I work with a few clients who have a wide range of interests. Because of their training and qualifications in different fields, they either try and squeeze unrelated fields of expertise into one business, or they run a number of separate businesses.
I find this immensely frustrating when clients try to be all things to all people. My business is built on – first – helping clients identify their niche in a rather commoditised industry (coaching), and then on putting a plan together to market their business without spending a cent. I feel very strongly about defining a niche because my personal experience has shown that my business really took off and became successful once I’d defined my niche and was able to be explicit about the work that I do.
With a clear, well-defined niche, you are able to clearly explain what you do, how you can help or serve people and what results you deliver. All of your study and learning becomes focussed on building your expertise in your defined niche and you don’t waste time or effort on things that don’t add value to what you do.
It’s amazing, though, how people cling to EVERYTHING that they know and are familiar with. Sometimes, we need to let go of something in order to make space in our life for success.
My sister passed her learner driver’s licence about 3 weeks ago. She has a car ready and waiting for her to practice driving so that she can go for her driver’s licence. A few years ago, and the first time that she got her learner’s licence, we paid for her to have 10 driving lessons with a professional driving school. We were extremely disappointed when she came to her 10th lesson and the driving school still did not feel that she was competent enough to get out on the roads. When we queried the situation, the driving school said that it was due to lack of practice.
So here we are in the same situation a few years later. She is now 30 years old. We have made a decision not to push her into practicing and to leave the situation entirely in her hands. She told me that – the day after she passed her learner’s licence – she was going to check out a driving school after work. I was delighted with her initiative so imagine my intense surprise when I got an SMS from her to say that she was going to have her hair done after work instead. I must admit that I was somewhat dumb-struck that hair could take precendence over learning to drive – I simply couldn’t wait to be a qualified driver and to have my independence!
It got me thinking about the messages that we send out to other people without perhaps being aware of it. There is an incredible saying that goes along the lines of: “We judge ourselves by our INTENTIONS, and other people by their ACTIONS.” This is so true and I am definitely drawing conclusions about my sister from her actions or behaviour.
How often do our clients see inconsistencies between what we say we stand for and what we actually do? How consistent and congruent are we? A chap was interviewed on the radio the other day about branding, and he said something to the effect of: A brand is underpinned by a promise, the promise is underpinned by trust, and trust is underpinned by consistent delivery on the promise.
We are all brands – whether personal brands trying to differentiate ourselves in a corporate environment, or whether we are our company’s brand identity. It is vital that we only make promises that we can keep consistently to gain and retain the trust of our potential and existing clients.
This is officially a rant! I have just received an email newsletter from a company that I hold in fairly high regard due to the value of the information contained in their communication. Poor spelling is one of my pet hates, so imagine my surprise on opening the mail to find a typo in the headline!!!!
Fellow writers/entrepreneurs/marketers! We have absolutely NO excuse for this. My WordPress Blog has an auto spellcheck as I type, and I can also do a spell check on anything I write before publishing it. Word, Outlook and all other Microsoft programmes have built in spelling check. I am quite sure that Apple software is similar.
Remember that marketing is all about the impression we create in our potential or existing clients’ minds. Sloppy spelling and syntactical errors quickly erode hours of effort marketing our businesses, and can even send the wrong message completely. Let me give you an example: many years ago, I was on my way to the airport and was caught at a traffic light. On the same island on which the traffic light stood was a public toilet. Spray-painted across the outside of this building were the words “OUT OF ODER”. I had to laugh as, depending on whether you pronounced the word phonetically or substituted a missing letter, it could have been read one of two ways: “Out of Odour” or “Out of Order”!
Just for your amusement, here are a few others that I found:
We were recently robbed at gunpoint at home. We were tied up, made to lie on the floor and our faces were covered with a blanket that happened to be conveniently nearby. In retrospect, we were treated fairly gently by the intruders. We were not harmed physically except for a few minor bruises from the cable-ties that they used to tie us together, and they made sure that we could not see their faces so that we didn’t have to be shot.
These guys were in and out of our house in about 20 minutes. They knew exactly what they were “shopping” for – items of value that were easy to pick up and carry like laptops, jewellery and so on. The only time they spoke to us was to ask us the location of our safe, which they simply used a crowbar to remove from the wall in order to open it later at their convenience, and to keep assuring us that they were watching to make sure that we didn’t do anything stupid.
Your potential customers go online knowing what they are looking for. How easy do you make it for them to find:
1. Your online shop, website or presence;
2. The information, item or whatever they are looking for?
I think that most of us time-pressed individuals (and believe me, our assailants were time-pressed) want to be in and out with what they want as quickly as possible and we sometimes get so carried away by our own verbiage and lengthy descriptions that the essence of what services we provide or what products we are selling get lost in translation.
The next time you review your online presence, imagine a gun to your head and someone telling you to keep it simple and show them quickly where they can find what they want. I’d be interested to know what a difference this makes to how you view your “store” and how you are selling yourself, your services and your products.
…thank you for everything that you teach me, for helping me grow as a marketing practitioner, for forcing me out of my comfort zone and for keeping my standards high. Thank you for always making me think harder, push more and continue to strive for nothing less than the best. Thank you for the example that you set for me, thank you for continually surprising and delighting me with your results and most of all…thank you for continuing to inspire me in doing the work that I love to do!
There is nothing I dislike more than disingenuous unoriginality. I would rather read the (sparse) work of someone who is original and a thought-leader in their field, than that of someone who is simply churning out content for the sake of sustaining an online presence and SEO. I strongly believe that we should respect our audience, our readers and our target market by creating content that is original and not a rehash of someone else’s thoughts and ideas.
When working with my clients, one of the things that I emphasise is the fact that the online space (particularly when it comes to posting on a blog) is their opportunity to showcase their subject matter expertise and their opinions in their areas of specialisation. Everyone is entitled to have a strong, subjective opinion based on knowledge and experience, and the blog-osphere is an appropriate space in which to be able to express opinions and positions on a variety of subjects (just as I am doing now!). What is a real winner is when people respond to one’s opinion or position on a subject.
I don’t expect everyone to agree with me all of the time. I have many strong opinions on a variety of topics, tools and tips. One of my strong opinions is that – there is more than enough clutter out there on the internet without us regurgitating or copying other peoples’ original ideas and thoughts. I would rather post less frequently, but with integrity, ingenuity and originality than feel compelled to write daily and thus be forced to resort to using other peoples’ original work as the basis for my content.
Having said that, being copied is believed to be one of the highest forms of praise!!!
After I ran a morning seminar in Cape Town last week, one of the attendees wrote the following in an email:
“Thank you for an inspiring talk on Tuesday morning. I now realise that what I have to offer has so much more potential than what I allow myself to believe. I am reflecting on what it is that withholds me to (sic) venture into the bigger world. And the one question that keeps bugging me since your talk is – am I scared of success?”
I think that this person shows such immense personal insight and honesty and it is important that we take a moment to reflect on what success in our respective fields would mean for each of us, and the impact that this would have on our lives. We all want more money, freedom from debt, and not having to worry about how to pay the bills at the end of the month. But the price of success can have another side: you lose your anonymity and your ability to come and go freely in your own city.
Little things like being able to sneak off to the shops on the weekend incognito or doing the school run with your hair in a state become something that you now have to plan and prepare for – have a strategy for. Suddenly, you go to family functions and family members want to pump you for your expertise – free of charge! Have you ever spoken to your hairdresser about this – about how their family members all expect free hair-cuts? Well, when you become successful and recognised in your field of specialisation, your family members will start to expect free advice and consulations!
Success means that you have to be consistent. People build up a perception and expectations of you, and heaven forbid that you let THEIR perceptions down despite the fact that you have had very little to do with the underlying assumptions that these perceptions are built on.
As you plan your path to success, factor in managing success itself. Think of all of those people to whom enormous success has come suddenly – like Susan Boyle – who have battled to handle it. Here are some questions you need to consider:
- What will your strategy for success be?
- How will you integrate success into your life?
- How will your partner manage it?
- How will your family cope with your success?
- How will you sustain your success and increasing public persona?
- The more successful you become, the more people want from you, and the more people want to be associated with you. How are you going to manage this?
I would recommend that you work with someone like a coach or psychologist in plotting your personal Success Strategy so that you can manage the process. If you’d like some recommendations, please contact me.
You’ve asked for it, so here it is: I will be running the next full day workshop on Friday 26th October 2012 at the Pretoria Work-based Learning Centre – 2 minutes walk from the Hatfield Gautrain Station!
Only R995 per person, and it includes a FREE personal 1 hour consultation with me AFTER the workshop on your marketing challenges. For more details, read here
“Thank you for an inspiring talk…I now realise that what I have to offer has so much more potential than what I allow myself to believe…Thank you again for kicking my mind into top gear.” – Annabe Tredoux
I’m sure that every now and again you receive an email, SMS or note from a client complimenting you on the great work that you have done, or on the good service you have given them. You may even be sitting in a meeting when a client says something really good about what it is that you do. CAPTURE IT!
Make sure that you have one place in which you save all of these comments and testimonies to the quality and calibre of your work. It can be Word document on your computer, a notebook that you keep on your desk or whatever but just make sure that you keep all of these comments in ONE place where you can find them easily when you need to get your hands on them.
When you record these compliments and testimonials, make sure that your record who they are from, where they worked at the time and in what capacity, the person’s contact details should you need to get hold of them to get their permission to quote them at some stage, and the date on which they said this nice thing about you.
When using referrals, compliments or testimonials from clients, make sure that you update them on a regular basis. You can also quote someone anonymously by saying that this referral came from the financial manager of a large FMCG Manufacturer, or this testimonial came from the CEO of a Pharmaceutical Company. This preserves your client’s privacy while still allowing you to showcase the good work that you have done.