July 19, 2011


road sign: better than straight?The usual way to sell Q is by showing your expertise in Q.

There's another way. Show your expertise in R (something else) to imply your expertise in Q. This works best if
  1. your expertise in Q is indisputable
  2. R is more interesting than Q

Twist Mitch

Mitch Joel gives great presentations and writes a thought-provoking blog, Six Pixels of Separation. He rarely discusses the marketing services his firm, Twist Image, provides. Yet, I’m left feeling that he and his team must be excellent at what they do. Perception becomes reality.

You probably have your own examples. Maybe you see someone who’s devoted to fundraising. Don’t you figure they’re generous, successful and excellent at what they sell?

Transference isn't guaranteed. You may be a wonderful singer but that doesn’t mean you’re great at fixing leaky basements. There’s such a disconnect.

Why Detours Work

How you do anything is how you do everything.
— T Harv Eker
What you are speaks so loudly that I cannot hear what you say.
— Stephen Covey
People may have trouble gauging how good you are at what you sell, especially if you provide a service. Both quotations show why the four habits of the highly referable are so powerful: they imply you do other things well.

What do your clients really want? Probably to increase their revenue without buying what you sell. Help them reach their goals and they'll assume you're great at what earns you money. Why wouldn’t they then hire you or refer you? That’s reciprocity and authority in action, two of the universal principles of influence.

The Core

To imply expertise, first become excellent at the core of what you do. Apply the 10,000 hour rule and then expand. This will be easy for you but difficult for others to copy since few push through The Dip to mastery.


I've designed life & health insurance products and advised top advisors. When I blog or speak about marketing, you’re likely inferring that I’m still expert in the dull world of insurance. Why discuss marketing? That topic opens more doors and attracts large audiences. Discussing social media has been especially effective since 2008.

What you sell may be seen as a periodic unpleasant purchase. You might not get repeat business for years. If you have a more appealing topic, you’re more likely to maintain ongoing contact. Maybe your magnet is your hobby?

You might even find another stream of revenue.

Do You Charge?

Marketers like Dan Kennedy advise you to sell everything you can: a better mousetrap, a book/video bundle on how to design mousetraps, a seminar and a paid newsletter. Maybe that would work for you.

I've been offered money for my marketing help. I've refused for two reasons. First, I'd get distracted. Success comes from focus … which comes from saying no … which frees up time to focus. Second, my advice would be less credible. You make more money when others rely on you (selling them fish). Without any marketing services to sell, I focus on sharing quick ways to self-sufficiency (teaching them to fish). That works well.

The scenic route is more enjoyable than the boring freeway. You never know who you’ll meet along the way.


PS Would a detour help you too?

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