‘Tis the season for the WNBA playoffs, and I’m thrilled because my team, the Seattle Storm, is leading the league this year. I was in Seattle when we won the championship in 2010 and it looks like we may see another victory this season. They’ve got home court advantage and a double bye.
Bill Russell, the basketball icon, has talked about the way sports figures develop their own signature styles of play, just as artists do. One reason some basketball teams are more fun to watch than others is because they’ve got players who hold our attention. You don’t have to see the number on their jerseys to know who’s running down the court.
Similarly artists develop their own style, even at the beginner level. In my ceramic sculpture class, most of us recognize each other’s own work. We develop a style without trying — often in spite of ourselves. My classmates often recognize my work from the studio shelves.
Once I was complaining to an instructor that my piece might be boring. The instructor said, “No, Cathy. Your work won’t be boring.”
“Lumpy? Uneven? Crooked?” I asked.
“Well, not boring.”
Meanwhile, if you’re like me, your inbox is filled with offers promising to grow your business. For instance, I just read tips to update my LinkedIn profile, create an email campaign, and develop a 7-step signature system.
These offers were all excellent.
But all too many people apply these tactics diligently with no success. In fact, they feel they’re pounding their heads (or laptops) against a wall.
What they need is a story to differentiate themselves from the competition in a meaningful way.
For instance, one marketer taught a class on writing your LinkedIn profile. His own profile begins with, “How these ordinary 6 people added 5000 qualified prospects to their opt-in lists in 90 days.”
Most people can’t come up with a story like that. But most of us don’t need to.
Many of my clients are like Brenda, a life coach who sent me some material to review. When we talked on the phone, Brenda shared a unique perspective on business mindset. She knew exactly why some people responded to business challenges and some didn’t. She could explain why some people needed gentle accountability partners and others needed mentors who were drill sergeants.
But her content didn’t reflect this knowledge. Brenda put up some me-too copy about “heart-based business owners,” “magic wand solutions” and “conscious solo-preneurs.” Her message was, “Just another woo-woo coach.” I barely recognized her as the same insightful professional I heard on the phone.
It’s often hard to figure out your specialness on your own. It’s a two-part process: you discover what makes you unique and then communicate your strengths in the context of your offer.
For instance, a client was able to show that his background in police work was directly relevant to his new career as a personal financial planner, by highlighting the importance of listening skills in community policing.
Another client, a consultant was frustrated when prospects rejected him, saying, “You’re probably too advanced for this job.” When we discussed the comments he’d gotten from different sources, he realized his strength was walking into a mess and getting things straightened out — not creating systems for well-functioning programs.
If you’d like to talk more about developing your own style, I invite you to sign up for my one-on-one consultations. My clients have been surprised at how much we get done in just one consultation. It’s not unusual to start by fixing some troubled copy and end up with some opportunities to develop new income streams. More info and sign up here.
Many people think “tell your story” means “find your hero’s journey” or “bare your soul with a hard luck story.” You can discover how to make stories work for your business when you sign up for my Udemy course, Storytelling For Small Business Marketing.