There is almost nothing that generates more anxiety than the question of how to stand out, especially when you are getting started as a coach, or professional service provider.
This anxiety can occur even after being in business for many years, but when navigating new territory in launching a new product, or refining or expanding into a new niche.
How do we enroll others, when we are not quite enrolled ourselves? When our self doubt starts to suffocate like a turtleneck shirt that is many sizes too small?
Of course, in the question lies the answer, because if you are focusing on your presumed disadvantages, you will accidentally be communicating this - verbally or non-verbally- to potential clients.
So instead, you must focus on where you have the edge, even if you are not yet an established industry expert, or an internet marketer with thousands or tens of thousands of people on your list.
Here are 5 things you can leverage to stand out instead:
#1 The Power of Proximity
When starting out, never underestimate the Power of Proximity. No matter how many others are in a similar niche as yours, who teach, coach, speak, write about a similar topic as you, potential customers don't have time to connect with everyone who might have a solution for them. Instead, we often choose people in proximity, whether we initially connect with them online or offline. No matter how many Experts are out there, people who are in proximity (ie: in relationship) with the potential client, typically gain the business.
This is why things like networking, speaking, 1-1 conversations, and referrals are so powerful, especially when starting out.
If you really "click" with someone, if you resonate with them and they solve a problem you would love to overcome, you will hire them.
#2 The Art of Asking
If you fully leverage the Art of Asking, you will have another edge. Truly, even though I am sharing 5 ways you can stand out, if you only focused on really leveraging even these first two things, you could achieve a great deal of business and grow a tribe of very happy customers.
So there are people, maybe lots of people, who have been doing this whole business or "Expert" thing longer than you, but are THEY leveraging the Art of Asking?
If you do, you will create Raving Fans.
I remember once before my entrepreneur days, when I was working for a business, I was given the project to find a CRM (basically ideal online system to manage client info and sales) for the business. I scheduled a consultation with a well-known CRM company to see if they would meet our needs.
The Salesperson spent nearly an hour telling me about their system, "pitching" me old-school style, without asking me ANY questions and without taking a breath. When I finally got a word in, I asked a few pointed questions about what we were looking for. It turns out, after a whole hour of non-stop info, one of the features our company was looking for simply wasn't in their system.
If the Salesperson had asked me questions, or been open to dialogue, we could have figured this out a whole lot sooner!
Then I spoke to a newer company that actually listened, that asked me questions, and were dedicated to serving my needs. Did I care that they were a newer company? No, they asked what I wanted, showed that they cared, and we were in proximity. I was good to go!
A great lesson in the Art of Asking questions, and how this practice can set you apart, no matter how new you are in the world of business, or your niche.
Here are some questions you can ask (your audience will love you for it!):
- What is your greatest challenge, that if solved, would give you the greatest relief?
- What would an ideal solution look like for you?
- Anything else you'd like me to know?
#3 The Special Bond of Specialization
Something you can do to instantly stand out, is claim your tribe by getting specific about who you specialize in working with. Don't sweat it, this can change and evolve over time. Simply think about it as a principle of standing out, and something you can do to immediately increase the trust factor.
Helping "everyone," is a tricky affair because it doesn't tell customers that you are for them.
On the other hand, if you love helping writers, or coaches, or home-owners, you are moving forward on the path of specialization.
What else could you say that would help a new audience know that you are FOR THEM?
Specialize in men or women?
People over 40? Millennials?
I once coached an interior designer who went from focusing on serving all homeowners, to focusing on one of his favorite projects- bathroom redesign. That instantly helped his marketing message POP in a whole new way, changing from redesigning any room in the house to- transforming everyday bathrooms into a spa-like experience you could access from the comfort of your home. (oh yeah!)
A teaching consultant who was in this coaching group, who had been struggling on narrowing her niche suddenly GOT IT. Witnessing the power of specialization from witnessing the interior designer's process, helped melt her own fear of specializing away. This AHA moment accelerated the speed with which she grew her business from there.
How can YOU get specific to show YOUR audience that you are dedicated to serving THEM?
#4 The Excitement of Experience
I think our Reptillian Brain (you know the part of us that is always concerned about surviving) loves to compartmentalize things. To tell us that something is NEW, and UNFAMILIAR, and SCARY. It's that part of you that will tell you that you don't have experience with something, even though you have LOTS of parallel experience.
For instance, I once helped a music teacher fill his practice from zero to full. When he was starting, natural fear arose about starting from scratch with his client base. How could he charge what he wanted when he was just beginning?
Answer: Change the story about "just beginning."
Upon, asking more questions about his experience, I learned that in working as a music teacher for many years for an employer, he had taught over 10,000 lessons.
No that is not a misprint- 10,000. Ten. Thousand!
Once he said this out loud he realized that his brain had been tricking him into believing he was an inexperienced beginner. That was far from true. Once he started sharing his experience, his business started to fill rapidly with students, and he commanded premium rates for his services.
What valuable experiences do you have, that you haven't been giving yourself credit for or sharing?
It may not be doing the exact thing you are wanting to do now, but it could look like parallel skills, experiences, wisdom...
In what ways are you NOT a beginner at all? Tell your brain what's what.
#5 Your Story, Your Superpower
Lastly, your story is a superpower. Don't let it go unshared!
I worked with a health coach once who was extremely nervous about taking on clients for the first time, but all she had to do was start telling her own story. Using her own techniques she had lost over a hundred pounds, to enjoy a healthy weight (and you would never know of her struggle by looking at her). Clearly, she was her own first client and she had a signature process that had proven itself- after many other methods had failed her. A powerful story!
When I was beginning my entrepreneurial journey, I noticed that two skills I loved that I could leverage were my way with words and performance, with a background as an actress and creative writer. My Nail Your Elevator Speech workshops filled in large part because I leveraged this background- I let people know that this background set me apart, and I leveraged it in my marketing. I could teach anyone to embrace the Spotlight moment of describing "what they do," by using a combination of communication and acting techniques.
What's a personal story you could tell, that would help your audience invest in YOU? The best part about this is when your audience connects with you, there is no competition. No one else has your story!
We all have many thing in common. We all have to eat, drink water, sleep, go to the bathroom...and start somewhere! Eliminate the limited thinking that tells you that you are not enough, leverage these "5 things" and live the life you have always wanted, through your business.
And while you are at it, leave a comment if this blog was helpful or resonated with you!