In this blog post I talk about something that I know many business owners struggle with. Whether you call it standing out, getting noticed or being visible, I want to share with you how to do it without compromising on integrity.
I’ve always been a less is more kind of person, a lover of the understated rather than the bold and brash. So it makes sense that the way I market my business follows along the same lines. There is a lot of conventional advice out there that tells us that in order to get noticed in a crowded marketplace, we need to be louder, bigger and bolder than our competitors and if it’s not already obvious, I advocate a completely different approach. When it comes to business and the marketing of it, I’m all for a slower, quieter, simpler and less in your face approach than the way many others are doing it these days online.
Now I get that the theory might sound great, but what it looks like in practice may not be immediately obvious.
Allow me to elaborate and share with you some of the ways I help my business to stand out in a crowded marketplace in more authentic and conscious ways and how I’ve seen others do it too.
Embrace being different
Wherever possible I like to buck the trend. I don’t always do this consciously, it’s actually part of my nature to question the status quo and to spot the issue or problem with a preferred or mainstream way of doing things. This can be irritating in some contexts (like the corporate world for example, where I’m fully aware just how much I used to annoy my superiors), but when it comes to being a solopreneur it really can be a gift.
When we’re new to business, it makes sense that we look to the majority for the way to do things. We listen to what everyone is saying (hint: usually those trying to shout the loudest) and in doing so lose sight of what makes us different and unique. Instead of embracing what makes us different, we try to hide it. We hold back what we really think and feel and in doing so, stifle our creativity, work with people who are not a fit and face untold amounts of unnecessary suffering and struggle.
I see gifted, unique, opinionated, intelligent business owners do this all the time.
For example the copywriter I coached who had fallen out of love with her business because she didn’t believe that having great copy was enough to succeed in business and was struggling to see the impact of her work. Imagine, I told her, how refreshing it would be to hear a professional copywriter tell you that having great copy is not enough to bring in the big bucks and it’s only one part of the puzzle. Imagine being told this truth rather than sold the lie that if we spend thousands of dollars on our website copy we’ll have droves of our dream fit client banging down our door. I don’t know about you but I know which copywriter I would choose to hire.
Sometimes we look at what makes us different as weakness, as a flaw to keep covered up and hidden. The truth is in fact the opposite. Usually what makes us different is our selling point. It’s what will make us stand out from all the rest.
Or, for example, the business coach who keeps her rates low because she doesn’t believe that getting support to make a living doing meaningful work in the world should cost a fortune or put you in debt and no she doesn’t have money mindset issues and yes she does know her worth (and no it’s not tied in to the price of her offerings!)
Or like the Spanish teacher who doesn’t believe language learning has to be as tedious as memorising endless verb conjugations and combines her love of embodiment, personal growth and poetry to help people embrace the language in order to express the deepest parts of themselves.
Share your point of view
Once you’ve unearthed what makes you different, you absolutely need to share that difference with the world. Not sure what makes you different? Take some time to look at what annoys you in your industry, what do you see other people doing that makes you shake your head with despair. Look too at those things you force yourself to do (because everyone else is doing them) but you never feel right about doing them. What would it look like if you didn’t do them? What would it look like if you “allowed” yourself to do it your way instead? What would it look like if you openly shared the fact that you don’t do those things, why you don’t and what you do instead!
I give away complimentary coaching sessions ALL the time. It’s my most favourite way to get to know people, give back to my community, demonstrate my expertise and hone my skills but over the years it’s been the one thing that has provoked the most criticism or questioning from others. There are so many people “out there” who say you should never give away your services for free. That doing so devalues your work. That doing so shows that you don’t value yourself. But the truth is, not only do I find it fun, rewarding and fulfilling, it’s also the single most effective way I have found to have a steady and consistent flow of paying, coaching clients.
Now I could take those criticisms to heart and stop doing something I enjoy (and that works) or continue to do free sessions, but hide the fact wherever possible.
I could fully embrace the fact that whereas most other coaches do discovery calls (some even charge for these!) I will, instead, coach a person for one or several hours and share as many of my best resources as possible, with no concern about whether or not they can afford to hire me or even have any intention to.
It’s pretty obvious which option I’ve taken and I’ve not only stood firm in what makes me different, I’ve embraced it as one of those things that differentiates me from many of the other coaches out there. Let me just share how that’s working out for me. Last year I published a rather opinionated piece called: Why I don’t Do Discovery Calls + What I Do Instead, someone recently stumbled across it during a Google search, booked a complimentary coaching session through my website (which went great) and then hired me a week later. This happened without me even mentioning working together.
So the moral of the story? Don’t be afraid to do things differently and to share your opinion on those differences far and wide.
Do business your way
Here’s the mistake I see most people making, they are trying their damn hardest to win at a game that they don’t even enjoy playing. They listen to the advice that nearly everyone else is following, even when their gut is saying “this is not for me!”
They are trying to compete with the masses at things they don’t even believe in because they fear that to do it differently would mean inevitable failure. I’m here to tell you that if you want to stand out in a crowded market place, you absolutely must do things your way.
So go ahead and do what lights you up, do what feels aligned, do it loudly and proudly and, in doing so, tune out the naysayers.
So there you have it, my approach to “standing out” in ways that don’t require you to post on Instagram 10 times a day, use countless emoticons and exclamation marks in your copy to “grab” people’s attention or any other number of tactics that have a “pick me, pick me” vibe.