How Your Unique Story Helps Your Business
Do you worry that everything you want to teach or build an online business around has been “done before”? You think you have no unique story to it.
Do you think you have nothing new to add to the conversation, or that everyone has “heard it all before”?
This kind of thinking is the number one killer of new businesses, and it is absolutely not true.
- Wendy’s hamburger chain was conceived long after McDonald’s already had a huge piece of the fast food pie.
- Dominos and Little Ceasar’s exist in the same niche quite well (as do many, many others).
- Marie Forleo, Carrie Wilkerson, Denise Duffield-Thomas and dozens of others all help online entrepreneurs find success.
So what’s the lesson here?
First, there is absolutely room for you in the online business space.
But let’s take a closer look. If you really think about it, these “competitors” are unique individuals. You won’t find a Quarter-Pounder wanna be on the Wendy’s menu. And Little Ceasar’s sells itself as the less expensive alternative to other pizza places. Likewise, Marie, Carrie and Denise are not clones of one another.
They are very, very different, and because of that, they appeal to completely different audiences.
For new (or even established) business owners, this is a powerful lesson. In order to stand out from the crowd, you need to embrace your unique story, too.
Step 1: What’s Your Why?
The first step in your journey to your one-of-a-kind business is to discover your “why.” This is an essential question that all successful business owners must be able to answer. Your why might be as simple as more money or more free time, or it might be as complex as wanting to start a charity or spend summers on mission trips.
To find the inspiration to make your business thrive when your mindset hits a wall. You have to identify the real why behind what you do. Learn how
Some ideas to get you started:
- Spend more time with your kids while they’re little
- Support your parents as they age
- Freedom to travel
- Support a charity that’s close to my heart
- Live a certain lifestyle
- Write a book
What does any of this have to do with business? Everything!
Only when you can define your unique “why” will you be able to build a business that you truly love, and that you are passionate about. That’s why so many heart-centered entrepreneurs feel like a failure at a job—they simply aren’t passionate, and it doesn’t feed their “why.”
Only your own business has that power, and it’s up to you to discover your unique meaning in life, so you can build a business that allows you to achieve your goals.
Step 2: Your Story Matters
Along with your “why,” comes your story. Your unique background will appeal to your ideal client in a way that no one else’s will. Again, I’m not necessarily talking about business here (I’ll get to that story in the next step) but instead, I want to focus on your personal life.
- What struggles have you overcome?
- What hardships have you faced?
- How have you impacted someone else’s life?
- How has another person impacted you?
Everyone struggles at some point, and when you meet your ideal client in Step 4, she/he will resonate with your story, and you might just become her/his inspiration. Where no other coach has been just the right fit, you will be.
We love a good story, and when it resonates with us, it can drive us to take action when nothing else can. Storytelling or Sales Page?
Step 3: Write Your Mission Statement
At its most basic, your mission statement defines who you are, what you do, and for whom. Potential customers should be able to read your mission statement and immediately know whether or not you’re a good fit.
But a well-thought-out mission statement is so much more important than that. It’s the point on the horizon that will keep you focused. It’s the litmus test to which every new idea or strategy must stand up. And it has everything to do with your unique story.
You may choose to use your mission statement on your website, in your marketing materials, as your tagline, or elsewhere. At the very least, print and post it near your desk, where you will be able to see it every day. You can keep it completely to yourself, using it as a “touchstone” to guide every business-related decision.
Thinking of creating a new self-study program? Considering branching out into a related area? Intrigued by a hot new social platform? Test it against your mission statement first, and you’ll instantly know if it’s something you should pursue.
Your mission statement will also help you make difficult decisions about potential clients. Sometimes clients come our way who simply aren’t an ideal fit, and by carefully considering them in light of your mission statement, you’ll be able to easily see the truth.
Step 4: Your Unique Offer
Here’s where a lot of new (and even established) business owners get stuck: Determining your “USP”—or Unique Selling Proposition.
In other words, what sets you apart from all the other coaches, service providers, trainers, and product sellers out there? Why would someone buy from you, when there are so many other choices?
The answer is simple, really: Because none of those other people are you!
Personality – Different
Experience – Different
Insights – Different
And none of them have your story.
Truthfully, it’s that last one that will really resonate with your ideal client. By sharing your story in an authentic, personable way, you’ll make an immediate connection with your audience.
Maybe you overcame a hardship and eventually found success in your field. This will encourage others like you to reach a little further. Maybe you taught yourself a complex marketing strategy through trial and error and can now share your knowledge with others who are also struggling. Or maybe you’ve had the privilege of training with high-end, well-known coaches in your industry, and now feel ready to lead as well.
Whatever your unique story is, there are those for whom it will resonate like no one else’s will. Remember, we can hear the same advice time and time again, but it won’t really sink in until we hear it in just the right way, from just the right person.
And for a certain audience, that someone is you.
Step 5: Attracting Your Ideal Client
Perhaps the biggest mistake new entrepreneurs make is in thinking that their product or program or service is “for everyone.”
That’s simply not the case. Your ideal client is as unique as you are. In fact, as counterintuitive as it might seem, the more narrowly you can define your audience, the more you can charge, and the higher your profits will be.
Here’s why: When you and your products perfectly resonate with an ideal client, you become recognized as the go-to expert in your niche. Your experience is focused, your education is laser targeted, and your products and coaching programs are exactly what is needed by your ideal client, making for a perfect no-brainer sale nearly every time.
The only question is: “Who is your ideal client?”
You’ve probably heard the often-repeated advice about gender, age, socio-economic status, family relationships, business models, and more. And those things are certainly important. After all, if your coaching programs are designed with “heart-centered women entrepreneurs” in mind, clearly you’re excluding men from your ideal client base.
But demographics aren’t enough. You need to dig deeper, and really get to know your perfect customer. Think back to your story questions from Step 2. How would your ideal client answer those same questions? What makes her heart sing? Who or what drives her crazy? She struggles with what? What comes easy to her?
When you can confidently identify your ideal client, everything you do—from writing a blog post to creating a five-figure coaching program—will become infinitely easier. And that includes building your product funnels.
If there’s one mistake that new business owners make, it’s this: failing to develop a clear vision of their ideal client.
Step 6: Your Story Becomes Your Unique Products and Programs
Each and every one of us is unique, but many of us have shared experiences. Your story—the experiences you’ve had—will help connect you with your “tribe.” Those life struggles you’ve faced are the same ones challenging your audience right now. Those business disasters you’ve overcome are similar to the difficulties your clients are working through.
Think about it this way: Who is better able to help a single mom build a coaching business than another single mom? Who knows better the difficulties of bootstrapping a business startup than someone who lost everything and was forced to start over?
Even more important, these “character building” setbacks are the perfect inspiration for your products and programs. By keeping in mind that others have shared your same difficulties, it’s easy to design products that solve the exact problems your ideal client is facing, and to present it to her at just the right point in her journey.
Step 7: The Best Marketing Comes from Sharing Your Story Authentically
Here’s the truth about business, whether you’re a coach, a service provider, a seller of digital products, or the owner of a local grocery store: not everyone will like you. If you’re posting updates in an effort to never offend, or to attract the largest audience, you likely won’t attract anyone at all.
But when you’re consistent and authentic in your marketing efforts, enough of the right people will absolutely love you.
That starts by being bold and telling your truth everywhere you go. There’s nothing quite so bland or disingenuous as a solopreneur who spouts corporate marketing messages in an effort to sound like a larger company. It’s much better to just be yourself (just like your mother advised you all those years ago).
That means infusing your personality and story into all the following marketing pieces:
- Blog posts
- YouTube channel
- Facebook Business page
- Instagram photos
- Periscopes/Facebook lives
- Email marketing
Invite your audience to have a candid, backstage look at your life and your business, and most importantly, keep it consistent.
This will come across to your followers in:
- The words you use
- Your political and social beliefs
- The funny posts you share
- The good deeds you do
- The photos and anecdotes you share
Step 8: Unique Stories Turn Competitors into Colleagues
As we’ve already discovered, no one shares your unique story, beliefs, personality or goals. Likewise, you don’t share your competitors’ stories or goals either.
And that makes for ideal collaboration options—even among those you might consider your competitors.
We all reach a slightly different audience, and some in that audience won’t perfectly resonate with us—but they might with a well-thought-out JV partner.
So rather than dismissing others in your niche as competitors, instead consider pooling both your unique stories in a way that will speak to those members of your audience who don’t quite click with you?
You might choose to:
- Invite competitors to host you on a webinar promoting your non-competitive product
- Invite competitors to email their list about your unique offer (with an affiliate link, of course)
- Create a new program with your competitor as a partner—with the right mix, this will appeal to both your audiences!
And while you’re at it, think about which programs your competitors have that you can promote to your audience? Why reinvent the wheel, when you can simply profit from work that’s already been done?
The Magic Happens When….
Accomplished coaches and service providers know that true success is found in that magical space where your passions, your goals, and your personality meet. Only when you take the time to get to know yourself well—when you do the “internal work” necessary to discover your unique story—will you find business growth to be nearly effortless.
Not only that, but when you are able to define what makes you unique, you’ll find you naturally appeal to just the right clients at just the right time. Marketing will automatically become easier, your funnel will fill itself, and sales will be painless.
And for a online business owner, that means a business you love, working with people who are more than just clients—they’re friends, too. Imagine the joy of waking up each day looking forward to “work.” That’s exactly what you’ll find when you uncover your unique story.
Let me know what your unique story is in the comments below.