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.

I say, 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?