Fuel the Sales Cycle: Be an Industry Expert

Experts Sell

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:

  1. 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.
  2. Next, you’ll create an abstract that describes the proposed content of the article.
  3. Once the abstract is accepted, you’ll need to write your article according to the author guidelines provided by the publication.
  4. 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.
  5. 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!

Who Says Organic Facebook Reach is Dead?

Is Organic Reach Dead?

There’s been a lot of hubbub in recent months about the death of Facebook organic reach for company pages. In essence, Facebook keeps tweaking its algorithm that affects how much (or little) content will appear in users’ news feeds. For example, say you are a fan of “Nike” on Facebook. With the change in algorithm, fewer of Nike’s posts will appear in your news feed. In fact, some estimates have put organic reach at a paltry 1% – meaning that only 1% of a page’s fans will, on average, see their content – without the company having to pay for it to be seen. But I believe that the death of Facebook organic reach has been exaggerated. Let me explain.

No – Content is King!

One of my passions is Nebraska football. Being a Husker fan living in Southern California can be a bit lonely at times, with so many USC and UCLA fans everywhere. One of the ways to stay connected to other Husker fans is through the local Nebraska chapter. When I started getting involved with the chapter several years ago, I noticed they didn’t have a social media presence. These days not having a social media presence is akin to not having a Web site! I casually mentioned this to our chapter president – that as a PR person I worked with social media as part of my job and would be happy to start a Facebook page on my own time if he was agreeable.

That was in the summer of 2011. Little did I know that in 2015 our Facebook page would be the largest and most interactive of any Nebraska chapter in the country! As the page administrator, have I seen a decline in organic reach the last few years? Absolutely. But has that stopped me? Of course not. Contrary to common belief, you CAN run a successful Facebook page without breaking the bank. How? Content! Just as with any other communications platform, content really is king.

Tips to Build Organic Reach

Facebook will still “reward” you for producing interesting, compelling and relevant content. But to do this, you must know your audience and understand the type of information they crave.

  • Keep the overly-promotional posts to a minimum.
  • Space out your posts so as not to bombard your fans with several posts at once.
  • Packaging is also important – don’t simply slap up a random article or photo with no explanation as to why your fans should care or with no real effort to draw them in.
  • Write catchy prose.
  • Use visuals.
  • Encourage people to comment or ask them a question.

Social media is a two-way form of communication. It’s about creating a sense of community and making your fans feel important and that their opinions matter.

It is true that Nebraska fans are some of the most passionate people in the country. So you might think that it’s a lot easier to create a successful Facebook page for a rabid fan base like Big Red Nation. But the same principles I’ve outlined can most certainly apply in the tech world. You just have to know your audience, provide them with great content and treat them right.