thought leader

Is giving away your expertise for free a bad idea?

I was having a chat with a client recently who isn’t a social media user. They willingly admitted that they don’t really understand it or how on earth a business can make money by spending time posting to social channels.

We were on the phone, so they couldn’t see my big grin - I knew I could help! No, I wasn’t seeing dollar signs dancing all around. What I saw was an opportunity for this business to achieve greater success and I would get the opportunity to have a small role in that!

In order to give this client some insight on how it could work, I began to throw out scenarios that applied to their business. 

  • You can share tips on how to do _______________. That’s something that individuals can do themselves and they probably don’t even realize or know how.
  • Write up some information on ______________ way of doing _____________. Include some pointers for who such a method would work best and maybe caution against it if there are those it wouldn’t work for.
  • Answer the common questions your clients ask.
  • Write up the reasons you would recommend or not recommend something. 

See what’s happening? There’s enormous value to the audience in these types of content. There is helpful advice, concrete learning, best practices and questions answered. 

Won’t it hurt my business to give away so much information?

That’s highly unlikely. 

I have a personal and extremely amateur interest in photography. I subscribe to a couple of photography blogs like Fstoppers and Digital Photography School and a couple of others. I also know quite a few professional photographers. While some people may follow the pros and gain some insights and then launch their own business, most will not.

If I want professional photos of my family, I will call up one of the many pros that I know and book a session. Partially because I don’t have the eye of a pro, but also because people aren’t really my favourite photography subjects.

Here are a few other examples: 

  • A real estate agent that shares tips for prepping a house for sale isn’t going to lose business, because the real value is in the contacts, knowing the market and being able to market the house in appropriate places - not to mention good advice about pricing.
  • A graphic designer that shares good graphic design principles and samples isn’t going to lose business because let’s face it: most people are terrified of opening up graphic design software.
  • A consultant/coach that shares how to do things they specialize in isn’t going to lose business because the time it takes someone to catch up to their level of knowledge is prohibitive to getting real work done.

This is how expertise works. We hone in on an area, learn as much as we can, work with that knowledge and then we start that cycle all over again. Social media can be a vessel for you to showcase your expertise in practical ways that build trust, awareness, and eventually new clients.

Even if you share how-to content that you offer as a service in your business, that is proof of your abilities. The DIY crowd was going to do it themselves anyway and they can find out how from others in your industry that are sharing on social channels. Your market? The ones you want as customers? They need your help because they don’t have the time and other resources to do it themselves.

Can you name a business(es) that has become successful by sharing its knowledge and expertise?