Branding / Copywriting

I Ignored This Common Advice When I Started My Business … and why you should, too

I Ignored This Common Advice When I Started My Business … and why you should, too

When I left the corporate world to started my business, I was starting from scratch.  I mean, really from scratch.

I had spent 29 years building brands like MTV, Nickelodeon, and The Sharper Image.  But deep down I dreamed of being a writer.  

I knew it was hard to make a living as a writer.  And to be honest, I didn’t have a novel inside me “just waiting to come out.”  

Then I discovered direct response copywriting – the perfect way for me to combine my brand marketing background with my love of writing.  Not only that … I could write for people and companies involved with natural health and wellness (a personal passion of mine).

So I turned in my commuter pass and dove into the world of direct response copywriting. 

I followed different people and “marketing gurus” who helped solopreneurs build their businesses.  And I often heard them give this “important advice” to their students and followers:

“Don’t look at the competition,” they warned.  They said it would worry only worry me to see other people who were already established in the same space.  

Why Health & Wellness Coaches Should Never Follow That Advice

As a marketer, I can tell you that’s terrible advice.  And any health coach who follows it will struggle to get clients.

Let me tell you a story about one of my clients so you can see why.

Early in my copywriting days, I wrote for a lot of different industries.  One of them was software. I had a client who was launching a new social media management platform. And they hired me to write their website copy.

As you may know, there are A TON of players in the social media management space.  So I asked my client for a list of their top competitors.  They gave me 22 company names.  And I researched them all.  I wanted to see how they were positioned.  Because the last thing I wanted was for my client to blend in with them.

I wanted to make sure I could position my client in a way that stood out.

This is an essential step I take before I write any copy.  And it’s also an essential step for anyone who’s trying to market themselves or their business.

Well, that research was certainly eye-opening!  It showed me just how prevalent that bad “don’t look at your competition” advice really is.

All of the 22 companies, except one, used a headline that was a variation of the exact same message: “Manage all of your social media marketing in one place.”

In fact, 2 companies had the EXACT same headline on their website. (Whoopsies!)

The Kiss of Death for Your Health Coaching Business

If you sound like most other health coaches out there, it’s practically like the kiss of death for your health coaching business.  And the only way to avoid it is to look at your competitors.

Now I don’t want you to obsess over them.  But it’s important to have some insight.  That way, you can make sure you position yourself differently.  Because if you blend in with other health coaches, you’ll have a much harder time getting clients.

So when I decided to focus on working with health and wellness coaches, the first thing I did was to see who else was in this space.  I’ve looked at quite a few people.  But I’ve only found one person who markets herself as a brand strategist and copywriter.  And we are very, very different.

Our qualifications are different.  Our approaches are different.  And the end result we give our clients is different, too.

And since I know that, I can confidently say there’s no one else out there that does what I do.

Now it did take some work to hone in my positioning.  And there’s a good chance it will for you, too.  But it’s worth it.  If you do, you’ll have much more clarity and confidence about building your business.

How to Position Your Health Coaching Business

One of the things that makes positioning difficult is that you have to make some hard decisions.  Even decisions that will seem counter-intuitive.  That’s the problem I ran into with my software client.

When I first interviewed them, they told me the best thing about their software was that it gives anyone and everyone who does social media a way to manage it from one place.

Just like 21 of their 22 competitors. The other company said their software was only for social media marketing agencies.

Well, if I had a social media marketing agency, that’s the platform I would look at first.  Because I’d know it was for people just like me, with my unique set of agency challenges.

I wanted my client to see that having a product for “everyone” made them sound like all of their competitors.  Instead, I wanted them to become THE social media marketing software for a specific group or industry.  That would transform them from being one of many possible options … to being the perfect option for that specific group!

So I worked on a bunch of positioning ideas for my client.  But when I presented them, they weren’t interested.

Don’t Make This Same Mistake with Your Health Coaching Business

My client was opposed to the idea.  They told me, “but our product can help all kinds of companies … big and small!  Public and private!  Everything from single bloggers to agencies!”

They said if they followed my advice, they’d miss out on attracting a much larger pool of potential customers.  They’d be leaving money on the table.

Yeah.  Them, and at least 21 other companies.  So they’d have plenty of company.  And with a bunch of options available to people, their potential customers would focus on price.

That’s why getting clear on the specific person you want to help is so critical.  As John Lee Dumas said in his book, The Common Path to Uncommon Success, “Niche down. Niche down again. Keep niching until it hurts.”

And I can tell you this.  In my experience, something magical happens when you do.

Something Magical Happens When You Put a Stake in The Ground

When I decided I only wanted to work with people in health and wellness, my business went from inching along to taking off!  It wasn’t overnight.  But when I knew exactly who I wanted to serve, it gave me much more focus.  I didn’t have a big learning curve every time I started with a new client.  And this kind of focus helped me get much better at what I do.

Truth be told, at first, it felt strange to not pursue writing projects that I knew I could do well.  But then I noticed a shift.

I felt more empowered because now I was being selective.  I was choosing who I wanted to work with.  I knew who I wanted to serve … and I wanted to super-serve them!  I wanted to become the best option for health and wellness coaches.

So now, when I work with clients, the first thing we do is figure out who they want to serve.  What problem do they want to solve, and who do they want to solve it for?

If you haven’t done this yet, I can’t stress enough how important it is to your business.  Because once you make this decision, everything else falls into place.  Here’s an article that can help you make the decision. 

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