Do I have to call myself an expert?
I was reviewing the website copy I wrote with a client when they noticed that I had used the word “expert” in a headline on their About page.
With a bit of a cringe, they asked:
“Do I have to call myself an expert? I’m not sure I’m comfortable with that.”
Yeah. I get it.
Not only have I heard this question before from other clients…I’ve also wrestled with it myself.
So let’s explore.
This question – like so many others – calls for perspective.
The most important perspective, at least in terms of marketing, is from the view of your future client.
Are your future clients looking for an expert? (Or are they OK with someone who is sorta mediocre?)
Great marketing starts by putting yourself in your future client’s shoes and seeing the world from their perspective.
If they were to search for you, what would they type into the little Google search box?
Would they use the word expert?
When they look at your website, do they want to see the word expert?
It might also help to remember what past clients have said about you: how would they describe you to others?
Do they refer to you as an expert?
Next…let’s look at the perspective of your competition.
Do your competitors refer to themselves as experts? (And not just the good ones!)
We don’t really notice this so much when the competitor we have in mind IS an expert in our opinion.
It seems sort of natural for them to declare it.
They say they’re an expert. We agree.
And then there’s that other person…
The one who is kinda sorta clueless…but declares that they are the supreme expert anyhow.
And part of you gets a little pissed off…the internal dialogue sounds a bit like this:
I know more than they do. They shouldn’t call themselves an expert.
Perhaps we could shift that to this:
I know more than they do. I guess that makes me an expert too! A more expertier expert, even!
What does Dunning Kruger have to say about this?
From Psychology Today:
The Dunning-Kruger effect is a cognitive bias in which people wrongly overestimate their knowledge or ability in a specific area. This tends to occur because a lack of self-awareness prevents them from accurately assessing their own skills.
Or as Charles Bukowski put it:
“The problem with the world is that the intelligent people are full of doubts, while the stupid ones are full of confidence.”
In other words, only the competent doubt their competence.
There is a dip on the road to mastery that begins when you learn enough about your subject that you recognize how much you don’t know.
It’s a hard space to be in.
Behind you are folks perched on Mt. Stupid who declare their expertise without regard for the fact that they know squat.
Then you have the folks ahead of you who are clearly masters of their domain.
So you may be questioning…
ARE you an expert? Or not?
Ultimately, YOU need to be comfortable with whatever label you apply.
Try measuring yourself on this yardstick:
On a scale of 1 – 10
- 1 = how knowledgeable your clients are in your domain.
- 10 = the most knowledgeable person your prospective client could reasonably hire
This gets us out of the trap of comparing our expertise to the best in the world.
And instead, we can consider the competition in our local area or those who charge similar fees. (Including those folks who are less competent than we are…but perhaps a tad bit better at marketing and selling themselves!)
Tony Robbins might (arguably) be the best life coach in the world. But most of our clients can’t afford his fees – and if they could, he probably doesn’t have room on his schedule!
So where are you on that scale?
5 or higher?
I grant you permission to call yourself an expert.
OK Patty, I’m kinda sorta convinced…but I’m still not comfortable saying it
Maybe you don’t have to!
3 ways to claim your expertise (without obnoxiously declaring it)
1. Let someone else say it
Alan Weiss’s website declares that he is “The finest entrepreneurial coach in the the world” – according to Marshall Goldsmith.
Have a famous friend or well-known colleague who will vouch for your excellence?
Let them tell the world that you’re fantastic.
2. Let your clients say it
Client testimonials probably carry the MOST weight.
And as I always advise: use your clients’ words – they’ll tell you how to market to them.
This also applies to the angle of talking about YOU.
My clients call me an expert – and “wordsmith” is the word I hear the most frequently.
It’s not a word I would choose for myself…but it’s a word that resonates with the people who hire me…so I embraced it.
3. Show. Don’t Crow.
List your experience, credentials, education.
Develop a body of work.
Write articles, record videos, deliver presentations and webinars.
Show yourself as an expert by sharing your expertise.
And 3 places where you can say it without it being too weird
1. Linked In
Everyone is an expert on Linked In! Join the crowd!
2. In a bio or speaker introduction.
This is a variation of having “someone else say it” (even though you wrote it!)
3. In a “third person” section on your About page
You can actually write part of your About page in first person (eg: “Hi, I’m Patty – let me tell you a little about myself…”)
And part of it in third person (eg: “Patty K is a marketing expert and wordsmith – here is her vast education, experience and all the wonderful things she can do”)
Your clients probably want to hire experts.
You have competitors claiming expertise who may not be as good as you are.
If you’re questioning your expertise, you may have fallen prey to the Dunning Kruger effect.
You can get other people to SAY that you’re an expert.
Or you can simply demonstrate your expertise and let people draw their own conclusions.
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