Do you ever feel like you have to explain what you do at length before people get it? Or, does your passion sometime get the best of you and you talk so much about what you do, you turn people off?
If so, don’t worry – it’s not uncommon. The closer we are to our business, the easier it is for us to forget others do not have the same level of knowledge we do. As a result, we either talk a level higher than where potential clients are or we just talk.
In my previous article for CareerWise, I talked about helping your clients get to the finish line so they can get what they want, the second step in building your story-based message.
This blog will discuss how to create a message explaining what you do that will resonate with customers and position you as the guide your clients need.
Be the guide your clients need
All of us face obstacles in our lives. To get past those obstacles, we look for someone (or something) to help. In story vernacular, that someone is called a mentor or a guide.
The guide’s role is to help the hero, the protagonist, reach their goal and obtain what they want. In Star Wars, Obi-Wan Kenobi helps Luke Skywalker. In The Matrix, Morpheus helps Neo and Batman has Alfred. When it comes to your clients, you are their Obi-Wan.
“When expressing your authority as a guide, less is more.”
To become the guide your clients need, you need to demonstrate two things: empathy and authority.
A guide’s empathy
Empathy is the ability to understand and share the feelings of another. From a marketing standpoint, this means understanding our customers’ feelings.
Expressing empathy sounds easy, but there is a nuance to doing it right. If you overdo it, potential clients may think you’re pandering to them, saying anything they want to hear to secure their business.
To avoid this, you need to understand the stories in your career that relate to a potential client’s story. For example, I’ve been let go from a company and I’ve been turned down for promotions. These experiences help me understand the perspective of potential clients who have been in similar situations.
Once you identify your personal story that allows you to genuinely empathize with a potential client, you can share it in one of the following ways.
- “I understand. I was once let go as well.”
- “I know what it’s like to not get the promotion you felt you’d earned.”
- “I’ve worked many clients who struggle to get their resume past Applicant Tracking Systems.”
At this point in your story-based message, you’ve discussed the things you know your clients want, the obstacles in their way and that you understand how they feel. Potential clients are now listening because they know you “get” them and their situation.
Now it’s time to let them know you are the guide for them, by injecting some of your hard-earned authority.
A guide’s authority
To be a guide, you need to have experience in the area in which you are guiding others. However, like empathy, authority can be overdone and interpreted as bragging. Career practitioners often feel compelled to talk about their qualifications, certifications, awards, badges and even degrees ad nauseum. Many think this helps their case and will convince a potential client to become a new one. However, the opposite happens. Clients get turned off by this discourse because they are not on your site to hear about how good you think you are; they are there to see if you understand their problems.
When expressing your authority as a guide, less is more. Rather than talk in detail about your qualifications, mention them in passing so you come across as knowledgeable, not arrogant.
You can build this language into the empathy statements above:
- “I understand. I was once let go as well, which is why I became certified in the hidden job market to help my clients get back on their feet quickly.”
- “I know what it’s like to not get the promotion you felt you’d earned, so I decided to learn how to build a personal brand within a company.”
- “I’ve worked with many clients who struggle to get their resume past Applicant Tracking Systems, which is why I become a certified resume writer.”
Notice how subtle the authority is after each empathy statement. Using authority in this way helps clients understand not only that you get them, but that you have the experience needed to help them survive and thrive.
Tell your story as a guide
How you tell your story positions you as a guide or a hero. A hero will tell their story like this.
“I’ve been coaching clients on career-related matters since starting my business in 2015. I got certified in resume writing in 2016 and personal branding in 2017. I got started in career coaching because …”
A guide’s story reads like this.
“Many of my clients are looking for a new job, but their resume is not getting past the Applicant Tracking System (ATS). This frustrating because it leads to unnecessary rejections by companies. I become a certified resume writer so I could help them get their resume past the ATS and into the hands of the hiring manager.”
Which story do you want to hear more about? Are you positioned as a guide or a hero?