“Live so that when your children think of fairness, caring, and integrity, they think of you” – H Jackson Brown Jr
I don’t know if you remember people asking you when you were a child, “what do you want to be when you grow up?”.
What did you say?
…a famous sports person?
…a park ranger?
What about now, did you make it? I mean are you what you wanted to be as a child?
Does it matter at all now?
Well I am sure there are those who were very clear on what they wanted to be when they grew up and are doing that precisely. There is no doubt many others who for a variety of reasons, some good and some bad, have drifted away from that child’s vision.
I know I am certainly in that later group, in fact I did not really have much of a vision of who I wanted to “be” when I was a child.
However, I now realise and yes hindsight is very valuable, that the question asked of me as a child, still resonates – but it is a slightly different version.
You see the question we should really be asking ourselves is this…
“Who do you want to become when you grow up?”
In other words, what type of person, what do you believe in, who do you look up to and who looks up to you?
My view is that we only really grow up, once we know the answers to those questions.
Don’t get me wrong that I mean growing up is losing our “childlike” curiosity, amazement and creativity either… definitely not.
What I am referring to is it’s about a sense of knowing who we are and that others know who we are as well.
Marketers call this “positioning”, I just call it becoming clear and living that on a daily basis through our thoughts and actions – with no exceptions.
Another way to describe what I mean in one word is…
the quality of being honest and having strong moral principles.
“internal racial unrest threatened the integrity of the federation”
Does this describe who you have become today?
Or is it possible that you are still on this same journey as myself in “becoming”?
Regardless, I have come to realise it is who we become as human beings, as people, as adults, fathers, mothers, sons, daughters, politicians, teachers, volunteers, cleaners that is most important. Who we continue to look up to for inspiration and example and who now looks up to us.
When we “become”, integrity, in my opinion, should be the common thread that ties us together.
“Marketing is no longer about the stuff that you make, but about the stories you tell” Seth Godin
Have you ever had the opportunity to visit a busy city market where there are buyers and sellers from all walks of life?
I have been to quite a few over the years, particular those in more exotic locations from Africa through to Nepal and South East Asia.
The sights, the sounds and of course the aromas!
Beautiful rolls of silk to be made into saris and wedding dresses, hand woven carpets that if rolled out, could cover complete conference centres, through to baskets full of the most exotic spices, or fish tanks where the unhappiest crabs in the world can be found!
But of course when you walk through these markets, shop after shop, stall after stall, they start to look and sound the same…
“Special price for you sir!”
“What do you want? – I get you what you want!”
“Come in, take your time… buy a present for your wife, your girlfriend…”
I have even made the common mistake to say to the store owner I will come back, then only becoming confused later as to which store I previously went into!
So how do you stand out from all that competition, let alone survive?
Well on the face of it, it appears you couldn’t, but if you start to unpack what you are experiencing, you actually start to see the fundamentals of brand positioning marketing 101!
Let me explain…
Know Your Niche
Firstly, most of the sellers in the market place specialise in one particular niche – there are no Aldi’s, or Kmart’s etc. In the markets, you are either selling spices, carpets, batteries, or eggs. There is no convenience store. For your customers it is also very clear what you do. They know if there are cages of hens in front of your shop – that is where you buy eggs… or fresh chicken!
Know Your Competition
Not only is your competition physically next door to you at the markets, but you will likely know them personally. If they introduce something new to their store, then you know about it straight away! If they get some customers coming into their store – there is the opportunity for you to get those same customers attention and visit your store!
There are no pleasantries when it comes to business competition at the markets!
Know What You Are Offering
Not all the stores at the market run on a low price strategy, even in the markets, every now and again, there is a “disrupter” amongst them where entrepreneurial store owners package up some extra value for you – maybe to offer to pack your purchase so it is safe for you to take it home, or they will even arrange shipping for you!
Build Relationships For The Long Term
There is a tailor in Bangkok that I first visited years ago. Bespoke suits and shirts within 48 hours. For the first few years I received an annual greeting card from them in the mail. Then I must have been travelling through Bangkok once again and stopped by their shop to get a new custom suit. Well now I am on their email list – no more greeting cards, but that doesn’t matter, because I have gone back to them perhaps now more than ten times!
The irony of course if you know Bangkok, there are literally thousands of tailors and each one is competing with each other, it is just this particular tailor I have developed a relationship with and now into the next generation as well!
As the Harvard Business Review sums it up…
“A business can outperform rivals only if it can establish a difference that it can preserve”
Of course there is a little bit more to it than what I have described, but hopefully these four fundamentals of brand positioning marketing 101 will assist you and your business.
Remember, be clear on your niche, know who your completion is and keep current with trends and new innovations, provide value beyond just price and build relationships for the long term – even when in the early stages it may not appear to be going anywhere.
After all, if a store holder in a busy city market can do them, why can’t you?
I am convinced that within us all, there are unique talents, skills and experiences that can really help others if we share them.
Whether that be your “talents” of bringing people together for specific causes, or your “skills” for designing custom software, or your “life experience” of managing your own career or business ups and downs, people want to know about it and believe it or not, they will pay for it!.
However sometimes it’s hard to identify this expertise within us as mostly we take it for granted. Or, worse, we may consider ourselves “not worthy” in sharing it.
A friend of mine for example, is an awesome organiser. She’s developed this talent the hard way as a single mum bringing up three young children. I always thought this and now she has a business where she helps others get their own lives in order. Though, she did have to first overcome some self-limiting beliefs as to what was possible.
What about you?
Would you like to know how you could tap into your unique talents, skills and experiences and be positioned as an expert or thought leader?
There Are Five Steps You Need To Learn…
Step 1 – Define Your Expertise
The very first thing you need to do is to identify you “expertise”. This may take some soul searching and also maybe working on some limiting beliefs, but perhaps another way is to simply ask yourself these five questions…
The first three questions help with the positioning or finding your expertise…
What do you love doing?
What are you good at?
What pays well? (for some of you this last question may not be as important depending upon your altruistic motivations)
While the next two questions serve as a reality check…
What you want to say?
What do they want to hear?
Once you have identified your expertise, now you need to brand yourself…
Step 2 – Brand Your Expertise
This is about how you want to be perceived by your audience. Your own unique style.
As social media is critical in all this, consider which platforms you will use.
There are no rules, only that once you start to identify your style, I would suggest keep working at being consistent. That way you will become more familiar and recognisable. However, a caveat would be to ask yourself whether your “branding” is aligned to your core values and is it for the “greater good”. A way to look at this is in the marketing and advertising of products. What brands do you like and why? What do they stand for? What do others think of when they see those brands as well? What do you stand for? What will others think of you?
Step 3 – Broadcast Your Expertise
When I think about my grandfather growing up as a young man, how few resources he had, though he lived a full life and made a huge impact in the circles he travelled.
What about us today? The resources we have at our hands right now that can share our expertise to all walks of life.
We are living in truly amazing times so let’s not take this for granted. Here are some things you can do…
Start a blog
Write a book
Get testimonials and endorsements
Get featured on authority sites
Give valuable insights
Have an opinion
Finally, become known as the expert or voice of your industry!
Step 4 – Expand Your Expertise
Once you have established an audience, whether that be on blog posts, YouTube subscribers or guest speaking at events or university classes – you need to now build a tribe and spread your voice (and impact) much wider.
If your message is currently being shared with your local community, you now need to take it to the state or national level. If it is currently at the national level, it is now time for global!
If you are currently connecting with academics – now take it to corporates etc.
Remember, you are an expert, people want and need to know about your expertise!
Step 5 – Refine Your Expertise
To be an expert you also need to be always learning.
Keep up to date of what is being discussed around your expertise.
Who are the other “thought leaders” in your industry? For example, I have a strong interest in outsourcing, automation and start-up entrepreneurs so I would list about then people in the world who are the global experts when it comes to academic research – who are your ten?
By keeping up to date, you are maintaining your relevancy – and when you are relevant, people want to listen to you.
Why The World Needs Experts Like You
I have been blessed with the opportunities in life that have been out of reach for many.
I know that and I am very grateful that for some reason I have had this.
I have also been humbled over the years in my travels to different corners of the World to see at first hand real life struggle and suffering.
It also saddens me to know that as I write this today, for many people, tomorrow is just another difficult day.
However, I have also seen with my own eyes the transformative power of expertise being applied in practical ways and taking it to places where it is most needed, to those lives who will be transformed.
A few years back, I was witness to see the bandages removed from a man’s eyes after a cataract operation. It was at a volunteer eye clinic supported by Rotary International at Rishikesh India, alongside the Ganges and the start of the Himalayas. After years of being blind and a short and relatively straight forward cataract operation, this man could now see. The joy in his new eyes and of his love ones around him was truly unforgettable.
We all have expertise that the World and humanity needs. I wish for you to find yours, but importantly for you share it with the World, for the World needs to discover you!
Do you remember the last function or event you went to?
How did you introduce yourself?
How did the people you met, introduce themselves?
Was it memorable?
What about just meeting people at a social function and the question comes around on “what do you do?”.
How did you answer it?
Well if you are like most people, the answer might be along the lines of “I’m a manager”, or “I have my own business” etc. But did that really convey the sentiment on what you do or what your business does? Did it connect with you as a person to your audience and connect you to your overall mission or purpose?
If you currently find it difficult to convey such a succinct message, a possible reason might be that you are still trying to define what you or your business does.
For example, if you said to me you’re a manager – then what type of manager? What outcomes do your seek? What are you trying to achieve etc.?
Although it may be useful to chunk and categorise because that’s an efficient way for our brain and our brain likes efficiency, what we lose with this abstraction is the depth of personality and authenticity.
You see, I consider authenticity these days a rare commodity. In fact as my public speaking mentor Andy Harrington says:
“why are you desperately trying to fit in, when you were born to stand out?
So what can you do about this?
Well I have always tried to have what I call an “elevator speech” in my back pocket ready to use when I need it. You know, that short sharp and succinct commentary that tells your story, or at least the message you are wanting to convey?
Back in my corporate days, I use to say to my mentees, they need to have their story with them all the time. So if they are ever in the real elevator and the CEO steps in, here is a great opportunity for them to introduce themselves and help the CEO by saying who they are, where they work in the company and what they are currently working on. In this situation, this helps the CEO relate to them as they now have context (note of warning – if the CEO frowns back, well my career suggestion would be to get out of the elevator at the next step!).
Of course, if it is a complete stranger, one who does not know who you are, or for that matter anything about your company or your role, then you need to be more descriptive in the language that you use so that they are more likely to understand and relate to you.
Basically the real tip here is take responsibility for reaching out and building relationships. Do not wait to be engaged as it may never happen (please trust me on this, some people wait their whole lives and wonder why nothing happens).
You have to be pro-active!
But if you are naturally not the most outgoing individual then this can be a challenge. That’s why you need some prompts to help you so your message is always concise and you are true to your purpose and as a result, are being authentic and integral, or whole.
This is where the A,B, C’s come in…
I learned this technique from Brendon Burchard, founder of the Experts Academy. Its basically a formula and all you have to do is to add the words that makes sense for you and your business. While it appears very simple, do not let that fool you, it is extremely elegant and highly effective and here it is…
I help A
To Do B
So That C
Let’s use an example to see how it works for real, lets use my business in how I would respond, if you asked me what I do…
I help entrepreneurs and small to medium sized enterprises set up, scale up and sustain their startup or existing business, so that they can focus on the front end of their business – dreaming big, creating a vision and building awesome relationships
Now, no doubt I can further refine this, but can you see how this is much more powerful than just: “I have my own business” when you are being asked “what do you do?”?
Also, this ABC approach continually reinforces my whole mission, my targeted customers and what I do for them. If you go to my web page, you will also see that I have it on my home page and it is also an extension of my business tag line… to set up, scale up and sustain your startup.
Do you think this may be useful for you in your business, or even if you are a professional with a boss – as it is the same principle when conveying your message on what you are all about.
Now sometimes you may still need to pre-frame by providing more context depending upon your audience and you do this by using language that they can relate to or by using metaphors and analogies.
Regardless, next time when you are attending a function and somebody asks you “what do you do?” you need to pull out you ABC and respond by saying…