Noise. Bloat. Overcrowded marketplaces. Saturated industries.

I won’t kid you. It’s an uphill battle to create the right offer — a product or service — that stands head-and-shoulders above those of your competitors.

And that battle? It’s won slowly; over time. 

You can’t rush it.

But what you can do is focus.

And I don’t mean you have to pick just one thing to the exclusion of all others.

The focus comes in your singular commitment to bring your BEST self to whatever you create.

What the heck is a signature dish?

Every great chef has a signature dish – one that defines their culinary point of view and highlights their particular skills, passions and strengths.

Ideally, these dishes are so unique that a food expert could name the chef in a blind tasting.

They’re the culinary equivalent of an artist finding their style, or an author finding their voice.

They’re the song only you can sing. Because only you have lived your life, experienced your experiences, and built up your mix of skills, talents, causes and more.

But they’re not static or fixed things. In fact, a chef’s signature dish often changes and evolves over time. Yours will, too.

YOUR signature product, program or service is what makes you unique.

With a signature product, you have a point of focus (some may call it a niche) that builds on your super powers and helps you stand out from the noise and overcrowded marketplace.

It’s an offer that focuses your efforts and allows you to develop deep authority in a particular area, not to mention making your marketing life a whole lot easier in the process.

When done right, it also delivers high, measurable value to your customers. In ways that are easy for them to talk about.

Think about it as THE sign-post or doorway to the rest of your business.

Think: Danielle LaPorte’s Fire Starter Sessions; Tara Gentile’s Kick Start Labs; Michael Port’s Book Yourself Solid course.

But that doesn’t mean you have to exclude your other passions.

In fact, you want to include them.

Are you a life coach who also has a passion for soap-making? A CPA who also loves France?

You don’t need two different businesses. You just need to find a way to put those things together.

Remember: peanut butter and chocolate aren’t just tasty, they’re a unique mix that’s hard to copy.

Imagine what life would be like if you had a fabulous answer to the question, “So, what do you do?”

Oh me? I’m a life coach who uses the process of soap-making to help my clients distill their Big Why.

Oh me? I teach my clients how to find financial prosperity at retreats in France.

Can you hear the next question in your head? It usually sounds like, “Really? How do you do that?”

Pretty fun, huh?

How quickly would your business grow if everyone else could say succinctly what it is you do?

How to create YOUR signature dish.

You begin with your unique mix of super powers, soap box and Big Why — and then you build from there.

If you don’t know these things yet, don’t worry. You can start from where you are now.

Ask yourself:

  • What do I love doing? (This relates to both personal and work time. For me, I love cooking, eating and telling stories.)
  • What am I good at doing? (Obviously, this must relate back to a skill that people will pay for. In my case, marketing — especially the digital kind — is work where I’ve always excelled.)
  • What do others repeatedly compliment me on? (Pay attention to those unsolicited kudos! Ask for feedback. Listen deeply. I’ve noticed over the years that one of my unique abilities is to help people clarify things — in their own minds as well as how what they want to say.)

Next, figure out what’s missing or what bugs you about your industry. This is a particular grit that will help you focus on filling a gap in a particular way. It’s also the emotional fuel you’ll stand on (aka Your Soap Box) to inspire your audience and customers to take action. Don’t ignore this!

Finally, pin point Why your mission is important to you. What happened in your life to forge the You-that-stands-here-now? That’s your origin story, and just like Peter Parker’s spider bite, it’s uber important to what you’re creating.

Here are a few more guidelines for finding the ingredients you’ll need to create your signature dish:

1. Revisit your passions. If you create a signature dish that’s infused with something you love, you’ll put ten times as much thought, energy and work into birthing it. Plus, you’ll never get bored. Remember, you’ll be writing about it, talking about it, and sharing it with everyone over and over and over again. A good rule of thumb to keep you from burn out is to choose an area or topic that’s held your fascination for at least five years, preferably more.

2. Research your Ideal Customer’s Wants (what they’re willing to pay for) and Needs (what you see lacking, that they may not). Do this by observing and listening more than asking them directly. What voids are they experiencing? What questions do they keep asking? The answers may come from your work with existing customers. Look back at your process for taking in new clients – do you find yourself repeating the same steps? Do they all need the same initial education on a particular issue? These are clues. Pursue them.

3. Look for the intersections. If you’re a visual person, try putting everything up on a wall in your office so you can look at it for awhile. Your subconscious mind will help you if you provide it with all the relevant information. Our brains are wired to find patterns and categorize things — an awesome ability that can help you figure this out, if you let it.

4. Build from “Flagship” Content. If you blog, look back at your best content (sometimes referred to as your “Pillar” or “Flagship” posts) and play around with ways you could build on this to create your signature dish.

5. Don’t be afraid of weird combinations. Remember the old Reese’s commercial? “You’ve got your chocolate in my peanut butter!” became a huge success precisely because people didn’t expect that particular mix of ingredients. What two juxtaposing ideas or topics could you combine?

6. Mindmap ALL the pieces. Do a brain dump of all the information you can possibly think of (as it relates to your possible product or program). Put them all in one place where you can stare at them for awhile. Let the bits sink in. Put it all on the backburner for a few days so your mind can continue churning. Keep adding things as they pop up for you. When you feel pretty complete, begin to organize.

7. Outline and build (lightly). Now it’s time for your left brain to take over. Let it put everything into place until it begins to make real, logical sense. What’s missing? What do you need to learn more about? Use this opportunity to refine your ideas. Don’t edit at this point – just think BIG and let your imagination help you dream up the most delicious and enticing dish possible. There will be plenty of time for carving this up into bite-size pieces later.

8.  Test! Don’t wait for perfection here. Get your prototype out to the world and begin beta-testing it with a small group. Get their feedback. Listen to their questions and fill in the holes.

9. Name Your Dish. Take some time with this, too. It’s as important as naming your child. The program’s title or the product name should help build on your branding while also offering a big promise or benefit to your Ideal Customer.

10. Create a free taste. When you’re ready to begin marketing your signature dish, you’ll want to have a pink spoon (a free gift) you can give away as an enticement for list building purposes (and to identify future customers). Take the logical first part of your program or product and create your gift from that.

11. Expand and Contract. Now, think about chunking your program or product down or out – what spin offs could you create from this signature dish? How could you offer smaller bites at no-brainer pricing? Or larger meals that satisfy the next logical need of your customer? When you can do this, you fuel your sales and help build long-term relationships with your Ideal Customers.

12. Tell the Story. Once you’ve delivered on your promise, be sure to gather and share solid testimonials and case studies. The goal is to encourage word-of-mouth about the value your product or service delivers.

Remember: the process of creating your signature dish takes time – so don’t skimp on the space you’ll need to put this together (in your head, your heart and in your office).

Start where you are; experiment; and then tweak as you go.

Yes, life-changing products and programs require the highest quality ingredients. But don’t hold back just because something isn’t yet perfect.

The only way you can make a big impact is to begin. Now. And to keep at it every single day.

Do you have a signature program or product? What tools or resources did you find helpful in creating yours?

Leave a question or comment below and let’s talk more about creating your signature offer.

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