Some days it seems like everywhere I look there are a whole range of individuals and businesses professing to be experts in Digital Marketing. These people don’t have core skills or even roles in digital, nor are their businesses focused on marketing. Rather, they have had some success in marketing their business (or themselves) and are proclaiming to be experts in this space. Not only that, but they then have created some kind of course or webinar series around their success and are selling that to other businesses and individuals.

I’m all for sharing experiences and learnings with others, after all, that is what Interactive Minds encourages through our events and amongst our network. But what I’m struggling to come to terms with is at what point do I feel that someone have enough experience to sell their services and to position themselves as an expert in an area?

I cook dinner every night, but I don’t claim to be a chef or that I know how to run a restaurant.

Who is an expert and in what…

Does experience with one business make you an expert? If you have started a small business, managed to engage your audience online and drive revenue and profit, does that make you a digital marketing expert, or are you simply good at running your business? Do you need expertise in more than one business, one product or one industry, or even some type of formal education on the topic, to enable you to start advising others on what to do?

Never before has the digital marketing skill set appeared to be so transferable, particularly in the social media area. Individuals are building their personal brands and creating whole businesses around these and then selling their ‘recipe’ to help others do the same.  It’s so easy to use freely available tools to create a course or hold a webinar that literally anyone can do it.

Another area where there are lots of individuals advising others is in the podcasting space. I’m a huge fan of podcasts and love listening to digital marketing, start up and business episodes, but it is an area where there are a lot of people telling you what to do based solely on their personal experience. And maybe that is ok as not only is this free content, but when a podcast is solely an individual’s opinion, it is usually correctly labelled as such. Once someone has figured out a great method, the tools and what works, maybe that is enough to make it a lesson?

What makes an expert?

There is an equation of the amount of time during which you have gained your experience by the depth of number of brands/companies you have worked on, that gives you a true indication of skillset and ability. Years of experience is important as it allows you to gain understanding of how to move with the trends, to trial different techniques, experience trial and error to discover what works and to refine and optimise. Depth of experience is just as important as typically what works for one business will not work for another in a cookie-cutter way. Different businesses have different products and audiences, they leverage different channels and have the complexity of different messages.  Formal education could also be expected to play a role in defining an expert, particularly as key principles that direct your approach would be playing a vital role. 

Just as I don’t typically approach someone with only two years’ experience to speak at an event to educate the industry, individuals and organisations should make sure they research the depth of experience before entering any training or taking input input from others. Lots of people have very useful information to share and perhaps their experience level simply needs to be considered when making a purchase decision, as it should impact on the price and your expectations.  

We can reasonably expect that experienced Digital Marketers with a depth of experience and time in the industry can charge more for training or a course than a newer entrant to the market. Not only that but the participant should be able to expect broader experience to equal more valuable advice that they can receive.

Presenting an opportunity

This creates an opportunity for skilled Digital Marketers to differentiate themselves from less experienced players in the market place. This is relevant whether you are looking for a new job, impressing the boss or looking for how to further improve your knowledge.

So how can you as a skilled Digital Marketing expert differentiate from others with narrower experience? Here are my three tips:

  1. Build your own brand – use the tools at your disposal to position yourself as the expert you are. Write a blog, update your LinkedIn profile and highlight years of experience and depth of brands that you’ve worked with. Plus contribute to conversations and topics around your passions.
  2. Get relevant experience – Make sure you have the time and depth of experience as part of your kit bag that will bring you credibly and the ability to establish yourself as a true expert in this space.
  3. Know your audience – If you are looking to upskill, make sure you are learning from someone who has quality experience in a similar market, or with similar clients/client size. There is no point learning social media marketing from a solopreneur when you are working with large corporates.

There is definitely a difference between a true, trained digital marketing expert and a one hit wonder. Of course, we can learn from people of all experience, but if you’re upskilling in any one area, it’s important to check depth of experience and to make an informed decision before committing to anything.

If you want to upskill and learn from a reputable digital marketing expert/company, there are courses around offering anything from a few hour workshop to an larger course over several weeks. Or you can benefit from the ongoing training and support offered by Interactive Minds to keep you current on an ongoing basis.