This is part 2 of a 4-part series on moving from solopreneur to CEO in your creative business! Read part 1.
How many of us are in a million Facebook groups? *raises hand*
And how many of us have seen a lot of threads like this?
“Give us your elevator pitch!”
I love those threads, because I like to see what people are doing and how they’re talking about what they’re doing.
But you’ll notice that some people get really into their elevator pitch. And they hate everything corporate. So the end result looks something like this:
“I’m a kickass fairy goddess mother who sparkles pixie dust of mindset mania on my colorful go-getters!”
Fun as hell, right?
But what is that person actually doing?
A good elevator pitch is the difference between people saying “huh, well good for her” befuddledly and saying “yes! That’s exactly what I need!”
A key component that solopreneurs skip when hurrying to start their businesses is positioning.
No, it’s not just another buzzword that people are using, and no, it’s not just another word for “branding” or even “elevator pitch.” It’s one of three components I call the Power Triangle of a successful business: positioning, packaging, and promoting.
When one leg of that triangle falters, all three are at risk of collapsing, and, thus, so is the business.
Positioning is a combination of:
- Your business’s Why
- The solution you offer
- Whom you serve
- What makes you different
Now, a lot of people will leave out that first one when nailing down their positioning, but I think the Why needs to feed into the solution, ideal client, and unique selling proposition.
And all those components feed into the perfect elevator pitch.
So let’s break it down.
1. Start with Why
That’s right, the Simon Sinek Ted talk/book, whose “too long; didn’t read” summary is that if you’re competing on the “what” or “how” of your business, you’re probably going to fail and lose to competitors.
Although “I’m a PC,” I know many if not most of you creative types are Apple fans. Imagine if Apple were competing on “what” or “how” instead of competing on “Think Different.”
Both my Asus Macbook Air-style PC laptop and your actual Macbook Air do the same thing (although we can argue about usability/consistency/etc. all day), but when you purchase a Mac, you become part of a community. You can head-nod at the other Mac users in the coffee shop, and you actually feel better than if you bought a PC, because you’ve bought into their story, their mission, their style.
Similarly, imagine if you were a personal trainer. There are soo many personal trainers, so why should anyone choose you? Well, before we get down to the actual differentiators, your first differentiator is always your Why.
“I train people on Crossfit during twice weekly 1-hour sessions.” = What + How
“I’m a personal trainer because I don’t want anyone else to struggle with feeling picked on for their size the way I have been my entire life.” = Why
You may want the Why to be delivered via the What and How, but you don’t give a damn about the trainer until you hear their story.
So start with your business (and life) Why.
2. The solution you offer
Amazing how this is often buried somewhere further down in these types of lists.
A business that doesn’t solve a problem, however trivial that problem may seem, is not a business.
You may have gotten into business to serve your Why and/or to become a digital nomad and/or to have more freedom and so on and so forth, but in order to survive, you’ve gotta get clear on your audience’s problem, that way you can offer them a solution.
Website converting poorly? I’ll redesign it.
Spinning your wheels on social media? I’ll manage it.
Struggling with your marriage? I’ll coach you.
3. Whom you serve
We covered this in How To Identify Your Ideal Client (Without Knowing Their Favorite Color), but I’ll repeat the take-home message here.
An ideal client avatar can be great for things like FB ads targeting, but it won’t solve all your marketing problems.
You should focus on:
- Where your client is now
- Where they want to be
- Who else they’re turning to to solve this problem
- How they’re talking about their problem
That’s it. The key things you need to know about your client. That information can direct you better to where they’re hanging out online or who your competitors in your industry are. As always, your marketing should highlight the fact that your solution closes the gap between where they are and where they want to be.
If you are a business coach, and your target is a proud soccer mom aiming to bring in another $20,000 each year, you need to be packaging yourself and talking very differently about your solution than if your target is millionaires looking to become billionaires. Right?
4. What makes you different
I disagree with the people who say you should ignore your competition.
Should you obsess over them? No.
Should you be aware of them? Yes.
Are there people out there completely ignoring their competition to make millions of dollars? Allegedly.
This is not about changing yourself or your business or anything like that to fit in, it’s about seeing who is succeeding in your market, and how.
Market research has suddenly become that thing that regular businesses do and online businesses claim they’re too heart-centered for.
How does that make any sense?
Once you see how others are succeeding and why your audience likes them, it’s much easier to stand out.
The result of ignoring your competition completely? Well, I can’t be the only one who has noticed the deluge of coaches with bright, shiny, pink websites in that one font (you know the one) dancing on video about how their life is also bright, shiny, and pink.
How are you supposed to choose one bright, shiny, pink coach from another?
Hopefully, hopefully, these new coaches are telling their story as a differentiator, because it does count. But it ties back into your Why, and while the Why and the story can start you out, you’ll need to get more clear as you go.
Are you really against courses and only offer groups or 1-on-1 options?
Is your competitor a membership site maven while you’re great at 3-month long projects?
Do you disagree with or have a different take on commonly spouted advice in your industry?
Those are the things that begin to really let you stand out against the backdrop of other life coaches/designers/authors/virtual assistants.
Back to the elevator pitch
Now that we’ve talked through some key components of your positioning, we can put together an elevator pitch that won’t make people say “aww…that’s cute” the next time you’re posting in a Facebook group.
Ready for my magic formula?
I help [ideal client] + [solution] + [Why] + [differentiator]
Most of the time, it’s just parts 1 and 2.
I help single moms in their 30s find time to work out and make space for themselves.
Want to get real crazy? Add the second two parts.
I help single moms in their 30s find time to work out and make space for themselves because I don’t want other women to struggle with giving their all to their family and losing themselves like I did. While other personal trainers focus on fitness alone, I take a holistic approach and talk about food, self-care, and mindset issues as well.
It doesn’t have to be complicated. In fact, if your business is in alignment, it should feel good to say this.
So tell me: what’s your new elevator pitch?