How to Build Business Credibility Through Knowledge
(Episode 1 of 2 with Erik Deckers)
Erik Deckers is a professional blogger and co-author of Branding Yourself and No BS Social Media. Erik has been blogging since 1997. He’s also been a newspaper humor columnist since 1994.
In today’s episode, we’re going to discuss two ways to gain credibility through knowledge. We’ll also discuss Erik’s career and the importance of checking our work and pricing ourselves appropriately.
Writing Books and Speaking Professionally to Build Credibility
Erik has found that speaking professionally has turned out to be his best monetization secret. He can be paid $3,000 plus travel expenses to give a speech for a day. However, in order to be asked to speak, Erik had to prove that he had knowledge that was worth sharing and that people wanted to hear.
One way he proved this was through his books. Erik didn’t make a ton of money off the books themselves, only a few thousand dollars over the span of several years, but he gained a lot of credibility and made a lot of money from the speaking opportunities they have brought him. He’s been able to show conference organizers his books, and they invite him to speak because of this big book he’s produced on a certain subject.
Books give us credibility because they show that we are experts on whatever their subject is. When someone has written a book, we know they have done research on that subject or they have a lot of experience with it. Books establish their authors as experts.
We don’t have to write something that’s 300–400 pages. It can just be 40–60 pages; even that can be enough for conference organizers to hire us to come speak.
“Anybody who’s looking to make money, find something you are an expert at, not just [what] you know a lot about, [and] write a book about it and then start sharing it with people,” Erik said.
Writing Blog Posts to Build Credibility
Erik had a client who ran a mystery shopping agency. When Erik started working with her, she had four people in the business: herself, her assistant, and two part-time employees. Their gross revenue was about three quarters of a million dollars.
Erik started ghostwriting articles for her once a week, but they eventually grew to twice a week. The articles were published under her name on her website, and they answered questions about mystery shopping: why companies need mystery shopping, how someone becomes a mystery shopper, what scams to watch out for, why wireless companies need mystery shoppers, why multifamily dwellings need mystery shoppers, etc.
Over the course of four years, she tripled her business, tripled it again, got a million dollar contract with a national wireless company, tripled her business one more time to have 27 people and make several million dollars in revenue, and she was begged to serve on the board of directors for the National Association of Mystery Shoppers.
This all happened because she was the face of this agency, and it was her content that was constantly being put out there. “She was able to market her credibility just by sharing all this knowledge,” Erik said. “Smaller companies would do well to have one or two people who are the faces of the company. The content that gets produced is their content. They’re doing the podcast, they’re doing the videos, they write the blog articles, even if you [ghostwrite] it. . . . They become that face and they become that expert. They become the superstar of the company, and a lot of people then want to buy from that person, even if they’re not the salesperson.”
Before it was bought by Amazon, the shoe company Zappos encouraged its employees to be on social media and blogs to form connections with customers. Their customers would call them when they wanted to make an order like they were calling a friend, not a company.
Russell Brunson says we should create an attractive character, and this is the same concept. People connect with people, not businesses. Instead of the business doing the marketing, we can put a face on the content and the marketing and people will likely connect with the person who is seen as an expert and want to do business with them.
Writing is Erik’s passion, and he’s been fortunate to make that his profession, as well as his hobby. The journey to Erik’s current profession started in about 2006. He had a job in the state health department doing risk and crisis communications.
When he left that job, he got a job as the director of sales and marketing at a direct mail company, but the problem was that he didn’t know anyone. How was he supposed to do sales and marketing when he didn’t know a lot of people?
Erik immediately started networking. He joined networking groups, went to chamber of commerce business after hours, met people at events, and asked them to coffee. At the same time, social media was starting to gain popularity, so he joined Twitter and a few other websites.
He helped build up a network of organized professionals who would meet one-on-one or organized lunches. Whenever the network added 1000 members, they would throw a party. During this time, Erik helped a friend write Twitter Marketing for Dummies.
After Erik had been networking for three years, this friend and Erik wanted to write another book. Erik’s friend said, “We need a roadmap for the guy you were three years ago. A guide to tell him how to become the guy you are now.” This idea became Erik’s book Branding Yourself.
A year after he wrote Branding Yourself with his friend, Erik wrote No BS Social Media with another friend. Then he got into the grind of writing books, doing social media, and consulting clients on helping them ghostwrite blog articles, which he’s been doing for 12 years. The biggest home runs of his career has been owning his business for 12 years and the books he’s published.
Checking Work and Appropriate Pricing
The biggest failure of Erik’s career came when Erik’s company put hyperlinking on a client’s blog articles, but they didn’t link them correctly. Their client found it and said, “This is terrible. This is awful. You have to fix this,” thinking it would take them weeks to fix it. Luckily, Erik was able to fix it in about half an hour.
However, because of this mistake, they lost this client; he fired them. This wasn’t their biggest client in terms of money, but it was their biggest client in terms of workload.
Erik learned two big things from this experience. First, he learned that he needed to check their work better. “The other lesson was we needed to raise our prices,” Erik said. “We were working hard for very little money, and we weren’t being valued appropriately. We could actually cut our workload and make more money if we priced ourselves accordingly, basically priced ourselves what we were worth.”
Thank you so much Erik for sharing your stories and insights with us today. Here are some of my key takeaways from this episode:
- Books give us credibility because they show that we are experts on whatever their subject is. When someone has written a book, we assume they have done research on that subject or they have a lot of experience with it.
- People connect with people, not businesses. Instead of the business doing the marketing, we can put a face on the content and the marketing and people will likely connect with the person who is seen as an expert and want to do business with them.
- We should check our work before it is sent to clients or published.
- We often undervalue ourselves, but we need to make sure we are charging the correct price for our services.
Connect with Erik
To learn more about or connect with Erik: