From the perspective of your prospects and clients, expertise is not a point of value nor of differentiation, it is merely the minimum criteria to allow you entry into the marketplace. The market does not reward you for what you know but for what you can do. Further, what you can do only represents value when it offers a tangible solution, experience, advantage or benefit that the prospect believes will make his or her life better.
The Meaning of Expertise
According to the Oxford Dictionary, expertise is defined as "great skill or knowledge in a particular field." But great knowledge in a particular field, regardless of its extent, is relatively useless for two reasons. First, our prospects wouldn't hire us if they did not believe we possessed the expertise to deliver the results that they aspire to attain. So, our expertise is merely a means, not an end within itself. When someone goes to the hardware store to purchase a drill, the expertise of the engineer who designed the drill is of little importance as long as the drill works. In fact, what the customer desires is not a well-engineered power tool but a tiny hole in the wall. The drill is just the means by which that is achieved. Secondly, with the rapidly occurring changes in the availability of information, socio-economic changes and the increasing dynamic complexity in the needs of our clientele, what made us valuable in the past is not guaranteed to sustain our value in the future. Therefore, expertise by itself is insufficient to yield meaningful value for our customers.
Primary Functions of a BusinessAccording to the late management guru Peter Drucker, the two primary functions of a business are innovation and marketing. The Merriam-Webster's Dictionary defines innovation as "a new idea, method or device." Since there is no longer any such notion as maintaining a competitive advantage, innovation is the process by which we continually expand the solutions we provide for our clients, thereby, redefining our point of differentiation. Therefore, the key to innovation is not expertise but education. And the purpose of education is not to merely increase what we know, but it's the capacity and rate at which we learn. So, skills are the keys to success, and education is the key to acquiring those skills. In fact, education closes the gap between your present competency and your future efficacy.
And what about the marketing element of your business? Marketing is "the process or technique of promoting, selling and distributing a product or service." If we are going to promote, sell or distribute a product or service, we need to answer two questions pertaining to demographics and psychographics:
- Demographics: Who will utilize my offering?
- Psychographics: What problem does my offering solve or benefit does it provide that would make my ideal customer desire it enough to take action?
The Art of StorytellingDr. Charles King, professor of marketing at the University of Illinois, states that in all cycles of the economy, there are people who are making money and people who inevitably lose money. The difference between the two is that the individuals who are making money are ahead of the trends, where those who lose money fail to recognize them. In order to stay ahead of the trends, education regarding what creates them in the first place is paramount to your success. The degree to which you are able to understand trends and articulate the solutions you offer, the greater your positioning amongst your target market(s).
Marketing guru Philip Kotler defines this positioning as "…the act of designing a company's offering and image so that it occupies a meaningful and distinct competitive position in the target customer's mind." Positioning is crucial because as our customers' needs grow in complexity and the choices that are afforded to them grow proportionately, so do their expectations; therefore, it's literally distinction or extinction.
Understanding the Trends
According to Dr. King, by the turn of the century, there were a billion people between the ages of 36 and 54. For the next 11 years, someone will turn 54 every eight seconds! What does someone who is 54 want? Would you guess that simply looking better, while important, is not enough? What about living better, longer? So ask yourself: Within the past six months, how have you upgraded your skills in the area of recreational sports conditioning or training the mature population? Furthermore, Bill Parisi, fitness industry speaker, author and founder of the Parisi Franchise Systems, reports that there are over 72 million children under age 18 in the United States. Approximately, 26 million of them are between the ages of six and 17 and are sports participants. We spend $4.1 billion each year on private coaching and sports instruction. Interestingly, 99% of parents whose children are involved in sports activities state that "improved physical fitness" is the chief virtue of youth sports participation. So ask yourself: What are two ways that I can use referral marketing to build my special populations clientele? What is your plan within the next 12 months to increase your competency in pre and postnatal exercise or least one other area of special populations?
In fact, the Washington Business Group on Health determined that employers lose $12 billion each year on health care costs and employee absenteeism due to overweight and obese employees. You might find some employers more open to what you have to say than you think.
Write down three ideas that you can implement to let people in your community or facility know about the benefits they can receive from the unique services you offer.
Write down the first step you can take on the idea that is easiest to implement; then act immediately.
Amidst the rapidly occurring, continual state of change we all must work and thrive within, the more education we have, the more problems we can solve. The more problems we can solve, the more choices we have. The more choices we have, the more opportunities will be afforded to us. In a world where job security is dead, the only option is for us to become fanatical about our continuing education and development so we can create our own level of security by choosing to remain the preeminent choice among our peers.
Robert Cappuccio is president of the consulting firm, Legacy Performance Solutions and has designed and implemented sales, customer relations, management and personal training systems for leading industry organizations. For more information, please visit www.livealegacy.com.