Own your Industry – 50 Ways to Position Yourself as an Expert

November 25, 2015 nadine

Douglas Kruger, professional speaker, Relentlessly Relevant2 - smaller

by Douglas Kruger

(In conjunction with Entrepreneur Magazine SA):

What if yours was the first name to spring to mind when anyone mentioned your industry? What if you were so iconic that the deals, the publicity, the business all came to you? Reach that certain ‘tipping point,’ become the recognised expert, and your business model changes completely.

In 2014, Penguin Books SA published a first for Africa: a book on the topic of Expert Positioning written here at home by a South African.

‘Own Your Industry – How to Position Yourself as an Expert’ by Douglas Kruger, sold out after just two months in stores. Now onto its second print-run, we have scored something of a coup for you.

The book is divided into ‘50 ways’ to position yourself as an Expert. As an exclusive for Entrepreneur readers, professional speaker and business author Douglas Kruger has given us a cheat-sheet overview of all 50 ways covered in the book.


It begins with this quirky premise:

‘If you have all the knowledge in the world, but no personality, you are a specialist. If you have all the personality in the world, but no knowledge, you are Kardashian. Experts exist at the intersection of knowledge, personality and publicity.’


Here, then, is how you, your sales team, your brand and your business can enjoy the equity that comes with being seen as the top name in your industry.


50 ways to position yourself as an expert:

  • Start with greatness in mind. Don’t settle for good enough. Aim to lead your industry from the outset.
  • Who are you? What is your core personality brand? Amplifying that will not only make you unique, but authentic.
  • Complacency, and not hardship, is your enemy. Determine to outwork your competition.
  • Gather useful information across industries. Creating yourself is about asking ‘the constant question.’ What works? What doesn’t? Why? Live in a state of analysis.
  • Devour knowledge in all forms. Read broadly, study the best, seek coaching and council. You cannot become a world-class practitioner without quality input.
  • Aim to become a ‘category of one.’ When there is nothing like you, you will own your industry.
  • Be a constant producer. Keep your mental factory lights blazing and continually contribute thought leadership to the field.
  • Be a face and a voice (and not just an email address) in the minds of key players and the media. Be seen and heard in all the right forums.
  • Where your industry permits, gain credibility with accreditation and public leadership.
  • Consciously depict image with your dress code. This could mean following the industry stereotype in order to ‘fit in,’ or dressing counter-intuitively in order to stand out.
  • Do as you advocate and show consistency. Live your message and values.
  • Make sure you know the names of all the key players in your industry…and ensure that they know yours.
  • Develop a title, but keep it simple. ‘The Dog Whisperer’ trumps ‘Canine Behaviour Modification Specialist.’
  • Trendy buzzwords fall out of favour in time. Use classic, obvious and overt terms to describe your benefit.
  • Develop a story of struggle that qualifies you to speak on ‘overcoming’ your clients’ core problem.
  • Earn an ‘-est’ title by finding a way to be the most or the greatest.
  • Develop a free educational guide for your followers. Teach them to solve problems. They will come to you for the implementation.
  • Hoard and publicise praise. Endorsements create experts.
  • Speak the language of results. Vividly and explicitly show your clients how their end-state is better for your intervention.
  • Gather paying clients who add to your legitimacy. Get results for them in order to be recommended and retained.
  • Ensure that you are introduced as an expert, at speeches and in articles. It’s more powerful to be called an expert by an authority than to claim the title yourself.
  • Develop products that increase your visibility, earn credibility and develop passive income.
  • Constantly contribute to the media. Share your expertise regularly and broadly.
  • Use social media, and try to think visually. A photo attached to a tweet is exponentially more effective than text alone, and YouTube is your friend.
  • Team up with big brands and acquire third-party endorsements. Leverage their branding power.
  • Develop partnerships and sponsorships, in order to broaden your network of reach. Ask who, logically, fits with your brand or cause? What value can you offer to them.
  • Add a unique signature to your work. What takes you beyond mere ‘excellence’ and makes you memorable?
  • Develop a unique framework for expressing your core ideas, such as Robert Kiyosaki’s ‘Rich Dad, Poor Dad,’ or Clem Sunter’s ‘Foxes and Hedgehogs.’
  • Don’t underestimate the power of sexiness and charisma. Would you want to be you? If your followers don’t see something imitable in your persona, why would they follow?
  • Gain extraordinary publicity with media splash stories and record-breaking events.
  • Develop relationships with the media and offer your expertise and insights for their future use. Become a go-to source.
  • Unify the tone of your branding and communications to portray legitimacy and brand congruency.
  • Take control of key positioning scenarios: Meetings, interviews, speeches, launches and public performances. Be confident and lead.
  • Keep promises and do what you say you will do. Don’t agree to what you can’t deliver.
  • Be the one who responds to customer inquiries – oddly, a rarity in SA.
  • Date your enablers and make the Other look good. Build relationships in which others want to work with you again.
  • Be politically astute. Understand the human systems that govern and influence your field. You don’t necessarily need to abide by them, but you must understand them.
  • Price yourself at the right level. Divorce your low-paying, high-input clients and aim for the high end of the market.
  • Desperation being the hallmark of an amateur, bargain from an assumed position of strength. Walk away from deals that force too much compromise.
  • Give guarantees and stand by your work.
  • Use the right phraseology in your public communications. If you want to be the Mercedes of your industry, your language must reflect that positioning.
  • Beyond the narrow confines of your product or offering, determine some passion points and champion a cause.
  • Give away valuable knowledge and ideas for free, continuously.
  • Speak with strong, direct language. Take a stand and have a viewpoint. Euphemisms and political correctness are for newsreaders and politicians. Be something!
  • Use sound bites to make your message go ‘verbally viral.’
  • Use the incredible power of metaphors. Great icons across a range of industries express their concepts in metaphor and analogy.
  • As a communicator, stories are your very best friends.
  • Frame issues and be a thought leader by determining the course of public debate.
  • Don’t just sell ideas. Sell the pain that necessitates the idea.
  • Experts always leave a trail of breadcrumbs. Can you be found? Do you leave audiences with a valid reason to follow you in future?

Like to know where you currently rank in your industry, on the scale between ‘Amateur’ to ‘Expert’? Do the quick test at www.OwnYourIndustry.net.


Douglas Kruger is a professional speaker and business author, and the only person ever to have won the Southern African Championships for Public Speaking a record 5 times.

He is based in Johannesburg, but speaks all over the world, helping to grow businesses and guide entrepreneurs, with his presentations on expert-positioning, talent-development and how to innovate for businesses. Penguin Books have just commissioned his new piece, ‘Relentlessly Relevant – How to Innovate.’

See him live in action or read his articles at www.douglaskruger.co.za. Follow him on Linked In or Twitter: @douglaskruger.co.za. Sign up for his weekly newsletter on his website.



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