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Many people have heard the theory proposed by Malcolm Gladwell that it takes 10,000 hours of dedication and practice to become an expert at anything. In a 40 hour work week, assuming you work all 52 weeks, to reach that 10,000 mark it would take you 5 years to become an expert in any given field. The hard part about inbound marketing is that aside from some core values, it is constantly adapting at the same rate of technology, by the time you become an expert, you are already 5 years behind the inbound marketing trends.

How do we define an expert? Is an expert more influential or knowledgeable? Granted it is important to have both, but does one outweigh the other?  The best thing you can do is build both areas simultaneously. Below are three easy tips on how to become a marketing expert in less than 10,000 hours:

1) Gain followers in your field.  

The best way to become an expert is to let others know that you are becoming an expert. On social media sites make sure you are adding/following the most influential people. On Twitter for example, if you start following the big time marketers (Chris Brogan, Jeff Bullas, etc.) you will begin to gain other followers who are following them as well. People want to be connect with other people who share the same interests. Furthermore, if you RSS these powerful top dogs, you can begin to blog/tweet about their material and have your own opinion on their take of tips and tricks of marketing.

2) Make content that is trend-setting.

I was told along time ago that there are only 3 ways to develop something in life. Cheap, Fast, and Good. You can have two out of the three, but never all three. If you want to be the first one to post something about a recent event, i.e. the Graph Search that was announced by Facebook today, most articles on this event are up moments after the press release, but the chances of the article being anything but scratching the surface are slim to none. Try to find a happy medium by doing some more in depth  research on your topical content before posting.

3) Share your content. 1+2=3

Combine the previous steps to begin to develop your own credibility. The more you repeat steps one and two the faster your expertise in marketing will grow. The great thing about becoming an expert is the closer you get to becoming one to your peers, the easier it gets to be one. Follow these steps and you will begin to see blogs referencing your content and retweets about your now vital information to the public.

If you still believe in Malcolm Gladwell’s 10,000 hour theory, then by all means, try it. The infograph provided by Zintroblog shows two examples of who the theory is based off of. It highlights the art of practicing perfection, but the most important information in the infograph are the 7 Steps to Cheat the Rule.

Marketing Expert for smart marketing

Marketing lessons for small business from The Duck Song:

The Duck Song is a three minute illustration of how quickly a prospective customer relationship can go wrong. When I first watched this video, I missed the glaring small business lessons that are apparent throughout, particularly the interaction between the man and his potentially loyal customer. After watching it multiple times – don’t judge me, the tune is rather catchy – I realized the man reacted very typically to most small business owners and I found four marketing lessons every small business owner should learn if we want to build a loyal customer base.

1. You’re only in business if someone is buying what you’re selling.

If every day your customers ask you for things you don’t have and in turn refuse to buy what you do have, you should reassess your product offerings, or at the very least, integrate what your customers want into what you’re offering.

The customer wasn’t asking the owner to change what he was offering, he just wanted him to offer something else. The owner of the stand missed an opportunity to nurture the relationship with an obviously loyal and persistent customer.

2. Listen to your customers

Small business owners need to learn that you’re only in business if someone is buying what you sell; we become so married to what we offer, that we don’t listen to what our customers want. The customer wants grapes, give him grapes. An easy way to be sure you’re selling what your customers want, is to ask them. Do a test trial of your product and get customer feedback before staking your entire business on a product that nobody wants.

Don’t insist on hard-selling your product. Instead, validate your customer’s needs. Ultimately, the customer needed lemonade, but until he felt heard he wasn’t in the mindset to listen to what the business owner was saying. Listen to your customers and they’ll tell you when they’re ready to buy what you have to sell, or they’ll tell you that what you’re selling nobody wants. Both are valuable lessons.

3. Always go above and beyond

As small business owners, we can get so stubborn about what we sell that we will actually send customers to a competitor instead of going above and beyond to make someone happy. The owner left his own business unattended to walk a potential customer over to the competition to give him what he wanted. What a perfect “above and beyond” customer service opportunity. Instead of leaving his own store, why not keep a special stash of grapes behind

“Do you have any grapes?”

“Not usually, but since you’ve asked before, I got some especially for you,” would have been a great answer. And when the customer decided on a whim that he didn’t want grapes after all, but in fact he does want some of your lemonade, you’re golden.

4. People buy People, not things.

Even after the threat of bodily harm, the potential customer was still willing to give the business owner a shot at delivering what he wanted. This shows us that if you’re likable enough, you have to try pretty hard to lose customers.

What other small business lessons did you learn from watching this customer interaction? Have you ever had a customer continue to ask you for products or services you don’t offer? How did you handle it? Share your answers in the comment box below.

As we learned last time in our previous smart marketing post, Call to Action, or C2A, buttons are helpful in tracking progress of potential customers to clients.  They are also useful for enticing new website visitors to learn more about your small business.  Below are some valuable tips for placement of your calls to action so that your business can engage in smart marketing:

Visitors who are new to your site are there for information. 

Statistics show that most website visitors that are new to a page are simply there to find out more about who you are. They just want information.

where to place your call to action buttonsThey are also very unlikely to scroll below the fold, while on your homepage.  Using this information, you should place your call to action “above the fold” on your website.  This means that the reader should be able to see it without having to scroll down the page at all.

Address the different buying phases of your site visitors.

You will have visitors on your site that are at different buying stages and know that about 75% of readers are in the early stages of the buying process.

These visitors are interested in what your business has to offer, but are not sure if they want to invest quite yet. Knowing this, make sure that your homepage has several call to action buttons that speak to visitors at different phases or a button that speaks to a common problem your customers may have regardless the phase.  If your small business focuses on treating chronic back pain, create a call to action that jumps on your front page that says, “Chronic back pain? Click here to find out how we can help you.”

The other 25% of website visitors are in the later phases of the buying process and have probably already visited your website and/or subscribed to your blog. They are familiar with the layout and navigation of the page.

They don’t need to be convinced that your product or service works, they already know it does, and because of this you should have C2As located in lead nurturing campaigns that focus on targeting their specific needs and lead them further down the sales funnel.

Also, be sure not to leave out your current customers. You should have C2As on your site that encourages your current customer base to upgrade or check out your latest and greatest product or service. Create demand for your business with a C2A focused just on your repeat customers.

Now it’s your turn. What are some other ways and places you can use C2As to convert your website visitors? Tell us your ideas in the comments box below.