When I left the corporate world to start my own business, I was starting from scratch. I mean, really from scratch. I had been in brand marketing for 29 years. And I decided to go into direct response copywriting.
I needed training, I needed practice, and I needed clients. And while I started off doing those things in that order, they are actually cumulative and ongoing.
In other words, I’ll always be training so I keep up with new trends in my craft … I’ll always be practicing so I can give my clients the best results … and of course, I’ll always need new clients.
When I was starting out, I took on any writing assignment I could get. It didn't matter what the industry was. I figured if someone wanted to pay me for a service I could provide, I’d be nuts to turn it down!
Even though people hired me to write their copy, I couldn’t “turn off” the marketing brain I had acquired in the 29 years I worked in the corporate world. So I’d start a writing assignment and then would end up giving marketing guidance, too. After all, the purpose of my copy was to get results. But if something about the marketing was off, my copy didn’t stand much of a chance … no matter how good it was.
One time my marketing brain kicked in when I was writing for a software company. They were selling a social media management platform. And they hired me to write their website copy.
As you may know, there are a lot of players in the social media management space. So I asked my client for a list of their top competitors. They gave me 22 company names and I researched all of them. I wanted to see how they were positioning themselves because the last thing I wanted was for my client to blend in with them.
If all the companies say pretty much the same thing, the customer looks at price. And that’s just a race to the bottom.
All of the companies except one of them used a headline that was a variation of the exact same message: “Manage all of your social media marketing in one place.”
In fact, 2 companies had the EXACT same headline on their website.
Now here’s the problem. When I interviewed my client, they told me the best thing about their software was that you could … wait for it …
“Manage all of your social media marketing in one place!”
Houston, we have a problem.
So I worked on a bunch of positioning ideas for my client. I wanted them to see that having a product for “everyone” made them sound like all of their competitors. Instead, I wanted them to become THE social media marketing software for a specific group or industry. That would take them away from being one of many possible options to being the perfect option for that specific group!
Were they interested?
They were opposed to the idea because they said their product can help all kinds of companies … big and small! Public and private! Everything from single bloggers to agencies!
If they followed my advice, they said they’d be leaving money on the table. They’d miss out attracting a much larger pool of potential customers.
Okay guys … then you gotta give me something to work with.
I asked them to tell me what was different about their product. What did they have or do that no one else did. Every time they gave me something, I pushed back. “That’s the same as So-and-so,” I point out.
Yes, it got uncomfortable. After all, they only hired me to write their website copy. And I guess I could have ignored everything and just written their copy. But I can’t just “write copy.” I can’t just forget that I know a thing or two about positioning and marketing!
But I wasn’t getting through to them. They had FOMO … Fear Of Missing Out on potential customers. Not only that. In situations like this, there’s often another powerful force at play.
When you look at other successful businesses, it’s easy to think you should model what they do. For many people, that often feels like the safest choice. They often assume the other guy must have done the research and due diligence and must know what’s best!
While there are some instances where modeling someone else’s success may be smart, it’s a terrible idea when it comes to your positioning or messaging. That’s where you must find a way to stand out.
And this is just as true for health coaches as it is for software companies … even if it means you’ll be ignoring people you know you can help. Just like I knew I could write for many different types of companies when I was starting out.
When I decided I only wanted to work in health and wellness, my business went from inching along to taking off! No, it wasn’t overnight. But when I knew exactly who I wanted to serve, it gave me so much focus and clarity. I wasn’t running around having to learn about new industries and target markets. It helped me get better at what I do much faster.
Truth be told, at first it felt strange to not pursue writing projects I knew I could do well. But then I noticed a shift.
I felt more empowered because I was being selective. I was choosing who I wanted to work with. I knew who I wanted to serve … and I wanted to super-serve them! I wanted to become the best option for health and wellness coaches.
So now when I work with clients, the first thing we do is figure out who they want to serve. What problem do they want to solve and who do they want to solve it for?
If you haven’t done this yet, I can’t stress enough how important it is to your business. Because once you make this decision, everything else falls into place much more easily!
So if you aren't super clear on what problem you want to solve and who you want to solve it for (what I refer to as your Perfect Client Avatar), take some time to decide. And then spend some time getting to know them better in Facebook groups or on forums.
This will be one of the hardest decisions you make in building your business ... but it will also be the biggest game-changer.