Hinge Authors Book on How to Create Industry Experts through Thought Leadership Marketing

RESTON, VA — September 8, 2014 — Hinge, a national leader in branding and marketing for professional services, announced today that it has published a groundbreaking book titled The Visible Expert℠ written by Elizabeth Harr, Sylvia S. Montgomery, CPSM and Lee Frederiksen, Ph.D.

In this new book, readers learn why having a Visible Expert status can attract more leads and help a professional services firm grow faster. Based on a systematic, quantifiable study of 130 Visible Experts and 1,028 professional services buyers conducted by the Hinge Research Institute, this book provides a detailed look at the tools and techniques needed to build ones reputation through thought leadership marketing and ascend to prominence. Included are several interviews with real Visible Experts from several professional services sectors and firms who have taken their expertise to the highest level.

“This study is the first and largest of its kind to look at both sides of the equation –Visible Experts and buyers of their services. We interviewed a full range of Visible Experts from different industry groups and different levels to learn how Visible Experts achieved their status; while buyers revealed how clients look for professional services and what characteristics they value most in a firm. Comparing the two sets revealed insights and opportunities,” said Lee Frederiksen, PhD and managing partner at Hinge.

The study examined five primary industry groups:

  • Architecture/Engineering/Construction;
  • Marketing/Communications;
  • Management Consulting;
  • Accounting/Finance;
  • Technology

“In our research, we found that across these industry groups, most Visible Experts use similar tactics to get to the top. However, a subset of the experts we studied, which we call Fast Trackers, reached the top much more quickly than other Visible Experts,” said Frederiksen.  “That process is replicable, and this book will show you how to do it.

From a professional services buyer’s perspective, there are several factors to determining a Visible Expert.  The top factor cited by 56.5% of purchasers is an individual’s reputation among buyers’ friends and colleagues. The next most persuasive characteristic of expertise cited by 38.1% of buyers is the expert’s ability to make complex ideas understandable.

“This new research illuminates how buyers make the judgment that someone is, in fact, an expert. Counterintuitive to popular thought, having the skills to make complicated topics understandable weighs more than someone’s actual expertise or the degrees they hold. These insights can help professional services providers develop marketing programs that leverage and nurture expertise to connect more effectively with clients and ultimately build reputation and drive growth and profits.”

In the research sample, almost 50 percent of buyers seek a Visible Expert for their ability to solve high impact complex problems with innovative solutions.  “Interestingly enough, the professional buyers we interviewed said once they identified and engaged a Visible Expert an unintended outcome occurred – they gained new knowledge and a greater understanding of the topic that unveiled previously unconsidered paths,” said Frederiksen.

The research also examined how buyers find Visible Experts. Asking friends or colleagues is most frequent, however, online is most important. Over 30% find Visible Experts online through search engine visibility, reading online reviews, through webinars, blogs, LinkedIn, Twitter, Google+ and Facebook.

The book outlines five distinct levels of Visible Expert expertise:

  1. Resident Expert – Found within a firm is known by colleagues and clients;
  2. Local Hero – Beginning to get known beyond the boundaries of the firm, occasionally attracting new business and in engaging in some promotional activities like speaking engagement and blogging;
  3. Rising Star – Reputation is moving into the regional or even national stage;
  4. The Industry Rock Star –National recognized name within their niche, driving top tier business and commanding premium fees for themselves and their firms;
  5. The Global Superstar – Elite experts that have garnered considerable exposure beyond their niches. In some cases, their names have become synonymous with their areas of expertise, and major firms clamor to be associated with them.

The book reveals that industry experts in professional services can experience significant benefits by developing Visible Experts, such as:

  • Growth – 66% of Visible Experts accelerate growth for their firms
  • Brand Building – 62% of Visible Experts substantially help build their firm’s brand
  • Higher Fees – Buyers expect to pay 200% over baseline for a Level 1 Resident Expert and 13 times over baseline for a Level 5 Global Superstar

“It’s a win-win strategy to develop a Visible Expert. Visible Experts boosts a firms brand and the professional service firm boosts a Visible Expert’s expertise,” said Frederiksen.

The book The Visible Expert is available on Amazon. A complimentary copy of the book can also be downloaded from the Hinge website. A blog series highlighting interviews with Visible Experts is also available on the blog, Professional Services Marketing Today.

About Hinge

Hinge is a leading branding and marketing firm for the professional services. Our original research on high-growth firms and professional services buyers helps clients grow faster and be more profitable. We provide a complete suite of services, including research and strategy, brand development, comprehensive online marketing programs, award-winning creative, content marketing, and lead-generating websites. Visit Hinge’s extensive library of research reports, books and other publications at www.hingemarketing.com/library.