The Internet and the online world is here to stay and there is no doubt about that.
As a modern expert with a mission and a message, whether you are a service professional, a coach, a consultant, a trainer, a speaker, an author, if you have expertise that can help other people, it is a smart move to leverage the Internet to grow your business…
AND here is where, as experts, we get into trouble.
The problem is that everybody says to do something different and then suddenly we start to feel overwhelmed. Something that was supposed to bring us ease and freedom transforms into this monster list of things to do.
Plus, 99.9% of the advice you’ll find online about growing your business online is not meant for experts. They are talking to opportunity seekers, who know how to do nothing and just want the quick tactic to make millions without having to do any meaningful work. (Have you noticed that most people, as well-meaning as I’m sure they are, have only been able to make money teaching people how to make money?).
I have news for you… There is no button in your computer, laptop, cell phone, tablet, printer or scanner that spits out millions (I have checked them all).
The good news is that if you have expertise that can help people get the outcomes they want (aka add value to other human beings lives), spreading your message online is perfect to reach the people you can help. We live in a wonderful time in history.
The main challenge is the overarching strategy to accomplish this.
Everybody, as well meaning as I’m sure they are, is peddling their little piece of the puzzle as the solution to the riddle. We end up with lots of random pieces and still not even near our end goal.
How do I know?
Many, many years ago, I moved to the middle of the German Alps to marry my dear-German-engineer husband. Having lived in several different countries before and having always had a successful expert business, I got overconfident.
I thought I could live anywhere in the world… That was until the countryside… I not only was in a country where I didn’t speak the language, but also in the middle of the countryside with more cows than people.
I just needed to reach the right people I could help by figuring out how to market my expertise online. Simple, right?
Months later I was still entangled in all those pieces of the puzzle that I was trying to learn and I was nowhere nearer the solution to the riddle…
One dark night, I fell asleep at my desk listening to a free teleclass. When I woke up, I got a fresh thought that changed everything.
If what I was doing was not working, then it was time to stop. Not to quit the end goal, just to stop all the over activity and to find another way to achieve the goal.
This was my new plan: start trusting my intuition and experience as a successful business owner and going back to the solid business principles that I knew work. Internet or no Internet, successful expert businesses work in a certain way and I knew it was time for me to take responsibility for being confused and start following my real knowledge and experience.
No tool, no tactics attracts business. No FB page, social media, insert in the blank the taste d’jour bring you customers and clients. You have to have solid strategies based on solid principles to make the tools work.
It is the same confusion as thinking that a hammer will build your house.
Technology can change (and it will) all the time… solid principles remain true.
That night after the refreshing nap, I decided to calm down, let my logical business expert think clearly and start putting into action the solid principles that used to build my first business. Fast forward a short year from that night, and I had all the international clients I ever wanted for my new business (and a waiting list).
I would like to share with you my complete online system that took me to fully-booked and a waiting list living for the first time in my life in the middle of the countryside in a country where I didn’t even speak the language…
Where I come from...
Before I share my system with you, I also want to share where I’m coming from and where this system is also coming from…
You have probably noticed my tagline “build a business to be proud of”. There is nothing more beautiful than the pride of building a business that adds value by helping people achieve the results they want to achieve.
The beauty is that there are only 3 components in this system and one secret sauce: sequence. The three components need to be done in order.
PHASE 1 – LEADING AUTHORITY POSITIONING
Positioning is about understanding the value of your contribution and giving your message a chance to be listened to.
If you don’t occupy the right position in your audience mind, your message can be just ignored or simply rejected. (More about this later)
This is what it is NOT about… bragging and self-proclaiming yourself the expert. It is NOT about listing all your credentials, diplomas and certificates.
So if you are not self-proclaiming yourself the guru at the top of the mountain, how do you position yourself?
Remember how we have said positioning happens in the mind of your audience? Well, you have to start by choosing your audience. This simply means to start by choosing one group of people to help.
Note – We are not going to talk about target market or niche, we are talking about choosing a group of people to start helping them.
The best way to choose this group of people is according to an urgent, painful, expensive problem that they have and that they are already looking to solve and investing in solving. So, instead of obsessing about niching, you just need to get the facts that this group of people are searching for solutions to this problem and paying to get it solved.
Does it mean that you cannot help anybody else? No, it means that to get started you’re going to concentrate only on this group and becoming a Leading Authority to this group of people.
Positioning happens in the mind of your potential clients. This is how it works…
As human beings we need to classify information very fast. In a matter of seconds we decide at least 3 things about another human being:
- Are they going to provide us with resources (we’ll call them “friends”), are they an enemy or are they irrelevant?
And most often than not this happens before the human being in front of us has even the chance to open their mouth and say a word.
Are you starting to see why positioning is so important if you want to give your message a chance to be listened to?
Once they decide you are not an enemy or irrelevant, but a “friend” who will contribute resources, they will classify you according to the resources you provide. (This is probably my oversimplified explanation of the neuro science behind how our human brains work). If you are curious to learn more, read the work of American physician and neuroscientist Paul D. MacLean.
What does it mean that they will position you in a category according to the resources you provide? Well, think of the phone numbers in your phone. You either have name and number (when a name is enough) or you have “category labels” like plumber, pizza delivery, accountant, etc.
“There is really no division of reality between online and offline. We are all still the same human beings”- Ana Rosenberg
What happens in the online world when somebody “discovers” you is that they will make the same subconscious judgments and “place” you or “position” you in some category.
This is especially relevant if an ideal client ready to hire someone checks you out online. Think about it. Everybody googles. What are they finding about you when they google your name?
Being strategic about this simply means to decide how you show up so that you have more chances of landing the position you want in the minds of your ideal clients.
If I see a place with a marquee, an Italian flag, tables and people eating pizza, my immediate reaction is to classify that place as a pizza restaurant.
One suggestion that has helped many of my students is to treat the online world as places. People surf the net and get to different places and make instant judgments about what the place is about, whether that place is your website, a social media profile or an ad.
So what is the position we aspire to get in our potential client’s mind and more importantly, how are we going to do that?
The position we want is the position of a Leading Authority(TM) in solving the problem they want to solve.
Here is where sequence is vital.
The concept is easy to grasp and it amazes me how people are teaching it backwards.
They teach, go open all the possible social media accounts without telling you that it is going to hurt you if you don’t have a positioning strategy in place first. If social media were a party, it is as if you were going to show up naked instead of planning to dress up and then show up. Makes sense?
PHASE 2 – CREATING ONLINE AWARENESS
Now that your positioning is ready, it is time to show up.
Going back to the analogy of the party, now that you are dressed up, it is time to show up in the places where your audience hang out online.
One obvious place is social media. This is what to do:
Start by choosing one social media channel. Pick it according to your audience. Where do they hang out on social media?
Mastering one platform before moving to the next one is probably the best strategy. There is this pervasive myth that you have to be everywhere to be successful, when the reality is that quality always trumps quantity.
Let me give you an example of what I mean. Someone can make 20 bad videos and not engage anybody.More is just more... not necessarily better.
Now, it is very much like going to a networking meeting (if you have chosen LinkedIn) or a party (like on Facebook). The first thing you do is to listen more than you talk. Listen for the conversations that are already happening so that you can add value.
If you have been following me for any length of time, you have probably heard me talk about LinkedIn because it is a great platform for professionals, entrepreneurs and experts.
HOT TIP - Make sure you set up your LinkedIn profile properly because when people google you, one of the first results they’ll see is your LinkedIn profile.
Coming back to LinkedIn, if used right, it is a great way to make business connections and network. Make sure you use a professional picture and explain clearly what outcomes you help people get. Once your profile is set up, concentrate on finding the people you can help.
The number one mistake experts make on social media is networking and connecting with colleagues.It might be a safer place, I know… and it is interesting to discuss the latest and greatest about your field of expertise, I know… While collaborating with peers is great, your main efforts need to focus on finding the people who actually need your help.
So how do we put our message in front of the people who need it the most? There are free and paid ways to allow you to do that.
Advertising can be a powerful way to reach your exact audience and most social media platforms allow you to advertise. Having a system to advertise will give you immense freedom because you will know that you are reaching the people you want to reach and presenting relevant invitations that add value. It gives you freedom because you don’t have to guess where your next client is going to come from. That is what a system can do for you.
WARNING - The online rabbit hole can be dangerous and can become a huge distraction. If you choose to use the Internet to spread your message, you need a marketing system.
Another big positioning mistake I see smart people make and it breaks my heart: they jump into social media and they immediately start selling. Don’t get me wrong, I think selling is great but there is a place and a time for everything.
“Don’t do online what you would never do offline” – Ana Rosenberg
If they went to a party, they would never say “Hi, my name is ______. Do you want to hire me or buy my stuff?”
What I mean by big positioning mistake is that people immediately put them in the “ignore/enemy categories” because they look and sound like just another _____________.
The reaction they get is “delete – don’t share – don’t get associated with this person in public because other people will think you are the same.”
Another nugget I want to share is the importance of email marketing.I see people obsessing over tweaking their websites that hardly anybody visits and I wish they spent a fraction of their time on a solid email marketing strategy for their business, instead.
PHASE 3 – INVITING
The last phase has to do with making invitations. There are many online strategies. I’m going to share my favorite one because of its simplicity.
Before I do that, I want to add that “simple” does not equal “easy”. The truth is that business is not easy and requires a certain level of mastery. Setting up a marketing system is no exception.
It is not revolutionary but sexy in its effectiveness: invite people to a class, which could be a webinar or a teleseminar. Teach and help them and make an invitation to go on working with you for those who need to go deeper. (There is no class, no matter how many hours long it is, where everybody learns everything they need to solve a problem. Plus, it is not only about information. Sometimes we also need help with the implementation and accountability).
Yes, I told you it was not going to be revolutionary. It is simple, though: ads to let people know about the class and teaching the class.It doesn’t require a huge database of subscribers because you can advertise the event and it doesn’t require a product, which is perfect for service professionals and experts.
I think products are awesome. It just kills me to see experts get entangled in product creation at the wrong time of their business growth while they could be helping people one-on-one until they get there.
Let me get you started with your positioning piece. One way to start is to define what problem you solve for people. If you know your audience and get clear on what problem you solve for them, you have just positioned yourself as a problem solver, instead of another pest competing for people's attention. It is easy to refer business when we understand what problem you solve for what group of people.
Till next time… remember your awesomeness is portable. You can take it with you anywhere.