Establishing Your Manifested Proficiency Threshold

The level of displayed proficiency needed to establish authority varies depending on factors such as target audience and industry, and establishing this level for your audience is a crucial part of The Skeptic’s Journey. Remember, authority is achieved through trust, and trust cannot be enforced, but you can create more content to enhance your perceived proficiency.

This post aims to provide guidance on establishing a Manifested Proficiency Threshold required to gain your audience’s trust. These are not step-by-step instructions, and a Manifested Proficiency Threshold is not a metric to define. Rather, it’s a focus point meant to guide your efforts in understanding what’s required of your content.

It’s crucial to understand the difference between displayed and actual proficiency. Your proficiency should be evident from your reader’s very first interaction, and should in no way allow any doubt in your proficiency. Manifesting proficiency through multiple pieces of content is meant to foster trust in your proficiency, leading to trust in you, and eventually, trust in your solution.

Disruption vs Optimization

Determining your Manifested Proficiency Threshold can be done by considering the immediate impact of your offering. This impact can be categorized into two types: disruption and optimization.

Disruption requires a change in behavior from the customer, subsequently requiring trust in both you and your technology/approach.

Optimization doesn’t require a significant change in behavior from the customer, often making it easier to foster trust in your offering.

Note that disruption and optimization aren’t mutually exclusive, as disruption often leads to optimization, and optimization is often caused by a disruption under the hood. The key is to evaluate the immediate impact.

Petrol vs EV

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Consider the immediate impact of buying a petrol car versus an electric vehicle (EV). For someone familiar with petrol cars, purchasing one from a new brand would be an optimization of their existing experience. Conversely, switching from petrol to EV involves a substantial disruption in the driving experience and the ownership experience as a whole.

Petrol cars may have automatic gears, while EVs have no gears. Petrol cars require the use of both the brake and accelerator, while most EVs come with one-pedal driving, using the electric motor to brake and recuperate energy. And of course, even the fastest-charging EVs like Teslas or Hyundais take at least 18 minutes for an 80% charge, whereas petrol cars can be refueled in less than a minute.

In general, selling someone a new petrol car—optimization as the immediate impact—requires less trust, while EVs—disruption as the immediate impact—requires significantly more trust. Not only will the customer need to trust the seller and the brand, but they also need trust in the charging network as well, i.e., the technology.

General Adoption or Early Adopters

As in every marketing campaign, determining the target audience is essential. Although I believe it to be true, that selling EVs requires more trust in general, it can’t be argued how a company like Tesla sold a large quantity of cars almost from the very beginning.

This happened in large part due to the early adopters—the ones inherently gravitating toward disruptive solutions—and as such are more inclined to trust a new and exciting technology. Conversely, there are still a large group of people without trust in the concept of EVs as well.

Determining if you want to focus on early adopters or general adoption will greatly impact your content strategy. A focus on answering most questions within the “manifesting expertise” category before manifesting proficiency can increase the likelihood of early general adoption. On the other hand, focusing mostly on manifesting proficiency from the beginning can help appeal to early adopters.

These examples showcase opposite ends of the spectrum, and your job as a content marketer is to determine what balance between them is required for your content.

The Key to Mindful Proficiency Display


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Being mindful throughout your content and considering the reader’s need is essential, as I’ve mentioned a few times already. It’s a core principle of this strategy, as absolute statements and irrelevant information can generally result in four different scenarios:

Best case scenario is the reader appreciating the additional knowledge.

Most likely scenario is the reader ignoring the information, reducing their expectations of getting relevant information, and now starting to skim through the post.

Worst case scenario is the reader perceiving the content as unhelpful, clicking off the page and finding other content.

Absolute worst case scenario is the reader being annoyed at the attempt to peddle irrelevant information, perceiving it as a marketing attempt—which all content ultimately is, but it should not be perceived as such—and forming a negative association with your brand.

Though there is a likelihood of getting reader appreciation, the negative scenarios outweigh the positive three-to-one, hence why I believe open statements and exclusively relevant information is the optimal approach.

Final Thoughts

As you work on content and receive feedback through analytics and readers, getting a deeper understanding of your audience, your Manifested Proficiency Threshold can be modified to suit your situation better. This is not something to determine at the start, to then never modify.

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