Thursday, April 03, 2003

So I can certainly see the value professionally of becoming a "recognized expert" -- but that doesn't necessarily help me to feel comfortable with the role.

Lately I've been listening to an audio-tape program by the late Thomas Leonard called "28 Principles of Attraction" -- a great program by one of the gurus of the coaching profession. One of the principles covered in the program is "Be Human." In explaining this principle, Leonard warns against expert-itis -- becoming overly enthralled with one's own greatness as a guru.

Puffing oneself up as an expert can take a lot of energy and keep you from being who you really are. Often, so-called experts become presumptuous and arrogant and lose their humanity.

Certainly becoming an expert can help you meet professional goals. But could it affect your personality in a negative way? Is it really worth it to be rich and famous if it turns you into a jerk? (I'm asking that question to myself as much as to anybody.)

Al B.
Danbury, Conn., USA
4/5/03

Monday, March 31, 2003

In many ways, I agree that developing a guru identity is a good marketing tactic. Here are some of the things I've done to try to establish myself as a "recognized expert":

1. Writing articles

I started getting a lot of articles published in the late 1980s. At first, I did it partly because I like writing and partly for the money. But over time, I found that people would contact me for consulting and freelance work as a result of articles I had written. So I began to publish articles for free. This, of course, gives you exposure in the publication itself. But it also gives you a source of reprints, which you can hand out or include in promotional mailings.

Now I have a huge fat portfolio of clips and samples. In recent years, most of my articles have been online. You can see many of my articles about email marketing if you go to:

http://www.emailresults.com/articles.html

and:

http://www.imakenews.com/eletra/mod_archive_view.cfm?u=emailresults

2. Public speaking

Although I haven't agressively pursued speaking opportunities (being a shy person, this is difficult for me), I almost always accept opportunities. So I have appeared on programs at conferences, seminars, and business meetings perhaps 25 or 30 times in the past 10 years. Although I'm always nervous ahead of time, once I get in front of an audience and start speaking, I usually enjoy it and am able to provide good value.

3. Writing books

As with writing articles, this is a good channel for me, as I do like writing. Since 1994, I've been positioned frequently as an online maketing expert. I do have some ambivalence about this, which in part is the purpose of this Reluctant Guru writing project.

In 1995, I wrote one of the first ebooks, "The Smart Business Guide to Internet Marketing." Although SBGIM is no longer in print, you should still be able to see some of the original promotional materials at:

http://www.copywriter.com/abbr/index.htm

(For some reason that URL is not available as I'm writing this, but I've put in an email to my web host about it. Computer gremlins at work, I guess.)

Interestingly, the "Smart Business Guide" got picked up by the Japanese publisher Nikkei BP and came out in Japanese in 1997.

Then in 2002, Prentice Hall published a massive brain dump from me called "Profitable eMarketing: Success Strategies That Pay Off." You can see the web site I use to promote the book at:

http://www.profitableemarketing.com

Unfortunately, as soon as the book came out, Prentice Hall sold that part of its operations to Aspen Publishing, so the book never got marketed in any meaningful way. Still, I view it as a professional advantage to have been published in this field.

4. Publishing a newsletter

About 1995, I started publishing an email newsletter called "Net Results." Then in 1998, I discontinued that newsletter and started another one called "Email Marketing Results," as a companion to my EmailResults.com web site. I've found that email newsletters give me quick and easy access to a large audience and help enhance the old guru status. You can see information about "Email Marketing Results" at:

http://www.emailresults.com/subscribe.html

All of this effort has paid of in many ways in helping me to establish a reputation and gain visibility. So even though I often feel uncomfortable in the "expert" role, I can see the benefits.

Al Bredenberg
Danbury, Conn., USA
3/31/03