Every week as SmallBizLady, I conduct interviews with experts on my Twitter talk show #SmallBizChat. The show takes place every Wednesday on Twitter from 8-9 pm ET. This is excerpted from my recent interview with Ivana Taylor @DIYMarketers. Ivana is the publisher of DIYMarketers.com – an online marketing publication that provides marketing strategies that help entrepreneurs and business owners get and keep profitable customers. She is the DIY Marketing expert and book editor for Small Business Trends and a contributing author to AMEX Open Forum. Her strategic consulting firm, Third Force specializes in helping companies find their best customers and be the one they choose – regardless of price. Ivana is the co-author of Excel for Marketing Managers. www.DIYMarketers.com
SmallBizLady: What does it mean to stake your claim in your market?
Ivana Taylor: When I came up with the phrase “Stake your claim” I was very focused on the visual and emotional feelings that were a part of it. I pictured a person hiking, climbing, sweating their way toward a space and then upon arriving, surveying what they saw there, smiling victoriously and planting their flag in the ground with their arms akimbo (on their hips) saying “I own this”! And from miles around, you can look and see this flag and know that it was owned by YOU. Staking your claim means that you’ve selected a space, you’ve earned the right to own it and you own it, hands down.
SmallBizLady: Why is it important to own your market and your message?
Ivana Taylor: When you own your market and your message, you make more money. There is a marketing “law” out there that says that the first person to market is the most profitable. But the one who owns the market makes the most money. When you own your market and your message, you are the first person people think of when they are buying what you are selling. People will always remember the market leader, but they won’t always remember #2.
SmallBizLady: What is the first step in the “Stake Your Claim” Process?
Ivana Taylor: The first step in the Stake Your Claim process is to get into the right mindset. It’s a decision to OWN a tight and focused space and to be known for ONE thing. This is usually the hardest step in the process. People think that by choosing something to be known for, they are rejecting potential customers. Actually, the opposite is true. When you are too broad and you say that “everyone can use this”, people are confused and they don’t choose you. But when you choose to focus on ONE thing, people will choose you for that and then they will ask about the rest.
First DECIDE that you will focus. Then take the time to visualize an ideal future. I get on a morning call to create my day — every day. This is a powerful way to remind myself of what I am focusing on, what market I own and the space and message that I claim.
SmallBizLady: What are some tips for getting to the heart of who you are?
Ivana Taylor: Staking and owning a specific claim means being insanely clear on who you are. I don’t know about everyone else, but we all wear so many hats running our businesses and lives, it’s hard to see who we really are for others.
My best tip for getting to the heart of who you are is to answer these questions for yourself: Who am I being, what am I committed to and what can people count on me for? This might take some time, but the effort is worth it. After you’ve done that, try asking the people in your life and your business to answer these questions about you.
Another great exercise is to sit across from someone else and have them ask you “Who are you” then you have to take 10 minutes of uninterrupted time to respond. Start listing all the things you are, Father, Mother, business owner, funny, honest, reliable, etc. DO NOT STOP for 10 minutes. Then ask the person to tell you what they heard and how they react to what you said.
I know that this doesn’t sound very “business-y” but it is so powerful because your marketing communication has to be so authentic, so consistent and so integral to who you are and this is the best way to get to the heart of that.
SmallBizLady: What is a platform?
Ivana Taylor: When I use the word platform, I use it literally. I also used to call it a soapbox, but that sounded a little too negative. Your platform is what you stand for — what people can count on you for. It’s how you BELIEVE things should be done. It’s your OPINION about your business and your industry.
Most people are worried about whether or not they are qualified or have credibility. These are important, but not AS important to the buying decision. What people are buying is an experience and an outcome. Your platform should be about those two things.
SmallBizLady: How do you find clients who are hungry for your message?
Ivana Taylor: Finding clients who are hungry for your message is often a fishing expedition. And I mean that literally. You wouldn’t go fishing in the desert and you wouldn’t try to buy a car in a clothing store. But you’d be amazed at how many times people go looking for ideal clients in the wrong places. You need to look for clients in those areas where people are buying what you are selling.
If you’re selling health and fitness, then participate in communities where people are buying health and fitness products and services. Be in conversations where health and fitness are discussed. You can find these groups on LinkedIn, Facebook. Follow the leaders in these markets and create partnerships with them.
If you’re not sure what’s popular, check out search ebay and Amazon to see what the most popular subjects are.
SmallBizLady: What is an irresistible offer?
Ivana Taylor: An irresistible offer is one that contains an outcome or promise centered on the thing that your ideal customers want most; money, health, spirit, relationships.
To create an irresistible offer, focus on a specific representation of your ideal customer and then consider what they want most in their own words. Write each of these down on a stickie note or index card. Then on another set of stickies or index cards, write down what outcomes they will experience after using your product or service. Then get a third stack of stickies and start writing out what’s missing for those clients that if they got it would make it irresistible. This is where the real magic is. One of my clients is an attorney and when he did this exercise he created an offer that included sending limos out to his elderly clients to drive them around as they signed documents. This not only made a powerful impression on clients, but increased the speed of his process! That created a win-win for everyone.
SmallBizLady: What is the biggest mistake owners make when developing their offer?
Ivana Taylor: I’d say the biggest mistake owners make is focusing more on their products and services than on what matters to their clients. They get all wrapped up in the features and what they can do rather than what the customer will get.
Another common mistake owners make is not taking the time to figure out what matters to customers. I suppose you could ASK, but a lot of what really matters to us is revealed through what we do rather than what we say. For example, how many times have you heard people say that living a healthy lifestyle matters to them, and then they eat fast food and don’t exercise.
The third most common mistake is selling something no one wants to buy. Some business owners think that selling something unique is an open opportunity, but sometimes it’s that there is no demand. The best way to find out what people want to buy is to look at amazon or ebay and see what the top selling books or items are, it will tell you what outcomes people are most interested in.
SmallBizLady: How does knowing your platform attract ideal customers?
Ivana Taylor: When you’re having a party, you don’t send someone the alphabet, you send them an invitation that clearly says what kind of party it is, when it is, where it is and what to bring. Your platform should do exactly the same thing. It should be so specific that your ideal customers are drawn to you like a magnet.
Having a firm and solid platform that is an integral part of who you are and what people can count on you for makes your marketing and your communication insanely efficient and easy to manage.
SmallBizLady: What is the biggest obstacle to staking your claim and how do we overcome it?
Ivana Taylor: The biggest obstacle is losing your nerve and just doing what everyone else is doing or stopping too soon. One of my friends Mike Michalowicz (@TPEntrepreneur) calls this the grass ceiling. It’s when you are doing the right thing, but you stop just short of success because you don’t see immediate results.
Another mistake is that people make is taking your eye off of what matters to your customer. One way to overcome this is to get hold of a BIG IDEA – something that you are committed to, that will easily engage and enroll other people. This way, people are signing up with you and your big idea and your irresistible offer delivers the outcome of that idea.
SmallBizLady: Do you have any resources to help small business owners get started with the “Stake Your Claim” Process?
Ivana Taylor: To get started on the “Stake Your Claim” path, head over to DIYMarketers.com, enter name, email, take our test. You’ll get a free report that will help you choose the right channels. Check out my Customer Attraction Blueprint that will help you with your platform.
If you found this interview helpful, join us on Wednesdays 8-9pm ET follow @SmallBizChat on Twitter. Here’s how to participate in #SmallBizChat: http://bit.ly/S797e
For more tips on how start or grow your small business subscribe to Melinda Emerson’s blog http://www.succeedasyourownboss.com.