How would your business change if you became THE recognized expert in your field? Even if you were only recognized within a small geographic area, wouldn't that make a huge difference?

Alternatively, how successful would your job search be if you were known as an industry expert? Do you think you would have to mass mail hundreds of resumes, or do you suppose headhunters would be calling you?

In reality, you simply cannot put a price on becoming an expert. Instead of being just another person with a sales pitch, or just another person seeking a job, you can position yourself as a trusted advisor, or the only credible solution to a problem.

But how do you become a recognized authority in your field?

One very good way to do this is to conduct research on topics within your area of expertise. Have you ever noticed that most so-called gurus simply recycle the same information available from other sources? Maybe the one guru you follow words these ideas better, or maybe she synthesize ideas from several sources to come up with new slants on the same thing, but when you get right down to it, how many original ideas and insights do these gurus actually teach?

The solution to this is to do research. I’m not talking here about complicated, labor intensive statistical sampling and polling, but simple mini surveys that can shed new light on a topic.

Here’s how it works, write out about 5 to 7 questions, including both open-ended and closed questions, and write a questionnaire. Send this questionnaire to companies that should be doing business with you. When you get a significant number of responses back, write up a report.

Once the report is written, use it both as a PR piece and as a lead generator. Send copies to the media and to the same companies you surveyed.

This original research will most certainly elevate you in the eyes of your target market.

Years ago I knew an MBA student who used this very method to get a very good job upon graduation. He spent the better part of his final year in grad school conducting one survey after another and sending the reports to various business publications and corporations. Not only were potential employers clamoring to interview him, he also got to name his starting salary.

A consultant I know uses this method to keep his name constantly in the spotlight of his chosen industry. He conducts 3 or 4 such surveys a year and hardly a month goes by that he is not mentioned in at least one of the industry trade publications.

But now I’d like to add a slight twist to this idea by sharing something I recently learned from Larry Genkin, who hosts the Thought Leadership Marketing Mastermind Group on Facebook.

Larry suggests that instead of just researching your target prospects, you also conduct research of the companies your prospects want to do business with. By doing this, Larry finds that you can gain access to top level executives within your target market.

Here is a letter I received from Larry’s Thought Leadership Marketing Mastermind Group just the other day:
"Here are the details on one of the quickest techniques to help you quickly elevate yourself in the eyes of a business person you're looking to make an impression with. It has the added benefit of getting you in the door for a personal meeting with virtually anyone."

The Thought Leadership Marketing "Vest Pocket" Market Research Technique: Get an Appointment With Anyone -- Including the CEO

By Larry Genkin, Creator, The Thought Leadership Marketing Method

Everybody knows that it's more effective to sell "top — down" than "bottom — up." The real question is, when you're in sales, how do you get the people at the top to WANT to meet with you.

Here's a very effective technique that worked like a charm for me back in the early days of my career when I was still "wet behind the ears" selling magazine advertising. I call it "The Vest Pocket Research Technique", here's how it works:

Step #1: Select your sales target

Step #2: Get the contact info of 20 prospects for your sales target

Step #3: Create a short survey. The goal is to ask questions that will provide interesting thought provoking results. Here are some sample questions I would ask.

* When you think of ___ (category of product/service of your target) who is the first vendor that comes to mind?

* What other vendors can you name?

*Who does the best work in ___ (category of product/service of your target)? Why?

* Who does the worst work ___ (category of product/service of your target)? Why?

*What are the most important factors when you make a decision to purchase ___ (category of product/service of your target)? Why?

* If you could give vendors in ____ (category of product/service of your target) a piece of advice what would it be?

* Do you have any plans to buy ____? If so when? How much do you anticipate you will you spend?

Step #4: Call the contacts from Step #2 and conduct the survey. Have it take no more than 3-4 minutes. Get 10 completed surveys.

Step #5: Call the CEO or Sr. exec you want to meet with. Explain that you have some market research about their company that, while not scientific, is very instructive. Give some of the highlights and close for the appointment, like so:

"Mr. Shapiro, this research produced some very interesting results. What I learned during these calls included: What companies in your sector had top of mind awareness, who is perceived as doing the best (and worst) work and the buying factors that are most important to them when making a purchasing decision for ___. And, I've even got the names of people who've told me they're going to be buying ___ in the very near future and how much they have budgeted to spend. When would be a good time for us to set up a meeting for me to share my results."

Not only has this gotten me meetings with CEO's when I was a jr. sales rep, but I've walked into these meetings to find the CEO and 4 of his staff with them waiting, with notepads, to hear my research.

It's a relatively quick way to completely change your relationship with a client/prospect. One second you're a peddler, then next your valuable business partner. And, when you have that kind of relationship, when it comes time for them to buy your category of product/service, who do you think they're going to be most inclined to buy from?

When you become an expert within your niche, you practically OWN that niche. After all, why would anyone choose to do business with anyone else?

Use the ideas in this article to come up with your own survey questions and ways to leverage original research to become a true authority in what you do.

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COPYRIGHT © 2009, Charles Brown
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