What Not To Do About Whats On Offer
What exactly are you offering? When it’s a product we’re selling, it can be easier to define. For example, an optician may say ‘I offer eye tests and glasses which lead to better vision’ and potential clients will know exactly what’s being offered and what the desired outcome is.
When we’re offering a professional service, it can be harder to define what exactly we’re offering in a way that clearly communicates not just what the outcome for the client might be, but what the journey to that outcome will look like too. When a potential client comes onto your website, can they clearly see what your offering will do for them? So often the first thing they see is us, shouting about why we’re the best, or the most qualified, or the fastest, rather than seeing their ‘why’ and a clear path to where they want to go.
Learning from my Failure
Early in my business, I did not really understand what I was offering. I thought it was coaching, – the ‘what’ of my offering – failing to first understand the ‘why’ people come to coaching, and secondly, failing to focus on how best to design my offering around their ‘why’. I got tangled up in the ‘what’, worrying about whether I was qualified enough, had enough experience, or was pursuing the right credentials; rather than asking the all- important question: ‘What do my clients need from the coaching process, and how can I design my offering around that need in a way which makes most sense to them?
Focussing on the ‘What’ and ‘How’ rather than the ‘Why’
The funny thing is, when I was completing my coach training, the emphasis was always on the client’s ‘why’. As any of you who are either a coach, or who have been coached will know, the client’s agenda should be the one and only focus of both each session and the overall coaching process. So, I was surprised by how quickly, as soon as I started to worry about making a living from my coaching, I began to focus more on the ‘what’ and ‘how’ when it came to my messaging.
Looking out in the marketplace – which can be a very scary thing to do – I panicked a little and turned my attention to myself as coach, rather than looking outward to my clients. I forgot that there is actually no such thing as ‘the’ market, only ‘your’ market and that market is usually made up of a small tribe of people who need what you’re offering. And I didn’t realise that by listening to the clients I already had, and taking notice of what they were telling me about their ‘why’, I would have begun to see a pattern emerging; and though the details were different, the universal needs and desires sitting behind them were very similar. It’s easy to say that now, but back then, I failed to trust in the wisdom of my clients, and instead thought I needed to keep talking about the ‘what’.
Seek First to Understand
I finally got around to realising that I didn’t need any market-speak or jargon to let potential clients know what my offering is. Rather I could simply listen to what my current clients were telling me – through our work together and from the feedback they gave me afterwards – about their ‘why’ and translate that into messaging that was accessible and true to the coaching experience. The result was a lot less pressure on me to be the one to define what I offered, and relief that the focus of my practice was back where it needed to be – on my clients.
If you’ve already got some clients, ask for their feedback and really listen to what they are saying.
Notice the language they are using and how their voice and body language changes when they are talking about what’s important to them. Then, make sure when you are creating content to describe your offering, their ‘why’, is expressed in language that is authentic to their experience. Be true to the relationship so when the right-fit potential clients come and visit your website to read about your offering, they can immediately see their ‘why’ in there, writ large.
Just a note to say you can of course do a wider piece of market research, like a survey, but in my experience, tuning into a small number of people and actually having a real conversation with them, can yield richer results.
When you’re looking to define what your offering is, begin by seeking to understand why potential clients might want to buy your services. If you’re just starting out, ask yourself: What will my offering help my client to do differently or better? How will their lives be better because of it?