important as your firm’s website in promoting the expert’s visibility.
9. A blog. Your strategy may call for a completely separate blog or a regular series of posts on the firm’s blog (your firm has one, right?). In either case, blogging is an essential part of any Visible Expert’s online presence, and the expert should be posting at least weekly. If time is in short supply, a professional writer can be used behind the scenes to make this happen. But the thoughts must be the expert’s.
10. A book. Nothing says Visible Expert like a book. While not an absolute necessity, it is the crown jewel of expertise. Don’t have time to write a book or commit to a major book deal? At least consider publishing a substantive e-book. Aim the book at the target audience and influencers, not at the expert’s technical peers. It will dramatically improve the impact.
Of course many of these branding tools are not one-time events. A blog is an ongoing process, for example. Eventually, you’ll need to produce multiple articles, position papers, webinar recordings and other substantial pieces. Begin figuring out how you can make time for these activities in your schedule or hire a professional writer to help you get them done.
Once you have the basic branding tools in place, you are now in a position to implement your Visible Expert plan. We’ll tackle that next.
In the meantime, you may find Hinge’s guide to Becoming a Visible Expert℠ helpful. It’s a free download.