Expert vs Expertise

I wanted to take a moment and talk about the subtle difference between declaring your expertise, and proclaiming yourself an expert. And I bring this up because, from a narrative marketing perspective, how you position your experience is going to shape how people – your customers, your competitors – view your business.

Now, in my view, it is entirely OK, and even appropriate, to declare your expertise because this should be a foundation of your narrative marketing strategy.  Why? Because through the simple act of asserting your expertise, you not only create a framework for sharing your past experience, you also define the canvas upon which your potential future customers can place themselves – as in, I need to hire someone who understands my business… and here is someone who has expertise in my area. That’s a really strong brand narrative to create - the idea that you're committed to becoming an expert in your area. In fact, if you do it right, you can even use your expertise as a way of defining your brand identity by saying that your expertise is an expression of your brand's values. (but we’ll talk about that in another post). And that's all good.

But, when it comes to proclaiming yourself an expert… well, I probably just have an over-developed sense of false modesty, but I don’t feel OK with anyone (regardless of how knowledgeable they are) proclaiming themselves to be an expert. At anything. And this is why. When you self-proclaim your expert-ness, you’re no longer just saying that you have expertise in an area, you’re saying that you’ve mastered it. And in so doing, you’re  asserting that you have mastered that area better than others. That you know more than anyone else. That you're just plain better. And that means the marketing narrative you've created with your claim is that you lack any modesty.  Whatsoever.  And I’m not sure that’s a brand narrative that you really want to create. Is it?