Who would you buy from? The person who says he has the experience and knowledge to help you, or the person who proves she has?

The world is awash with advertising. There's so much of it that we've become quite used to tuning it out. We switch channels on TV during the ads or we block banners on the web.

That means it's getting increasingly difficult to get through to potential clients.

The fact is, it's simply not enough to make idle boasts without backing up those claims with some kind of proof. Boasting without proof makes clients say "yeah, right" before moving on. That's the worst kind of response you can get.

On the other hand, if you can back up your claims with proof that you actually have the chops, then you can cut through the clutter.

I think there is a three-step process for doing that.

Decide what you are an expert at

It's probably not enough to say you are an expert at real estate or insurance or whatever else you do. Lots of people say that. Instead, think hard about what you do that sets you apart from others. If you are in real estate, it might simply be that you are expert at real estate in a particular neighborhood, or you understand the needs of seniors or first-time buyers. By carving out a smaller slice of the world, it's easier to become the number one expert in that niche.

Share your expertise

It's one thing to claim you are an expert at, for example, financial planning for boomers. It's another to prove you are. I think that one of the best ways of offering proof is to share your expertise with others. It puts that proof in black and white, right there on the page or on the screen. So get your knowledge down on paper. Don't worry if your articles aren't New York Times standard; just commit what you know to the page. Imagine you are talking with a client; simply write down what you would say. By creating a series of articles or reports or blog posts you are providing proof that you really are the expert you say you are.

Show what you have done for others

The final stage is to show that your expertise works in the real world. To do that, gather case studies or testimonials from happy clients and share them with the world on your website or in print. If you have clients who have done what you said (or used your services) and got a good result , you owe it to yourself and to others to share that.

This is the system I use myself. I decided that I am an expert in using newsletters to build real, long-term relationships with clients (rather than as just another keep-in-touch tool); I share my expertise in this newsletter and on my blog, in articles and videos; and I prove my success with testimonials and case studies on my website.

Now, I realize that all this takes a bit of work. But frankly, the days of money coming in the door automatically are over. It's those who make the effort who are surviving and thriving.

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