Category Archives for General Blog

5 Powerful, Emotionally-based Positioning Strategies

One of the most important elements of your marketing strategy and sales process is clearly and powerfully positioning yourself so you’re are differentiated from your competition. The more crowded your industry segment, the more important your positioning is.

In this video I explain the 5 positioning strategies that are emotion-based. Use one or more of these strategies to clearly position yourself and attract more of your ideal clients without being pushy or salesy.

Identifying a niche makes selling easier — Here’s why

You’ve heard it before — focusing on a specific niche is important. It’s the number one thing clients resist and I resisted it myself. I made myself crazy trying to be all things to all people. But as soon as I started to really zero in on who I most enjoy working with, getting clients became even easier. It’s something my clients have discovered as well.

This video explains why and gives you things to consider as you identify your own niche or target market.

The role of trust in the selling process

Trust –like the great Billy Joel said — is just a matter of trust.

In this video I explain the role trust plays in the entire sales process and how fears and concerns on the part of your potential client translate to not enough trust in you or your solution.

Buying is risky and the more your prospect has at stake in the process the bigger the issue of trust becomes.

7 Conventional Ways to Position Yourself

If you’re a service professional like a coach, consultant, healer, or other service provider, I’ll bet you’re working way too hard to get clients and you probably feel like you’re overwhelmed and frustrated with chasing after people. One very big reason for this is you’re not clearly positioned — you’re not clearly differentiated — from your competition so people don’t understand why they should buy from you rather than you’re competitor.

In this video, I explain 7 conventional ways to position your service business so you stand out from the competition and make it easier for ideal clients to recognize why they should work with or hire you over your competition. To receive updates when Winnie posts more videos designed to take the mystery out of selling your services, subscribe to this channel. And for more information about Winnie and how she solves sales mysteries for clients, visit her website at

How can you create urgency?

Does it take much longer than you’d like for your prospective clients to decide to hire you? Do you spend days completing proposals only to wait months without hearing? Old-school sales trainers and hypey internet marketers tell you to create a sense of urgency. but does that really work?

Do you really need to “create” urgency?

The Difference Between Positioning and Branding

If you are a service-based entrepreneur like a consultant, coach, healer, creative, contractor this video is going to help you get a better understanding of how to sell your services even if you don’t think of how you offer your services as true “selling.”

In today’s video I want to explain to you two of the most confusing concepts in marketing and sales. They’re also two of the most important concepts in marketing and sales. They’re two very foundational concepts and lots of people get them confused.

That’s positioning and branding.

Alot of people think they’re actually the same thing but they’re not. They’re very different.

Positioning is how you’re different. And Branding is how to make yourself the mind and heart of your ideal clients. So positioning has to come first because positioning is what good designers and good developers will actually use in coming up with the visual and verbal representation of the brand. So even in putting together the website…everyone has to understand how you’re different and how you want to position yourself in the market in order to create a strong, clear, compelling brand and then communicate it very clearly.

So why do so many people get this wrong? And everybody gets this wrong…I got it wrong.

We get caught up in the trappings of marketing and sales.

By trappings I mean the logo, the business cards, the website, the collateral material, what are we gonna talk about…But if you don’t take the time to work your positioning out, you’re not going to have a what you need to create a compelling visual identity. You’re not going to be able to know what to say. You’re not going to be able to say it very clearly or convincingly.

So positioning really is the most important thing.

I have an example for you.

This is a little crazy but…cookies.

The packaged snack market is incredibly competitive in the United States anyway is incredibly competitive.

Oreo…a big brand that’s been around since 1912 and Snack Wells. A relatively new brand that’s only been around since about 1992.

How does a new brand like Snack Wells gain traction in a crowded market? Especially with a giant brand like Oreo?

Snack Wells came up with a great positioning campaign. They positioned themselves as a “healthy” alternative to traditional cookies.

So in 1992 Snack Wells comes on the market and that’s how they positioned themselves and they did it. They gained traction, they got great placement, and they’re a successful brand today.

They can’t unseat Oreo. They may have taken away some people who were looking for a healthier alternative and people are thinking “I don’t want reduced fat Oreos, I’m gonna have me some Snack Wells”

You’re in a crowded market segment too. Especially if you’re an accountant, a management consultant…a doctor. Why should someone come to you? If you don’t clearly differentiate yourself you’re going to be competing on two primary things: Location — who’s closest to me…who’s convenient — and price…do you take my insurance, what’s your copay…what’s your quote? no I can get a consultant to do this cheaper…You do not want to compete on those two things.

You need to position yourself very, very clearly. That’s the foundation creating an attractive marketing message to attract your ideal clients, your prime suspects too you.

So positioning should not be a mystery. You want to leave clear clues for those clients who you most want to serve.

6 Potential Positioning Strategies for Service-Based Businesses

red_tulips_white_tulipPositioning your business is one of the most difficult things for a service-based business owner to do.

Spotting your own uniqueness is a bit like recognizing you’ve got bad breath.

You typically need someone else to point it out to you.

Positioning is a concept people often confuse with branding. But positioning comes before branding because it’s a core element the brand is developed around.

I’ll share 6 ways to position yourself and some cautions for each as you figure out this foundational element.

And just because you’re business is already financially successful, don’t think you’ve nailed your position. You can be getting clients for lots of reasons that have nothing to do with a strong position.

“So,” you may be asking yourself; “why worry about it then?”

Because if you’re like most smart entrepreneurs who are building a service-based business, you’re not in this to kill yourself.

I’ll bet one of the reasons you started your business is so you could create a great life for yourself and those you love.

You want to work to live, not live to work.

You bought into the whole “lifestyle” thing that draws so many of us into being self-employed.

But when you’re working too hard to attract clients and working too hard to get them to say yes to hiring you, that’s often a sign that you’re not positioned very clearly and you haven’t built a strong brand.

So when you’re looking to position yourself, here are 6 concepts that can help you do that.

Be first in a category. This is almost impossible to do and it’s incredibly costly in terms of time, effort, and money. I’ve had a few students who are trying to launch something so unique and so unclearly positioned that people just don’t get it. Another challenge to using this strategy is when you ARE first, the copycats are soon behind you. You could find yourself competing based on price and having to re-position yourself all over again.

Price. This is just a bad idea. It’s an option…but a bad one. Unless you want to be Walmart or you have some sort of deep understanding of the wealthy and why they’d want your offer, competing on price typically attracts price-driven (and usually price-sensitive) clients who don’t value your uniqueness. Your objective is to make the value you deliver so apparent and help the potential client connect that value to their own wants in such a way that they can’t consider another solution provider. It’s you or it’s nothing. Your price really shouldn’t come into it until they know they want you and they need to figure out how to pay for it.

The Outcome You Deliver. Now we’re getting somewhere. Remember how Domino’s used to promote their hot pizza in 30 minutes or less or it’s free? Or FedEx’s “when it absolutely, positively, HAS to get there overnight”? Those are positions based on outcomes. Of course we know what happened to Domino’s. The pressure to get pizzas to every customer in 30 minutes or less or give away their product led drivers to behave recklessly behind the wheel. At least one lawsuit and that was the end of that particular positioning strategy. So consider just what can you deliver that is highly desirable and that you can truly stand behind. But be cautious about it and think through the unintended consequences you may create.

Who you serve. This is a good idea but it’s something so many entrepreneurs resist. Maybe you’re a family lawyer who only handles divorces involving special needs children. Or you could be an accountant who only focuses on family businesses. Or a physical therapist who specializes in 50+ fitness fanatics.

Can you picture in your mind how easy it would be to refer a friend to one of those professionals? Positioning yourself around a narrow segment makes you easier to refer. It makes it easier for you to focus your attention and build a colossally strong expert platform. We all want to work with experts who get us; so if there’s an audience you really get then by all means serve then.

How you deliver your offerings. This can be part of an “exclusive” type of positioning in terms of how you enter into engagements or it can literally be that your delivery method is in itself differentiating. Like the mobile pet groomer or the window glass people who come to you.

This can and should include your unique process or some type of unique system. For example, my core offering is built on my Sales Success Investigation(TM). Every private client starts with that offering. So think about the way you do the things you do and perhaps there’s something there that’s clearly different and different in a way people are willing to pay for.

Another thing to consider about how you deliver your offerings is what is your competition talking NOT talking about that you think is important to your audience, or at least to a large enough segment of your audience that you can zero in on that and build your business with those folks.

For example, back in the early days of advertising and copywriting, legendary copywriter Claude Hopkins was working on a campaign for Schlitz. Schlitz was ranked 5 among nationally sold beer brands at the time.

Mr. Hopkins was on a tour through the plant and was struck by how clean the place was and how clean the tanks were.

He decided to use this unique element as a point of difference and to position Schlitz as pure when in fact every other beer manufacturer did the same thing. They just hadn’t thought it important enough to emphasize.

So if you’re in a particularly crowded segment or you’re in a highly regulated industry segment or one where there’s little variation (I don’t want my accountant using his own special technique for balancing my books, ya know?) then really think about what it is that sets you apart and how can you build your positioning around that?

Make up some gumbo. You know how lots of people in business use sports analogies? When I was working in New Orleans, I had a boss who used food analogies. His favorite was relating something to making gumbo.

There’s about a zillion ways to make gumbo, so that’s why I think the best positioning strategies are your own unique gumbo — a special combination of the things on the list.

So do some serious reflection and consider your unique combination of the elements, as well as how you mix them together with your unique personality, beliefs, and values. That will make the position you establish for your firm powerful and magnetic to those who want what you offer and in the way you offer it.

The most important ingredients in your positioning gumbo have to be authenticity and truth for you and the business you’re building. Your recipe needs to be something your competition either can’t duplicate or is so cost- or time-prohibitive that either no one will bother or they’ll be an obvious copycat if they try.

So remember the analogy of the gumbo. Identify those unique ingredients you love and add them generously. Then season it with those things your ideal client find tasty and worth much more than what you charge.

Are You Making Enough Mistakes?

Oops! Road Sign

I was about 7 or 8, standing in the dining room and my mom was screaming at me about something I had done or hadn’t done.

I was looking down at the dark green sculpted carpet, just WISHING a hole would open up that I could crawl into; when suddenly, a brilliant idea popped into my head.

“I’m just going to be perfect from now on,” I thought. “If I was perfect, then she’d never have anything to yell at me about ever again.”

That was the exact moment when I became a perfectionist.

Finally understanding WHY I made myself nuts for the next 40-some years trying to never make a mistake is nice, but of course, it’s only partially helpful.

Perfectionism, as Dr. Brene Brown pointed out in her interview with Oprah, isn’t striving for excellence.

It’s an attempt to be invisible.

When I heard her say that I literally burst into tears. I felt SO busted.

That weight of perfectionism, isn’t just a heavy cross to bear. It’s what will hold you back from achieving the very success you say you want.

It’s what will keep you hiding behind your shield.

But you also punish those who you would otherwise serve – if only they could find you.

So if you won’t think of yourself, then perhaps if you stay focused on those who need you, then THAT will drive you to come out of hiding.

Unfortunately for perfectionists and those actively in recovery, one of the requirements for taking off the armor of perfection is exposure.

You’re just so OUT THERE for all the world to see.

They’ll see your imperfections….see your mistakes….recognize you’re not perfect….GAH!

And yet….as counterintuitive as it sounds….that’s just what people really do want to see.

They want to know you’re real. They want to understand why you’re the expert.

And believe it or not, you’re the expert because of your journey and because of the mistakes you make.

Part of building a group of followers – of being a leader today – is being transparent and authentic.

No one wants to learn from or work with someone who they perceive to be a true guru….someone on the mountaintop.

Think about it.

You don’t want diet tips from Cindy Crawford. You want them from Jennifer Hudson, or Marie Osmond, or Valerie Bertinelli. You want them from someone who struggled with and overcame a problem.

Part of raising your Know-Like-Trust Quotient (your KLTQ) is in letting people know you tried and failed.

I recently attempted to hold my first Google Hangout On Air.

It was a complete flop.

I had scheduled it as an event like one of the experts said I was supposed to. Sent out an announcement to my list of subscribers. Posted it multiple times on Facebook.

And subsequently I had a nice number of people sign up. And half of that number actually tried to get on the Hangout.

Notice…I said “tried.”

That’s right. It didn’t work. Not at all.

I thought I would die of embarrassment.

The fact that the event was titled “Prove You’re the Expert” only made things worse.

Thankfully it wasn’t “Prove You’re the Expert in Using Google Hangouts On Air”!

I sent out an apology to those who signed up and posted multiple apologies on Facebook and Google+. And you know what happened?

I got notes of thanks.

People thanked me for TRYING. They thanked me for being brave.

I had one person send me a 3 paragraph message thanking me for being a role model for trying new technology and for being so totally transparent about the whole thing.

I was blown away.

Here are a few lessons I learned through this.

  1. Admit when you’re trying something for the first time. I had told everyone this was a first for me and asked them to be patient just in case there were problems. So I think that set the tone right there. This was also a free event and I’m a big believer in giving people a price benefit when I’m doing something new.
  2. Just be yourself. People know I don’t have a VA right now. My newsletter subscribers know I’m in the middle of final preparations for moving to another state. They know I’m pretty tech savvy but they also know I’m not perfect. When I first went out on my own I tried to paint this picture of the brilliant consultant. It didn’t work for me. It was too much of a burden to carry. Being me is scary but it’s simpler.
  3. Have backups. Had this been something more than a test I would have had an alternate mode of delivery. Remember how in college there was the 15 minute courtesy wait time you’d give a prof and then you could leave? I think next time I’ll tell people, “Wait 10 minutes and if I don’t show up then ____________________”
  4. Do multiple dry-runs. I don’t know if you can do a practice on a Hangout but next time that’s something I’ll investigate in general. Go To Meeting allows for practice with the event you’ve scheduled.
  5. Use some sort of instant messaging and make sure as many of the audience is hip to using it. I have a love / hate relationship with Facebook but instant messaging is one of the things I love.  Getting permission and having the technology to send texts to people’s cell phones is another great tool but most people still won’t give you permission to text them.
  6. Mistakes aren’t always bad. I wish everything I did was a homerun. I despise making mistakes and I hate being wrong. But unfortunately, that’s how we all learn. If you think about it, you learn more from a mistake than you ever learn from something that works right the first time. So see your mistakes for what they actually are:  Data. That’s it. Calling them “mistakes” is putting a value judgment on them.

So as you work to build your brand and your business, you’ll also need to do the internal work necessary to let go of perfectionism and get comfortable with making mistakes. They’re really the best way to learn anything when you think of it.

What’s your focus and what’s your theme for the new year?

tiny_party_favor_celebrationHope your new year is off to a fabulous start and that you’re building momentum to make it your best year yet.

We all know about making resolutions — resolving to do something new or do things differently — but a trend that social media maven Mari Smith is credited with starting is identifying one word as a theme for the year.

I’ve made just a couple of resolutions (summed up by “take better care of myself”) and my theme for the year is “reach” because I want to grow my business and grow my contacts and communities.

So if you had to find one word that would be a good over-arcing theme for you what would it be?

They’re not employees…they’re your brand.

No Sale Sign on Cash RegisterWhen I need to print something that’s likely to bleed my print cartridges I send it over to my local Staples, which is less than a half mile away.

I’m there on a pretty regular basis…generally several times a month…sometimes a few times a week.

They manage to screw up my order on a regular basis.

It’s either not ready when I expect it to be, or they can’t find it when I get there, or — the latest excuse — they didn’t get the email I sent.

Even though their system sent ME a confirming message.

As a former recruiter in high turnover industries, I certainly understand how hard it is to find good employees for minimum wage jobs.

Especially jobs that require a high level of emotional intelligence. Which seems to be in mighty short supply these days.

But you’re not actually hiring employees.

You’re hiring brand ambassadors.

Think about your own experiences. Employees ARE the brand to us when we’re buyers, so it’s no different when buyers deal with OUR companies.

Other than the decision to actually go into business, I don’t think there’s a decision with greater impact than who to hire.

I know it’s time consuming, frustrating, and a little scary; but’s also critical to the growth of your business.

As you grow the business, you’ve got to take off the hats you wear and give away the tasks that don’t require you.

But hiring them isn’t where it stops.

You’ve go to invest in them by providing them with the training and ongoing development they need. Especially if you’re going to choose a person who doesn’t have all of the skills needed to perform the job successfully.

You need to help them understand they’re the brand in the marketplace and help them understand the impact they have on the business. Help them understand the power they wield.

Teach them the skills they don’t have, help them polish the skills they do have.

And never forget that customer-facing jobs are stressful. Help employees manage their stress. Don’t expect them to know how.

At a minimum, encourage them to recognize when their stress level is getting a bit high and understand how to manage that stress level so they don’t take it out on their fellow workers or on the next customer they deal with.

As their leader, take the time to understand each staffer as an individual and understand what motivates each one of them.

This means understanding what your customers expect and hire people who can deliver on that expectation.

Play “what if” with your staff members. One of the great problems in service industries in general is getting employees to be comfortable thinking on their feet to effectively deal with a problem. The best way to develop that skill is by asking them what they would do “if” a situation like X occurred. Then coach them on their response.

Since the brain doesn’t really understand the difference between practice and reality it will help the employee subconsciously feel more confident in dealing with challenging situations.

The employee I dealt with yesterday at Staples looked as though he was trying not to yawn when I was talking to him about my problem. And his response to my statement that I was unhappy and frustrated was “Well, there’s nothing I can do about it.”

Really? NOTHING you can do about it?

Wrong answer.

At a bare minimum he should have had enough sense to recognize he had an unhappy customer and he didn’t know how to handle it.

I proceeded to post about the situation on Facebook and generated somewhere around 20 responses. Most complaining about Staples and agreeing their copy center staff is terrible.

Here are 4 quick tips to take BEFORE you start hiring or before you hire your next staffer:

1. Identify the soft skills critical for success. These are the skills their parents, teachers, or guardians should have instilled in them. Face it. You do NOT want to teach someone how to be nice. They need to KNOW that. They need to BE nice. Ask them questions to tell you about a time that really tried their patience.

2. Identify what a successful employee acts like and what type of experience that person needs to have in their history. Past behavior is the best predictor of future behavior since most people don’t. (Yes, I know they CAN. Think about it though. Most people really DON’T change.) . People who thrive in customer facing positions tend to have experience in them. If you’re hiring an inexperienced workforce then ask them about activities they’ve been in. Ask about situations that are at least similar to the situations they’ll face working for you.  If they can’t give you examples of relatively similar experiences then find better candidates.

3. Be clear on performance standards. From technical performance to emotional intelligence, you must be clear about what you expect. Don’t assume they’ll know. No, they won’t. And when you’re in the habit of telling everyone the same thing, you can be confident that they’re all clear on the same points.

4. Lead and manage. Don’t just complain about a staffer’s performance. Talk to them about it with no emotion in your voice. You’re not attacking them personally. You’re pointing out a performance issue. Be clear on what happened, what’s unacceptable about it, and what needs to happen instead. At home, it’s easy to engage in dysfunctional behavior thinking a family member should be able to read your mind and know what they did wrong or know what you want. Don’t do it in your business. You’ll be miserable. Your staff will be miserable. And believe me, your customers will be miserable.

Time and effort you invest in selecting, educating, and developing your staff will have a huge payoff to the business. Take that time.