Use a variety of platforms to build client relationships by leveraging your knowledge and expertise.
A small business owner, particularly one who provides a professional service that is intangible (as opposed to a physical product that your customers can hold) like consultants, designers, or even software developers, faces unique challenges when it comes to communicating value and building the kinds of relationships that keep a business successful. Establishing the value of your knowledge and expertise is the key to unlocking the relationships you need with prospective clients and building confidence among existing clients and strategic partners.
In order to identify your expertise in relation to the services you provide, first consider how prospective clients, current users and strategic partners gather information, how they process that information, and what they do based on that information. In so doing, you are essentially outlining and evaluating the communication process. Your goal, in this context, is to insert yourself into the conversation and to stand out as the expert voice: a trusted service provider with the right knowledge and experience to support such a claim.
To emerge as the expert voice, lead conversations, share your knowledge, and answer questions. In the current media landscape, not to mention the current business climate, it is becoming even more of a necessity for small business service providers to establish themselves as thought leaders and to maintain presence on their own social media channels, third party media outlets, and through events like webinars and panel discussions.
As a backdrop to efforts of this type, it is essential to articulate your expertise on your company website, in press releases and across all of the communications and collateral marketing pieces that your company distributes. However, outlining your message in your own space is not enough. You gain more traction and build stronger relationships when your existing content works to support and validate the expertise that you share in spaces that are managed by others.
When you share our content via a third party publication or an event run by industry organizations or strategic partners, there is an implicit validation of your message. This is not to say that your own content is not or should not be trusted by your audience. However, when your content (your expert voice), appears in a third party publication, or when you speak at an event sponsored by a third party, that audience recognizes the fact that someone else, specifically someone whom they trust, trusts you, recognizes the value of your expertise, and finds it worthwhile to attach their name and their reputation to you.
Writing a guest blog is an easy and effective way to share your message and communicate your unique value in a place other than your own. Guest blogging also offers you the opportunity to help a colleague or strategic partner provide new content to his or her audience, and to add your important perspective on the topics most relevant to you, your industry, and your area of focus.
For many service providers, industry publications are the gold standard of content-driven relationship building. Prospective and continuing clients and partners spend a good deal of time with and place a high level of trust in publications of this type. For this reason, the opportunity to contribute your expertise in media space like this goes a long way in establishing you as a thought leader and in leveraging your knowledge and expertise to position yourself more strongly against your competitors.
Webinars and Events
Like guest blogs and industry publications, webinars and events present the opportunity to highlight your expertise and to promote your position as a thought leader. Because these are live events, they also give you the opportunity to communicate directly to your audience in real time.
As with all communications and marketing efforts, well researched, clearly written, robust content delivers the most value for your audience – and for your business. Make it your goal to create and share quality content that previews the level of value that your service provides.