Whose Advice Can You Trust to Solve a Problem?
We all want to solve a problems; most of us have a bunch of them that need solving and in today’s digital world we are bombarded with information, advice and expertise.
You can find the answer online to just about any problem or question, from:
‘How do I stop my water pipes vibrating?’
‘Who is the right business coach (substitute any occupation here) to solve my particular problems?’
It seems that in today’s world, ‘everyone’ is an expert on ‘anything and everything’.
‘Experts’ and Definitions
This discussion began with a question in a mastermind group that I belong to, called ‘Smart Tank’ which is facilitated by Peter Butler from Smarter Enterprises. He is a guru when it comes to building websites that help you achieve your marketing objectives, but he was bemoaning the fact that there is always someone out there (especially at Aussie barbecues) who knows a bloke who can build you a ripper of a website for a few hundred bucks.
In many cases, and I’ve certainly come across a few, there are people who can build you a website and promise you the Earth, for either a lot of money, or for a small outlay that sounds amazing, just as there are people in virtually every occupation who can claim to be an expert. This can range from ‘I’ve watched a few videos about this’ to ‘I have a portfolio of previous customers whom I have helped to achieve (whatever) results.’
There are teachers who teach people how to run a business, yet they have never run a business themselves. They will argue that they don’t need to have done, because they’ve done a course and they know how to connect you with the textbook answers to solve your problems. So, the real question is ‘What constitutes an expert?’
You could go back to Malcolm Gladwell’s theory of having done 10,000 hours’ work on something. I.e. you might not have the regulatory ‘piece of paper’ to say you are an expert, but your experience reveals that you are one.
Years ago, as a young bloke with young kids and a salaried ‘long hours’ job, I started a Bachelor of Business degree, but life circumstances dictated that I never finished it.
When I started coaching, I asked a senior, experienced consultant about whether this was an issue. He cited the 10,000 hours example and got me to think back about all the people I have coached along the way from when I was a young retail manager, through setting up multiple businesses with hundreds of staff.
It quickly became apparent that I was worrying about nothing. If you talk to me for five minutes, you’ll know from the questions I ask you, and the stories I can tell, that I have a lifetime of experience and knowledge. By the way, not one client has ever asked to see my ‘degree’, but they will look at the testimonials I have from other previous clients and it becomes a moot point.
Cutting Edge Advice
The second part of the equation though, is has the so-called expert consistently invested in self-improvement?
In my case, my whole life has been committed to a philosophy of continuous self-development.
It’s possible though, to have a year’s experience in a job, then repeat that year 20 times over. Does that mean you now have 20 years ‘experience? (A commonly used marketing claim)
I’d put it to you that without self-improvement that person may only have one year’s experience and be 20 years behind the 8-ball.
If you want a metaphor – here’s a joke (No racism intended – purely banter and I have a lot of Irish friends!):
How many Irishmen does it take to change a lightbulb?
Answer – five. One to hold the light bulb while the other four guys turn him around.
We live in a world full of misinformation and fake news. That’s why we end up with cartoon characters like Trump and Johnson in positions of power.
In today’s digital world, there will always be charlatans. The onus is on the customer to sift through the good and the bad, the empowering and the disempowering, the ‘sounds true’ and the ‘smells like bullshit’.
So How Can Customers Chose with Confidence?
As a marketer, you can’t stop the misinformation, you can only combat it with truth, with ethical behaviour and by building a network, or to use Seth Godin’s word, a ‘tribe’ of followers. The tribe ‘gets it’ and they advocate on your behalf. That was one of the key messages from an event I attended recently, Roger Hamilton’s Entrepreneur 5.0 seminar:
Do the right thing (social enterprise – help people) and people who also believe in your cause will spread the word about your deeds.
Then, new customers will seek you out so you can work your magic on them.
Marketing is no longer just about ‘Who can I sell this product to?’. It’s about ‘What cause can I support, where my products or services solve a problem and advance that cause?’
Do that effectively, build that trust in the validity, currency and ethical substance of your advice and your tribe will build itself.
I recommend these reference sources: ‘Outliers’ and/or ‘The Tipping Point by Malcolm Gladwell and ‘Tribes’ by Seth Godin.
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