How to fit in and stand out at the same time

Are you a coach like lots of other coaches? Do you do what a lot of other coaches do? For some, this viewpoint holds them back. For others, it’s exactly what helps them stand out from the crowd.

If you want to get noticed, imagine you’re a bread company. Imagine your local supermarket with an aisle full of sliced loaves. It’s all just bread. But when you walk down that aisle, doing the weekly shop, you choose one loaf over all the rest. Why? In this article, we’ll find out.

Sliced bread

Being the same actually makes it easier

It might seem counterintuitive at first but being the same as something makes it easier for clients to find you. It’s the reason products are grouped in the supermarket, it makes them easier to find. Consumers have been trained to find what they want and then make a choice between products. So, showing prospective clients that you belong in the “coaching” category of businesses can help them find you, positioning you alongside other, similar businesses from which they can make a choice.

Swatch and Rolex watch

You don’t have to place yourself in the bread aisle

You may be in the coaching category, but to stand out you need to decide how to position yourself. When the clients are walking down the ‘coaching aisle’, looking to buy, in which section will they find you? With which other coaching businesses will you be compared? In bread terms, are you cheap and mass-produced, or perhaps a premium brand, or are you pitching for the artisanal market? The first might appeal to those on a budget, the second to those looking for high quality, and the third is practically a lifestyle choice. However you present your coaching business, it will be up for comparison with others perceived to be in the same category.

But it doesn’t have to be other coaching businesses that you’re grouped with. Picking up on the lifestyle point, think of Swiss watch brands. Swatch and Rolex are both made in Switzerland but are they comparable? They both tell the time so what’s the difference? One positions itself alongside clothing, art, sports, etc. as a watch that you can own a number of, is fun to wear, and can be changed to match your outfit and mood. The other is found in the company of yachts, private jets and fast cars, positioned as a status symbol that you invest in and marks you out as the kind or person with that kind of lifestyle. But they both tell the time.

person shopping in Super market aisle

Your story positions you

In the ‘bread aisle’, the only thing that makes you stand out is your story. The business story you tell is what enables clients to position you in their minds – to decide if you’re the loaf coach they want, or not. If your story resonates with them they will use your story to justify the purchase to themselves. If it doesn’t then they will keep looking for a story they like.

Your story says, “people like us do things like this.” It tells potential clients why you do what you do and explains the bigger vision of what you want to achieve. When you combine your story with empathy and authority it will appeal directly to clients who are the right fit for your business. To these people, the choice will be so clear as to be no choice at all.

The right tool for the job

Your business story is a unique tool, not a happy-ever-after tale. It’s the one thing that no one else can copy. That’s why it’s so important to tell your story when you’re talking with your clients: where have you been, how did you get here, where are you going? Every coach has a story within them, waiting to be told. On our Better Bolder Braver accelerator programme, we mentor each cohort in creating a story that makes them stand out. 

(PRO TIP: If you want to write a compelling story then I would highly recommend Donald Miller’s book Building a Story Brand. The definitive guide to creating your own business story.)

Story Book

The first step in creating a compelling story

To get started with your business story, use our guide on empathy-led marketing. It shows you how to combine empathy and authority together to craft a unique story. Your story will take time to formulate and to refine. It won’t be perfect the first time. Try to tell your story on your website, in an email and on your next sales call. See how it feels and what response you get. Then add to it, improve it. The more you tell it, the more compelling it gets.

But… I don’t have a good story.

We’re often not encouraged to be unique individuals. Messages that basically say, fit in, are common. A lot of people’s reaction to having to write their story is, “I don’t have a good story.” But if you look a bit deeper there will be something in the way you coach, the reason you coach, who inspired you to coach, and what motivates you to be a coach that is unique to you. It doesn’t have to be a rags to riches tale or an epiphany moment worthy of a Hollywood or Bollywood blockbuster to be a great story that resonates with your clients.

When you tell your story, you’ll connect with your clients like never before. When you get it right, clients will want to know more and they won’t see anyone else as being a comparison at all.

Frances and Simon 19

Getting started

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