1-800-Dial-An-Expert: How Focus Defines Expertise


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In my newsroom days, reporters had “experts” on speed dial. These were folks who loved press and could turn, flip and spin a phrase. We called them 1-800-DIAL-A-QUOTE people.

With crowdsourcing all the rage, finding an expert isn’t all that hard. Yet, finding a helpful expert can still be tough. A young startup we’ve spent some time with, Focus, is looking to correct that situation. The company now hosts about 5,500 experts across a vast spectrum of business subjects that users can address with questions.

The difference between Focus and your typical online forum is that the company does some actual vetting of experts so users feel they are getting actual value, not just run-of-the-mill replies.

Experts on Focus fit three basic criteria, says Craig Rosenberg, leader of the company’s expert network.

1. Is the person actually an expert?

Craig, an expert himself and author of the Funnelholic, says many of Focus’s experts are recruited. The team will identify professionals who are creating content and advice using a propriety algorithm. Others will be born in Focus by taking part in events and panels, eventually becoming experts themselves. “A lot of the practitioner experts are sort of born that way,” Rosenberg says. Of course, if you want expert status, you can go to the site and ask to be considered. Rosenberg says the best way to proceed from there is by taking part in discussions and establishing your voice.

Craig Rosenberg aka “The Funnelholic”

2. Do they have the proclivity to create unbiased content?

Ah, there’s the rub. We all have our biases, right? We work for or with different vendors. We have clients and competitors. If you want to be an expert for Focus, you’ll have to check your biases at the door – at least in your writing.

3. Do they have the desire to share content?

Oh, right. There’s that, too. There are experts out there, truly erudite people, who posses no interest in freely sharing their knowledge with the world. In fact, states Rosenberg, you’d be surprised how many people don’t fit this basic list.

While Focus does have paid opportunities for some folks, most of the content created by experts is handed out for free. Free is a relative term these days, however. As Rosenberg put it: “People understand that creating thought leadership, and creating content that helps people do their jobs, is today’s advertising.” Free does not equal altruistic, in other words.

Some of the hottest categories on Focus are fields like HR, with areas likes Sales and Marketing on the rise. There are niche concerns that get a surprising amount of attention such as sales enablement. And “hundreds” of experts are around to help with you with your phone systems queries, Rosenberg says.

For Rosenberg, the quest for new experts is an “ever evolving process.” The goal for Focus is to create a community rich with pointers, guidance and intelligence for people in business, no matter how esoteric the subject. If the startup manages to separate the real brains from the BS artists, more power to them. I’m just glad someone can help me figure out VoIP.

Republished with author's permission from original post.

Jesse Noyes
Jesse came to Eloqua from the newsroom trenches. As Managing Editor, it's his job to find the hot topics and compelling stories throughout the marketing world. He started his career at the Boston Herald and the Boston Business Journal before moving west of his native New England. When he's not sifting through data or conducting interviews, you can find him cycling around sunny Austin, TX.


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