I was sitting in a meeting yesterday when someone started discussing something that I knew an awful lot about, but nobody else in the room was aware of my knowledge on the topic. I watched and listened as this person from a third party vendor kept laying out their credentials and experience to back up blatantly incorrect “facts” and statements.
As we left, I pulled this person aside and explained that I knew most of what was being said was utter nonsense and that it was both awkward and embarrassing to have to sit idly by and listen to that. This person turned to me and just said, “You only need to know 5% more than the rest of the audience to be considered the expert.”
I’ve heard that saying so many times online from “faux experts” that it makes the skin on the back of my neck stand up.
Back in the days when the Warrior Forum was at its zenith, this was common practice for people who sold things into that market – hear about something new on Monday, read more about it on Tuesday, create a product on Wednesday and launch it on Thursday. I jest somewhat, but not by much, you’d see people launching information products as “experts” when you knew full well that they had no real expertise in the topic or any kind of relevant experience.
This behaviour has carried over into Udemy as well where some instructors have 70+ courses that they “teach” ranging from simple marketing type courses through to relationships, real estate and yoga. Their expertise is not even surface deep, calling it superficial would be embarrassing for the word superficial.
A great example was when Blab first appeared in the wild back in August 2015 – I made a comment to “friend of Casual Marketer” Scott Duffy that we should measure in hours how long it would take for the first Udemy course about Blab to appear. All told, it took less than 72 hours from memory.
I’m going to be blunt, that’s not good for your business in the long run. You may make some short-term sales and have some immediate success, but you’re not making any kind of real investment in what you’re doing so your results are always going to reflect that.
You’re running a “hit and run” type business.
I think it’s very important that you work hard to achieve a level of mastery and expertise in your chosen field or fields. When you put the work in and learn your skill or craft at a deeper level, it permeates through everything you do. You won’t need to “tell” people that you’re an expert, they’ll see it first hand.
Also, being an expert in your topics allows you to build out a much deeper set of products and services across your business.
Let me give you a real-life example.
I know of numerous people who’ve created “quick and dirty” information products and courses about selling physical products on Amazon. Some of these people have never actually bought a product from a wholesaler or manufacturer, had it delivered to Amazon and then sold and shipped to customers.
Let that sink in for a minute, “They’ve never actually even done it themselves.”
You can’t possibly be an expert in something like that when you’ve never done it – you may know the mechanics theoretically but your knowledge is superficial and so is the potential for upside. The best you’re ever going to be able to do is sell some cheap info products opportunistically.
Conversely, I know someone who designed and got a patent on a physical product. He’s gone to China to work with manufacturing companies to produce it and he’s built out a brand for his product, even down to their custom product packaging approach. He’s invested heavily in this product and now is doing well over six figures per year selling this item on Amazon.
But that only scratches the surface of his knowledge. He has learned the value of a patent and how to acquire one. He’s worked on local licensing deals with retailers and wholesalers for his product around the world, so he can speak intelligently about that. He is based in Australia, so he’s worked out how to set up his banking and business offshore.
Those are all things he now teaches people in his membership program, but people also pay him thousands of dollars to consult with them about how to get their products to market properly on Amazon. He routinely gets paid considerable sums to work with people on optimising their product information pages and improving their conversions.
He looked at creating a quick information product, asked me about Udemy and finally concluded for himself, “My customers want higher quality information based on my actual expertise and experience, my leads are just worth too much to sell them small cheap info products.”
That tells you a fair bit. He could easily create small, short, superficial info products to sell to people and with the screenshots of his income that he could produce, his “proof elements” would be off the charts. Alternatively, he can build a small client base that pays him higher prices because they value his expertise.
Why? Because he’s chosen to hone his craft, become an expert and he practices what he preaches.
There’s a lesson in there for everyone. The more you know about a topic, the more value you can offer, the more that information is worth to you and to other people.
Obviously, there is a fine line, nobody needs someone with a PhD in advanced mathematics to work out the taxes for them. And as I’ve mentioned previously in emails, “researching your topic and learning more” are some of the most common excuses people make to avoid actually getting stuck into doing some work.
If however, your goal is to sell information products or teach on a specific topic, then knowing just 5% more than your audience isn’t going to be good enough.
Being just a little bit smarter than everyone else in the room simply limits your potential.