I subscribe to all sorts of marketing lists and try to pass along the best “stuff” to my own list and blog followers. Some people promise you can achieve success by following a specific system or using a particular marketing tool. They make it seem easy.
So you might be asking (wisely), “Does this really work? Or is it more hype?”
The correct answer is, “It depends.” If you have certain key ingredients, then you will be able to use almost any system. You will benefit from almost any coach.
But you have to read the fine print. I once heard a joke where someone promised to tell you how to get two million dollars. Step 1 was, “First get a million dollars.” These systems work the same way.
You need 3 ingredients:
1 – You need knowledge of what a target market wants and will pay for.
Ideally you will know the top 3 questions for which your audience is desperately seeking answers. You’ll find many ways to conduct this research, such as visiting forums, detecting presence of competitors, and talking to your own clients. Sometimes offering free versions of a product will help, but some people will grab things if they’re free and refuse to pay if they’re not.
This willingness to pay can change over time. At one point business owners would pay a huge sum to get a website set up. Since WordPress got popular, they resist.
The best approach is to begin with the client’s backstory. What is the reason they’re looking for help? What have they done before?
One business owner works with clients who bring a backstory of, “I’m tired of paying good money to designer and tech specialists. They charge a lot, don’t do very much, and disappear when I need them. I’m ready to learn a new way to build a WordPress website, completely on my own. No more webmasters!”
Of course some people have excellent experiences with their tech and design teams. But this business owner doesn’t target them. She’s looking for those who are angry enough to explore new solutions and she markets directly to their story.
2 – Your market needs to believe that you can deliver. Sometimes your prospect responds to sales letters and blog posts. Sometimes they want to know more about you and yes, they do take your status and reputation into account.
Once a client hired me to discuss an idea for a paid newsletter offering financial advice. She pointed out that a well-known publication offered a similar product so she felt there was room for her offering, perhaps at a lower price.
But she had to figure something out: Were readers responding to the topic or the sender? Adding “New York Times, “Harvard,” or even “Huffington Post” will increase credibility. People do make choices based on reputation and fame.
3 – Your market needs to know what makes you unique among the competition, especially if they don’t know you yet.
Some business owners position themselves on factors that are completely irrelevant. I’ve seen people market themselves as “the curly-haired coach” or “the speaker who stutters.” Some use strong language to show they’re cool and “just like you.” You might attract clients in spite of these promises, especially if you’re already known or particularly attractive to your market in some way.
The most meaningful way to differentiate your services is to share stories of how and why you help clients.
A lawyer talks about driving across two state lines to rescue a client who was wrongfully imprisoned because the police thought he was an illegal immigrant.
Another lawyer talks about how she’s driven by childhood memories of family who couldn’t pay for all the groceries because their tenants got behind in the rent. Now she helps landlords collect funds, lawfully and fairly, so they can pay their own bills.
A real estate talks about helping a client buy her first home in a neighborhood where she’ll feel safe and comfortable, after three other agents told her, “You can’t afford to buy there.”
Your uniqueness should be related to the problems you solve.
You communicate that you’re the only game in town, as far as your clients are concerned, and you become a tight fit for your niche. You’re not bragging or boasting. Prospects sense that you’re the real deal.
Here’s an example of how to put all three elements together:
A real estate agent in a western city promoted himself as an expert in specializing in finding condos for people who owned pets. His formula worked because:
He found a segment that desperately needed help, knew they needed help, and would pay to get what they wanted. He was soon viewed as the “go to” person for people who had multiple pets but didn’t want to compromise on housing.
He positioned himself as a knowledgeable agent who owned pets and volunteered with animal rescue groups. He also posted testimonials on his site.
Finally, he was able to be unique simply by targeting this market aggressively. It’s not a particularly strong basis for branding because it’s easily duplicated, but he was the first in his city to use this strategy. He also knows how to tell a good story.
The bottom line: One you’ve got these ingredients, you can apply tactics that work. You’ll benefit from any coaching. You’ll have a good chance at success if you’re willing to do the work and you’re motivated and enthusiastic (even passionate) about what you do.
All too often, I see clients concentrating on tactics such as how to set up a LinkedIn profile, what to put on Instagram, which product to offer, or how many webinars to offer in a month.
Those are critical aspects of marketing. But once you master the 3 essentials, you’ll easily get support to implement everything else. You’ll find that your copy practically writes itself and your prospects respond with enthusiasm, because you’ve done everything but read their minds.