In “Start” by Jon Acuff, he lists the 3 steps of Mastering:

  1. Volunteer.
  2. Take a part-time job.
  3. Be led.

To this list, I would actually add one more: Be Uniquely You.

Before I started off in the world of social media management, I did each of the first three and with time, I developed my own brand and persona when it came to the types of clients I work with and the culture amongst my team.

If you’re just starting out in a new business venture or if it’s time to rebrand yourself, I strongly recommend taking the time to read Start and if you’re ready to enter the stage of Mastering, consider doing at least one of the above-mentioned steps.

While it wasn’t always easy to make time to volunteer or do part-time work on top of my regular full-time job, it has enabled me to live the life that I want (now) and to let go of that which I didn’t. Finding a mentor is also important. While there will be missteps along the way, being led by someone you trust and look up to will provide you with insight and guidance. Be open to what they have to say and you will probably find yourself making fewer mistakes along the way.

Below I’m offering you three ways to find your uniqueness – your path, your voice and your ideal client and how each relates to marketing your awesome self out into the world.

Finding your path

When I first started out as a solopreneur, I ran up against a lot of problems and missteps.  The main one being: I wasn’t focused on who I was serving.  As a growing business, I pretty much would work with anyone (with a caveat that I would never work with certain types of companies like sportfishing tours as that goes against everything I believe in).

But when I really went deeper into who I am and how I want to show up in the world, I learned the truth of what really brings me joy (wellness, eco-tourism and nonprofits) and from there, Social {media} Wellness was born.

A few months later, I was doing the Tony Robbins program, Personal Power II, and had yet another Ah–Ha moment. Finding my path became even clearer.  I always knew that certain actions I had taken in the past had led me to where I am now but I had never really seen it written down.  When I did, everything made perfect sense.

Key takeaway: Take a look back at the last 10, 15, 25 years of your life.

  • What are the steps you’ve taken on your path?
  • What are the moments that really stand out for you in terms of when you were most happy…what were you doing?

Little by little, your path will appear. We are all on a path and as I often say, there are many twists and turns that lead us to, and make us who we are, today. What is your path?

What steps have you taken (or do you need to take now) to truly step into who you are and be a bright light in the world?

Finding your voice

When I first start working with a new client, especially one with an established culture and personality, they would sometimes express a little hesitation in my ability to truly speak in their voice. But I’m happy to say that each of those clients who expressed their honest uncertainty has come back to me a few weeks into working together and said something to the effect of: Wow, you really get me.  You understand my vision and who I am.  How are you able to create content that speaks so authentically?

There are a few reasons:

  • First and foremost, I listen.
  • I do my research.
  • I only work with clients who I really understand.

I couldn’t work with a sportfishing tour company.  It just isn’t me.  It’s not my beliefs or values.  It’s not where my passion or training lies. It’s not my authentic voice. I can speak authentically for my clients because it’s a part of who I am and what I believe in. I have a background in both wellness and yoga and have spent extensive time learning the eco-hospitality and wellness worlds.

The path I’ve followed in life has led me to be able to serve a niche clientele. And it’s why, every day, I have so much excitement and joy for the work that I do. In order to run a successful business, you really do need to create a culture and find YOUR voice. Your business needs to be made up of all that you are and all that you want to become.

Often times, people will decide to start a business without giving much thought to how their beliefs and values play into their business or how they’re going to translate their values into a marketing plan. And maybe that works for them.

But the businesses that I’ve seen be truly successful are because they know who they are and what they’re putting out into the world.  Their words and actions are congruent.  And it is reflected not just in their bottom line but also in the team members who work with them, the work product they create and the lives they touch.

Key takeaway: Your words (whether my team writes your content or you are doing it yourself) need to equal your actions.  Words + Actions are powerful when it comes to marketing and sending your positive message out into the world.

If your actions are incongruent, your words will mean nothing. We each have gifts to share with others and our world.  What are yours? How does your unique voice play into your business?

Knowing the answers to these questions will help you stand out from the many other yoga studios or eco hotels down the road.  It will help bring you the right clients and it will help you make a more positive impact in the world.

Finding your ideal client

Not everyone is your ideal client. And until you know who your ideal client is, it can be very time-consuming and labor intensive – both for your business as well as your marketing efforts.

I have had clients that were not ideal. They either didn’t fit into my niche or they did but they weren’t ready to embrace 21st century marketing. Either way, at one point in time, we both knew it was time to end our working relationship.

Here are two examples of less than ideal client situations:

I have a friend who is a yoga teacher. She teaches both private and group classes. If she had a student approach her and ask for privates but only if she’d crank up the heat to 105 degrees, my friend would decline the offer. Her ideal client is not one who wants her to teach Hot Yoga. From there, she has two options. She can either refer the student to another teacher who does offer that style of yoga or she can explain the style of yoga that she teaches and ask the student if she’d be interested in trying a session with her.

Another example:

There is an Ecolodge in the middle of the jungle. Not a store, medical facility or gas station in sight. They do not offer air conditioning and the windows only have screens in them (there’s even one eco hotel that I’ve worked with that has no screens or glass – imagine that!).

Who is their ideal client? Not someone looking for air conditioning! Not someone who doesn’t like insects (or is at the very least, not willing to put up with insects). The hotel is a luxury hotel with 5-star service, food and accommodations. But did I mention there’s no air conditioning and there are creepy crawlies? I even had the chance encounter one morning with a tarantula in my room.

Their ideal client is someone who is adventurous and willing to try out something new and different. But it is amazing to me that, even though the cons are on the website, people still show up and are surprised at the bugs and lack of a/c. What happens if a guest shows up and is totally upset with the lack of a/c and abundance of bugs…well, there’s a 4 Seasons or Marriott that they can refer them to – where they probably overuse pesticides and run the air conditioning all day and night.

My point here is…there will always be potential clients who approach you and want to work with you. And it is best to make sure they match your own values (much easier for the yoga teacher to interview prospective clients than the eco hotel).

Sometimes, for one reason or another, you may decide to work with a non-ideal client, only to learn that this was not a good idea. Trust me, a lot of time and energy will be wasted. Time and energy you could be putting towards your ideal clients.

Key takeaway: By working with your ideal clients, you will not only love the work you’re doing but also create even stronger and long-lasting relationships with them. And by being selective with whom you work, you will have a lot more time to develop and build relationships with more of your ideal prospective clients.

Which in turn becomes a positive loop of building your business, just the way you want.

By knowing who you are and what you can offer (and can’t / won’t offer), you will indeed find your ideal clients. And more often than not, you will LOVE working with them. Because you’re a match…because your values are aligned…because you were able to market to them in an authentic and true voice.

That is how you attract your ideal client.

“Know your path. Know your voice. Know your product.”

And with a little hard work in marketing these three qualities, your perfect clients will arrive.