Of course I want lots of clients and a big income. I often follow what the big names in my business are doing, and it is very tempting to try to copy them. I heard a colleague of mine say that the fastest way to become a big-name coach is to “apprentice” with a big-name coach.
But when I see these “apprentices” at work, more often than not they tend to promote their mentor’s services and repeat their mentor’s stories. And what they say becomes bland. Their message is clearly someone else’s, it is not their own. They may be getting more clients, but I’m wondering where does the client’s loyalty lie, towards the coach or to the big-name mentor?
Benchmarking oneself against the industry leaders can become a trap. It’s easy to duplicate style, message and actions, but much more difficult to duplicate mindset. When you are doing what the leaders do, the prospect wonders “why go for a copy when I can have the real thing?”
Like when I was shopping for a new mobile phone. I wanted an iPhone, but my eye turned towards the others on the market, thinking I could save a bit of money. Then I realized if I bought a Motorola or a Samsung, I would always be comparing it to an Apple and regretting I did not get the “real thing”.
To break out of the cacophony of marketing noise, you have to have a unique message, spoken in your own voice. Having a spin that challenges the status-quo helps. Ground your message in stories from your life experience. When you want to change someone’s mind, facts open the door but stories seal the deal. And your life stories are unique to you, which what makes the message authentic. And that’s the “divine idea” – the spark in your message that gives it a life of its own.
I had my share of success in network marketing back in 2003-04. But I did it not by blindly “duplicating” what everyone else was doing. I did it my own way. My business partner and I launched a different way of marketing, one that was much more in alignment with our mission, our vision and our values. And it worked to help propel my network marketing income to the five-figure level for a couple of years, until I abandoned building that business to focus back on coaching.
I don’t want to be like others. I want my brand to be about connection, trust, feet-on-the-ground pragmatism combined with shoot-for-the-moon idealism. I want to stay real as I live my life project.
Many years ago, when I took a course on the “Open Space Technology” method of group facilitation, the trainer said: “Whoever shows up is the right people.” There was something in that awkward grammar that made the message stick in my head. Business success is not a popularity contest. It is about attracting the people who resonate with your unique message, who believe in who you are and what you’re doing, who value what you offer and who are ready to commit.
For more information
This post is part of a series inspired by The Domino Project’s #Trust30 Writing Challenge. Each day during the month of June 2011, we receive a thought from Ralph Waldo Emerson’s essay “Self-Reliance”, to use as a writing prompt. For more information about the #Trust30 Writing Challenge, see today’s prompt:
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