When you run a service business, one of your biggest challenges involves differentiating your offering from your competitors – who may not even be in the same field. For instance, people get stress relief from massage, acupuncture, EFT, meditation, aromatherapy and more.
Often clients call me for a consultation because it’s so frustrating to explain what they do. When I ask, “What did you find most valuable about our consultation?” they say, “Got much clearer on my message.”
You face special challenges when you offer a one-of-a-kind service or when you deliver your service in a special way that’s hard to explain. You can try saying something like, “You get a deeper experience,” or, “We’re more thorough,” but these phrases will come across as vague.
Here are 3 exercises to start the process (based on my experience working with clients):
(1) Write up your service as a client-centric story. For instance, here’s a very abbreviated version of what I might write:
“Mary searched LinkedIn because called she needed a website fast and didn’t have time to shop around for designers, copywriters and techies. We solved some technical issues with my virtual partners and got the site up in less than a week. She’s already getting more leads, more clients and more compliments on the new site.”
Now do the same for 1 or 2 other clients, who might be your actual or ideal clients. The general form is
“Ben had a problem with X. He searched online in the search engines and also did …. Then he came across this site ! He did this and this and this, and the results were….”
“Jane wanted to do Y. She found this site by …. and looked for … She was inspired to do …. and the results were …”
(2) Dig into your clients’ backstories.
In his book, The Business of Belief, Tom Asacker writes, “We live in our stories and we live according to them. We wear clothing and drive vehicles, which are consistent with who we believe we are and who we are trying to become.”
In other words, clients make choices that validate their identities and fit consistently with their stories. Therefore, you’ll relate to your client when you understand the story she’s telling herself about her problem and her life. You can anticipate her response when she reads your sales letter.
The best way to get started excavating their backstories: What do your clients say when they call or message you? If possible, contrast these responses with those from people who query you but don’t sign up.
For instance, my clients often begin with, “I need a way to explain what I do,” or, “I know I’m unique but my message just isn’t getting across’ – what makes me really special.”
You can also create a mini-drama. Get a friend to play the role of your client — preferably someone who isn’t too familiar with your work. ”
When I work with clients, I often take on this role and ask, “Suppose I wanted to hire you. Would that make sense?” For instance, I recently worked with an interior decorator. One question I asked was, “If I needed a home office, is this something you would do?” That question led to a whole new approach to the decorator’s services page.
You can learn more about backstories from my kindle book, Grow Your Business One Story At A Time.
(3) Share your own story — if it’s appropriate.
If you’re an accountant, your clients probably won’t relate to a story that begins, “I’ve been fascinated with numbers since my parents gave me a toy calculator when I was five.” They’ll want to hear stories about how you save people from the wrath of the tax collection agencies and find ways for them to keep more of their hard-earned money, legally.
But some business coaches have branded themselves with stories. For example:
“I was a successful life coach. Clients seemed to arrive effortlessly. Other coaches began asking me how I did it, while they were struggling so hard. They even said, ‘We feel guilty asking for all this help. You should be charging us!'”
That story works because it shows your expertise. More importantly, the story shows how others recognized your expertise and how you helped them become successful.
If you’d like me to help you develop your own standout strategy by telling stories, let’s set up a consultation here.
And join my free training, Never Be Invisible Again! Click here to learn more.