It’s a dog-eat-dog world. Money is tight and competition is fierce on seemingly every project. To stand out in the crowd, you need to establish yourself as a leading expert in the field — someone who has been there, done that, and knows how to solve virtually any type of problem for your industry. Here are five ways to do just that (with a few special tips for making sure you stand out):
- Publish a white paper. Offering your point of view about a hot industry topic can demonstrate your expertise — and possibly land you a new client or project. Your white paper doesn’t have to be more than 4 or 6 pages, and it doesn’t have to be technical, but it does have to be well-written and have a logical flow. Tip: Craft a title that’s intriguing, rather than a ho-hum. For example, “The 7 Worst Things You Can Possibly Write for Direct Marketing” vs. “Direct Marketing Mistakes to Avoid.”
- Give a speech. Volunteer to speak at an upcoming event (such as a Chamber of Commerce meeting, an industry mixer, or a convention) where you can flaunt your knowledge in a five- to ten-minute speech. Tips: Choose your words carefully and rehearse them in front of a mirror. Prepare answers for commonly asked questions after your talk, too. Accompany your speech with a well-designed PowerPoint presentation that summarizes key points, but doesn’t repeat every single word you say.
- Send a newsletter. If you have a list of current, past, and potential clients, send out a newsletter with an update on your business activities. Include recent clients you’ve worked with, projects you’ve completed, places you’ve traveled for work, and perhaps a recent client testimonial. Tip: Publish monthly (and every month). The typical newsletter is one or two pages long if emailed and two to four pages long if printed.
- Compile a case study. People like to read about clients with whom you’ve had success. The case study format often opens with a paragraph about the client: Name the company, if permitted (e.g., Wells Fargo) or cite its industry (e.g., Top 50 Financial Firm). Next, describe what the project’s challenge was, your company’s solutions, and the mutual benefits of the engagement. Tip: If possible, finish with a testimonial from the client, providing his title and tangible benefits, such as “saved the company $100,000 in one year” or “boosted response rates by 15 percent over previous direct-marketing projects.”
- Write an article or blog post. Another way to showcase your experience is to write an article, a blog, or even a letter to the editor of a relevant publication about a specific topic. Tell everyone what you think, supporting your argument with facts or personal knowledge. Add some visual interest by plugging in a photo or artwork from an inexpensive resource like iStock.com. Tip: Publish the article on your business’s website (or at least link back to it), so readers can find out more about you, who you’ve worked with, and what your credentials are for possible projects.
How do you stand out in a crowd? Share your thoughts with us in the Comments section below.