Posted 18th January 2018.
Today's email is about a path to being seen as an authority that's a perfect fit for those who are just that little bit worried about whether they have all the experience, qualifications or other magical characteristics needed to be seen as an authority by their clients.
I've seen other people talk about variations of this method, but I first came across it by observing comedian Dave Gorman.
If you don't know him already, Gorman is one of our most successful comedians here in the UK with a host of TV shows and best-selling books to his name.
Unlike other comedians, he doesn't stand centre stage with just him and a mic. He basically does powerpoint presentations.
But it's the unusual way he comes up with ideas for his act that's important and relevant here.
Where other comedians sit in a darkened room and scour their experience or imagination for ideas, Gorman does the opposite.
Instead of trying to think of interesting stuff, he goes out and does interesting stuff.
Some of the things he's done have involved travelling around the world to meet other people with his name. Living every day by following a very literal interpretation of his horoscope. Challenging the public to take him on at any game of their choice – from poker to darts to Khett to Cluedo to Kubb.
At every stage, he documents his adventures and then turns them into shows and books.
Instead of having to recast and reframe his existing experiences to give his “clients” what they want, he goes out and creates new experiences that do so.
And the bonus is that his new experiences somehow feel more real. Like his audience is getting a secret insider view into his world.
I'm guessing you're already jumping ahead to how that applies to authority too.
If you feel like you haven't quite got the experience that your clients are looking for to see you as an authority, then instead of navel-gazing, worrying about it or thinking about how to “spin” what you've got into what they're looking for – go out and do something that gives you that experience.
That doesn't mean you have to spend 5 years working in the trenches aiming to emerge as a fully-formed exemplar of the experience your clients look for.
It means you can do what Dave Gorman did. Go out and try things, document your experiences and share them with your audience in real-time (or close to it).
In essence, be a trailblazer for them. Do what they want to do. Be a couple of steps ahead and show them what it looks like, warts-and-all.
This strategy works particularly well in a changing field where new ideas and approaches are emerging all the time. It means there's always the opportunity to have things to share that are new and valuable (even if it's your insights into things you've tried that haven't worked).
You'll see me use this strategy quite a bit.
Pretty much all of my emails are about marketing strategies I've tried myself. And often they'll be things I've tried quite recently. Marketing kind of lends itself to that – the principles are timeless but the tactics change quite often.
But almost every field is open to this type of approach.
If you're a leadership coach, for example, and your clients want to know that you've been through what they're going through: why not take on a role in a non-profit and document your experiences as the “new leader on the block”?
Here's the thing…
Not only does this approach show you've got the experience your clients are looking for…
It shows that your experience is recent and relevant. You're dealing with the same issues they're dealing with right now, not relying on things you went through a decade or so ago.
And it builds empathy: you're just like them, but a few steps ahead.
And a nice side effect is that it creates an almost endless source of new and interesting content for you to share. And sharing that content allows you to showcase your expertise without it coming across as showing-off or just being a dull run-through of your credentials.
Instead, it's an interesting window into someone at the “coal face” of an area your clients are vitally interested in. The feeling that you're experienced and know what you're doing sneaks into their brain without it having to be an overt message.
And so it's much more believable.
After all, who would you consider an expert: the guy or gal who you've witnessed doing something, or the one who tells you all about how they did it years ago?
So even if you have a ton of experience already, the trailblazer method can be a great way of making sure you're much less of a best kept secret and much more front of mind with potential clients.