We live in a digital economy, an economy where a huge percentage of commerce takes
place in a virtual marketplace. In the past, consumers evaluated businesses based on face to face interactions. They assigned levels of expertise to different companies and businesses based on their personal experiences with executives, employees, and even shopping trips. A consumer might pick a favorite pharmacy based on the layout of the store, the man behind the counter, or even the proximity to his or her home. A consumer might select an attorney based on a word of mouth recommendation or an advertisement contained in his favorite newspaper.
More often, though, consumers are being convinced to give their business to specific brands based on a “feeling” that is acquired by browsing a company’s online presence. Social media, blogs, websites, and interactions with other businesses help consumers form an impression of a brand. In order to make your business succeed online, it has become crucial to develop a reputation of expertise and authority. Industry expertise places you at the forefront of the virtual marketplace. When your business is perceived as a trusted expert, your marketing efforts become more valuable, your target audience starts expanding, and your products and services start selling more rapidly.
Loren Baker’s popular online magazine Search Engine Journal, featured this popular post by a guest author about the importance of becoming an industry expert as far as Internet business is concerned. Once you understand the significance of being perceived as an industry expert, you can begin the process of establishing this reputation for your business.
Consumers Value Authority
First and foremost, a business can benefit from an expert reputation because consumers value authority. When a consumer is looking for a particular product or service, he or she will evaluate several different brands within the industry before deciding on a particular company. This decision process is different for every consumer, but most “buyers” rely on a gut feeling when deciding which business to trust. This gut feeling is often simply an assessment of different companies’ authority and expertise. Consumers want to purchase products and services from the leaders in the industry. They assume they will be getting the most value for their money, and this is the primary motivation for a consumer.
Consumers Like to Associate with Authority
Another great benefit of becoming an industry expert is the immediate “shareability” of all the content you create. As far as search engine optimization is concerned, content that is shared via social media or other websites is the most effective SEO strategy available today. When consumers start sharing your content with others, your SEO rankings start soaring. Google and other huge search engines assume that frequently shared content is highly valuable to readers, so if your content is shared via a number of different channels, your business will start ranking well for this content.
Consumers like to feel that they are associating with brands and companies that are perceived as experts in a particular industry. If a consumer receives a direct response from an expert company, he or she is very likely to share that response to “show off” that interaction. For example, Starbucks, the clear expert in the coffee industry, often replies to tweets or “retweets” the posts of its followers. Because Starbucks is perceived as a celebrity in the coffee industry, customers crave this direct interaction and may be more inclined to tweet, comment, like or share Starbucks content with the hope of being recognized by the company.
Industry Experts are Trend Setters
Another benefit of becoming an industry expert is the ability to be a trend setter rather than a trend follower. Leaders in the industry are able to develop trends and fads simply by posting new ideas, new content, new brainwaves, and new concepts via social media, a business website, or a blog. Consumers rely on the content generated by their favorite expert brands to determine what’s hot at the moment. The concept of industry expertise and its affect on trends is similar to the influence major fashion labels have on global fashions.
Industry Experts Make Innovative Leaps in an Industry
An industry expert is also able to make innovative leaps within the industry to keep the industry fresh and relevant. Setting trends is one thing, but using an expert reputation to change the course of an industry is an entirely separate exercise of power. For instance, a profitable and respected retail brand can develop new products that use recycled materials. In doing this, one brand is able to make an innovative leap in the industry and promote the necessity of ecological consciousness. When your brand is perceived as an expert, you have the freedom to make changes to the industry from the inside out.
Becoming an Industry Expert Saves Resources
One of the biggest benefits of being perceived as an industry expert is the amount of resources you can save in marketing your brand. When customers trust your brand, you don’t have to invest time and money into creating a reputation or gaining a public following. The reputation and the following are already there, and your marketing team can focus efforts on preserving these. Also, a single Facebook post from a trusted and respected brand is more effective than a hundred Facebook posts by an obscure or mistrusted brand.
When Consumers Think of You First
When your business establishes a reputation for expertise within an industry, consumers think of your brand first when a need arises. This puts your brand in a very powerful position. Often, consumers will simply purchase products or services from the company that comes to mind immediately after a need arises. By establishing yourself and your brand as an expert in the industry, you can ensure that your business is the most natural choice for consumers who need what your brand offers. When consumers have conversations or online interactions with other consumers searching for a trusted brand within your industry, your expert reputation will ensure that your brand’s name is mentioned in the conversation. Industry expertise drives consumer traffic toward your company, and consumer traffic almost always turns into profit.