Dictionary.com has multiple definitions of the word ‘expert.’
As a noun, an expert is someone who has special skill or knowledge in a particular area; a specialist, an authority. I do have special skills and knowledge. Today I specialize in online marketing (or content marketing or inbound marketing—whichever you prefer.) This includes blogging, social media, and email marketing. I understand more about SEO and driving traffic to websites than many—and my writing reflects that. I also have an extensive experience in media buying, event marketing, and television advertising. I’ve written hundreds of commercials – even winning an ADDY award. I have experiential authority from a well-rounded background in media and marketing.
I flinch when someone refers to me as an expert. I am not an expert or at least I don’t see myself that way. An expert is someone who knows EVERYTHING in their field. I don’t know everything. I’m still learning!
Since entering the field of marketing and advertising, I have been on a quest to stay abreast of current data and trends. Advertising is continually evolving, with new mediums, new platforms, and new strategies. Opportunities for marketers in the online arena are endless. I’ve now curated decades of information from a broad range of advertising campaigns and interests. I have applied my knowledge for the benefit of my clients with a fair degree of success.
I have experience, but I am not an expert. Being an expert holds such great power and influence. And, in the words of Spiderman, “With great power comes great responsibility.” I can point to dozens of people who are more knowledgeable than I am. In my eyes, they are the experts.
Reading the latest periodicals and blogs, participating in webinars, and assimilating the information into applications for my clients (and myself) is daunting. On top of that, I scout for useful information for my client’s’ social media and blogging. To be competitive and relevant, education is continuous. Knowledge is power. There is always something new to learn.
I recently met with a prospect who had a new product to market online. He was a referral from a past client who knew, understood, and trusted my capabilities. The prospective client and I seemed to be having a great meeting. I offered ideas he admitted he had never considered. It looked like we would be working together. When he asked if I was an expert in pay-per-click advertising, I said “no” without hesitation and with that, he backed away. He wanted to work with an expert in that specific marketing strategy – and I believe he was entitled to do so.
Would I have met his expectations? Maybe.
My gut, however, said no. His expectations were higher than I was comfortable with. Me claiming to be an expert might have set both of us up for failure. I won’t risk that – for either of us.
Did I miss out? Maybe yes. Maybe no. Like I said, there are many people who are better than I am at what I do. I don’t have an ego that will allow me to bluff my way to ‘expert status’.
Maybe it’s also about managing expectations. Had I claimed to an expert, how high would the expectations have been? They were already pretty high. The business owner had an interest in making money right away on a product he had invested heavily in, but which had zero market exposure.
My husband jokes about the definition of an expert. He says, “An ’ex’ is a has-been, and a ‘spurt’ is a drip under pressure.” I’m no has-been but I feel the pressure to keep up with the latest and greatest of the online marketing world—and it isn’t easy. My friends say I hold myself to impossible expectations. That may be, but becoming an expert isn’t one of my personal goals.
Doing work that matters and produces results is another story. That is the Vision Statement of my business. As long as there is something new to learn, I will have something new to offer a client.
That’s an expectation I am happy to strive for.