Most blog posts aren't helpful to your ideal customer. Not only do you have to know what's on your ideal client's mind, but you need to know what they need - hint - it is NOT the process you are trying to sell.
In this "On-The-Air Coaching Session", I sat down with Phil Fraser to discuss a blog post that took him three weeks to write!
Phil started a business in 2000, and 18 years later, he sold it! He went through start-up, growth, and eventual sale. It's what many business owners dream of, and it might just be one of those things that keep his ideal clients stressing over. Phil has positioned himself as a "sounding board" for business owners. He sees himself as halfway between business coach and mentor.
Phil is the kind of guy you end up talking to for hours while casually sitting at the pool after mentioning you started a business. He loves talking shop. After he sold his company, people began picking his brain, especially about the sales process. He quickly realized it was the "same bucket, different ship" situation. Even though these people were in a different industry, they experienced the same challenges growing a business. He decided to turn his advice into a consulting business!
After hearing about his background, I wanted to know what gave Phil the confidence to start advising people. He said that after he sold his business, and then a friend suggested he start a consulting business. Phil shared, "For those of us who run businesses, we suffer from imposter syndrome. My business started as an accident, but it carried on and grew a lot!"
When he was told that he should be a mentor, Phil thought, "Who am I to give advice," but he naturally fell into helping others. I've heard this a million times!
Too often, we have unconscious competence. And we undervalue our expertise even though we went through the process ourselves! Many of us don't realize how much knowledge we've picked up from being in the trenches.
One of the first things he did after developing a consulting business was to think about his ideal client. He targeted clients by industry sector online, created avatars for marketing, and realized he was comfortable working with companies that turnover about 2-3 million pounds.
Then he landed his first client, and it shook up his perception of the ideal client. His first client came through recommendation; it was someone in a different sector with multiple locations. He had a "wow moment," realizing he could advise outside his industry based on his experience. The client is based more on their nature rather than the size. His NEW avatar is someone that is trying to grow their company.
He invested in a small business a few years ago and left it to do its own thing. When he started his new coaching/mentorship business, he decided to do a classic 360 with his small invested company.
Sadly, the owner didn't touch the new strategy because he was comfortable with how things were; it turned a profit, and that's all he needed.
Phil believes people who come to him want growth. He also thinks that not everyone wants to see growth in their business. I disagree!
I've had big corporations spend a bunch of money on a growth strategy, but when they recognize the actual cost of change (NOT financial), they bail. They bail because they have to change their identity to grow.
All of this discussion goes back to Phil's original reason for our deep dive. Is he a business coach or a mentor? Does he coach people on growth or mentor them through it?
Here is some food for thought, there is a difference in advising on content versus process. For example, if you advise on advertising, it's because you're likely in that industry and passing down your knowledge.
Typically, you're coaching the younger version of yourself because you have more experience. When you advise around the process, your expertise can apply to any industry. It's why he realized with his first client he didn't need to be restricted by his sector!
Guys, we are just scratching the surface of his question and laying down some significant groundwork. If people come to Phil for growth, he needs to keep the following in mind:
Companies want growth for different reasons!
If you look at growth based on company size, each stage creates a very different business. A company that is in start-up mode will be night and day from a company in the revitalizing stage that needs to stay in revitalizing.
You'll see a whole other set of growth challenges for a company going from growth to maturity. Depending on where the company is in its life cycles will determine different growth challenges.
I would encourage Phil or anyone determining their ideal client to refine their avatar to an industry or industry they love. While your knowledge can work across many industries, that doesn't mean you'll love working within each one! Not finding your niche is a classic mistake!
If you can be equally excited about diving into challenges from one part of the business to another, then you've found your niche. THEN find the most likely buyer within that industry that needs your services.
Relevance - is my expertise relevant to the situation.
Timeliness - is this the right time, and will the client MAKE the time to do the work.
Fit- do we mesh with each other. Values, interests, and personality are what I call the X factor.
This brings us to Phil's big question, what are my thoughts about his blog post, "What are the differences between a mentor and a business coach?"
Phil told me that this is a big SEO question, and he felt he needed to answer it. Not only is it a big volume question, but he thinks it might be something his ideal customer is asking.
PUMP THE BREAKS!
Never in my career has a client asked me if I'm a business coach or mentor. They wanted to know if I could solve their problem. Phil's run into a classic mistake, writing copy that us coaches and consultants are searching for and care (our methodology) about instead of addressing real questions that his ideal customer asks.
Phil ended up discovering it's not what he is (mentor or coach) or what he does (methodology). This idea feeds right into my point; it's not about the perfect label; it's about meeting people's needs through your expertise.
His blog posts should do just that! Phil has been selling himself as "been there, done that" to differentiate himself with his experience.
So, why write a blog post that draws people in through labels? Clients are more interested in the features and benefits you will create for them.
Thinking your client wants to know. "If you're a business coach or mentor" assumes they've thought through their problem and are onto not only the solution but the process! I can assure you, clients don't think that far ahead; they want to make sure they're in the right place when they land on your website!
Layout services based on the ideal client's needs and not a label. Don't push methodology before offering a whole host of services and benefits. Features and benefits are a stronger way to position yourself.
When I picture a mentor, I see a hero's journey. A mentor holds out the visions for the mentee until they can see it for themselves.
The coach is someone that says, "you can do it!"
You don't have to define these in a blog post. Spread out this copy throughout your website. Instead of starting with these definitions, evaluate your website copy based on what your ideal client is asking and what they are Googling at 2 AM.
Maybe they are wondering how to go from a start-up to taking on staff? Perhaps they are wondering how to go from managing one location to two or three? The point is not whether you're a business coach or a mentor; it's how you solve real problems.
We went on to brainstorm other challenges his ideal client might be having like:
Can you see the light yet? Don't write articles around YOURSELF. Write blog content around questions your ideal clients are asking. And your blogs should answer those questions.
Phil and I went on to map out what a blog post might look like for him. We went with the questions, "How do I hire my best first number two?"
I asked what those steps would look like, and he said:
From here, I let Phil know he needs to cover significant challenges in each of these processes. We brainstormed pitfalls and solutions.
Phil's Pitfalls: The team won't buy into it. The owner won't let go. The owner won't let number two prove themselves. The owner doesn't give room for mistakes.
Phil's Solutions: Reduce pitfalls through training, support, and warming up clients. The business owner has to be psychologically ready to let go. Preparation and support lay the groundwork for the new hire.
Now that he has an outline, he'll need to weave in stories based on his personal experience. He should also share client testimonials to storytell about running into challenges and using his process!
The questions we identified as potential consulting blog posts could also be restated across the website to call out the target audience based on needs. Copy should infer, "Hey you! I see your problem, and I know how to solve it."
So here is the rub. You could start with a blog post, cross your fingers, and hope for the best, or you can do some front-end work that drives success.
It's clear that Phil has a super stellar value proposition - he can help start-ups grow and position themselves for sale! He needs to OWN IT.
As he writes new blog posts, Phil should add in what I call "epic ones." Epic blog posts directly speak to your value proposition. For Phil, that might be "How to grow a start-up that's ready for sale."
Remember, your client won't make the mental leap from their problem to the methodology you want to sell. They don't care if you're a mentor or a coach.
Join the conversation in their head! What are they searching for in the middle of the night?
About Me: I'm Betsy Jordyn and my business development firm builds strong and powerful brands for remarkable consultants and coaches and their unique strengths. Simply put we design consulting and coaching practices that position you as a thought leader and sought-after expert by helping you find the words to describe the value of what you do and use them on your website and in your marketing. Check out our roadmap to mentoring and website design programs at https://www.betsyjordyn.com/services.
Schedule a consult call to talk about creating your brand messaging and positioning and online platform: https://www.betsyjordyn.com/schedule.
Check out Phil's blog based on Betsy's coaching HERE.
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