Business Friday: Are You an Expert?
One of the best ways to increase sales is to position yourself as an expert. Clients and potential clients love to deal with experts; people that are held in high esteem by the public and their peers. Here are a few sure-fire tips on how to become an “expert”:
- Public speaking
- Membership in professional organizations
- Don’t be shy about accepting awards
- Write a book, even if you have to self-publish
My first public speaking gig was in 1974 to the Long Green Lion’s Club in Maryland. I was approached by the group’s vice president who was familiar with my travel photography and wanted a speaker who could tell his members how to take better vacation pictures. Since then, I’ve given that speech in many variations to all kinds of groups, and a combination of the halo effect and just plain face-to-face marketing has served to kick start business doing seasonal or economic slowdowns.
Becoming a speaker is easier than you might think. Start by contacting various civic and fraternal groups in your area and offer your services. Especially look for groups that have weekly business luncheons; they need 52 speakers a year!
If there are any tricks in public speaking, they are: Be prepared, be concise, and know your topic. Since you’re going to be talking about photography, you’ve got the third part nailed. If you spend a little time practicing, you’ll have the first two quickly under control. Surveys show that the fear of public speaking ranks higher than the fear of death. Rather than being intimidated by this statistic, let it work for you. While looking at your audience, keep in mind that they’re pulling for you; they know how hard it is to do what you’re doing. Don’t worry about being nervous; that’s natural and the extra adrenaline will help you do a better job.
Reward your audience by being interesting and don’t spend much time singing the praises of yourself and your studio. There’s a time for that after the presentation. Be sure your last words are: “I have a few brochures about my studio’s services, and would be glad to personally answer any specific questions you might have.” You’ll find it’s a lot easier to sell yourself if the organization has already positioned you as the expert. Remember that old Southern expression: “It’s a poor dog that won’t wag its own tail.”