I often ask my new clients “What do you really sell?” Silence generally follows, along with a wary look while they try to figure out the trick to my question. As an entrepreneur you probably describe your service or product more or less like others in your field—at a surface level. A business coach sells business planning, a bookkeeper sells financial recording and a music teacher sells music lessons.
What sets you apart?
But why do your clients come to you instead of another company down the street? In reality, your clients are getting something deeper than what you may think you’re selling, and you should know what it is. It’s the real point of differentiation between you and other businesses that provide a similar service or product.
The trick is to get down to the essence of what you provide for your clients. It’s most powerful when it’s one word, but two words or a short phrase will do. The point is to drill down to the essence that is strongly connected to you and your why.
For example, on the surface I sell marketing. Like other marketers I offer knowledge and experience about how to market—what to say and where to say it to get interest in your business—but there’s something deeper. At this deeper level, I sell growth. My clients come to me in order to grow their businesses via their marketing. But when you hire me, it doesn’t end there. Over the process of our work, my clients also grow their professional selves, and ultimately their personal selves. The essence of what I sell is transformation and I provide the support and strategy to achieve it.
Your essence is your keel
When you know the essence of what you sell, you know what to message your marketing around. It makes it easier to talk about what you do. Easier to market your business as you have a built-in theme for your messaging—your graphics, your language, everything.
And when your marketing message expresses your essence, it makes it easier for people to recognize whether you are the right fit for them. The bookkeeper who sells balance is ideally suited for some, while the one that sells confidence will draw in others. When you communicate your essence, you know how to approach the world in a way that others can truly understand you and what you sell. And, the payoff is that people are much more responsive to your authenticity than they are to the surface you.
That’s because your essence is deeply connected to your why. My work is about making the world a better place through transformation, from our small selves to our higher selves. Once you pinpoint what you’re selling, step into it. Embrace it. Own it. Lean on it. Use it to guide your marketing for greater results.
Get ready to grow
If you don’t know for sure what your real gift is, then find out! Talk to your clients, your family, your friends and colleagues. They see what you offer more easily than you do. Or, hire someone to help you. Once you have some insights, try on the words or phrases. Dabble, experiment and be open until the right description settles on you a little more comfortably than the rest. Knowing and articulating your essence makes all the difference. It’s the first step to growing, yourself and your business. Get ready for transformation!
Linda believes that small business owners can step into a better version of their business when they embrace authenticity and become more fully themselves. Her 25-year marketing career has included Kimpton Hotels, Jamba Juice, and Disney helping her clients win awards and placements in publications like The Wall Street Journal and TIME Magazine, as well as on the front cover of WIRED magazine. You can visit her website here: lindabasso.com or join her FB conversation.