Highly skilled experts are the foundation of any professional services firm that works with the U.S. government. While firms know they need top-notch professionals, however, few realize the advantages of having on their staff an expert, or a team of experts, who is also widely known and respected throughout the industry. Research from the Hinge Research Institute found that these high-visibility experts confer major benefits to their firms—allowing them to be better known, attract more business, grow faster, and command higher fees. Let’s take a look at the findings.

What is a Visible Expert®?

A Visible Expert is a professional with high marketplace visibility and a reputation for expertise. These are the industry icons Washingtonians fight over for their annual conferences. They’re the problem solvers who immediately come to mind when the government hits a roadblock. Specifically, the study showed that buyers seek out high-visibility experts for two primary reasons:

  1. To solve a critical problem
  2. To build their brand and win new business

The Advantages of Having a Visible Expert on Staff

 For government contractors, highly visible experts act as force multipliers, generating leads and increasing brand awareness in the marketplace – and positively impacting business growth and profitability. The research shows that firms with high-profile experts on staff stand to gain a lot, including:

  • download-ve-bookBusiness Growth — 66% of visible experts accelerate their firm’s growth. The research shows visible experts increasing business development for their firms across a number of areas, with the biggest increases occurring in firm growth, lead generation, and audience reach. And with an often extensive network of personal connections, visible experts create opportunity to forge new business partnerships. On the human resources front, their high profile helps attract fresh talent.
  • Brand Building — 62% of visible experts substantially help build their firm’s brand. For example, visible experts make a point to get noticed in print and online media, and as they become better known, so do their firms. This can help bolster brand development efforts throughout the corporation. Another bonus: the research shows that as experts become more visible, so do their firms’ brands.
  • Higher Fees — Buyers expect to pay 200% over baseline for a Level 1 visible expert (the lowest level of visibility), and a 13X premium for a Level 5 visible expert (the highest level of visibility). In interviews with over 1,000 buyers, Hinge found that clients place a great deal of value on expertise and experience. These individuals can raise team confidence, solve problems quickly, reduce risk, and even assist in legal proceedings. In times of crisis, buyers are willing to pay a premium price for expertise they perceive as exceptional
  • Lead Generation – Visible experts boost lead generation for their firms, creating inbound business leads through a variety of channels. By adding a visible expert to the team, firms can not only be more selective about which RFPs they consider, they can win more contracts later in the process, as well.

So how do I make my expertise more visible?

Although visible experts come from disparate backgrounds and industries, the research showed that they all use the same techniques to get to the top. Even better, the findings revealed certain experts who were able to rise to the top five times faster than average. How did they do it? These “Fast Trackers” were doing three things differently from other visible experts, which we explore next.


What the Fast Trackers do Differently

1: Focus on a Niche. You’re likely already an expert in the contracting industry, but now you want to really set yourself apart. Focusing on a narrow niche market might seem limiting, but research shows that individuals who identify a niche market experience a faster rise in visibility than professionals who are generalists. Bottom line? It’s easier to be a big fish in a small pond.

2: Use Thought Leadership Marketing. Fast Trackers also use thought leadership marketing—the practice of freely offering advice and educational content across a wide range of channels—to get ahead. Once you’ve identified your target audience, think about what they care about, and figure out how to reach them—think blogs, social media, industry articles, and public speaking.

3: Write a book. 85% of Fast Trackers have written a strategically focused book. Books are a powerful way to build instant credibility and authority on an industry niche. After all, there’s nothing better than to be known as the person who “wrote the book” on a topic. As an added bonus, a book opens many other doors, leading to better speaking engagements, media interviews, and lots of free publicity.

Chase the Dream

Deciding to become a visible expert isn’t a commitment to be taken lightly. In fact, passion and commitment are defining traits of visible experts in the study. But for those who want to take their career and their firm to the next level, visible expertise is a proven way to set yourself apart from the competition.

Additional Resources:

How Hinge Can Help:

Hinge is a global leader in helping professional services firms grow faster and become more profitable. Our research-based strategies are designed to be implemented. In fact, our groundbreaking Visible Firm® program combines strategy, implementation, training and more.

The Visible Expert Book: Download for Free


Elizabeth Harr