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EPISODE 50: Core Brand Stories: The Expertise Story

by Sep 7, 2021Messaging, Podcast

In this episode we will cover:

  • What a business’s Expertise Story is
  • Why the Expertise Story is important
  • How to craft a powerful Expertise Story
Content warning: This episode contains a story that involves the death of a child.
Today, we’re diving into the fourth of our five core brand stories: the Expertise Story.

As writers, we’ve found that this one can be polarizing for our clients. Some are naturally great at talking up their expertise, while getting others to speak to their accomplishments can be like pulling teeth! 

So when we talk about expertise, we want to be clear that it’s about more than the letters after your name or the certificates you have on the wall. {Of course, those things are also great to talk about!} You can showcase expertise through your experience, your mindset, your commitment to growth, your clients’ results, and so much more.


In this episode, you’ll learn:

  • What an Expertise Story is
  • The importance of the Expertise Story
  • How to craft a powerful Expertise Story

If you want to talk with your fellow writers about how to tap into your clients’ powerful expertise stories, join us in the Polaris Writer Lounge.


Learn More:

Copywriting Character Quiz

Polaris Writer Lounge

Nora’s Home



Jessi: Welcome to the Brand Your Voice Podcast, where we’re digging into how you can create personality-driven content that connects and converts. I’m Jessi… Marie: …and I’m Marie. We’re the co-founders of North Star Messaging + Strategy, where we support business owners in outsourcing content without sacrificing authenticity. Jessi: Every brand has a unique voice that sets it apart. We're digging into how to capture the way your brand communicates from the words you use to the stories you tell. So you can create more compelling content that strategically helps you meet your business goals. Marie: And if you choose to outsource that content, you'll be able to do so with confidence, knowing your brand voice is in good hands and you can reclaim your time. We're so glad you're here and hope you enjoy this episode. Hi there, Marie here. And I wanted to let you know, before I get into this episode of a content trigger warning, I use an example of a client in this episode who talked to me about the death of his child. And so if this is something that is going to be difficult for you to listen to, please know you have my blessing to take care of your own wellbeing and go ahead and skip this episode. All right. Take care of yourself, thinking of you. And, on with the episode, if you were still going to listen, thanks so much. Hi there, Marie here with another episode, and today I'm talking about the fourth story in our series about core brand stories. Today is all about the expertise story. And this story is funny because it's polarizing, right? I find that half of our clients it's like getting them to talk about their own expertise is pulling teeth. They're like, oh no, I'm just sitting in a pile of like humble humility stew and bragging about myself as the last thing I want to do. It's super uncomfortable. Please. Can we talk about anything else? Oh no. And then half my clients are like, oh yeah, I got my MBA from Harvard. And, I became certified as a, whatever, you know, at this time. And like, they give you basically their resume. Right. And both of them are missing the mark. So it's interesting, right? Because I find that like, we get into this work as copywriters because we love words and we love to right and we love to express things and we kind of love to like work solo. And this is the part of our job where I think we need to be like basically given an honorary membership or something in like a mindset coach association. Because part of what we're doing here is helping them understand that, A, bragging on yourself, talking about yourself is actually okay. And we can do it in a way that's tasteful and effective and actually mean something. And B, bragging on ourselves does not have to start and stop with degrees and certifications and little certificates hanging on their wall. I think you find that, especially like in academic circles, there's certain professional fields like medicine, things like that, where it's like, the degree really matters. You know, you can't do this work without licensure, certain degrees, certain years of experience. And it's all pretty, you know, set in terms of the path to become a transplant surgeon, for example, hold that thought. And so they really think they're like, well, I'm going to talk about my MD and my PhD. And I'm going to talk about, you know, my residency and all those things. Our job as writers is to help them realize that when we talk about expertise in a way that really lands with the audience, it's so much more than that. It's so much more than a list of letters after their name and certificates hanging on their wall. It's really about sharing stories and sharing themselves in a way that helps the audience say they really know what they're talking about. And there's something a little tricky about this because everybody learns in a different way. Right. And I'm actually gonna harken this back to our copywriting character model. And if you aren't sure what I'm talking about it is podcast episodes 38 through 43, there's five episodes. And we go through each of the five copyrighting characters. But for example, one of the copywriting characters is the scholar. The scholars and MO is to teach. They're like, let me just impart knowledge upon you. And yeah, if you want to convey expertise, it's not hard for the scholar to like basically come off looking like an expert because they're just, you're teaching all the time. But the problem is they're not really connecting as easily. That's not as natural for them. Or for example, the nurturer, they are all about connection, right? They want you to feel heard and understood and loved. But it's not as natural for them to say like, okay. And I'm going to put on my, you know, smarty pants, britches and tell you some cool new things that you didn't know. And so what's interesting is whatever is natural for somebody, however, is natural for them to communicate, that's how they learn. Usually that's the kind of content that attracts them. And in the same way, if you're listening to this podcast, I'm guessing it's because listening, auditory learning is something that works for you, but some people, doesn't work for them. That's why, by the way, we also have podcasts show notes, so somebody could read it. And we're also recording these as videos so that at some point, when we get our act together, we may actually release these as videos. And there are other ways for us to convey this knowledge. Right. And so essentially what I'm trying to say is don't let your client trust that their instinct of how they like to teach and how they like to communicate is the best way to get information out to their audience and to convince them of their expertise. It is certainly an important way, and we want to lean into strengths, right? We don't want to say, oh, well, I'm good at this. And I'm not good at that. So I'm going to focus only in the thing that I'm not good at, because that's just kind of the road to like, demoralization right at the end of the day. But it's just something to be aware of. So, like I said, if your client is a nurturer, they're probably going to be one of those people. Who's like, oh, I'd rather do anything else then talk about my own expertise. And so it's your job as the writer to show them that talking about expertise is so much more than their certificates and their degrees and bragging on themselves, right? Yes. You can talk about your training. Yes. You can talk about your experience, but usually somebody who's a nurturer, isn't going to be too squeamish about saying something like, yeah, well, I have been doing this work for 15 years. Like that doesn't feel too braggy. Right. And yeah, I've learned a lot along the way, and this is what they love to do. They love to brag on the results like this many people have been served or this many people have changed their business, or I've helped my clients save over $3 million collectively because I, blah, blah, blah, like whatever, right? Like that's the stuff they get excited about. Their other people's success, their client's success that they've helped nurture and shepherd along. Right. So first of all, I would suggest get them to take the copywriting character quiz, learn what their copywriting character is. And that's going to help, you know, which angle to approach this conversation about expertise. Cause they may have no problem talking about it, or maybe the hardest thing in the world for them. But I want to share a story quickly about an example, I guess, of expertise that is tied in in a way that is really resonant. So I used to work at Houston Methodist, which is a big hospital in Houston, Texas. It's a nonprofit hospital. I was a grant writer. And the best part of my job was to be sent into the hospital because I usually worked in an administrative building. I'd be sentenced the hospital proper, and I'd be assigned to meet with an interview somebody on the faculty of the hospital, somebody who was a practicing physician. But typically they also had, you know, a PhD. And so they were doing some teaching of residents and stuff like that. Because what they wanted me to do essentially, was interview this expert and then be able to translate that because at the end of the day, the donors, these are people who were like, you know, energy executives or entertainment executives or whatever. They don't know anything really about like cardiac surgery or orthopedic surgery, but they were just like, oh, well, like my dad had a great experience at Houston Methodist when he went in for cardiac surgery. So I'm thinking I might want to give a gift. And so I would interview these doctors who were like 10,000 times smarter than me, and knew so much. And I would listen to them and I would learn what they're doing. Usually I'd be like what is that, and I'd go back to my desk and I'd be Googling all these, like, you know, 15 letter along scientific terms. Cause it was like I smiled and nodded, but I didn't really understand what that meant. And when I asked him what it meant, I got more explanations that I didn't understand. So my job was to translate it in a way that was effective for the donor or the prospective donor to be able to understand and connect to. So at one point I met with this guy named Dr. Osama Gaber. He was, I believe at the time, at the head of the transplants department, division, this has been a long time. So I'm forgetting a lot of things, but his wife, Lillian, Dr. Lillian Gaber gave her was also a third gen transplant surgeon at Houston Methodist. And, you know, talking with Dr. Gaber, you could hear all day long about his degrees and he understood transplants and, you know, immunosuppressant pharmaceuticals, and like all the, like things that go into that, like the back of his hand, you know, he probably had memorized the textbooks and knew what to do. He had the instincts, he had the experience, I'm sure his wife did as well. I just never had a chance to get to know her, but, you know, I was blown away by his intellect and his years of experience. And Dr. Gaber could really talk about too, you know, all the results that he'd gotten, all the successes, all the patients' successes and what was really stirring about those was, you know, not just, yeah, sure. I did, you know, X number of heart transplants last year, but like, yeah, I did this heart transplant on this particular patient Joel, and as a result, Joel was able to make it to his daughter's wedding and walk her down the aisle, you know, things like that, where it's like, Ooh, that connects, you know. So asking like, okay, well what did that mean for Joel? What did that mean to have those extra years of life? Right. Um, but this is the thing about Dr. Gaber. That was the most amazing is that part of his expertise, unfortunately, was due to personal experience when Dr. Gaber and Dr. Gaber's daughter, Nora was a little girl, she was killed in a car accident, and this is horrific, right? I mean, it's really upsetting. And Nora's legacy became even more than her being the precious daughter of these two physicians because her organs were donated and she saved the life, her organ's saved the lives of many critically ill children. And ultimately they, they ended up creating a project through. I'm not sure if it's, I know it's associated with the hospital, but I'm not sure if it's through the hospital called Nora's home. And it's a place for transplant patients and their families to come stay when they're awaiting and recovering from transplant in Houston. And so talking with Dr. Gaber, I learned about how part of his experience, his expertise really came from the compassion of knowing, from this tragedy. And obviously, you know, you don't always have to read into a trauma. There may not be a trauma. We don't also want to capitalize on it. We want to talk about things in a way that is comfortable for your client and for the brand. But in this case, it had been many years, I think, over a decade since this had happened. And it had really fueled both of them and their purpose. And so, that was a really important way for us to be able to connect between the good work that he was doing in the hospital and the good work that his wife was doing in the hospital and what it really meant, like what was connective about that expertise? Why did it matter to the person on the other side of that table or on the other side of a proposal letter to do donate some money? Because at the end of the day, sure, we were able to get some great gifts for the transplant center and we were able to make Nora's home a reality. I remember writing proposals, grant proposals for Nora's home. And today it's a real thing. You can check it out at Norashome.org. So, it's not always going to be that dramatic and that's okay. But my point is, see if you can find the human element within their expertise. So how do you do it? Just like all the other stories I'm going to suggest interviewing your client verbally, record it, come back to it, transcribe it because they're going to self edit themselves a lot more writing than they are speaking with you face-to-face or through the video camera. So some of the questions you can ask are, you know, what inspired you to come into this field in the first place? And tell me a little bit about how you became to be knowledgeable in your field, right? Like, was it years of experience? Was it programs that you took? Was there a specific moment where you thought, whoa, I'm going to sit up and pay attention and buckle down. And this is my thing, right. Also invite them to talk a little bit about how they continue to learn, how do they continue to grow in their work and in their field. And then, especially for those nurturer types, this is going to be a question that they're going to love. Tell me about a specific time when you helped someone like a client or a customer that they needed your help and you helped them out. What are some great results that your customers or your clients have gotten, or that you've gotten for them? And you can invite them to think, you know, yes. Please tell me your certifications, your degrees, your licenses. I want to know all that stuff, because all that matters and all of that's important. And are there any other experiences that have helped you grow in your expertise? This has the potential to get pretty intimate and you probably want to check in with them and say, Hey, thank you for sharing that. Are you comfortable with me sharing that with your audience or me writing something that you could share with your audience along those lines? I think honestly that's important for all of us. Sometimes they may say, no, not yet, or no, I'm not ready for that. And that's okay. But just the fact that they've articulated it with you means that you've created a safe space for them. They trust you. They find you invaluable. And B, it means they're on the journey to being able to start talking about these things in a way that connect a little bit more than just certificates hanging on the wall. So for your homework, I want you to do three things, tri-homework. Number one, ask yourself these questions. I want to hear from you. What are some of the things that make you an expert in your field? And then secondly, I want you to go through this exercise with at least one of your clients. See what comes of it. This is especially useful for things like about pages, by-lines anything like that, but really you can share the story just about anywhere. And then third, if you're just looking for a community of support, for writers by writers, I invite you to join the Polaris writer's lounge. You can find it at northstarmessaging.com/polaris, P O L A R I S as in the north star. This is a free community hosted on slack by us, Jessi and I, and our team are in there. And we're here to talk about all things, copywriting, the successes, the struggles, the questions we're here to support you. So we hope you'll join. Thanks so much for, and I look forward to seeing what you do with it. Thanks for joining us for this episode of the Brand Your Voice Podcast. Make sure to visit our website, northstarmessaging.com, where you can subscribe to the show on iTunes, Spotify, and more. Jessi: If you found value in this episode, we'd love for you to leave us a review on iTunes and share it with your friends. Thank you, and happy content creating.
For additional content strategy and branding tips, check out northstarmessaging.com/blog. Also, please tag us on Instagram and let us know you’re out there! @northstarmessaging 

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