It doesn’t matter what industry you’re in: If you’re not able to clearly communicate WHY someone should choose you and what sets you apart from someone else, it’s gonna be really hard to market yourself and your business. And let’s face it: As an entrepreneur, you are constantly marketing yourself, or at least, you should be if you want to get paid.
That’s why today, we’re going to be talking about how to uncover your secret sauce, AKA what makes you stand out, why you’re different, and why your ideal client should choose you.
When you’re not totally clear on your secret sauce, it can be really challenging to write your website copy, your social media posts, and it’s going to be even harder to hop on a sales call with a potential client if you don’t know how to explain why they should choose YOU over Sally.
As a copywriter, it’s my job to very clearly explain what my clients do, why someone needs their service, product or course, and what makes them different. This is a combination of things that only you can deliver. And we’re going to use them to create a little marketing magic that you can sprinkle into all of your messaging – from your website to your sales page.
I have a PDF freebie that walks you through each step and you can grab that by clicking HERE.
IF you’re just starting out, YES, this may take you a few days or even weeks to really nail down. Just take your time, you don’t need to figure this out today.
What I love about this framework is that if you’re just starting out and you know WHAT you want to do, but you’re not sure how to market and position yourself, this is literally going to give you your recipe for success. And I say recipe, because we’re gonna shake things up a little bit and use a cocktail analogy because, why not, right?
I want you to picture an empty cocktail shaker. We’re going to fill this imaginary shaker with your own one-of-a-kind secret sauce recipe.
If you were to walk into 3 different restaurants and order a margarita, they would all taste different because they’re made with different ingredients, the bartenders use different techniques, there hundreds of types of tequila, and they might even look different depending on the glass, the fruit and the garnish.
The same goes for the services, courses and products that business owners like you and I offer. More than likely, there are a lot of people offering the same thing, so what makes you different?
What makes you the right person for someone?
The first thing we’re going to start with is the base ingredient. In the case of the margarita, the base ingredient is tequila, right? Most margaritas share that in common.
Now, for you, your base ingredient is simply what you do. It’s probably 1-3 words. Let me give you a few examples.
“I’m a copywriter”
“One of my clients is an adoption consultant”
“Another client of mine is a Parenting Coach”
Got it? So I want you to write down what you do and we are going to add it to our imaginary shaker.
Now, this alone does not make you stand out, right? There are probably thousands, maybe even millions of others who claim that title, right? There are a million copywriters and photographers wedding planners, etc.
In order to differentiate you, we’re going to start to layer in the special little ingredients that are unique to you.
Taking it back to our margarita example….one restaurant might have a special tequila that’s been aged a certain way, or it was imported from some remote village, or only 1,000 bottles exist in the world. Maybe the bartender who created the drink menu is known locally for making the best drinks in town and she’s really sought after. Maybe they only use hand pressed, organic juices from fruits grown in house. Maybe it’s been featured as the best margarita in the world in a top food and beverage magazine.
Now, I’m no tequila expert, but, you get my drift.
For you as an entrepreneur, this should be a combination of things that start to separate you from the pack. This may include:
- Your niche/specialty — do you only serve a specific audience or industry?
- Credibility — so your past experience, education, any high profile clients you’ve worked with
- Awards or press, etc.
So let’s take me as an example OK: I’m a copywriter. Base Ingredient, right? That doesn’t differentiate me from the millions of other copywriters. More specifically, I’m a copywriter specializing in website and email copy for personal brands, solopreneurs and course creators. Already, that narrows down the playing field and it eliminates some other copywriters who may specialize in other things.
Next, I would write down the fact that, as former associate director of content strategy for a huge digital ad agency, I’ve written copy for brands like Levi’s, ebay, Pantene, and StubHub.
I would add the fact that I have a Masters of Fine Arts in Creative Nonfiction AND that I studied under Pulitzer Prize winners and bestselling authors.I’d also layer in that I was a writer for the Tampa Bay Times and the editor of a luxury lifestyle magazine for 4 years. Over my career, I’ve interviewed people like Erin Andrews, who is a really well known sideline reporter for the NFL and she’s also cohost of Dancing with the Stars. I’ve also interviewed celebrity chef Tyler Florence.
I hope this is giving you some ideas of how this can apply to you. Maybe you’re a photographer who only specializes in destination weddings. Maybe you’re a caterer who’s catered events for over 300 people. Whatever you’ve done – own it!
The next element of your Secret Sauce is all about the HOW. And by that, I mean your own unique process. And if you’re like, uh, Erika, I don’t have a process. Yes you do, and I’m going to help you document it.
While I was doing research for this episode, I read about one famous bartender who makes her own ice to achieve the perfect margarita. Get this, OK: Every piece is exactly four centimeters in diameter so it doesn’t dilute the margarita. Then she shakes it vigorously for 30 seconds, no less no more.
Kinda crazy, right?
Now, let’s talk about how this applies to you. I want you to think through and write down step by step, how you actually do what you do. What is the process you take your clients through? How do you facilitate the transformation for your clients? What techniques do you use? What tools do you use? Do you have a specific framework or process that you teach your clients or students to do? I’ll give you an example of 2 of my clients. One is the adoption consultant, she is amazing. She takes her clients through the same process every single time and she calls it the Adoption Roadmap. It’s a process she has developed and perfected over the course of several years, and that it proven to help hopeful parents bring home their baby in less than one year. Another client of mine is a parenting coach, and she specializes in helping parents of kids ages 0-5 who have challenging behavior.
When she came to me, she had her own process, but she didn’t necessarily have a name for it or really have it written down. So we mapped it out on paper, gave it a name and we gave it a little more structure so that parents could see the path forward. She is giving them a plan.
In my business, I take my website and launch copy clients through my signature process which includes the Discovery Process, where they complete a length questionnaire, create a pinterest board, and we hop on a 90 minute call. Next, I interview their clients, I interview their clients, which not every copywriter does, because truth be told, it’s time consuming and most people don’t want to talk on the phone. I also work with my clients until the day their site goes live so I’m available to make any tweaks all the way through the process.
So now, if you’ve never done this before, I want you to spend some time thinking about your own process.
Spend 15 minutes or so writing it down step by step.
Last, but not least. And my personal favorite is the presentation.
This is the perfectly cut lime or garnish on our margarita. The spicy red salted rim. The sleek, fancy glass. The little umbrella or whatever little detail makes someone look at a cocktail and say, “uhh, I’ll have what she’s having.”
Inside of your business, these are the little things that make you stand out. This can include elements of your visual brand, but it’s also about the small details you can bring to the table to elevate your client experience and make yourself stand out online. This can be the little elements of your personality you incorporate into your brand.
Marie Forleo, for example, makes dancing and 90s hip hop a big part of the way she delivers her content. One of my clients is obsessed with shipwrecks, so she’s incorporated that into her brand. It can be how you present your proposal. Maybe you send really thoughtful client gifts. Maybe you’re a photographer and you do in-person photo reveals for your clients, or you’re an interior designer who does surprise reveals.
For my brand, it’s the fun bright colors, it’s the fact that I reference pop culture and champagne, and makeover movies. It’s that I create a personalized video to send along with every proposal. It’s the celebratory bottle of champagne I sent a client of mine yesterday to congratulate her on her successful course launch.
So now it’s your turn. I literally want you to brain dump a list of all of the special little touches you put into your work. Is there a theme to your brand? What are you obsessed with that you can bring into your brand? Is it Game of Thrones or your dog? What is your client experience like?
This will likely take you the longest, because I really want you to think through every element, from your personality to the client experience you deliver.
These are the final elements we’ll add to your shaker.
Ok, let’s recap those real quick.
- Base ingredient
- Special ingredients
- Process aka how it’s made
By the time you’re finished going through this exercise, and I really hope you take the time to go through it, you should have several pages of notes. All of these make up your secret sauce and you will pull from these for everything from your bio and about page, to social media posts and the proposals you send your clients. I want you to let all of this serve as the foundation for the stories you tell.
When you have these 4 elements nailed down, it becomes so much easier to know how to position yourself on your website, what to say in your social media bios, and how to answer questions from potential clients.
Now, I highly recommend that you grab my freebie, because it’s going to give you some prompts for each section – DOWNLOAD IT HERE!
I’m here to help you become a better copywriter and marketer for your own business. I want you to tune in every week and be like, hot DAMN, that was awesome.
PDF Guide: https://www.erikaholmes.com/secretsauce
More about Erica and Services: https://www.erikaholmes.com/websiteservices/