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BusinessColumnistsJamie Herzlich

Small business: Marketing yourself as an expert

If you've been in business long enough, you probably consider yourself an industry expert.

The challenge is convincing everyone else of the same, but on a grander scale.

Promoting yourself as an expert takes time, but in the end it can be a great low-cost marketing tool to garner publicity and solicit new customers and prospects.

"It's using no- or low-cost strategies to put your brand and message in front of your target market over and over again," says Raleigh Pinskey, president of Carefree, Ariz.-based Raleigh Group Communications and author of "101 Ways to Promote Yourself" (Harper Collins, $14.95).

After all, it takes numerous impressions/imprints - as many as 21 - for your name to even register in people's minds, says Pinskey. So you need to use multiple tactics to establish yourself as the go-to expert and bolster your credibility.

To get started:

Teach a class/host a Web-inar. It's a great way to establish yourself as an expert, says Pinskey. Look for opportunities in adult education, continuing education or even community service programs.

Write a special report/white paper. Pick a topic you think your audience would care about (i.e. an industry trend), says Pinskey. Put it on your Web site or even send it to prospects and the business media.

Write a column. It may be tough to get published in the Los Angeles Times, but there are more than 7,000 newspapers - including dailies, community papers and online publications - across the country that may be interested in you, says Pinskey. That's what Jack Mandel, an East Norwich-based marketing consultant, discovered four years ago when he got divorced and reinvented himself as dating expert Dr. JM Love. He started writing a monthly column for Long Island Pulse Magazine called "Dating on Long Island - the 2nd Time Around." That led to his hosting lectures at libraries and other singles programs, says Mandel, a marketing professor at Nassau Community College.

Write an article. Position yourself as a problem solver, suggests Mandel. Contribute an article to a local newspaper or trade publication or submit an opinion piece, says Mandel. Arnold Sanow, a Vienna, Va.- based business development speaker and co-author of "Marketing Boot Camp" (Kendall/Hunt, $29.95), has dozens of articles he sends to clients, prospects and the media. He'll send a few to an editor and say, "Here are three articles you can use right away" and requesting his bio/contact information be included.

Get third-party endorsements. It means a lot when someone other than yourself can verify your worth as an expert, says Mandel. This can include soliciting client testimonials, adds Sanow.

Write an e-zine or newsletter. Pick a compelling topic, like "12 Ways to Stand Out in a Crowd," and include that in your subject line, says Sanow. "You need to catch their attention," he notes.

Write a book. You can self-publish or hold out for a publisher, explains Lucy Rosen, president of The Business Development Group, a marketing and public relations firm in Bethpage. Rosen has a networking book, "Fast Track Networking, Turning Conversations into Contacts," due out in June. She did secure a publisher, Career Press, but says some people use self-publishing options like iUniverse.

Participate in social media. Share information and participate in conversations and groups on social media sites like Twitter and Facebook, suggests Rosen, who uses these networks. Become an expert resource, she recommends.

Get speaking gigs. Get yourself in front of groups as a speaker, says Rosen, who does just that. It helps build your reputation as an authoritative source, she notes.

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