Make Marketing Suck Less

The Overlooked Expert Phenomenon: Why Expert Business Owners Are Not Widely Known & How to Fix It


Do you feel like an overlooked expert? Have you ever thought, “I am great at what I do! So, why don't more people know about me?”

I'll be honest. I have asked myself this question and I've become a little obsessed with figuring out the answer to it.

In my business, I am so lucky that I get to work with amazing, talented people who are experts in their field. Years of experience, finely honed skills, and the work they do with their clients is incredible. It gets results.

They are the type of people who are so damn easy to refer to because their work is so good, and they're the kind of people that I want to make sure more people know.

But that brings me back to the question “If they are so good, so talented, so skilled, and get their clients results, why aren't they more widely known?”

And I believe I found part of this answer, and I'm calling this the overlooked expert phenomenon.

Let's talk about it and the three reasons why it exists.

(Click play or read the transcript below.)

In this episode, we:

  • Three reasons why experts are overlooked
  • Cultural and systemic challenges for experts in marketing
  • The nature of being an expert and why it’s hard to communicate your expertise
  • Why most marketing tactics don’t work for expert business owners?
  • Why experts have a mandate to communicate the value of their work

Learn more about Michelle Mazur:

Resources mentioned:

Listen on your favorite podcast player or read the Transcript below:

Michelle Mazur [00:00:00]: Have you ever asked yourself, “I am great at what I do. So, why don't more people know about me?” I'll be honest. I have asked myself this question and I've become a little obsessed with figuring out the answer to it.

In my business, I am so lucky that I get to work with amazing, talented people who are experts in their field. Years of experience, finely honed skills, and the work they do with their clients is incredible. It gets results. They are the type of people who are so damn easy to refer because their work is so good and they're the kind of people that I want to make sure more people know.

But that brings me back to the question “Why, if they are so good, so talented, so skilled and get their clients results, why aren't they more widely known?” And I believe I found part of this answer, and I'm calling this the overlooked expert phenomenon. So let's talk about it and the three reasons why it exists. So let's do this.

Michelle Mazur [00:01:36]: Welcome to Make Marketing Suck Less, the podcast that knows marketing is, well, freaking hard, especially when you're a solo business owner trying to juggle it all. I'm your host, doctor Michelle Mazer, author of The 3 Word Rebellion and founder of The Expert Up Club. Forget the latest marketing fads and and tactics, promising social media stardom. I'm here with research backed strategies to help you clarify your message and get twice as effective with your marketing. And while I can't promise you'll ever love marketing, I'm here to make you hate it a tiny bit less.

Michelle Mazur [00:02:16]: Michael Lewis, the author of Moneyball and The Big Short has a podcast called Against the Rules where he explores the topic of unfairness. And in one season, he's telling the story of the expert. Specifically, he's asking “Why is it so hard to figure out who the real experts are and why once we found them, are they so rarely the people calling the shots?”

And those are the questions that I have too. In business, why are the business owners who are the best at solving your problems so hard to find? Why aren't they more widely known? Why are they the ones struggling to find an audience for their work? And I've termed this phenomenon as the Overlooked Experts because experts are out there flying under the radar, hiding in plain sight, and we just can't find them because it is so noisy out there. It can be really hard to discern who the real experts are from who are the pseudo experts.

Michelle Mazur [00:03:38]: So why is this happening? Why are experts so hard to find? Why, if you are an expert, why do you often feel so overlooked and almost invisible to the people who would benefit most from working with you?

And I think there are three reasons why this phenomenon happens. The first is a cultural systemic thing that is happening right now. The second reason speaks to the nature of being an expert and how we love to geek out on what we do and not necessarily market it. And then finally, there is something I call the visibility pyramid that holds experts back from being seen and known.

Michelle Mazur [00:04:26]: So let's explore all three of these reasons. Let's talk about cultural and systemic first. Culturally, especially in online business, we don't value expertise. We live in an age of a strong anti-expert bias. And culturally, we really saw this during COVID and even post COVID, where masses of people didn't trust the doctors and neurologists instead they relieved on peoples personal experiences, especially that of wellness influencers who were trying to sell a solution. And these people had messages like, “Hey, if I can stay safe from COVID, so can you. If I can cure COVID by taking loads of vitamin D, so can you.” And people trusted them because they felt like they were the peers, that they had secret knowledge, that the experts didn't want you to know about.

Michelle Mazur [00:05:31]: And in business, we see it too, because of the web celebs, the people with the biggest followings who need to make millions of dollars year over year to sustain their business are casting the widest net possible with their marketing and their message. And, basically, what they are saying is no expertise, no problem. Be one step ahead or 10% smarter than your clients and you too can create an expertise business. But you and I know that that is not an expertise business because we are not just one step. We are 20 or 30 steps ahead of our clients. And for the web celebs, it's worked for them to sell their programs. And because these programs are so popular that the way we've been taught to market and sell works for the pseudo experts, but not the real experts. So a few examples of this, the rags to riches overcoming story in online business.

Michelle Mazur [00:06:45]: You've heard them multiple times about how somebody was in hundreds of thousands of dollars in credit card debt sleeping on their best friend's couch. They started a business and then miraculously overnight, they were able to pay off all their debt, buy a beautiful house and a luxury car, and now they're pretty much making money in their sleep. It's money for nothing. And, obviously, this supports a very capitalistic narrative. The, like, “We can pull ourselves up by our bootstraps!” and we really want to believe. But stories like that don't really work for experts because we we got our expertise over long periods of time. And most of us have led pretty decent lives that don't have those ups and downs, and we don't feel good about making those stories up.

Michelle Mazur [00:07:41]: The second issue that we see in the marketing, we are told to market big, shiny, one size fits all solutions when experts know that a solution is always more nuanced, that it's not one size fits all. It needs to be tailored to various clients. Experts know that in order to get someone a result, they have to tailor what they know to them. But the way we're taught to market is like, “Nope. You have to have the proven process, the 7 steps to success!” and that just doesn't work for us experts.

Another is the quick fixes that we often seem, promising big money and a little bit of time or, you know, “You can have $10,000 months in just 30 days!” And guess what? That doesn't really happen. And you and I know that. But when it comes to how we're taught to market, we are told that people don't want to work at a solution, so you have to give them a quick fix. And that's not gonna work for us experts either.

The other is “If it worked for me, it works for you!” Like, if I did it for myself, I can teach it to others and sell my knowledge to others. And while I'm a big believer in peer to peer learning, there is a place for that. But if you are spending $5,000, $10,000, $25,000 to be in a program with someone who has done it once for themselves and maybe for a very select few people who've had the exact same business model and target audience that they had, then that's not good. That's not real expertise. Most of us, the results that we get for clients, it isn't because we necessarily did it for ourselves, although we might have been able to do it for ourselves, but that we've done it for a lot of other people. Right?

Michelle Mazur [00:09:46]: And then finally, there's this appeal to popularity. So people think follower count and income claims are a sign or signal of expertise, and we know that it's not. So we are conditioned to devalue expertise culturally and then told to market like the pseudo experts when we are actually experts. And here's the deal. I believe the biggest struggle for experts is learning how to market and communicate their expertise. And that's our second reason why experts struggle to market. In every episode, Michael Lewis talks about how experts don't do a good job communicating the value they create. They hate self-promotion. They speak in jargon and expertise ease and they're so focused on their solution.

They're kind of we're a little geeky. We're obsessed with what it is we do and how we do it. We don't tell a good job of telling our own story and sometimes we undervalue our own expertise because it comes so easy to us that we think, “Ah, everybody has access to this set of skills and knowledge!” when they don't. That's a lot to think about. That's a lot for experts to overcome personally, and there's not a lot of good places for them to get help to market like the expert they are. So we've got the culture working against you and we're also not taught to market in ways that really showcase and highlight the benefits of our expertise to the people we serve.

Michelle Mazur [00:11:36]: And then, there's a final reason why it's so hard to find you. The visibility pyramid.

But before we talk about that, let's take a quick break.

Michelle Mazur [00:11:45]: If you feel like that overlooked expert who is flying under the radar and wants to create demand for your work while doing less marketing, the Expert Up Club might be a good fit for you. In this curated community, we market less by figuring out exactly what works for you, your business, and your sanity. We market better by making your message matter more to the people who want to hire you and we do it together because growing a business and an audience is easier with a community of coconspirators. Wanna join us? Your first step is to open up this podcast app, click on the episode and find the link to book a private tour of the Expert Up Club, and then go ahead and book your tour with me. I can't wait to show you around. Now back to the show.

Michelle Mazur [00:12:39]: Let's talk about the 3rd and final reason why it's so hard to find experts. The visibility pyramid. Now, going back to the Against the Rules podcast, Lewis talks about how the person who can really solve your problem - or a big cultural question - is not ever the person who is well known but that person exists 6 levels down from the well known person.. So let's say Tesla has a problem, hypothetically, of their engines exploding. Who is going to fix that issue? Is it going to be Elon Musk or an engineer sitting in a windowless corporate office who has been obsessed with engines since she was a little girl? Guess what? It's gonna be that engineer, that expert who fixes the problem but Elon Musk will get all the credit for it. And I see the six levels down issue in online business all the time. But for us, it's more like 3 levels down. Let me explain.

Michelle Mazur [00:13:54]: Imagine online business as a pyramid. No. We're not gonna talk about pyramid schemes, although we could. We're not gonna do that. That's for Duped. At the top of the pyramid is the web celeb. You'll recognize them because they are the name in your industry. They usually have a course or a membership site. Their business runs on volume, and they are usually talking about how they make 7 figures and selling you their lifestyle. They run ads. They have huge followings.

Do you have a picture of that web celeb in your industry in mind? Good. They are the top of the pyramid. The web celeb is typically someone's first stop in trying to solve a problem. Let's say it's the problem of building a business. They enroll in a course and program and they think, “This is going to be the thing that catapults me!” except it doesn't and they still have problems and they still won't know exactly what they're doing.

So the person moves down to the next level of visibility in the pyramid, The acolytes and the affiliates. These are the people that are associated with the web celeb. So they are in the web celeb's circle of influence. They promote that celeb's course or join their $25,000 mastermind to be in the room with that person. They, too usually have a leverage model, but it might be a bit more niched and specific. So people buy thinking, oh my gosh. This is going to solve my problem, until it doesn't, and there's still a lack of result.

Michelle Mazur [00:15:39]: You're still not making the progress you want to make. Now the person's frustrated and probably running out of money, and they want real help. They realize they need some hands on help to get past the issue. So they finally move down to the overlooked expert level. Now this is the person that can solve your problem. It's the person you wish you would have found years ago. And people probably that that to you all the time. I know I hear it from the people I work with And typically, the overlooked experts, they work 1 on 1, provide services or small group programs, and they've been obsessed with what they do for a while. So how do we get more people more of the right people, not just like the masses, but your right client to see you because you're the one who gets the job done.

Michelle Mazur [00:16:45]: So what can we do about it right now? Number 1, realize your expertise is valuable and vital. Like, you deserve to be paid well and not everyone can do what you can do. You have to value your expertise yourself before others can value it. Number 2, realize the way you think is a superpower. Your ability to be curious, to apply what you know is a competitive advantage and is one of the big reasons you're good at getting your clients results. And finally, you have a mandate to communicate. It's up to you to take your expertise from invisible to in-demand. And stay tuned because this podcast is determined to support you in being known and the obvious choice to your clients.

And next week, we're gonna talk about what it takes to go from invisible to in-demand.

Michelle Mazur [00:17:54]: If the Make Marketing Suck Less pod is making your marketing more effective so that your clients can find and hire you, please share the show with a friend. The easiest way to do that is through pod link. You can find the show at, and that page will allow anyone you share the show with to subscribe and start listening in their favorite podcast player.


The Make Marketing Suck Less podcast is a production of Communication Rebel. Our production coordinator is Jessica Gulley-Ward. The podcast is edited by Steven Mills, our executive producer is me, Dr. Michelle Mazur.

The make marketing suck less podcast is recorded on the unseated traditional lands of the coast salish peoples, specifically the first people of Seattle, the Duwamish people, original stewards of the land, past, and present.

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