How to Position yourself an an ‘Expert’ Pet Professional: Part One – Why you need to be an expert
Discover how to convince dog owners in your town that you are different and better than the competition!
A giant ship’s engine failed. The ship’s owners tried one expert after another, but no one could figure out how to fix the engine.
Then they brought in an old man who had been fixing ships since he was young. He carried a large bag of tools with him, and when he arrived, he immediately went to work. He inspected the engine very carefully, top to bottom.
Two of the ship’s owners were there, watching this man, hoping he would know what to do. After looking things over, the old man reached into his bag and pulled out a small hammer. He gently tapped something. Instantly, the engine lurched into life. He carefully put his hammer away. The engine was fixed!
A week later, the owners received a bill from the old man for 10,000 dollars.
“What?!” the owners of the ship exclaimed. “He hardly did anything!”
So they wrote the old man a note saying, “Please send us an itemised bill.”
The man sent a bill that read:
Tapping with a hammer………………….. $ 1.00
Knowing where to tap…………………….. $ 9,999.00
That’s a much-told but very cool story which demonstrates quite nicely how you can charge almost anything you want, when you are considered the expert.
Why experts are special
Experts are considered the leaders in their field. Their opinions are sought after and written about, and their time is considered more valuable than that of just a run-of-the-mill practitioner.
Their fees are generally a lot higher than non-experts too, and that is one of the main reasons you need to acquire expert status.
Experts get paid more money.
But how do you become an expert?
Well, if you have trained to become a dog walker for a long time, then you will already have a certain level of expertise. So maybe the question should be:
How do you become known as an expert?
Once again, I should stress that you will quickly get found out if you just pretend to be an expert at anything you aren’t. So if you aren’t an expert, then first work hard at getting good at doing ‘the thing’, in this case, dog walking.
If you need more help with the dog behaviour side of your business, then you should get a copy of my bestselling dog training book How To Be Your Dog’s Superhero from www.mydogssuperhero.com
Then, once you are great at walking, it’s time to turn your efforts to telling the world how good you really are, so they see you as an expert.
And I’m not recommending you stand on a park bench shouting “I AM THE EXPERT. LISTEN TO ME!” at everyone who passes by with a dog.
There are much easier ways to cement your expert status in the eyes of your target market.
Make no mistake though; your reputation and how well known you are for being a great dog walker is a huge factor in determining how much demand there will be for your dog walking services, and how much you can charge for them.
It’s certainly a bigger factor than how good you are at dog walking.
Why it’s not about that ‘thang’ you do
Think of a three-Michelin-starred chef whose restaurant is sold out months in advance. Yes, the three stars prove he is a masterchef and can cleverly balance perfectly cooked potatoes, mushrooms and chicken on top of fancy pea puree. But, it’s his reputation, including his TV appearances, magazine articles and the books he has written which cement his expert status in the public’s mind.
So can you pinch some expert marketing secrets of the rich and famous to show the prospective clients in your town that you are the wise and trusted expert?
Absolutely you can, and one of the best ways to catapult yourself above your competition is to do what all famous people do, and that is write a book.
The power of a book
The 2007 line-up of US presidential candidates was a mishmash of senators, governors, former big-city mayors and a retired four-star army general. However, they all had one thing in common.
They had all written a book.
And most of them had written a book as a tool to help tell their story as they launched their bid for the presidency.
Mark Halperin, the political director of ABC News, said at the time: “You’re not a real candidate, Pinocchio, if you haven’t written your own book.”
I would take this a step further and say you aren’t considered a real expert until you have written a book. That’s easy for me to say, of course, because I’ve written one.
Writing a book might seem a bit overkill in the quest for expert status, but don’t write it off as something that ‘other people do’. Using a book you have written as a powerful marketing tool applies as much to you and your dog walking business as it does to those seeking to become President of the United States.
Let’s clarify a few things though. We aren’t talking about you writing a book in order to become a bestselling author. That would be nice, but it’s highly unlikely to happen.
Your book is there to do a different job. It’s there to position you as the expert dog walker in your town, county or even the country.
The dog walker who is the author of Five Essential Questions You Need To Ask A Dog Walker or How To Enjoy Stress-Free Walks With Your Dog is going to stand out like a sore thumb from the rest of the average competition in that town.
A published book (even a self-published book) is a powerful marketing tool, and saying you are a published author will immediately elevate you into the realms of experthood.
Well, very few people even read many books these days, and far fewer actually write them. Jaws drop and people look at you like you are some kind of superhuman when you tell them you are a published author.
If you market it correctly, then you and your book will also get publicity which will further cement your expert status, not to mention get you leads you can turn into clients.
This isn’t the easiest positioning task to accomplish, and you will need to set aside time each day to write it, but, in my experience, writing a book is the single most important thing you can do to improve your positioning if you are serious about growing your business.
And I practise what I preach too. My first bestselling dog training book helped position me as an expert in my field. It has spent time at the top of the Amazon Dog Care chart as well as help many thousands of dog owners around the world who have bought and read it. You never know, you may get a taste for writing too.
I certainly did.
As well as the bestselling How To Be Your Dog’s Superhero, I have written a business book Walk Yourself Wealthy, and two more dog training books Worry Free Walks and The Perfect Puppy Project. Click on any of the book names to view the books on amazon.
Mine are all instructional books to one degree or another, but they also have a lot of my personality in them, and that’s a key point.
Your book, if you write it correctly, can be the perfect icebreaker for your prospects to learn more about you and your business. That’s because as well as all the expert enhancing benefits writing a book bestows upon you, it also enables you to tell your story and within that story share your beliefs, values and passions.
It’s a cheesy and oft-trotted-out line, but people really do buy people. So if you do write a book, then make sure that it has lots of your personality in it. That will enable people to feel like they know more about you and your values as well as your services, before they even enquire about your dog walking service.
So how do you put your personality into it?
Well, alongside the dog care tips you share, you can also tell stories about your life as a dog walker. Any silly incident that happens on a walk has the potential to be turned into a story.
My friend Kat Smith, who helps salon owners grow their businesses, helped to write a book called 101 Naked Confessions Of A Gay Hairdresser based on the stories of her then business partner Terry. This book was essentially repurposed emails about funny stories from the salon that Kat had written. Then she topped and tailed them and included a few hairdressing tips.
The book was a massive success for Kat and Terry and helped them grow their salon business immensely. Could a book about dog walking do the same thing for your business too?
The ultimate marketing tool
Having a book makes it very easy to market your business. Essentially, your book sells your business and you sell the book.
Course it is. Now you just need to write one.
There isn’t room here to go into the details of how to write one; just take my word for it that you need to write a book.
Yes, it will take time, but it is worth it. Trust me.
This blog is part one in a three part ‘Be The Expert Pet Professional Series’, to view part two of the blog click here.