Competitor or Collaborator?

February 2, 2010 at 8:13 PM | Posted in content, leadership, opportunities | Leave a comment
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I’m putting together a program for Entrepreneurs. Some of my competitors are experts in the topics I want to include in the program.

I started to consider how I view my competitors. To be honest, I don’t view them as a competitor per se, rather as an expert with a slightly different audience.  There are certainly enough clients out there for all of us.

I decided it might be a good idea to bring my competitors into my program, to include them on the program as experts. There are some great advantages to collaborating-

• I don’t have to create all of the content.

• My clients get to hear from someone well grounded and well respected for their expertise.

• My program can be shared with my clients and with the experts- expanding the potential participant base.

• The expert gets to share their information with a new audience.

• The expert might have some great ideas and guidance for the overall program.

• I might be able to contribute to something they are building.

    After I sat down and thought about I couldn’t come up with a single reason not to ask the expert if they would like to contribute to my Entrepreneurs program.

    Let’s face it; all they can say is ‘No’. Most people are eager to work with you, especially if they aren’t responsible for all of the logistics involved in a program or conference.

    I believe sometimes we forget we can learn from competitors. We occasionally slide into that barren space where we believe another businessperson, speaker or coach is only out there to take away our business. The reality is I have never met someone who only wants to take business away from me.

    Simply asking a person to contribute as an expert can change the way they perceive you. No longer are you that ‘other’ entrepreneur trying to take their business away. Now you are a peer asking them to share their expertise.

    It’s a great feeling when someone asks you to step up as an expert, particularly if it is a peer.  We all benefit when we work together- our clients in particular benefit from others experience.

    Find ways to collaborate with your competitor, build a bridge that leads to creating a village, together.

    What’s In It For Me?

    January 11, 2010 at 1:36 PM | Posted in content, leadership, writer's block | 1 Comment
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    When I am working with clients they usually want to talk about big, broad topics. Social media, marketing, building their business….

    As their coach I find I always need to do some digging. While a client might not understand how to use social media there may be more fundamental issues at stake. Have they identified their target market, have they determined what their greatest benefit is to their client? What about consistency? Do you have a client with great big ideas that has trouble focusing on a particular goal for more than a short time?

    Even clients who have been successful for years may need to reexamine some of these issues to make sure they are still on target.

    Let’s look specifically at WIFM- What’s In It For Me. Me isn’t You, Me is your client.  What is important to your client? What benefits do you offer them? What differentiates you from every other speaker or coach out there?

    This is the information that attracts clients to you. Everyone wants to know how you can help him or her – specifically. What can you do for me?  Write your tweets, your website, your advertising copy with your client (a meeting planner…) in mind.

    Everyone else seems capable of doing this- grocery stores advertise sales, Macy’s has 40% off of shoes, Lowes Home Improvement offers 50% off of tools. As service providers we seem to have difficulty sharing exactly what our benefit is to the client.

    Instead some of us spend our time telling clients how many degrees we have and how fabulous we are. Yes, that will convince some clients to sign up but they still want to know how you can help them. They don’t necessarily care that you will use Myers Briggs or Tilt. They do care that you can help them identify traits that will make them a stronger more successful leader; that you have a Mastermind group they can participate in; that you have a message their audience wants to hear.

    When you write copy think about what you want to know as a customer. Sometimes it’s difficult to put yourself in that space so ask a friend. Your assistant, your spouse even an existing client might help you find the exact words. Look at some of your testimonials- what are your clients saying they value about your work? Those are benefits. For some it’s their heart, maybe it’s your tough love with a side of compassion.

    Let everyone know how you are different and how you can benefit him or her. You’ll be glad you did!

    Great content, sales pitch or both?

    January 6, 2010 at 8:14 PM | Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment
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    I dialed in to a teleconference today. Many of us use free teleconferences to build an audience, promote an upcoming event, and share information and a bit of ourselves with potential clients. They are a wonderful, proven tool.

    I was curious. The teleconference I dialed in to was given by someone I had never listened to or really heard of before- although she claimed to have hundreds of clients.  I thought this would be a good way to learn more about her and her content before I invested significant time and money with her.

    Unfortunately, I was disappointed. The experience did raise an important topic for me. I strongly believe we need to provide high value- high quality, high content- products to our clients. Even if the products are FREE.  After all, everything we do is a reflection of who and what we are.

    Today’s teleconference was about 60 minutes long. The first 20 mins. the leader (I won’t disclose her name) spent a few (3 or 4) minutes introducing herself then spent the rest of the time talking about her fabulous upcoming course. The following 20 minutes included the actual content of the call.  There was no drill down or detailed explanation of even one of the points. The final 20 mins. was another push for you to sign up for her upcoming course.

    I understand that we use teleconferences to promote upcoming events and we all have to make a buck. In this case a full 2/3rds of the call was spent on promotion and the content left a lot to be desired.

    I tried to look at this from the perspective of a potential customer AND as someone who holds teleconferences.

    As a customer my primary interest is the content of the call- not the sales pitch. I don’t mind a sales pitch. I might even be really interested after I hear some great content.  But please don’t hit me right away with the sale, sure you can mention that you’ll talk about the event, give me a few choice tidbits but leave it at that. I’m here for the content first! After you’ve provided some great content I’m happy to listen to the event information for 10- 15 minutes- 20 minutes was over the top. I have even signed up for events I’ve heard about on free teleconferences.

    As a presenter you simply must keep your audience in mind all of the time. I don’t know any audience members that dial in just to hear a sales pitch when the title of the teleconference is Top 5 Ways to Create the Perfect Cake!

    Provide great content, share some information about an upcoming event and the attendees will come.

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