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Mary Ellen Bates
Bates Information Services, Inc.
8494 Boulder Hills Dr.
Niwot, Colorado 80503 USA
Tel: 303.772.7095
[email protected]
Skype: Mary.Ellen.Bates
by Mary Ellen Bates
Bates Information Services
Are You a Wonk or a Nerd, and why do you care?
I was talking with one of my coaching clients recently, exploring how she could become known as the strategic, go-to person in her market niche. We talked about what differentiated her from anyone else, what value she could add to her projects, and how she could build her public persona. She mentioned a number of specific skills she had, among them an amazing ability to manage a large web design project.

So, I said, with those kinds of research and information-management skills, how could you move up the feeding chain within your clients' organizations?

Her answer was to describe various web-site related projects that she could do for her clients. "I know the industry and, anyway, I'm a nerd; I love this stuff!"

My response was that being a nerd - a badge I also wear with pride - isn't enough to distinguish you from every other web designer out there. Sure, I said, you would do a much better job than most others, because you understand your industry's information concerns. The point, though, is to be seen as someone who offers far more than web design skills. You can help build collaborative networks with clients through private wikis. With your research skills, you can help clients better understand their competitive environment. These are high-value services that your clients have probably never encountered before.
You can make yourself competition-proof by looking at how your clients make strategic decisions. You bring insight to their decision-making process. You think more strategically than a nerd!

What she needed, I realized, was to move from being a nerd, focusing on the details - the tactics - to being a wonk. Wonks look at the big picture, often in mind-numbing detail. They understand the impact a strategy will have on the larger environment. They usually see both the forest and the trees. And, best yet, they care passionately about their work - in our case, their clients' projects.

Try applying this to your marketing strategy. Does your web site just talk about yourself, your services, and your information resources? Are you focusing on the details of what you do, the online services you subscribe to, and the five specific services you provide? In other words, are you positioning yourself as a nerd, focused on a list of features? Or are you talking about how your services had an impact on the client's bottom line or a strategic acquisition? Are you talking about the analysis and perspective you offer? Are you seen as a key member of your clients' teams? Do you see yourself as a strategic asset to your clients? Are you positioning yourself as a value-added wonk?

Embrace Wonk Pride! Our tagline: strategic and proud of it

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