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Content with intent: Validate your authority

In today’s online space experts and gurus and ninjas are a dime a dozen. Heck, there are so many self-proclaimed “thought leaders” that the price has dropped to a nickel a dozen. As a result, it can be hard for the consumer of today to tell who is telling the truth and who is telling a tale. Interestingly enough, this proliferation of so-called experts allows for companies that truly have expertise to shine, through their use of content. Never before has there been more outlets to exhibit genuine expertise that goes beyond a hollow profile with nothing to back it up.

If you know that you are an expert in a particular field, it is important to first take inventory of what evidence you have of that expertise. If your company is a leading company, are there industry-recognized groups or associations who say that? Are company executives and employees regularly singled out for their expertise? What publications recognize you or your company as an industry leader?
Once you have gathered all of the evidence, it will be important to decide just how you want to exhibit your expertise through your content. Here are some options to consider:
Blog – If you don’t already have a company blog I suggest you do that pronto. Why? It’s not so much because it will bring you tons of traffic or help you close more deals. Those are possibilities but not the main reason. The main reason is to have a place where you can easily put and then reference new content. In the case of being an expert, you can focus on the employees and executives by giving them a chance to exhibit their expertise. I think an excellent example of this can be found at Active Strategy’s blog, The Glue. Although they are a small firm, this company has created a place where their CEO and others can talk as an expert on their area of subject matter expertise. It’s sure easier than trying to get an article published in journals every week.
Icons – If your company has received any industry awards, make sure those icons appear on all online and printed materials. People see those accolades and derive comfort from knowing that they are working with an industry leader.

Maharishi Mahesh Yogi (2007)

Image via Wikipedia

Newsletters – What better place to exhibit expertise than the company newsletter? You have the captive audience and they want to hear from you. Help them learn more about why working with your company was a great choice for their business.
Twitter – Twitter is a great way to disseminate information about your industry to customers and prospects. Of course, not everyone uses Twitter, but those who do might give you more attention there than anywhere else. Content is just as much about location of the content as it is the content itself, because not everyone gets their information the same way.
Facebook – Like Twitter, not everyone is here but many are and it’s a great venue to display subject matter expertise in short bursts, or to point people to other places where they can see and validate your standing in the industry.
White papers – While they are an old standby in the Internet’s life cycle, they are still effective, especially in the technology space. The best feature of this kind of content is that there is a chance to capture data about your reader. More importantly, it allows the consumer of the content to do it on their own terms, unlike Webinars and other ways to show expertise.
As with any of these content areas there are many more options for displaying industry leadership and thought leadership. What other areas have you tried and found to be successful? Is there anything you tried and wouldn’t do again? Why or why not?

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