Can You Buy Your Way to Expert Status?

Catherine Morgan media interviewsWe all want to be seen as an expert – whatever we do. If you’re a service provider, you want to be seen as a thought leader. If you’re a tech startup, you want to be seen as an innovator.

If you are new in your business, you want to establish some kind of credibility so that you can get clients and build your knowledge base. There’s nothing wrong with that. We’re all new in our business at some point, and you probably have some transferable experience – or you wouldn’t be starting that business.

However, I have some real issues with faux experts. It seems like everyone is a bestselling author or media personality.

Have you earned the right to call yourself a bestselling author if you contributed one chapter to a book with 10 other folks? Or if you sold your eBook for cheap for a few hours and had all your friends buy it on Amazon so you hit No. 1 for an hour or two? I don’t know….

How about if you had some kind of prepared article distributed on some media blogs? Can you say you were seen on CBS, NBC, etc.? I threw up in my mouth little when I went to a seminar where they offered that service. People were literally running to the back of the room to buy it. It was a $297 investment and they guaranteed results.

(OK, I’ll confess, I seriously thought about it for a minute or two. Instead, I called a friend and ranted about “Dr. Jekyll and Ms. Marketing.”)

Last week I was contacted by the producer of a radio show in the Chicago area that showcased small businesses. I was excited to talk to him about possibly being a guest. I have been on Chicago radio, so I thought that was why they were reaching out to me.

But no, for the price of $999 they would let me have a segment on the radio show, send me a recording of my segment, and would distribute a press release that they ASSURED me would be picked up by various media outlets, and would boost my business.

He also clarified that I would be able to say that I was “featured” vs. the “as seen on” that the other offer from Ms. Marketing would yield when I asked him about it. (I had seen the same service offered by him for less than Ms. Marketing’s when I did an Internet search on his name. He has since taken that site down. I assume to not cannibalize his current “better” offer.)

I not-very-politely declined.

The problem I had with this is that they didn’t mention anything about the fee until the very end – like they were letting me into some secret club. If someone wants to charge for the option to be on a show, that’s their business. But state the fee up front and let people self-select. I paid once, but it was a modest amount, and a strategy that made sense for my business at that time for several reasons.

Technically, you are not lying in any of these situations – but the lack of clarity about what was actually accomplished makes me uncomfortable. It is getting harder and harder to tell the “experts” apart.

Now I have some logos on my picture on my website, but they are verifiable interviews that I did, not a mention, or a sponsored article or press release.

I understand that if there are systems, there will always be ways to game them. But let’s add some qualifiers to expert status so that we know who has done what without a lot of digging.

If we don’t, we will make expert status irrelevant, which doesn’t really help anyone.

What do you think about this? Am I being overly picky? Or do you have the same pet peeve? I would love to hear your thoughts in the comments below.

3 thoughts on “Can You Buy Your Way to Expert Status?

  1. I totally get your point, and one I agree with, but the issue runs even deeper, I think. The reality is that appearing in a media publication or writing a book does not make you an expert. What you say is what makes you an expert. The only qualifier you need is to ask, ‘Is this “Expert” saying something of value that is beyond the already obvious?”
    Many people who are held up as experts often don’t say anything beyond the overly simple, yet n00bs to the field will incorrectly think the “Expert” is dropping mad bombs of wisdom. They assume that since the “Expert” has a big blog or regularly speaks at event that they must “know” something. While my Pre-K teacher was awesome, teaching me the ABC alone does not make her an “Expert” teacher.

  2. Steveology Wow, Steve, that is a really great point. Bland wisdom-spewing and platitude-spouting does not make you an expert. In my mind it is about strategic and tactical advice that actually works. Or a point of view that creates a shift in thinking. Thanks for the comment!

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