“Because she competes with no one, no one can compete with her.” —Lao Tzu
Information is not implementation, and distraction is the enemy. Another reason that clients will stay longer with (and spread the word about) you over someone else in your field is that they feel they are getting better results with you than with anything else they’ve tried.
That makes it a good value for the money. Providing good value, even unprecedented value, is an industry differentiator. It makes the competition pale in comparison to what you offer.
(Just a note to clarify that I don’t see anyone in my industry as a “competitor,” per se, but rather a colleague, and yet for the purposes of this book, as the word “competition” is a common word, I’m using it here.)
How can you compete in a crowd of people or companies that pro- vide similar offerings to yours?
You differentiate yourself by how many results your clients actually experience in working with you. And a big part of that is getting your clients to actually use your service or product, as it was intended and to the fullest of their capacity. Left to their own devices, many clients won’t actually apply your solutions to the fullest extent, which means that they won’t get the results they had hoped for or that they’re capable of.
You can have the best proprietary system or methodology the world has to offer, but if your clients or customers don’t get results, they won’t stay, they won’t buy more, they won’t write raving fan reviews or refer their friends and family in droves.
In a world where there are innumerable communications and media competing for your client’s attention span each minute, there is a ton of distraction.
The thing is, a distracted client doesn’t get results. So, naturally, the way to help your customers get better results (and differentiate yourself as the “best” in your industry) is to get them to engage and consume your offerings as they were intended.
Here’s how I see the formula going:
Help clients engage and consume => they get better results => they realize that your offerings work better than anyone else’s in your marketplace => you are immediately differentiated from anyone else in your industry => any competition becomes irrelevant.
Before you assume that I use the word “consume” to mean “buy more,” that’s not what I mean to say. Increasing client consumption in this case means that, as a strategy, we want a lot of the focus in your business to switch to making sure your clients are actually using your resources.
The more they use your resources as intended, the bigger the results they will get, and the more valuable your service will be to your clients. This is about value creation and the more value you provide, the higher in demand you will be.
In more than 20 years of mentoring thousands of women business owners, I have personally found that “getting clients to actually do the work” involves three separate elements, each important in their own right:
Content + Context + Culture
I’ll explain each element so you can understand it better. First, the Content:
Content is the “what.” This is the methodology, the framework, the step-by-step formula that creates results. It is the “meat” of what you offer, the how-to or the product. When used fully by your client, it provides consistent and predictable results. It is the proprietary system we spoke about earlier, for example, the Client Attraction System®.
To create Content or a methodology that produces predictable results, it is important that we reverse-engineer how clients will get said results. In the case of the Leveraged Business program, I asked myself how specifically I had gotten to Seven Figures in my own business while keeping my freedom (no longer working evenings and weekends, taking two months off a year, many vacations, etc.)
It became clear that there was indeed a process, which was eventually turned into a methodology:
- I had leveraged my team.
- I had leveraged my systems.
- I had leveraged my time.
- I had leveraged my business model.
- I had leveraged my marketing.
- I had leveraged my accountability.
- I had leveraged my differentiation.
- I had leveraged my lifestyle.
There were Eight Activators to getting to a million. It was a step-by- step methodology. I knew in my heart that, when applied fully, this pro- cess would predictably get any business to a million in revenues without the business owner losing their freedom or their sanity.
So, reverse engineering how to provide a very specific end result is key to the Content piece. Nothing enters any process or methodology unless it helps you get to that specific end result. And that’s what we’ll refer to as the Content going forward.
Now, onto the Context.
Context refers to how your Content or methodology is delivered and organized. It points to how user-friendly your offerings are and whether or not everything is structured so that your audience is compelled to engage with it and implement it. It is about the environment in which it lives.
How we’ve implemented the concept of Context over time is by realizing how specifically our ideal clients (women and heart-centered men) are wired to show up in their business. Here’s what I mean:
Solo entrepreneurs are typically high idea-generators, but not always motivated to take things to completion. They love to start new things, but get distracted easily by other bright shiny objects (or other matters at home). They often need structure and lots of accountability to engage or get things done.
They are also (especially women and heart-centered men) circular thinkers, rather than always linear in how they look at life. They need regular check-ins, real time feedback, and time to talk things out.
They are often busy with children at home or other priorities, even if they work outside of the home. They don’t have time to reinvent the wheel. They need a trusted source of guidance (what to do, in what order, and how to do it exactly, as well as the ability to follow examples that already work), with large blocks of uninterrupted time in which to implement.
Additionally, many female solo entrepreneurs are often feeling-type people, craving connection and collaboration. They sometimes lose traction when they spend too much time alone. They need kinship and regular contact with others also on the path to stay excited about the journey.
In thinking of these needs, we’ve crafted an environment that includes the structure, the monthly board of directors calls, the large blocks of time to implement as a group, the weekly check-ins, the daily accountability, the loving community, etc.
Let me explain some more, this time, by example.
Many years ago, I ran masterminds for groups of fourteen business owners. I would teach them how to grow their businesses over the course of a year. They would get coaching from me, live retreats, Q&A calls and step-by-step instruction, along with a Facebook group to be able to connect with each other in between our time together.
At the end of our initial year together, I would ask everyone to go around the virtual classroom and answer, “What did you love most about this first year together? What is it that helped you get the results you experienced?” and the answer was invariably, “the Community!”
My ego would bristle a bit and I couldn’t help but think to myself: “The Community? What about the hours of coaching, the days I took to create the methodology and Content, the teaching from the front of the room, the hotseats, the strategy and Q&A time? Did they somehow forget about all of that?”
They hadn’t forgotten all of that, but invariably, “the Community” was the answer from just about every person. They craved kinship on their entrepreneurial journey, and my need for significance initially felt a bit crushed.
What I didn’t realize back then is that, without the Context of “Community” and the accountability that came from within the loving tribe that had been created for them, the lifelong friendships with other like-minded people also on the journey to big things, there would have been no significant implementation or results, or at least not the results they had actually received because they had the community.
The friendships, mindset shifts and accountability weren’t part of the actual curriculum (Content), but as a whole, they were just as import- ant. These were part of the experience and environment that fuelled their results. This was no longer an accident, but a predictable, repeatable asset to the program. It was the Context to their learning and growing.
Seeing the immense value that these provided in terms of getting results for the members, we formally built them into the program and these Context elements are now very much a non-negotiable part of why the members get such incredible results in the program. In addition to the Content, our Context offerings look like this:
- Personalized Map: your customized action plan for each year, tailored to your needs
- Step-by-Step Directions: trainings on exactly what to do, in what order, with examples to follow
- Daily Accountability: finally, someone to lovingly and firmly keep you focused and accountable
- Implementation Time: facilitated blocks of uninterrupted time each month to implement as a tribe
- Monthly Masterminding: your personal “board-of-directors” to help you brainstorm and prioritize
- Just-in-Time Support: Weekly live support for your burning questions, troubleshooting and clarity
- Supportive Community: the friendship and unconditional love you’ve been looking for your whole life
- Retreats: electrifying sessions for deep learning, mindset shifts, best practices and transformation
The important thing to realize about these is that they are not what people join for initially. Members are actually sometimes surprised to see how well these Context elements work to get them results. But they are a large part of what creates the outcomes, as well as the reason why they now stay.
Does anyone else offer these? Perhaps, although I haven’t seen it, and not the way we boldly do. And this is what differentiates us in our business coaching marketplace.
And finally, the third element is Culture.
Culture refers to the “experience” that the clients, well, experience when working with you. It’s the sense of belonging that only a strong Community can provide, the love and friendship, the deep sharing about personal and professional things, a focus on positivity and mental strength, and the tribal language, among many other tangible things.
It’s the combination of all the things intended to make clients feel something (such as belonging or a sense of home) that makes up the Culture aspect, which then makes them want to implement what you say, or use your product.
How does melding all three of these elements (Content, Context and Culture) actually make a difference? Allow me to illustrate it further for purposes of clarity using the program as our example.
Everyday solo entrepreneurs who perhaps had never thought they would reach a million a year in revenues, reach these results (usually within three to five years, sometimes less) because we have created a very specific formula using the three elements we’re talking about, using Content, Context and Culture.
Here’s how Jen Hickle actually demonstrated the combination of the three C’s and how each had a role in helping her get to Seven Figures in just two years [the brackets are my additions]:
“Before joining the Leveraged Business program, I had a good business. It was pretty solid, I had just convinced my husband to quit his job. We were bringing home about $100,000 a year, and our business was bringing in $500,000 a year.
“My business was achieving a goal that I wanted, and I knew that I wanted to do more . . . but I had no idea how to do it.
[CONTENT] I did not know how to go to the next level. I had done other coaching programs, but the feminine aspect was always missing. [CULTURE] I homeschool, I have four kids, and doing this program was a leap of faith. I told my husband, ‘I know I can do this. I can work the program, I know I will.’
“I am so happy to say at the end of the first year, I showed him the business numbers and said ‘This is because I invested in this program.’ Two years later, we are now netting $300,000 take-home pay and we have a million-dollar company.
“So much of getting to a million-dollar business was about the community believing in me [CULTURE], getting over self doubt and resistance, participating in the masterminds [CONTEXT] and creating time away from my daily routines to think about the business [CONTEXT].
“I love the lessons and strategy [CONTENT], but the people are what I love the most [CULTURE]. I can’t live without them! You can’t find people like this, in this dense amount, anywhere else. They are warm and encouraging from the first moment they meet you, and they just love you. [CULTURE] I don’t know that I loved myself before I met them! They would reflect my gifts to me, and I had to step up to match that.
“My husband is thrilled about the investment now, he keeps thanking me for taking this risk and taking him along for the ride! He got to quit his job, we have a house and life we love, we get to travel—and now he’s looking at the numbers and he sees the proof. If I can do it, you can do it.”
Do you see how Jen (intuitively) broke down the three elements of the program (not communicated openly to the public) and how each element separately helped her get to a million dollars in two years?
The point I’m making is that, if you wish to leverage your differentiation, you must create exceptional results for clients. To do that, I recommend the use of Content (a methodology), combined with Context (the environment in which the Content is delivered so that it prompts implementation), as well as the Culture (the experience or feeling that the customer can’t get anywhere else). This trifecta will produce predict- able results toward the desired outcome.
I believe that implementing this eventually makes your business untouchable and the competition irrelevant within your niche because your clients really implement, engage with, and consume your work, which means they get results they wouldn’t get anywhere else.
Instead of being a “one-trick pony,” provide a “lifestyle” journey. In the very early stages of my coaching business, I helped one of my clients start her business from scratch and, within one year, fill her practice. Then, just when I was ready to continue working with her for another year to get to the next level, she announced to me that she was moving on to work with someone else, a colleague of mine.
I was surprised. My ego was hurt. I blushed. I kept thinking to myself, “Why would she move on when we have done such great work together? There’s so much more to work on.” Well, apparently, she hadn’t realized that.
In fact, when I asked her why she was moving on instead of continuing to work with me, she told me that he (the colleague in question) was “more advanced” than I was, that I only offered help on ABC. Conversely, according to my client, he didn’t just provide client-attraction coaching, but he went beyond ABC and offered teachings on DEF, all the way through to XYZ (such as creating group programs, selling from the stage, generating passive income, etc.).
She essentially told me that she was leaving (albeit happy from our work together) because she saw me as a one-trick pony. Ouch.
I realized that she might have been right, and that I was:
- not providing enough variety
- not providing any way to ascend (or continue) working with me
- not being innovative enough.
In looking back, many of my clients had been sad to leave and they told me so. They got great value from our work, they liked me a lot, they trusted me, we had built a good relationship and working style, but I had set up my work in the early days to be more transactional. One and done.
Knowing that they ideally wanted to stay longer, and I wanted to continue working with them longer, I started thinking about how I would remedy that so that I could continue providing value to my clients and stop them from leaving once our initial work was done.
I decided to extend my offerings and transform my work to be more of a journey on which many of them start and want to continue the whole way. With integrity, authenticity, and love, I decided to make it a working relationship they didn’t want to leave.
My plan was to keep increasing the value beyond their expectations, anticipating and then meeting their every need on their entrepreneurial journey. This was very well received. In fact, the clients were relieved that I could provide them the next steps (in anticipation of their new- found needs at their new level of business), and grateful not to have to think about finding someone else to work with.
And this is why so many of them stay for five, six, even ten years. Providing this “lifetime journey” to your clients can be the differentiating factor in your marketplace too, one that very few people offer. And this is what I’d like you to think about for your own business.
I call this establishing an Ascension model for clients. Most of our members begin in a program we offer to those who wish to get to 10K a month consistently. Once they’ve reached the six-figure-a-year mile- stone, usually within twenty-four months but sometimes much sooner, they enter the Leveraged Business program (which as you know is about going from Six Figures to Seven Figures and gaining your freedom back).
After twenty-four months of the Leveraged Business program, they ascend to the Masters program (focused on creating a self-managing business that can run entirely without them if they choose). All of this is voluntary, of course. What the members have shared with us repeatedly over the years is that, now that this feels like ‘home’, they are delighted to stay year after year, not feeling the need to go look elsewhere.
If they do leave after their initial program is over, to look at what else is available elsewhere, it is not unusual for them to come back to us and they stay indefinitely.
The most important thing to focus on is the process of setting up a client journey based on their needs. It’s about caring enough to trans- form your offerings from one-time-only to the whole package. It shows you know them, and it shows you care.
How could you move your offerings away from the idea of a simple transaction or “one and done” and, instead, provide a lifestyle journey? How could you offer ascension or variety from the beginning?
If you’ve ever heard of Cirque du Soleil or attended one of its shows around the world, you know that the shows provide “a striking, dramatic mix of circus arts (without animals) and street performance that features wild, outrageous costumes, magical lighting, and original music,” according to the company.
It isn’t just one show, though. There are so many to choose from (Amaluna, Toruk, La Nouba, Alegria, etc.) with new ones coming out regularly and being performed across the world.
The idea for each show is the same, to invoke the imagination, provoke the senses and evoke the emotions of people who attend the performances around the world. That said, each show is different, providing variety. And so, many people (including me) have seen more than one show, in more than one location around the world, whereby I or they perhaps would not have attended the same show more than one time.
Providing variety breeds loyalty.
A few years ago, we created a brand called Boldheart to house many of our different projects and courses. This included being able to move past just offering business coaching, and into programs such as Boldheart Life (becoming unshakably confident and creating a life you love), and Boldheart Woman (the unapologetic pursuit of pleasure and fulfillment).
It also left room for eventually rolling out future projects such as Boldheart Youth, Boldheart Camps, Boldheart Vacations (which clients have asked for), Boldheart Man, Boldheart Relationships, Boldheart Parenting, Boldheart Publishing, Boldheart Giving, etc.
Whether all of these will come to pass is still unknown. But the reason I’m sharing this with you is to stretch your thinking of how your brand could differentiate itself in the marketplace by offering more than what it is currently offering, so that it becomes a lifestyle. Like American Girl, this is an example of what’s possible when you are committed to a certain vision or intention of providing many solutions for a person’s life, so they do not have to unnecessarily go elsewhere to find solutions.
If there isn’t a lifestyle component to what you offer, then it could be a journey of variety whereby you keep the same format but keep refresh- ing your offerings so that they keep coming back, like a restaurant with a new menu fresh from the market every day (no set menu, just daily menus inspired by what’s in season, such as Husk restaurant in Charleston, South Carolina offers) or the variety of different programs offered by Cirque du Soleil.
That being said, leveraging your business means that you may want to make it wonderfully impossible for some clients to want to leave, through ascension, variety, and providing a fresh journey to which you continually add.
This is true differentiation.