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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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…
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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?
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.
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…
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.
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…
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.
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…
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.
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 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.