I have news for you. I’m not Brian Clark.
I don’t have his name recognition or his mad copy writing skillz. I’m also not Danielle LaPorte or Marie Forleo or even Danny Iny. Nor am I looking for World Domination. And it’s not that I don’t want to be successful. I do. That kinda makes it hard to be me.
Maybe you feel like that, too?
Like if people just knew who you were you’d have all the traffic you’d ever need and your biz would spit out dollabills like your own private ATM? Or maybe you think you need to build a massive marketing machine just like theirs in order to hit the big time? Follow in their footsteps? Use their system?
Guess what? Those folks all started from scratch. Just like me. And just like you. They figured out their niche and they grew it into something that loads of people value. And we can’t throw a virtual rock on the interwebz now without hitting one of their fans. But we can’t copy them. Their Ideal Clients are not Our Ideal Clients.
So what’s left for you and me?
A lot, actually. There will always be gaps to fill, stands to be made, and new services to offer. In order to find yours (and this is where it gets a bit challenging) you’ll need to take the road less traveled. Blazing new trails might feel impossible. But it can be done.
How to Find Your Niche
The first thing to do is look and listen. Pay attention to what’s out there and notice what bugs the holy crap out of you. I’ll use myself as an example here. For me, those were things like:
- Memberships that promise community and interaction with the “expert” but end up being a massive online forum that’s moderated by a lackey.
- Online classes that promise one-on-one engagement with the instructor but are really only pre-packaged videos and a monthly telephone call — again, usually moderated by an assistant.
- Marketing tactics that rely on hyperbole and mind games and ego-driven needs for ever-larger numbers of fans
- Blog posts that promise the world but only recycle the same tired advice over and over
- Messages that do a great job at inspiring people to “think bigger” but never address the realities of hard work and failure <<- a HUGE pet peeve
Am I bit jaded? You might say that. I’m definitely frustrated by the system. But instead of looking at all this and saying I’ll never be Brian Clark so why bother?, I decided to take a stand — as unpopular as it might be — and tell the world there’s a different way to market yourself.
That just because the solopreneur market is full of bootstrappers, it doesn’t mean we don’t have the commitment and resources to work on strategy. (Stay with me folks, this gets a little complicated.)
There’s a gap in the market I serve right now. It’s a strategy gap, and it’s one I’m trying to fill.
On any given day, take a look at the blog posts that fly by your awareness. Most of them focus on tactics — not strategy. Things like…
- 10 Completely New Ways to Use Pinterest to Market Your Business
- 7 Secrets of Email Marketing
- How to Use Facebook to Reach Your Target Market
We marketers write these uber helpful blog posts because they give you a quick win. Do these 10 things right now and watch what happens. We write them because we know you crave instant gratification. And that’s as true for solopreneurs as it is for the CEOs of publicly traded companies.
But (unless you’re really lucky) tactics without strategy won’t get you where you want to go.
You need to have a big picture plan for who you want to serve and how. You need to have a long-term vision. To think about where you want to be in one year, three years, five years. And ultimately, how and when you want to exit. And you need all this so you don’t spend time on the wrong tactics for you. Most of us get this.
But we don’t act on it because it’s easier to tackle what’s right in front of us. We spend our money on things like…
- Getting our website up
- Having someone design our logo
- Taking a class on how to dominate social media
And usually before we’ve ever written a marketing plan. And let’s face it, one-on-one time with an “expert” can get pretty pricey. That’s why selling personalized strategy (i.e. consulting) to folks who don’t truly understand its value (e.g., solopreneurs) is a challenge. It’s why the gap in my market exists.
There’s a reason why most consultants tend to work solely with bigger businesses and corporations (and not with you or me). It’s because the big guys have the budget for it. And because they already understand the value of having a strategy created just for them.
It’s also why it’s so much easier to sell you things like a system to get 10,000 fans. For you (and I lump myself in here, too), those things sound like the answer to a prayer. Unfortunately, they’re not. And most of us don’t find this out until we’ve been down the road awhile and experienced the flaying and frustration that comes with spending money on things we shouldn’t have. And since it’s not my style to sell people things they don’t need or aren’t ready for, I refuse to play the game.
I’m not your average marketer.
At first glance, you might think I’m pretty mainstream. There’s certainly nothing here that screams Story Bistro is “edgy.” But dig a little deeper. You’ll find that I’m not a fan of blueprints, roadmaps or recipes. That I don’t believe in cookie-cutter anything. That I love to experiment and see if I can find a better way. And that I stand firmly on the soap box of Slow Marketing.
My mentors and advisers tell me I’m doing it wrong.
That folks like you will only pay for advice that comes with a guaranteed, step-by-step paint-by-numbers program. That you don’t want to hear that real business success takes consistent work over a sustained period of time.
They tell me that “Slow Marketing” is turning you off and keeping you from working with me. And that if I ever want to make the real money, I should just suck it up and take the proven path — package and sell my system to the masses.
tough-titties let’s get real.
If I was all about the money, I could’ve just stayed in the corporate world. That would’ve been far FAR easier than starting my own business.
Which brings me to the real point of this blog post. My Ideal Clients are a very small subset of the newish (e.g., in the first 5 years or so of business) solo biz owner market. They’re the ones who’re super committed to their own success (as evidenced by a willingness and ability to do the necessary work to make things happen). They’re ready to make a small, regular investment in time and money to work with a mentor or coach. And they don’t have unrealistic expectations about how quickly they’ll get there.
They just know they don’t want anyone blowing any more smoke up their proverbial skirts. Maybe that’s you?
Thank you for succinctly describing exactly what I can’t stand about a lot of the big name marketing/biz figures who are famous on the interwebz. I’m so glad you are pledging allegiance to being authentic!
Love ya back, Tea. As a matter of fact, love always. 🙂
My gap is strong women with chronic illnesses that keep sacrificing themselves for others
Hey Tea, I’m a little behind in reading my newsletters so just getting to this now. Gotta say, awesome stuff! I’ve also been disappointed after both free and expensive (at least for me) coaching that really didn’t do much except pay some bills for the guru. Not a total waste of time, but I definitely didn’t feel I got what I was expecting. Also, if I had a dollar for every author who has posted in a group/forum about whether a particular tactic would work to market their book, I’d be very well off. Very much a tactic driven community as well. Many, if not most, have never sold anything, let alone books, and have no plan whatsoever other than waiting for someone to tell them what “it” is that they need to do to sell thousands of copies. You’re starting something good here, looking forward to seeing where things go for you.
Thanks Tea…I appreciate that! The first 6 in the series are up on my blog and I’ll finish the other 4 this week.
Boy, have you (no duh!) hit my piss offed-ness buttons right on the nose. I do use the word recipes as a way to connect but talk about them as advisory starting points, just like there are recipes for chili, curry or whatever and every one of them have different ingredients and proportions, even tho’ they’re called “chili” or “curry.”I think my tag line ought to become ” there is no one size fits all” … the answer (from me) is always “it depends” because it does!!!!! I’ve spent tons of money on the blueprints and attended so many courses where the provider let all the attendees answer the questions and was nowhere to be found.One of my challenges has been that I refuse to use the “it’s easy, it’s simple, it’s 6 figures in 5 minutes” in my marketing stuff. It’s a lie and I let myself be bamboozles by that language, over and over again!Thank you so much for putting this out there! I’m continuing to look at that ideal client profile (in fact, I’ve got a 10 part series going on my blog that’s about the questions to ask, and answer, BEFORE you even ask about tools, technology, systems or models). Muah my dear!
This is such a great post! Ever feel like you’re part of the “in-crowd”? This is how it felt in high school. I recently had a conversation with a friend who spent mega bucks for a day with someone in the “in-crowd.” She was so disappointed because she thought she was going to get some inside strategies and real world help about her personal business. The entire day was spent talking how other people in the “in-crowd” can help you, how to get on the best seller list (even though my friend never wanted to get on the that list), and how to connect with the clients that would bring you the biggest bucks. Wow! What an eye opening experience for her.I developed a “real radar” that I put up when I see posts on the 5-best ever ways to make a million dollars and so forth. I appreciate your approach. It feels real to me! I must be part of your “in-crowd.”
Thanks for saying, Kimberly. It’s amazing how many people think the various tactics are the answer (like social media). I think mostly that happens because so many blog posts are about the tactics. Let’s you and I tackle this together, shall we?
I’m glad to hear this one resonated for you, Melanie. You have a keen ear for BS, which is one of the reasons we all love you so much.
Tactics without strategy won’t get you where you want to go — so true! It’s one of the reasons I stopped taking on social media clients and started focusing more on the copywriting side of my business. There are tons of people out there who think if they just get the social media piece covered, everything else will fall into place, but in reality, until small businesses get their strategy ducks in a row first, and like you say Tea, get their big picture plan for who they want to serve and how worked out, all the social media marketing in the world ain’t gonna amount to much. : )
You are always building something spectacular, Tea, and I always get more accomplished with your guidance. Thanks!
Non-conformity runs through my blood, too, Tea, and not just because I’m stubborn. It’s because all the marketing tactics under the sun won’t be worth the digital paper they’re written on if you ignore or refuse to develop strategies. Equate it with trying to drive a car with only three wheels. What’s under the hood may be running great, but you won’t go anywhere. In a massive, sky-wide flock of noisy birds …Your voice stands out. 🙂
I AGREE WITH LORAN…YOU ARE BRILLANT AND THIS IS SWEET ADVICE TEA! THANK YOU.
Love the Han Solo reference — and totally understand what you mean about money. It’s quite an adventure we’re on, eh?
Thanks for saying, Sharon. I think the personal interactions are what move us all forward!
well said — I like the “What do your competitors do that rub you the wrong way?” question…
They preach (and yes, it’s preaching for all it’s in the mundane world) fear and hate.They refuse to look outside the barriers of their own species to acknowledge the Other as a source for positive relationship, whatever the planet-of-origin. (I’ve lost some online relationships because of a Blue Screen of Death around this topic. And I’m not nearly as sorry as I’d expected I’d be.)In other, more beginner-friendly news, they let their fears keep them from creating not only heart-centered, but also financially-sound, win-win businesses. They’ve been so programmed by people who were themselves never educated about what money really is and what the flock to do with it that they don’t even realize there’s a problem. They’re just not making it and they don’t know quite why.I’m still wondering what is ‘enough’. I have quite Han Solo-type attitudes towards money. (“How much is the reward?” “More money than you can imagine.” “I don’t know – I can imagine quite a bit.”) But at the same time, the Lover Archetype wonders what it would be like to work with just a few people at a high level.And on the other wing, there’s the perceived need to get our message out to a wider audience.So many facets. So much to think about.RE: your approach. For me, it’s quite the opposite. The places we collide are where you are still saying the things the others say. (No worries – I’m examining those places myself to attempt to put some English around that Third Option I DO feel is out there. Will share as I find said English.) The places where you are saying your own stuffs – Slow Marketing and the like – rock on!!!! 🙂 :>
Tea, some of those other programs are such a turn-off. It’s nice to know you are taking a different approach. Having had the benefit of your wisdom on Prosperity’s Kitchen, DDR and elsewhere, I know that you deliver way, way more than people ever get from many of the big name guru’s programs – because sometimes you need and want that personal interaction. Rock on!
Yay! There IS a good strong niche here. Thanks for being one of us, Loran!
Halle-frickin-lujah Tea! And on the same page with everything (yes, everything) you said. And thank you THANK YOU for saying it straight up!Miki xo
And this is exactly why I think you’re brilliant! Slow Marketing works for me. It does not turn me away at all, but then, you knew that already.