When you’re first introduced to expertise marketing, it can be hard to fathom that there are invisible experts hiding within your organization. We tend to think of experts as a small group at the top but in reality, that’s just the tip of the iceberg. Across your teams and departments, there are a variety of people with the skills, knowledge and experience to support meaningful conversations with target audiences. Their untapped expertise has the potential to build trust with key prospects and ultimately, creates new opportunities for revenue.
The problem is that many organizations are unsure of how to assess expertise. To help you identify these invisible experts and their role in your expertise marketing program, we need to ask a couple of questions. For starters, what makes someone an expert?
The 7 Attributes of Expertise
By definition, an expert is someone with comprehensive or authoritative knowledge in a particular area of study. While formal education and certifications are a starting point for expertise, many disciplines don’t have a set list of criteria to measure expertise against. There are many dimensions of expertise that relate not just to the working proficiency of an expert in their field but also to the degree of influence and authority they have earned within their profession or community of practice. Because of this, expertise is often looked at as a person’s cumulative training, skills, research and experience.
What’s important to consider is all of the roles that the people in your organization can play. While many of these people have put in their 10,000 hours, not everyone is wired to speak on podiums or to the media. But they still hold incredible value – from the perspectives they can help you research and develop to the content they can help produce. Here are some of the key attributes to look for in assessing the various roles for your people as you formulate an expertise marketing plan:
- Authority: Has a reputation with an audience as a go-to source for perspectives
- Advocate: Demonstrates a commitment to a community of practice to help advance their field
- Educator: Teaches and inspires on the podium or in the classroom
- Author: Develops content to establish their reputation and reach a broader audience
- Researcher: Generates unique insights through their research or field work
- Practitioner: Actively builds knowledge in a specific discipline or practice area by providing services
- Graduate: Has formal education or gained experience to achieve proficiency on a subject
Now that we know there are several attributes that make up expertise, we need to understand how we can leverage these people for your expertise marketing program. This brings us to our next question: How do these experts fit into the bigger picture?
The 4 Levels of Expertise
Understanding how to promote expertise is a fast emerging area for organizations – and it’s certainly more ambiguous than the linear career paths and job titles we’re used to. When we think of which experts are most accessible to our audiences, it’s important to know that visibility is not directly correlated to seniority or authority in an organization. Professionals at various levels of skill, knowledge and experience are now using social networks and personal branding to promote their own expertise outside of their organizations. This means that a tenured professor with years of experience and a researcher could both be at the same level of “visibility” in their organization.
Because visibility also considers the individual’s personal agenda and drive for recognition, many employers agree they have to do a better job of assessing and nurturing expertise to make it more visible. The following framework provides some guidance for organizations looking to take inventory and develop a path for the people focused on developing relevant content and building market visibility with a variety of audiences.
Now that we’ve provided a broader picture of what expertise looks like, it’s time for you to ask, “How does my organization stack up?”
Bench Strength: Taking Stock of Expertise Across Your Organization
Expertise at all all-time premium for audiences so it’s critical for organizations to understand how their collective expertise can be channeled into meaningful and profitable conversations. As you’ve read through the different attributes and levels of expertise, you probably found yourself creating a checklist of people in your organization that may have otherwise been overlooked but it’s important to note that recognition is just the first step. Mobilizing expertise marketing takes internal buy-in and investment from the senior members of your organization – and they will want to see the proof.
The Complete Guide to Expertise Marketing
For a comprehensive look at how expertise marketing benefits the entire organization and drives measurable return on investment, follow the link below to download a copy of ExpertFile’s Complete Guide to Expertise Marketing: The Next Wave in Digital Strategy or download one of our tailored Guides for Corporate & Professional Services, Higher Education Institutions, Healthcare Institutions or Association & Not-for-Profits.
Peter Evans Co-Founder & CEO
Recognized speaker on expertise marketing, technology and innovation