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5 Tips to Hear Those Magic Words From Potential Clients

person helping friend over a wall“You’re the only person who can help me.”

Those are the words we all dream of hearing from clients, isn’t it?

I heard them twice in the past 6 weeks.

I also heard, “You’re the only person I’d want to work with on this.”

That came from a potential JV partner who wanted to discuss a potentially lucrative project idea he had.

Let me tell you what I did — that you can do too — that got the right people – to say those things to me and how you can hear them too.

  1. Embrace your story. I was talking with a potential joint venture (JV) partner last week and this was a recurring theme. One of the things he complimented me on was how I’ve embraced my story and how I don’t hide from it. It was hard to come to terms with to be honest. But once I did I started to see how important it was to what differentiated me.Your story – your hero’s journey if you will – is what gives you the unique perspective on the problem you solve. It’s part of what gives you your street cred if you will.

    No one wants diet tips from Kate Moss. We want diet tips from Jennifer Hudson, Marie Osmond, and others who’ve struggled and won the battle. Your mistakes, obstacles, or challenges aren’t wounds; they’re medals of honor. Wear them proudly.

    Just make sure you’re using your story to help others learn the key points you want them to get out of your message. Remember, there are 4 steps to the marketing / sales process:  educate, elevate, inspire, and invite.

  2. guy on one knee shooting videoUse multi-media. I produce a podcast, called The Courageous Entrepreneur Show. I film it as a video and release it as an audio podcast. I also do Facebook Live videos once a week. Video and audio are powerful because of the emotional connection viewers and listeners are able to make with you. Sometimes I’ve gotten choked up doing an interview or doing a livestream. I just let it happen.What I’ve heard 4 times over the past 6 weeks is that people have watched either my main show or the FB Lives I do as an “after show” on Wednesdays and they’ve felt connected to me. They emotionally knew I was the right person for them. It’s that combination of your message and the emotions you communicate that really connects.

    Believe me, I’m not perfect when I do them. And that’s what they actually like most.

    If you’re resisting using video or audio, ask yourself why. If you can stay focused on the message your sharing and the people who need and want to hear it you’ll become a lot less self-conscious

  3. Write. The written word is still powerful and makes up the foundation of the web. I use my show and FB Lives as fuel for written content. You don’t have to be Shakespeare or JK Rowlings for that matter. Just organize your thoughts and write in a conversational tone and you’ll be fine.You do want to do basic things like use spell check and grammar check. And it can help if you’ve got someone who can review your writing and edit it, but don’t let that stop you.
  4. people standing around talking Participate in online groups. I’m geographically impaired – I live north of Niagara Falls, NY on the US side and if you pay even modest attention to the weather, you know it’s not exactly a fun place to drive in winter – which starts in October or November and lasts until early April and sometimes the beginning of May. So participating in online groups is my primary networking strategy. Follow the group leader’s rules and focus on giving first. Be helpful, supportive, and kind. Let people know what you do without being pushy about it. I now get 98% of my clients and students through groups.
  5. Be you. You can’t be me. I have a hard enough time being me. But I can’t be you either. A massive part of client attraction is attracting the right clients. Few things suck more than working with a client who isn’t a good fit. Marketing and sales are all about helping people decide. A recent study showed that buyers are typically about 60% of the way through the buying process before they want to talk to someone in sales. That means we need to give them plenty of information so when they reach out to us we can help them make that final decision. We’re either right for them or not. And if they decide not, then we should be happy for them and for ourselves. The hardest part of all this is owning who you are and being comfortable with being you. I’m long since passed trying to be someone I’m not. It’s one of the gifts of aging.

We all want clients to come to us ready to buy. And it would be fabulous if JV partners came to us convinced we’d be a perfect match for each other.

To achieve that, we’ve got to get comfortable with and clear about our message, then have the courage to put it out there.

Don’t worry about the people who unsubscribe, tune out, or disconnect from you. They wouldn’t have bought anyway. You don’t need that many buyers to make a really good living and from there you need a few passionate advocates to help you share your story.

But it all starts with a clear message that you courageously share.

So what’s holding you back from getting your message out there?

Which Classic Monster Are You Most Like When It Comes to Content Marketing

I have a love-hate relationship with Halloween.

I’ve never really understood why people get dressed up and go to the homes of strangers who are then supposed to give them candy. Can’t you just buy it?

And the town I live in says Halloween has to start at some ridiculous time like 5pm.

I’m supposed to stop working early because strangers are at my door and they want free candy?

Makes no sense to me.

Which is why, when I was 8 years old, I told my parents I wasn’t doing it.

The candy was where I was already. I didn’t have to go get more.

But one thing I do love is decorating for Halloween.

Since we moved, I don’t decorate as elaborately as I used to. But I still love to put my favorite pieces out.

This week, as I was putting out my Halloween classic monster beanies, it dawned on me that many of us have content strategies that are aligned with classic Hollywood monsters.

So with all due respect to the various copyright holders, let’s see which classic monster you’re most like when it comes to your content creation, delivery, and marketing.

Wolfman. We all remember this story. A guy gets bitten by a wolf that’s actually a wolfman. The next time the full moon rises, he shows up and starts attacking.

Your monster avatar is Wolfman if you only create and distribute content once in a full….scratch that…blue moon.

Building a brand that solidly positions you as the obvious, trusted authority that creates desire in your audience to learn more and work only with you requires putting out great content on a consistent basis. The absolute minimum is once a month in my opinion. I think it’s reasonable to create something twice a month. So if you’re not sending out regular communications — more than once every 28 days — then it’s time to ask yourself why and create a plan to step it up.

Frankenstein’s Monster. The poor monster maker, Dr. Frankenstein, got overshadowed by his creation and we don’t refer to the monster as his credit says in the movie (“the monster”…how original). Instead we refer to the monster by the doc’s last name.

You have the Monster as an avatar if your content is a hodge-podge of topics, themes, and messages. At least you’re putting out SOMETHING…but since you don’t have a clear and  consistent message then your content doesn’t get people too excited. You actually confuse people about what you do and what you’re the expert at. And we all know “a confused mind never buys.”

You’re not building a strong brand that sets you apart as the go-to person so you’re hard to find and even harder to refer. Without strong positioning as a go-to authority, potential clients or students are likely to waste money on big, expensive programs that don’t meet their needs because the person selling it has a bigger “name” than you do. When you finally do talk to people or put in proposals, you have to work harder for the person to say yes.

Mummy.   Maybe you put out content pretty regularly. And the content is good. But once you publish it you never share it again. In effect, it’s buried. Just like Imhotep, the original mummy played by the legendary Boris Karloff.

Your solid piece of content sits on your website but it might as well be buried inside a tomb. The web visitor had to work hard to find the content and you. Maybe Google and the other search engines have to work hard to find your content to have it appear in the search results because, without the right elements and without consistent, unified content, what you create  might as well be inside a sarcophagus deep inside a pyramid.

Ghost.  The first ghost that comes into my mind isn’t really scary. It’s Casper. Hey, he’s a friendly ghost right (boy am I dating myself or what?)? The problem is Casper only appears to certain people. He’s a scaredy-ghost.

Your monster avatar is Casper if you only create content for “friends”…People who are on your list or otherwise already in your community. You don’t provide that “top of the funnel” sort of content that a new audience member would find helpful to introduce you and your approach.

You’re also a Casper if you create content that doesn’t invite people to take the next step, whether that’s take a quiz, attend an event, or more importantly work with you or otherwise go deeper to achieve the transformation they want and that you provide.

Casper was too nice. He just wanted people to be his friend. Which is nice, but you want a list of people who are highly engaged and ready to take action to get to the next level.


Skeleton. OK, skeletons aren’t exactly scary but you can still have one as your content monster avatar.

You’re represented by this monster if you only send out super thin content.

Your articles might share tips but they never have the kind of “meaty” detail that would help them truly understand the action to take.

Maybe you’re stuck in the mindset that “if I share my best tips and how-to’s no one will hire me.” That’s flat out wrong. Someone on a webinar made a great analogy:  You still go to a movie even though you saw the trailer, right? Content that’s meaty and longer does a great job of solidly positioning you as the knowledgeable expert authority while it educates the reader (or viewer…or listener….of whatever). Meaty copy  (1600 words) is actually what people want and gets consumed.

People want real value. And as long as your content addresses an important problem and shares how to fix it, your audience will read it.

It takes longer-ish copy for you to pre-sell your POV, and inspire your consumer enough to take action when you invite them to do so (in other words action on your call to action).

Dracula.  I grew up watching Dark Shadows. Yes, the ORIGINAL one. And no I didn’t watch the reruns.

I ran home from school every day to see it.

I ended up so scared every SINGLE night that I slept with the covers pulled up around my throat until I started having hot flashes 40 years later.

Listen, I know you hate selling. That’s actually a big part of the problem. You’re so terrified of becoming like “them” that you avoid putting out content and when you do put something out you can’t bring yourself to make an offer for fear that people will think you’re salesy.

But…you DO have to eat and you DO have to keep the electricity and Internet on.

So Dracula is your Content Monster Avatar if you only send out content when you want something. When you (your content) shows up, people KNOW an offer is coming and to be honest, they’re not really interested because you’re never around sharing useful information that educates them while elevating you in their eyes and heart. Then you go into hiding again because you’re disgusted by acting like a taker (like Drac…he’s the ultimate taker).

And of course if you act like one of these monsters your business isn’t growing, your brand isn’t growing, and you have to work harder than you want to or feel you should.

This is why a content strategy and content calendar are so important.

Quick Tips to Use Content to Position and Pre-Sell You

Here are some quick tips to really leverage content to position and pre-sell you and make it easier for great clients to say yes to working or learning from you:

Identify your core message, your sub-messages, and stick to them. Remember, your objective is to be seen as the go-to person in the eyes of those you serve.

You can only do that when you continuously share content that’s consistently on-message.

Know what your offerings are and when you’ll promote them. Whether you provide custom solutions all year or you have courses you offer, naturally you want everything to be bought all the time.

But to effectively manage your time and leverage it well you must focus on certain offerings at certain times. Create a calendar – even if it means ballparking what you’ll promote in quarters – and then start mapping out content topics that will inspire and invite the content consumer to take the next step.

You can plan to fill in gaps in your calendar with related topics that may simply inspire people to stay in or join your community. You don’t need to have an explicit call to action to buy or do something.

About 6 to 8 weeks before you launch, start sharing educationally-focused content tied directly to the problem addressed by your offering.

Get people excited about the next content piece in the process. Help them see that this is a series and encourage them to keep an eye out for the next piece. Share a couple of bullet points with them to get them interested in it.

Identify themes and events then tie them to your content. That’s what I did here. I capitalized on the holiday of Halloween and used what was in my house. This helps inspiration show up for work and do her job.

Create a calendar and schedule the work. This is one that I’m still working on myself.

To make sure our work has as much impact as possible, we need to map out our schedule to include time every day to work on the small pieces of content (like articles or short videos) and the big pieces of content (white papers, books, or video series for example).

Micro steps are the best way to do it. Just a few minutes every day where you capture your thoughts on your content will get you farther than trying to block out an entire day or even an hour to get something done.

Publish, share, share again. Sure you posted the article on your blog and maybe shared it on your other social sites, but do you have it automated through a tool like Hoot Suite to go out periodically?

Re-sharing content is a very smart move, especially if your content is evergreen.

Content creation doesn’t have to be scary.

It’s exactly the best strategy for someone like you who hates to sell and isn’t crazy about marketing.

The word Sell comes from the word Sellan which means to give.

So embrace that original definition and the formula, Educate => Elevate => Inspire => Invite. Then you’ll be on your way to position and presell yourself as the go-to trusted authority for your best clients.

Upcoming Content Strategy Workshop: The Write Plan

Ready to create a simple content plan you can stick to, that positions and pre-sells you as the trusted authority you are? Then come to my upcoming workshop The Write Plan. In this interactive workshop taught live over two half-days, you’ll…

  • Focus your message
  • Create a content strategy
  • Plan an editorial calendar that warms up your audience and supports your offerings
  • Plan your work schedule so you know what to create, when to create it, and do it without killing
  • yourself.

How the course is taught

The course is taught live and you’ll have access to the recordings, get the handouts, and templates. And I’ll be hosting open Q&A calls as a way to support you through the implementation process for at least 3 months after the event.

Who the course is for

The program is specifically for coaches, consultants, and other solo service providers who hate selling (aren’t crazy about marketing) and who want to position themselves as the clear solution to their audience’s problem.


The early-bird price for the course is $147 and goes up to $197 at 5pm on Monday, October 16th.  Click this link to register.

Does Your Business or Offering Pass the Toilet Paper Test?

roll of toilet paper on holder mounted on wall“…Your business needs to be like toilet paper and toothpaste…”

That’s the advice Jason Alba, founder of JibberJobber.com  and this week’s guest on The Courageous Entrepreneur Show  got from someone he was discussing his pricing model with.

The advisor went on to explain that toilet paper and toothpaste are the sort of thing that people look at and immediately understand what they are and what they do. The potential buyer can then quickly decide to purchase without a lot of agonizing over the decision.

He recommended that Jason’s pricing model be that clear and simple.

That got me thinking about all the times I’ve met someone at an event and couldn’t understand what they did or offered.

And it got me thinking critically about my own rebrand and my new offerings.

It’s not easy to be “like toilet paper and toothpaste.”

Here are some tough questions to ask we all need to ask ourselves that can help us see if we passed the TP test.

  1. Does your offering solve a problem that people are highly motivated to solve? If it’s seen as something that’s “nice but not necessary” it’s probably something the buyer finds easy to say no to, cut back on, or completely eliminate from their life. That means you need to focus your offering(s) and position them so they’re targeted to an audience who is highly motivated to take action or they’re structured to fix a problem that’s critical to solve.
  2. Is the perceived value and perceived uniqueness of what you offer so significant that the buyer is willing to pay your price without negotiating? One of the reasons I got out of pure consulting is because I hated the whole proposal-writing / negotiating thing. I don’t inflate or pad my prices.

That means I didn’t have anything to negotiate with.

If there was something in the proposal that someone was willing to live without or an outcome they were willing to do without then I could remove that which would lower the price but there’s no negotiating. But lots of people feel like they have to negotiate because they’re conditioned to with an entrepreneur whose business is built on a consulting model.

I also had to admit that I wasn’t perceived as totally unique.

This is painful to admit but important.

Once you recognize that you’re out of alignment with yourself and your beliefs, you can recognize things like you’re trying to follow a model that’s not right for you.

  1. Is your messaging so clear and to the point that when someone comes to your website they can make a relatively fast decision to take action — by buying from / working with you or reaching out to you to have a conversation that more often than not leads to a sale? Answering this question takes knowing your numbers and your stats – things like number of unique visitors to your site, length of time on a page, bounce rate (the percentage of visitors who click away from your site after viewing just the page they landed on), along with your number of opt-ins, marketing or sales conversations, or actual purchases.
  2. Is your messaging so clear and to the point that when you meet someone for the first time and they hear your answer to “So…what do you do?” they tell you they know someone who needs your services? And when they connect you to that person they were right – it IS a person who needs your services.

Really tune into the nonverbal cues others are displaying when you talk and fully listen to what is being said in response to you.

Also examine the quantity and quality of your referrals. If you’re constantly wondering why you get poor quality referrals — people you don’t and can’t truly help — then that’s a sign your message isn’t simple or clear.

  1. Are you where your targeted audience segments can easily find you? Toilet paper and toothpaste are now sold virtually everywhere but we know two places where we can always find them – the grocery store and drug store. If you’re not everywhere your audience is, are you in at least the top two places they go for information? That means are you being found when they search for information and are you in one other place where they commonly go? If you don’t know what words they search with or what they commonly look for then I recommend doing some research by talking to potential great clients. You can also join groups where your best clients are likely to be and then listen to their conversations and read their posts.

Keeping your messaging, offers, and pricing simple while sharing useful content through blog posts and social networking sites is a key element of selling your services when you hate selling. It helps you communicate what makes you truly unique, educate your audience while elevating yourself as a trusted authority and demonstrating your expertise which can help you pre-sell someone on working with you, buying from you, or referring to you.

Which of these questions do you struggle with the most?


5 Critical Actions That Will Help You Attract Clients and Opportunities

Building a consulting, coaching, or other business as an expert problem solver can be
isolating, frustrating, and depressing.

It feels like a never-ending process of trying to get noticed, inspire those who notice you to learn more, and then invite them to take the next step to work with you.

All of those things are very challenging for 4 big reasons.

  1. Getting attention is a challenge because there are so many distractions
  2. You have to figure out where those you want to reach are and where they’re most open to your message
  3. While you’re trying to educate and inspire them they’re also dealing with a lot of other issues that may or may not be more important than the problem you solve.
  4. People will choose to work with people who they believe are experts. One of the things that impacts our perception of someone else as an expert is we see them more and hear more about them then we do others. This is part of building a brand for yourself and your business.

You can’t change that.

But what you can do is embrace 5 actions that will have a  big impact on growing your business and attracting more potential clients and opportunities…

  1. Get crystal clear on your message including the problem you solve, the impact of that problem, and the outcome you deliver. Best selling author Mike Michalowicz who wrote Toiletpaper Entrepreneur, the Pumpkin Plan, Profit First, and Surge does this in the form of what he calls a Rally Cry. (Yes, I know that’s grammatically incorrect but it’s what HE calls it.) This is like a cross between a mission and a tagline. His cry is to eradicate entrepreneurial poverty. When you see your work as the mission it really is it can help you stay focused and inspired.
  2. Narrow your focus. As counter-intuitive as it is, narrowing your focus is a great way to make it easier to get noticed because it’s like you gave yourself permission to be the expert. It’s easier to  can be seen as the go-to person to the specific audience that has that specific problem. It gives you permission to ignore things that aren’t in that focus. I call this “a slice of a slice”. The more crowded the market the more you have to specialize. There’s one specific audience you want to talk to. They’re the ones who will recognize you as the expert you are because they relate to your background and achievements. They recognize and value your knowledege, skills, abilities, and experience.
  3. Put yourself out there in a big way and do it consistently. This is where the conflict between our needs and wants comes in. There’s a saying that you’ve got to fail forward fast. Those of us who are corporate escapees can have a real block around this and for those of us who are recovering perfectionists it’s even worse. In corporate life I’ll bet you saw people who made mistakes and got punished for them. They got chewed out. Their reputation was damaged. They may have gotten demoted. Some got fired. So it can be terrifying to put yourself out there in a big way because you’re emotionally scarred after seeing or experiencing that. Corporate life didn’t really set us up for success as independent professionals and entrepreneurs. So you’ve got to reconcile these emotions and it requires detaching from the outcome. It also requires developing the self-love and faith in yourself so your self-esteem isn’t at risk when you make an offer that no one takes you up on or you present a proposal and get told no.There’s any number of strategies you can apply and tactics you can accomplish to put yourself out there and attract clients. But they have to be done in a consistent manner. The fact that you put up a blog post and it didn’t get any traffic or that you put up a video and no one came to see it live doesn’t mean it’s not working. We cognitively know it will take more effort than that but we’re still disappointed when it doesn’t work. We want to be that overnight success that others seem to be. But in reality it takes effort. And it takes changing the effort you’re expending. You don’t need to take huge action but instead take small actions, moving forward, and you’ll make that next big leap.
  4. Find a supportive community and participate in it. Going out on your own is a courageous move. But at the same time it’s incredibly isolating since most of the people you know probably can’t relate to you now. But as a social animal, you do need to find supportive peers who can encourage you, cheer you, and gently push you while sharing their knowledge and feedback with you.
  5. Take action. There’s a great image I saw on Facebook designed by Sylvia Duckworth. It’s called the Iceberg Illusion. It shows the tip of the iceberg that’s above the water and that’s labeled “success” Then it shows the giant piece of the iceberg and all of the effort that’s going on below the surface that people don’t see.  Do something. Everyday do small actions that move your toward your ultimate goal. And never give up.

So your reflection exercise for today is to think about what you’re doing to get known and be seen along with the emotions that’s bringing up and how you’re managing them.

And your action step is to make a list of all of the potential actions you could take to attract potential clients. Then identify what you’re not willing to do and what you are willing to do.  Once you’ve got a handle on what you’re not willing to do you’ve got to ask yourself if you’re willing to accept that your movement may take more time than you want it to.

Look at your calendar and plan to do at least one thing to attract potential clients every day. You want to eventually aim for doing at least 5 things every day that will make you more visible and raise your Know-Like-Trust Quotient with those you’d like to connect with — whether they’re potential clients, potential referral partners, or potential collaboration partners.



The “Where to Start” Advice Every Guru Gives That’s Dead Wrong (and what to do instead)

red_tulips_white_tulipEvery guru says to start at the same point – identify your Ideal Client. They tell you that’s the most important thing and that without clarity on that you’ll struggle.

I think they’re dead wrong when they’re talking to service professionals – coaches, consultants, healers, and licensed professionals – like us.

You started your practice because you…

  • Have skills you love to use and want to spend all your time using them
  • Have a passion for the work you do, for the outcome you deliver – whether it’s for helping others manage stress, grow their business, write better books, or something else. You want to help others do, be, and have more than they have now.
  • Feel called to a mission. I’ve asked service providers why they do what they do and many feel drawn to solve a problem or make an impact in some way. They almost can’t explain why they do it; they just know they have to.

There’s some internal knowing that this is the work you were meant to do. Service professionals are led by the service they want to deliver.

That’s what drives you — making a difference…serving others…through the skills you have.

So when the gurus start preaching that your first step is to focus on an Ideal Client or target market you struggle to figure out who that is or should be for you.

This can leave you feeling like you’re stupid because you can’t figure out something that they say is basic.

But they’ve got it backwards. At least when it comes to service professionals like coaches, consultants, or healers.

What You Need to Do Before Worrying About Who Your Ideal Client Is

Before we can possibly know our Ideal Client, we need to be clear on our Big Idea.

Legendary advertising executive David Ogilvy is credited with coining the phrase, “Big Idea”. And his effectiveness with using it was a good part of what made him legendary.

Having a Big Idea means you’ve got a unique approach to a problem. It’s your unique solution built on your unique slant on a specific problem.

So expressing a Big Idea means communicating…

  • The problem you solve
  • Your Point of View about the problem you solve
  • The outcome or transformation you provide

When you’re trying to grow a business, have bills to pay, and empty cupboards to fill it can make you feel a bit panicky to  focus on what you think of as a small segment of  the population.

You’re likely nervous about turning people down or saying you only with a specific type of person or that you only solve a specific type of problem.

You can also feel really uncomfortable (to put it mildly) about putting yourself out there.

Benefits of Getting Clear About Your Big Idea

But talking about your Big Idea…talking about the problem that needs to be solved and why people struggle to solve it…is a lot easier. It put’s the attention on the problem, not on you.

And when you deeply understand the problem you solve and the outcome you provide, better than anyone else, then you can start to see who has that problem and who wants the outcome you offer.

When you’re clear about your Big Idea and stay on message talking about issues that relate to  it then you’re going to attract people who have that problem you solve and who want the solution you provide in the way you provide it.

You become the go-to person for your particular audience.

The Foundation of Your Big Idea

The most important element that forms the foundation of your Big Idea is your Point of View (POV).

Your POV is the set of beliefs you have about the work you do and the problem you solve. It’s your approach and philosophy about solving the problem.

It informs everything you do and guides the way you do it.

Here’s a quick example.

On a video call, my friends who are livestreaming experts they told me I needed to check out a new livestream service that’s all the rage.

But a friend of mine in an English speaking country outside of the US posted on Facebook a negative experience he had with this company.

My friend’s assessment was the livestreaming company’s rep had no idea how to talk to a professional and acted like a child.

What my friend described certainly sounded like very poor service. Since he was dealing with a manager of this new company, it sounds like they either don’t know how to hire good people or they’re developing a culture with a chip on its shoulder — one that doesn’t value clients.

So my reaction when my friends suggested I have this company on the show was very strong.


I don’t want to help bad companies get attention and attract business when they obviously don’t put the effort into hiring and / or training top notch people. Or they care so little about their staff that they create an environment that causes these people to then act out.

Can you hear my values in there? The importance I place on staffing, training, and organizational development?

That forms the foundation of my POV about service, culture, and staffing.

Your beliefs, values, and philosophy become very obvious when something tests them.

So when you hear some guru go on about how the first thing you need to do is identify a target market… and you struggle to identify one…it’s easy to feel like you’re stupid. But you’re not.

They just assume you’re clear on your Big Idea. That you’re clear on your core message, the problem you solve, and the outcome you deliver.

But it’s very likely that you’re not.

That’s not because you’re stupid. It’s because you’ve been focusing too hard on getting clients.

But you can’t get as many clients — or Ideal Clients — until you’re clear on your core message.

You do need a clear audience to communicate with, and the more you know about them the easier it is to attract them.

But you can’t attract them if you don’t understand their problem and your solution and why your solution is right for them.

You’ll struggle to attract them if you don’t have a Big Idea and if you don’t have a clear message delivered consistently across different platforms.

So if you’ve been sweating to figure out an ideal client, or avatar, or brand persona, or whatever is the buzz phrase of the moment, I’m giving you permission to stop worrying about that right now.

Instead, focus on gaining crystal clarity on your Big Idea.

Focus on being clear about the problem you solve, the solution you provide, the POV you have, and packaging all that into your Big Idea so people understand you and what you’re all about.

Then get your message out powerfully — in a way that reaches and resonates with your ideal client so she takes the next step to learn more about you and the solution you provide.

Then as you see who is naturally attracted to you, you can decide how to adjust your message in order to attract more of those people who you truly want to work with and less of those who aren’t a perfect fit.

Your Ideal Client or Avatar will make itself known to you because that’s who resonates with your message.

7 Types of Proof Elements and How They Help Clients Decide to Buy

Buying is full of risk. There are lots of reasons your Prime Suspects don’t buy from you but they all boil down to fear.

They’re afraid you won’t deliver….afraid your solution will make things worse and not better…afraid the return on investment they want won’t happen….

They’re also likely to be afraid of change, or of what you’re asking them to face (really important for those selling anything to do with prevention, health, finances, etc).

And they’re afraid your solution won’t work for them.

So when you’re talking to a Prime Suspect or they’re reviewing your website, a social profile, or reviewing collateral material (a brochure, a proposal, etc.) what they’re really looking for is proof.

They want proof you can deliver as promise and that your solution will work for them.

This video shares the 7 proof elements you can use to market and sell your offerings. You don’t necessarily need all 7 but the more powerful your proof is the easier buyers will be able to say yes to working with you.


10 Tips to Make Sure You Have the Right Pics for Marketing Your Business

girl_taking_pictures_facing_inI was on Skype with my colleague in an online mastermind group last night. We’ll call her Sandi (since that’s her name). She was looking for feedback on book covers for a client project.

Sandi had been working on this project for awhile and the cover had gone through several iterations.

The cover has several problems (which I’ll save for a different post) but the biggest one was the author’s photo that was going to be used on the front.

It’s not right for the cover, but the author loves it.

I’m going to resist the temptation to go off on a tangent about clients who fall in love with things that won’t help them. That’s another issue all on its own.

I ran into a similar problem when I worked for a brand design firm.

One of our biggest and one of my favorite clients to write for was a growing regional insurance agency.

The CEO was the son of the founder and it was a great example of a successful family-owned business.

When we landed the account, my boss (who owned the firm), spent an afternoon taking pictures of the CEO (Tom) for the series of ads we’d be creating for the agency.

Tom was truly the face of the brand and felt it was important that HE be the one delivering his messages.

He was right.

He’s photogenic, comfortable in front of the camera, and even comfortable filming a commercial.

The problem though was sometimes I’d be writing ad for copy that was talking about pretty somber stuff –being protected in case of an emergency or even a disaster.

But the pictures my boss took all had Tom sporting a big toothy grin.

My boss refused to ask Tom to pose for more pictures because he didn’t want to admit he’d missed something in the original photo shoot, nor did he want to have any additional expenses on the account.

This really cramped my writing style and sometimes would take me twice as long to create an ad because I had to have the copy match that face.

I did the job, and Tom was so happy with the ads he would refer to me as his “voice” because he said I came up with what he would genuinely say.

If you’re the face of your business then you’ll need to accept that fact means you need to have your picture taken fairly often for your various marketing and sales materials. So here are some simple tips to help you use your money wisely.

  1. Work with a professional photographer. My boss was pretty good but by no means a professional. Hire someone who has done shots for marketing and advertising because they’ll know you need various looks (serious, happy, etc.).
  2. Think about the emotions you’re trying to convey and to arouse in your Prime Suspects. I don’t know about you but I want a serious guy in charge of my insurance. When I had headshots done I picked two and asked my newsletter readers which one they liked. They were VERY vocal and basically told me one they hated because it was too serious and business like. The other one they LOVED because they felt it captured the personality they see when I teach live. And that’s the one I’ve used on my site online and off for about 4 years (and they’re time for an update).
  3. Get shots from various angles. You want to be able to place the picture looking into the copy wherever it is. For example, I always have my picture next to a note from me that’s part of my newsletter. My face is turned into the writing. It gives the subtle message that I’m in alignment with my message. (See how the girl is pointing the camera towards the copy? That’s what I mean. I could have used a shot with the girl pointing the camera straight at you. But having her facing the camera away from the copy would not be good.)
  4. Get a full body shot. I think of this as a power shot. There’s something confident and compelling about a person standing up.
  5. Get some pictures sitting down. Lean into the shot to create a feeling of movement and subtly look one direction and to the other. I think most of us are more photogenic when we’re looking slight on an angle.
  6. Take several changes of clothing to the shoot. If your image is conservative (like your clients expect you to be in a suit) then take at least more than one blazer with you. You never know how the lighting might impact the colors and textures. And if you’ve got a slightly laid back reputation then you might want to have some shots that are business casual and some that are more business traditional for you and your clients.
  7. Get the pictures taken against a white background. That gives you the most flexibility.
  8. Consult with an image consultant on wardrobe, makeup, jewelry and colors. It’s money well spent to have a makeup professional do your makeup before the shoot. Guys, that goes for you too. A little touch of concealer too minimize shadows around your eyes especially helps make you look brighter (visually, not mentally)
  9. Get new pictures done if you need them. Don’t be like my boss and force me to use happy pictures when I needed neutral emotion. If what you’ve got doesn’t send the message you want then get them done again.
  10. Loosen up before the shoot. Play your favorite music, bring a supportive friend along…do what you need to in order to be relaxed and present the real you. These are marketing and sales tools afterall, not your junior high school class picture. You’re smart and professional and that’s what you’re trying to convey.

If you haven’t updated your pictures in a while then it’s time to plan for that and start budgeting for pictures whenever you’re launching something new or changing your messaging.


The secret to powerful messaging that’s not salesy

If you’re a consultant, coach, licensed service professional or other expert who’s stock in trade is their expertise, one issue you may struggle with is getting your message out in a powerful way that doesn’t come across as salesy.

If you’re a corporate escapee like me, you were probably an expert at talking about the problems your employer’s customers had. But once out on your own, you’ve probably struggled to create a message that consistently resonates with the mind and heart of your ideal clients (who I refer to as your Prime Suspects).

One big element of that problem is deeply understanding the problem your Suspects have and communicating in a way that shows you GET it. This video talks about that.