I was reading a business book the other day and as I was reading all I could think was “I’ve heard all this before.” There’s nothing new here. Oh sure, the content was OK. It wasn’t bad. It wasn’t misinformation. But it wasn’t NEW either. There was nothing fresh about it. It was just a regurgitation of so many things I’ve heard a million times before.
I read this book right after I created and published a course on marketing and branding for Udemy.
So I suppose the idea of taking a stand (what I refer to as branding) was fresh on my mind.
And I realized too many service pro’s still aren’t doing it.
So I want to issue a challenge to all the coaches, consultants, and other service professionals out there…
I want to challenge you to step back and look at your business. Look at your marketing. Look at what you’re selling.
And ask yourself honestly: Am I taking a stand?
Or, am I just offering a generic service?
It may be a quality service, but quality is assumed and everyone thinks and says they’re the best, so it’s not a valid differentiator. Ask yourself, Am I just peddling a compilation of all that I’ve learned, or have I packaged it all in a unique and compelling way?
I know these are tough questions to ask. It can be hard to look in the mirror. But if your business isn’t living up to your expectations, this may be exactly the reason why. You may be just another orange in a sea of oranges. When what you want to be is an apple.
Most of us start out with a generic business idea.
We decide we want to be a coach, or a consultant, or some other kind of service professional. We want to help people with our expertise and experience. However, before you actually hang out your shingle, I believe you must take it one step further.
I believe you must take an inventory of everything you bring into your business, including your education, experience, expertise, personality, and yes, all the things you’ve learned from others… and PACKAGE all of it in a way that’s different.
You must take all the pieces and put them together in a fresh, new way.
And that doesn’t mean just slapping a creative name on it. That kind of branding is what I call “gift wrap.” It’s on the outside only. Nope, I’m talking about OWNING it. Building your whole business around it. Featuring it in all of your marketing. Your programs and services. In the way you talk about what you do. In the way you DO what you do.
It’s about COMMITTING 100%!
That’s what taking a brand stand is all about
Think about a debate. Two people arguing different sides of the same issue. Both believe adamantly in their argument. The other side doesn’t exist for them. Even if you don’t agree you have to admire their passion and commitment. And that’s what you want in your business.
And no, that doesn’t mean you have to be against what others are doing or saying. It just means you need to be for what you’re doing and saying… 100%… all in. In fact, taking a brand stand means it doesn’t even matter what anyone else is doing. Because you’re standing in your own space.
When you take a brand stand, there will be some people who totally resonate with it, and others who don’t appreciate it. That polarization is the sign of a strong brand stand. It means you’re not trying to please everyone. That doesn’t work anyway.
I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: the world does not need another [fill in the blank] coach or consultant.
Sorry to bust your bubble if you’re a coach or consultant. But it’s the truth.
As I shared in my book, Breaking the Spell, the coaching industry has seen tremendous growth in the last decade. The 2012 ICF Global Coaching Study estimated there are 47,500 professional coaches worldwide. And that doesn’t include all the people calling themselves coaches who aren’t affiliated with a professional coaching organization. Interestingly, the coaches participating in the survey cited “Untrained Individuals” as the number one obstacle facing the industry. Unfortunately, as an unregulated industry where anyone can call himself a coach, this is a big problem. And it only supports the idea that the 47,500 estimate is probably very conservative.
No, the world doesn’t need just another coach. But that doesn’t mean it doesn’t need YOU.
It needs people who are willing to take a stand, put themselves out there, and commit to something. Yes, it can be scary to take a stand. It means putting your stake in the sand. Sometimes it means going against the grain. But we need more people who are willing to do that. Those are the people I want to follow, hire, and read books by. Those are the people I respect and want to learn from. Those are the people who inspire me.
The book I was reading was fine enough.
As I said, the information in it wasn’t bad or wrong. But it didn’t grab me. It didn’t make me want to keep reading. It didn’t make me want to know the author better or learn more about what they have to offer. As it was, I couldn’t even bring myself to finish the book.
So yes, I’m issuing a challenge to every coach, consultant, and service professional out there: Find your stand and OWN IT! Make it your brand. Stick to it. Give the world something to talk about, or at least something worth paying attention to.
In this age of social media, self-publishing, blogging, information marketing, and online education there’s no shortage of free and low-cost information. If you want people to follow you and buy from you, you need to give them more. You need to give them something they can’t get on any corner of the Internet. You not only need to provide value, you need to package it in a way that’s new and different. You need to provide YOUR spin. Have an opinion. Take a stand. And make sure everything you put out is run through THAT filter.
That’s my stand, what’s yours?