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Professionals

Is there a gap between how you perceive yourself, and the reality that others see? Too often, we use self-descriptive marketing terms so much that we convince ourselves of their truth. And what the the biggest culprits? Here are two: Thought Leader and Trusted Advisor.

It isn’t hard to understand why so many refer to themselves in this way: it helps the ego, helps marketing, and shines a patina of professionalism and respectability on their activities. But just because these terms are used, doesn’t make them true.

A more useful approach is to consider that each of us sits along a spectrum of thought leadership from low to high, and along a trust spectrum from low to high. Depending on where you sit within this matrix, you are either a Commodity, Golfer, Academic, or Star. Not unsurprisingly, each has its own strategy.

Commodities-Golfers-Academics-Stars

  • Commodities: Low thought leadership, and weaker trust. In this category, there is very little differentiation, and very low switching costs. Advantage can be achieved only by competing on price.
  • Golfers: Low thought leadership, but strong trust. There is nothing inherently wrong with being in this category, but eventually the relationship will wain without an increasing delivery of benefits. Advantage can be achieved by developing thought leadership.
  • Academics: High thought leadership, but trust has not yet developed. Again, nothing wrong with being exceptionally smart, but this by itself is not a sustainable competitive advantage: blink for a minute, and there is someone, somewhere, smarter than you, more up-to-date than you, or with more “followers” than you. Advantage can be achieved by building trust.
  • Stars: People in this group are simultaneously thought leaders and trusted advisors: they have it all. The chief benefit of stardom is that their market price is higher than any of the other categories. Yet stars still have their challenges: it takes time to maintain thought leadership, and it takes time to maintain trust. If stars don’t continually invest, their advantage (and their value) degrades.

This week’s action plan: Is there a gap between how you describe yourself and the reality of what you are? Do you call yourself a star, when you are really just a golfer or academic? This week, choose the quadrant you wish to be in, and take one step to get there. (Some ideas on how can be found here and here.)

Marketing insight: What is true for individuals is also true for organizations. Overall, is your organization a commodity, golfer, academic or star? The biggest marketing challenge is often the gap between management’s self-assessment, and the reality of the market. How do each of your targets see you?

Note: The Make It Happen Tipsheet is also available by email. Go to www.RandallCraig.com to register.

Randall Craig

@RandallCraig (follow me)
www.RandallCraig.com
:  Professional credentials site
www.108ideaspace.com: Web strategy, technology, and development
www.ProfessionallySpeakingTV.com
:  Interviews with the nation’s thought-leaders

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Most service-based organizations compete based on Price/Expertise/Trust. But do these dimensions by themselves generate sustainable competitive advantage?  Not necessarily: to develop competitive advantage requires taking each of these items to their logical conclusion.

From price to value:  Not only is competing on price usually not economically sustainable, most organizations do not want their brand to be characterized exclusively by price.  But “value” is a different story, because it incorporates the concept of ROI.

From expertise to thought leader:  While expertise is required to be in the game, thought leadership is the ultimate differentiator.  Unfortunately however, the term is far overused.  Not sure if you are a thought leader?  Test yourself here.

From trust to trusted advisor:  Trust is either earned or spent at every touchpoint: from initial contact, to contract signature, to every interaction thereafter.  As trust grows over time, the relationship moves beyond the transactional.  How to become a trusted advisor?  Keep your promises, exceed expectations, and put others interests before your own.

This week’s action plan:  Unfortunately, many organizations (and people) pay lip service to these concepts at best.  This week, one dimension (price/expertise/trust), and ask one question: how might we do better?

Note: The Make It Happen Tipsheet is also available by email. Go to www.RandallCraig.com to register.

Randall Craig

@RandallCraig (follow me)
www.RandallCraig.com
:  Professional credentials site
www.108ideaspace.com: Web strategy, technology, and development
www.ProfessionallySpeakingTV.com
:  Interviews with the nation’s thought-leaders

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Online PR and Social Media for Experts, Authors, Consultants, and Speakers

by Randall Craig January 7, 2009

After a grueling amount of research, writing, and editing, Online PR and Social Media for Experts, Authors, Consultants, and Speakers is now available. Check it out at www.OnlinePRSocialMedia.com. The book itself is 130 pages, and while it is aimed at “experts”, it is completely appropriate for those with expertise working within an organization, whether they […]

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