135. How to Stand Out + Attract Your Ideal Clients Organically

How to Stand Out and Attract Your Ideal Clients Organically

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How do you make the transition from a startup business owner to sold out and scaling? You start off with the basics: Finding high-quality, paying customers – wherever you are in your business. We’re going to take a look at what some of the biggest companies are doing and scale them down to fit your business, finding a unique value proposition, getting to know your ideal client, and how to establish an expert status and use it to find customers.

In this episode, you’ll hear… 

  • Why most business owners approach finding clients backwards
  • Where I went wrong in my first business
  • Finding a market for your ideal clients
  • How to differentiate your business
  • Leaning into your expert status
  • Creating content geared towards your ideal clients

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Listen to episode 135, follow along so you never miss an episode, and leave a review to help introduce the show to more online business owners just like you!

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Find people with a problem and give them the solution they need

So many business owners focus on the work they want to do, without finding out if it’s something people want or need. Even if people like your work, it likely won’t be what they’re looking for. Don’t waste all of your time and energy convincing someone they have a problem. You need to find people who know what their problem is, they just don’t know about you.

Stand out from the crowd

Opportunities in business are abundant. Just because you see several other people with the same service you want to offer doesn’t mean the market is too crowded. At the same time, you need to make sure you’re avoiding the trap of looking too much at your competition and emulating what they do. What you have to do instead is look at your competition and identify how you do things differently from them. Think about what your potential clients dislike about other services in your industry. And how you can improve on those aspects. Then, when you’re crafting your marketing, lean into that messaging.

You’re an expert – so flaunt it!

It can be difficult to feel confident in our expertise. After all, the deeper you get into a specific field or niche, the more you realize there is to learn. But remember, you likely already know more than your target audience – and that’s enough. It’s important to feel qualified, and to continue educating yourself on the latest trends and practices. But don’t let that stop you from actually getting started. Establish expertise, then share what you know with the world.

If this resonates with you, check out my 3-part From Startup to Sold Out masterclass replay, where I dive even deeper into all the topics we discussed.

Episode Transcript

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Sam Vander Wielen: Hey there. It’s Sam. And welcome back to On Your Terms. I’m so excited that you’re here. So I’m really excited because for the next couple of weeks, I’m running something that I’m calling Online Marketing Summer School. So I’m going to be airing a series of episodes that are all geared towards helping you bump up your online marketing game this summer.

So I’ll be real with you, as always. I am taking a little time to recoup this summer because I just lost my mom. My mom just passed away. Yes, you heard that right. Both of my parents. I have lost both of my parents in the past year. So as you can imagine, it is very tough, very overwhelming. And I need a little bit of space. And I know that I’ve already given you hundreds and hundreds of episodes of this show and thousands of emails and blog posts and social posts, and I know that there’s so much waiting for you that you might just not have had time to catch up on yet.

So I decided to put it all together for you. Call it Online Marketing Summer School, and I am really excited to bring back some of my favorite episodes from my and also from your favorite teachers here that I’ve had on the show to help us bump up our marketing game this summer. It’s such a good time to revisit your marketing strategy or to create one if you haven’t yet. Don’t worry, I won’t tell anybody. But it’s such a good time for you to do that because you can get some things set up this summer to maybe do some sort of promotion in the fall or just have a better half of the rest of 2023.

So I invite you to kick back, relax, listen to the next couple of weeks of episodes all about online marketing, and I hope that you’ll send me a DM on Instagram at Sam Vander Wielen or leave a review of the show wherever you listen to let me know if you’ve liked these episodes. Hopefully if you’ve never heard them before, I’m introducing you to something new.

And if you’re listening to them again, take a note from my mom, who was a brilliant, brilliant woman and would reread so many books throughout her life. Like she reread the book Flow and like Tipping Point and so many different books throughout her life. She would reread them in different parts of her life, and she would always walk away with something new. And she would always put in the notes what year she read it and what she learned that year versus the other years. So there is nothing wrong with relistening to things. I relisten all the time. So I hope that if you’ve listened before, you take away something new from this great episode. So I’ll see you on the other side. Please send me a message. Let me know how you liked it. Thank you so much for listening.

Hey. Hey. Welcome back to On Your Terms. I’m your host, Sam Vander Wielen, an attorney turned entrepreneur who helps online coaches and service providers legally protect and grow their online businesses using my DIY legal templates and trainings. This week, I am so excited to bring you the first in a three-part podcast series helping you learn how to go from a startup business owner to sold out and scaling.

So in this episode today, we’re starting at the basics, at the beginning with how to find paying customers, high quality paying customers. And I don’t want this episode to just be for people who are just starting out. I’m very much speaking to you if you are already up and running in your business. But in today’s episode, I talk to you all about doing some market research, finding out if the market really is there, not only for your business, but even for if you’re just like creating a new product or program. I think this would be a great one to listen to, to learn. Does the demand even exist for what I want to create?

So I talk about a little bit about implementing like what big companies have done, finding your unique value proposition, because I really find that that’s like the key to standing out in a very crowded crowd, for lack of a better term. I talk about really, truly getting to know your client, especially your ideal client, especially beyond the kind of fluffy nonsense that’s been sold to you on Instagram about like finding out where your ideal client shops and whether she takes her coffee with milk or soy milk and stuff. So we’re going to go way deeper than that in today’s episode.

We’ll also talk about expert status and how you can use your expert status to find paying customers, but how I also don’t want you to get stuck in getting a little too expert and racking up too many certifications because that can happen too. Last but not least, I’m going to talk with you about content and how you can create content that is geared towards your ideal paying customer. But with that, I will get started with today’s episode.

So, okay, before we get started, I hope that we can all just like set the tone of today’s episode that I don’t say any of this from like the perspective of somebody who’s like, I’ve never done this, but you guys are all doing it. I’m saying this as somebody who has done all of the things that I’m going to accuse you of potentially doing today because I’ve done them too. So I say this like without judgment, without shame. And honestly, there’s no time to speed ourselves up for anything we might have done in the past. We just got to, like, do better and move forward.

So I was thinking about that as I put this stuff together today. I was like, this sounds very blamey. Like, as if I’m coming from a place of well, I’ve never done this, but you do this, and that is definitely not the case. So I’ve pretty much made every mistake that’s humanly possible in online business, whether it was in this business or my first business. So I will share candidly with you today, but I just wanted to clear the air. So okay, let’s move on.

So here’s the deal. I feel like people think that finding clients, finding customers, whatever you want to call them, I call them customers in my own business. So I know because I don’t treat people as clients because I’m an attorney, but I don’t create like an attorney client relationship. It’s a whole long story. Anyway, so just feel free to substitute client for any time I say customer if that feels better for you.

But people think that clients and customers come from thin air, right? I remember and you can tell me if this is the same for you, but when I started my first business, my health coaching business back in 2015 and 2016, I remember I hit live or whatever it is that you do on your website. And I was just like, okay, now people will just start rolling in. And then days, weeks, months, I don’t know, went by and it was like, why isn’t anybody just like contacting me? I put this website up there, I don’t understand. Like, don’t they know that I’ve asked for customers, you know?

And I really did believe it worked that way. I even remember a year or two later I got this like I got really lucky, and I got featured in Philadelphia Magazine and it went kind of viral, like Philly viral. It was really popular in Philadelphia. And I remember just being like, okay, as soon as this thing goes live, all of a sudden everyone’s going to want to work with me. This is going to be amazing. Like, finally I figured out the secret to getting paying customers, and that wasn’t it either.

So what is it then? What is it if it’s not that, right? Why do we feel like we can post whatever on social media? Why do we feel like we can just put up a website, start blogging, create a YouTube channel, a podcast, and then people will flow in? Well, here’s here’s my two cents. People in general tend to create things that are kind of about themselves, right? When in fact it needs to be the complete opposite.

So we’re human, just like we’re kind of doing as the entrepreneur, we’re doing exactly what our customers are going to be doing. We’re thinking about ourselves. Our customers are also going to be thinking about themselves. But you are the one that’s trying to get them to reach out to you, to be attracted to you. And so you’re the one that actually has to flip that and shine the light on them, not on yourself. Right?

So people in general in the online business, they create content for themselves or that kind of just documents their personal life, it kind of has no help or purpose for other people. They create products for themselves. I mean, hell, I’ve seen people have contacted me telling me I experienced this thing in my life. So therefore, I went ahead and created a business and an entire program to help other people. And it’s like, that’s a why. That’s a good motivation. That’s a good why behind why you’re doing what you’re doing.

But that alone, having experienced something, having had some significant health challenge or something, is not in and of itself enough alone to just go off and Rambo style, start a business and then think that that’s what’s going to bring people in because you’ve experienced something, right? It’s got to be so much more than that because people yes, they will be attracted to you in the sense that they will find comfort and companionship in the fact that you have also walked in their shoes. But they are literally seeing you sharing your story about your hard time or your illness or the thing that you overcame in your life, they will see themselves in it. So at the end of the day, everything is going to go back to being about them.

So this idea that we create products, we create businesses, we create content about ourselves, we create problems even that we think are big problems because they’re problems to us or things that are, oh, this is a problem and therefore this is the way to solve it, because I’ve decided that that’s the way to solve it. And we offer up programs and services and products for it, and we get really excited. Like, I know that this comes from a good place, right?

I’m not saying people aren’t out to be meanie heads. They get really excited and passionate. And I also know as somebody who is like been through a lot of hard shit that when you go through something that’s really hard, it inspires you to want to help other people to do it differently or to overcome it to or to know things are going to be okay or whatever it is, right?

And so I think that there’s a lot of care and compassion that comes from people when they want to create products like that. However, that is not the way to line your pocketbook, as we would say in Philadelphia. So it is not the way that you’re going to grow a really profitable business. And so today’s episode is really for those of you who are like, I want to grow a profitable business, I want to do good, I want to help people and I want to create great products, but I need to put food on the table or whatever it is that you want to do. I always say electric and my electric car.

So you have to, I think, get clear on really what it is that you want to do here. If you want to create a passion project and you don’t care if anybody ever buys it, then I’m probably not for you, let alone this episode is not for you. And that’s totally fine. It’s super noble to do that.

However, I’m speaking today to those of you who feel like I like what gives. Like I’m trying, I’m putting myself out there, I’m creating all this content, or I don’t know what content to create, and I don’t know where my customers are. And I’ve tried creating all these stupid avatars and I don’t understand. Like, she’s shopping at Madewell and she’s shopping at Nordstrom, but I don’t understand what am I supposed to do, like hang out outside Nordstrom? So I totally understand why you feel that way. I felt that way too.

And because we start out like solopreneurs solo entrepreneurs, we think it’s more about showing all these parts of ourselves, showing our personal social media, then business social media. And then on the other hand, I have some people I know who I go to their social media pages and it’s way too businessy. There’s not one picture of a human and I don’t even know what their first name is. So people are just all over about this stuff. And we don’t know, I think in online business, for the most part, how to find paying customers that we actually want to work with.

So I’m hoping today’s episode will break through a few of those barriers and I’ll share a bit more again at the end about my Masterclass series I have coming up from start up to Sold Out Masterclass series. The first time I’m ever doing something like this. It’s going to be live only this time, so I highly recommend joining me. The link is in the description. But this episode is really kind of outlining the beginning part of what we will go over in that first masterclass class of that series. So, yes, I’m so excited for it. Okay.

So I’ve talked about it a little bit on the podcast before, but I have had two businesses now. So back in 2015 and 2016, I started my first business, which was I call it a health coaching business, but really my goal was to help people learn how to slow down and to who, especially who were kind of running this corporate lifestyle, really stressed out, busy life, eating lunch at their desk at work while super stressed out, basically speaking to the people who were in my position like I was when I was an attorney.

And I really wanted to teach people how to cook. That was so important to me because I loved cooking. So see where this is going. So I thought that if only people who worked in busy corporate environments could just learn how to slow down. And maybe one of the ways that they could do that was through the joy and art of cooking, which is by far and away my number one life passion, right, that they would finally find the key to happiness that they’ve been searching for.

I hope you can hear the sarcasm in my voice, but also understand, wish you could see me, I’m just laughing because it is so funny to me. The differences between my two businesses have been like night and day, so I want to use this as an example. So I start up this business. I start screaming from the rooftops about the importance of home cooked meals and bringing your food to work and not sitting at your desk and moving more, and yada, yada, yada, and how amazing cooking is and all of this stuff.

And when I say it fell flat, it fell fricking flat, right? People were like, I don’t have time to cook. I hate to cook. I don’t want to bring the lunch. Getting away at lunch is like my only respite. It’s the only thing I can go do that’s like, have fun. Or they were just like, I hate working out, working out’s stupid, and moving your body is stupid. Everything was stupid. Yoga was stupid.

Now here’s the deal. I didn’t do any market research. I went into this whole thing thinking that because this was what helped me and made me happy, that therefore that would make everybody else happy. I never asked anybody else. I never took it as a clue that everybody I worked with at the firm except for like one, two, three people maybe thought that what I did personally like cooking constantly, taking walking lunch breaks, like sitting in the sun to get more vitamin D, that they thought that was insane.

And I never took that as a clue to like, oh, wait a minute, now, these are the very people I’m going to go and try to sell this idea to. Right. So I tried shoving it down their throats. I tried the kind of preachy like, this is the way, this is what will help you. Not only did they not want what I was offering, they didn’t want the outcome. Right. So it’s not like people don’t want to be happy, but they weren’t willing, or they didn’t want to make changes because they didn’t really see that as being the problem or like this being the solution. Right.

In fact, I never got clear on exactly what their problems were and what solutions they really wanted because I was so busy just telling them what the problem was and telling them what the solution was. So even the coaching relationships that I had, the people who hired me as their coach, it was basically me teaching, it was just be a very teachy preachy situation.

It was not a lot of what coaching really should be, which is like holding space, reflecting things back, helping people self-actualize, guiding them through, maybe offering some tips and support, but not someone standing at the front of the classroom teaching. Right. So that’s my first business. It falls flat on its face. I can’t understand why. I’m frustrated. I’ve put up this website. No one’s coming to it. I can’t figure out why. I’m just like, why for the life of me isn’t this business working?

I attend a wellness, huge wellness convention in the spring of late winter, and I start introducing myself just to network to people who are there. It was in my hometown of Philly, just so happened to be there and I’m introducing myself. And I had, by the way, like no social media following or anything like this. And so I had a good like local network, though. And a lot of the people who were there were local.

And they said, aren’t you that girl who used to be a lawyer? This is like the story of my life, used to be a lawyer, but now you’re a health coach. And I was like, yeah, I am that girl. And they were like, okay, how do you, like what’s the deal with an LLC? How do I start one? Or do I really need business insurance? Like, what do I — do you think — let me show you my logo. Like, do you think I need to redo this? Or do you think I need to trademark this logo?

And I thought, how interesting, right? And I really just turned myself that day into a little sponge. It was funny because I really didn’t want to talk about anything having to do with legal stuff, but I turned myself into a sponge and I just took these questions in. I answered them, and I kind of made a mental note as to what everybody was asking about.

I remember that after this convention, I was like, that is so interesting to me that people had all those questions because as an attorney, too, people were asking, and this is still true to this day, people asked me about things that were a lot different than what I would have asked me or even what I think you should be concerned about a lot of times legally is not at all what you are concerned about and what you are concerned about or half the time not things that I would be concerned about. So they’re very, very different. Right.

And considering I’ve only ever been an attorney, I have no idea how to function otherwise as a businessperson. So this is just what I know. And so I just started to realize it’s really interesting that they are having these questions, that they’re struggling with these issues, that they’re looking for someone to answer this stuff for them. So I went back to a lot of those very same people, and I was like, why are you asking me? Like, other than the fact that you know as an attorney, what else have you tried to do and what happened, right, to answer this question.

And it was so fascinating because a lot of them would say, oh, I tried to call a lawyer and he kind of brushed me off. Right. He thought I was a blogger, or he thought like, oh, if you just have a YouTube channel, there’s nothing to protect or like, what’s a coach, I don’t understand, like what kind of sports team do you coach?

So I got a lot of the same responses, which were essentially that people didn’t take them seriously. They felt really intimidated. They didn’t know how to kind of advocate for themselves and speak up and say, no, this is what I do. This is how I work with people. Lawyers were very quick to tell them that what they were doing was illegal, which most of the time it was not. Sometimes there were little, some parts of it were a little hairy, but like, it’s fine, we work that out.

So it was super, super interesting to me. I was like, huh, so these people are really smart. They are really driven. They want to be entrepreneurs, but they feel intimidated. They feel super overwhelmed. They don’t know exactly what questions to ask, but they do have a lot of good questions and they think legal is cost prohibitive and they’re intimidated by them. And they’re dealing mostly with men, and they feel like people treat them like they’re stupid when they have a business that’s maybe more in the wellness space or life coaching space or, I don’t know, something that traditional lawyers might consider to be out there. So that’s super interesting.

And thus began my journey to what we’re going to talk about today because I took the time to actually do this right back in 2016 to build this business the right way. And I cannot believe that five years later, I’m sitting here on the business. I’m sitting today talking with you. My mind is completely blown. And I truly believe that this business’s success was solely built on what we’re going to talk about today, which is finding the right clients or who my ideal clients are the right way, really taking the time to do this right and to continue to go back to doing this.

So this episode is not just for you, if like you’re brand new. This is something that I’m always doing. I’m always going back and continuing to refresh in my own business. So it’s super important that you take the time, and this goes way beyond — I’ve taken, you know, back when I first started, I haven’t worked with a business coach in years. But when I first started my business, I did join group programs and things.

And I remember we would spend so much time being like, where does she shop? Where does she eat? Does she love cats or dogs? Coffee or tea? And I would just be like, oh my God, what does this have to do with building your business? And it has a little bit to do. It’s helpful to kind of get the general feel, but it is so much more than just this surface level, she loves to shop at Nordstrom. There are a lot of people who love to shop at Nordstrom. We don’t understand what their pain points are, right?

And if you stood at the door — this is always the way I think of it. If you stood at the door of Nordstrom, right. And this is like the nonsense you’re believing from business coach is like, I need to know where she shops. Okay, stand at the door and ask every single customer, however many hundreds or thousands of customers go into Nordstrom per day, ask each of them, what are the top three problems in your life right now? Right. And I bet you would get wildly different answers. Everything from people’s health to other people’s health to money, to relationships, to jobs, to kids to future, to I mean just endless possibilities. Right?

And so that is not always the best way or definitely not the only way to truly understand who your ideal customer is. Okay. So how then, how do we find — I always say when people are like, don’t do this, don’t do that. But how do you find your ideal paying customers online to fill up your online business roster?

So the first thing that I want you to do is really ask yourself, is the market there for what I want to create? Right. Kind of go back to that first business story that I told you about that there was not really a market or maybe there was a market, maybe there was a group. Actually, perfect example. I have a customer in the Ultimate Bundle, Sarah, who owns a company called the Former Lawyer. It’s brilliant. And her company specifically targets lawyers who want to now be considered former lawyers. They want to leave the law. Right. That was the way for me to have gone about the business. If I was to redo it, that is how I would have done it.

So I was trying to teach lawyers who just were kind of perfectly fine, like bumping along in their miserable lives how to be healthier when they didn’t want any of that kind of stuff. I should have been looking for the people who were like, I want out of here, but I don’t know how to get out of here. Show me the way. Right? So that is a brilliant, brilliant strategy. I’ll link to Sarah below in the episode notes, but that’s just a brilliant example of actually looking for the market, right? Actually looking for the people who actually want what you’re going to offer them and just don’t know it exists yet.

I want you to also go about thinking about this in the way that a larger company would if they were going to put a location, like a physical location of their business in a community. Right. You hear a lot about the statistics or the things that companies like Starbucks will look at. Or I recently looked into Barre3. It’s a franchise owned in-person bar studio that the classes are very fun, by the way. And when they look to go into a community, they look for a certain number of other factors. They look at what their other businesses are in the area because then that tells them a lot about the need or the demand for their business being in the area. So there are a lot of factors like that that you can look at, too, right?

So I always like to start out by just asking myself, is the market there? Can they afford to pay for what I need? Because if you need to have a profitable business, right, you need to live and it’s okay to make money. You need to have people pay for it. And so sometimes when people will tell me I’m starting this business, it’s going to work with high school kids or college kids. I’m like, who’s paying for this? Unless you’re targeting their parents, because then their parents are kind of your ideal client, not the kid, but they’re not going to be able to pay for this. Or if you design a business that’s all about targeting people with money woes instead of people who want to grow their money, for example, that might be a problem.

So it’s really important to start off by thinking about these things that a big company would look at, as to whether there is actual demand for this. Look for statistics. Right. I was just talking to somebody the other day about some of the statistics around online courses and the online course industry, how much it’s grown, what kind of demand there is for it, how many other companies, how many billions of dollars and millions of dollars are flowing through this system now from everything, from checkout page companies, like Samcart to ConvertKit to Kajabi to, I don’t know, lead pages, whatever else. There’s just a million businesses that are supporting this.

So really looking at this community, looking at how many people are in it and what the community is like, what are the average salaries or incomes of people in that community? What’s the gender breakdown? Where do they live? How do they operate? I mean, that’s when I would personally then start to get into the like if I was already looking at a community and then being like, okay, now where do they shop? What do they like? What are their thoughts and feelings and all that kind of stuff? That’s when that part gets important.

The next part I want you to think about when you start looking at kind of what’s already going on, right? What kind of community already exists, what other companies are out there already doing what you would like to do is how would you like to offer it differently? So if there are ten people you see online that are already doing something so similar to you, please don’t let that keep you from wanting to start your own business. But what is not the right way to go about it? And unfortunately, what is the way that a lot of people go about it is they see those ten people and if one or two of them are really successful, then they’re like, oh, well, I’ll just create my business to look exactly like their business, because then that means that I’ll be successful.

And what I would love for you to do instead is to look at, sure, who else is in your space and to look at the surrounding spaces, not just the people who are doing exactly what you’re doing and think about what your unique value proposition would be. How do you do things differently? How will your business be different than theirs? How will you offer your products and services in a different way? And what kind of customers maybe even are different?

So you might like for example, there are other people in my industry, but I could see that they worked with certain types of people, certain niches, maybe certain groups of people, and I was like, okay, I kind of want to speak to these different people, people over here who I feel like don’t have as much attention or I see that somebody is doing it this way, but I’m just a really different person. It’s not good, bad. It’s no judgment or anything like that. It’s just I have a really different voice and tone and style and I’m from a different place and I come at it from a different angle with different experience.

So how am I going to take that unique experience, my unique voice, if I can even find my unique voice, which was hard in the beginning? And how can I bring that into the business so that I stand out in a different way, not just creating the same business that other people have. Because it’s these differences, right, it’s these unique value propositions that you have that are going to be the things that you’ve got to lean into in your marketing that we’ll talk about later that are going to make you stand out amongst the crowd.

So whenever anybody says to me, oh, I’m so worried that there are so many other people in our industry, they’re already doing so many the same things. I feel like I’m late to the game. I always say, like, there’s no room for you to come in and do what everybody else is doing. There is room, though, for you to come in and do what is true to you, right? And that requires you to really put it out there and be different and have a spin.

But have you ever watched an episode of Shark Tank? If you have, then you know that the beginning of every single pitch, they’ll always explain to you how they use some other product or they did some other thing or they ran into some problem and they just couldn’t find something that solved their unique problem. Or they’d be like, all the soap companies are, I’m just making up a really random example, but they’re like all the soap companies always had this really traditionally masculine marketing. And that didn’t really speak to me. So I decided what about creating a soap company that spoke more to this part of me. So they always come up with this difference. It’s like they see something and it’s either not working or it doesn’t speak to them, and then they twist it. And that is what makes brilliant inventions. And I want you to think about how essentially you can invent a business or a product that does that very same thing.

So as you go further along, I think it’s really helpful to do ideal customer interviews. And this is really helpful to do without pitching a product or a service. You’re literally just a sponge. You are soaking it all in. You’re asking them questions. And really all of the questions should have to do with, first of all, they should be people who are experiencing the problem that you want to help solve. Right. And what you should be doing in that interview, whether you do it in person or online, is really getting to know their problem better. Right. How they’re experiencing it, what’s really bothering them, what’s triggering them, what’s keeping them up at night? What are they frustrated about? Where do they wish things were instead?

So I had somebody teach this to me years and years ago. I don’t even remember who said this, but they were like, it’s like your client is on pain island and they want to go to pleasure island. And you’re kind of like the ferry that takes them from pain island to pleasure island across. And so you’re trying to figure outwhat like what’s going on on pain island. Like what’s the deal? How does it feel to be there? What kind of problems are they experiencing? Why can’t they get themselves to pleasure island, right? What do they wish was different and why can’t they get there themselves? What’s getting in the way?

Just like I was sharing with you earlier, when people were explaining to me that they had legal questions and concerns and they tried going to the attorney, but it was intimidating, expensive, blah, blah, blah. That kept them on pain island, right, on Confusion Island, whatever we want to call it. In your case, it might be like lack of moving forward island, anything you want to call it. So that is then the key to being like, oh, okay, so they want to get over here, right, but I needed to get clear on what those problems were, right? What was keeping them? And then really what pleasure or what things they wanted to be different. What did they want to be better? Not just like for the problem to be solved. That’s too simplistic.

But in my case, for example, when people were sharing with me that they were frustrated that the attorney wasn’t taking them seriously and it was too expensive and all of that. It wasn’t just that they wanted to find an attorney. That wasn’t the solution, because then the solution is just like any other like there are 9 million attorneys on every street corner you can go hire. That’s not the problem.

I wanted to know what they wanted. Like what experience did they want to have? They wanted to feel more confident. They wanted to feel reassured. They wanted to feel at ease. I heard the words and the terms like a sigh of relief or so much better or less anxiety, less frustration, less fear. Right. I heard a lot about how if they were able to get from point A to point B from that pain island to that pleasure island, it would mean — like these are the questions that you can ask them. What would it mean to you to resolve this problem? Right. And people would say to me, it would mean that I could finally stop worrying about this.

So if that’s where they end, you want to then follow up by saying so that you could do what? Right.? And I would say, so we solved your anxiety or your anxiety over this legal issue, what would that allow you to do so that what? And they would be like, oh, so that I could finally promote my products. Well, what would that do? Well, if I could promote my products, then I could finally sell my products. Well, what would that do? Well, that would help me to actually grow my business and to support my family. Well, what would that do?

And we just kept going down, down, down the line. And that was so helpful in really getting to know what exactly it was that they were hoping to get out of this service or product that they were looking for that at that time I hadn’t even created. So those are the kinds of things that you want to be getting out of your ideal customer interviews.

So when you’re also getting to know your client and you’re getting really, really intimately familiar with what her problems or experiences are right now that are bugging her and that she wants to be different. Not that you just want to be different for her, but that they actually want to be different. And then you’re also getting super clear on what their hopes, dreams and desires are.

It’s also really, really important to get in touch with these. I know I touched on it briefly, but I just want to reiterate that it’s really important to get in touch with them what these objections are. Like why haven’t they taken this action themselves? What things have they tried that haven’t worked out? Why didn’t it work out, right? Was it expensive? Did they try another group program and it was all in person or I don’t know, because then those are the things that you can use to make different about your products and services.

I always like to explain this as if you could imagine that instead of just focusing on all of these little things like where she shops and what she eats and how she dresses and all of that kind of stuff, if you would instead think about what her day to day is like. And if you had little, I always like to think this sounds creepier than it is, but if you had a camera that was set up and it followed this person around, they didn’t know it, what would these little snippets of her day be where she runs into the problem that you’re trying to solve? That’s the way that I like to think of it.

So I always picture to myself, someone sitting at their computer, Googling till the cows come home and they’re like frustrated and they can’t figure this legal stuff out. And they slam their laptop shut and then they go off and they watch Netflix instead. And then they sit there being like, how am I ever going to run this business or grow this business if I don’t have the legal pieces in place? Right.

Or I picture the person who tosses and turns at night and wakes up at 3 a.m. thinking, man, I hope that that fake contract that I sent that client isn’t going to come back and bite me if this client doesn’t pay me or if she gets upset about something that I do. I really hope that I’m protected. Right.? Or the person who’s nervous to post yet again about her business online because she’s worried that if she does, then somebody’s going to call her a fraud because they see that their business isn’t set up properly.

So those are the moments, like the little blurbs of my ideal customer’s life, her day to day that I think of in my mind when I’m creating content, products and services. So I want you to think of that of like, what would those moments look like? What would they be for them and what in fact do they need at that moment? What’s kind of like the hand on the shoulder that you’re going to offer to them in that moment?

Now, another way to find paying customers is to make sure that you’re kind of leaning into what your expert status really is. So please keep in mind, too, that when I say this, I don’t mean that you need to know every single thing about every single thing that’s out there in the world. You need to be an expert, though, at something. There’s a little bit, I feel like a little torn on this issue because there’s a lot of, I see a lot of content online that’s kind of like, you don’t need to be an expert, just do it.

And yes, that’s true. But you do need to know something because sometimes I see people kind of frighteningly like on the front end of this where they don’t really know much, I’m afraid you see this a lot in the business, I think in the business coaching world where people maybe they’ve created a semi-successful small business of their own or something on social media, and then they think that that makes them a business coach, that doesn’t mean that you know anything about business. I tend to see that that’s particularly alarming because those tend to be the people who are like, you don’t need legal stuff, or you don’t need to pay taxes. Like just do this or just do that. It’s a little frightening.

So just experiencing something doesn’t make you an expert in it. I do think that there has to be a careful balance here. I do believe in getting educated or certified or upping your knowledge about something and you don’t want to stay in that too long. Right. Because I do see the opposite of effect of that happening where I know people who are certainly experts in what they do and they’re constantly taking another certification or another course or another degree in something because they think that they need to be more and more and more certified before they can start working with people.

So that is not at all what I mean. But instead, what I would encourage you to do is to think about what is the thing that if I told you today that you were going to be five years from now talking about this very same topic and you’re going to be talking about it until the cows came home and it’s going to be what you become known for. Do you feel confident today that you could continue to do that? I think that’s a cool way to look at it because five years later, I am literally talking about the exact same topics, like the same core, I don’t know, five or six topics every single day.

And of course, yes, I’m an attorney, so I feel confident talking about legal stuff. But attorneys don’t know everything about legal. People ask me questions all the time. I’m like, that’s a great question, I’ll look into that. Right. It’s okay to not know stuff. That is not the goal. The goal is not to be a narcissist. Like I know everything. You don’t question me, you know, whatever. That’s not the goal.

The goal is for you to be an expert about your area, right, which I feel pretty confident about knowing a lot about legal for online business. I’m also confident that I don’t know everything. I’m just confident that I could figure it out and that I am smart enough to tell you when I don’t know because that’s what gets you into legal trouble. Right.? So you’re not expected to be an expert about everything. You need to be an expert about some area, and you need to be expert enough to know when you don’t know.

In fact, that’s a lot of people’s problem online, to be honest, is that they don’t know what they don’t know. And they go around talking about things like they know everything. When in fact, I think what makes a really good expert is somebody who’s able to say to you, that’s a great question, let me get back to you.

That was like one of the best things I learned as an attorney was they were like, when you were on the phone with a client or they email you or something like that and they ask you a question you don’t know, do not try to answer it. Just say, I don’t know. Let me get back to you. Or that’s a great question, let me get back to you. So we are really trying to lean into this expert status, but just take my feedback as to like, don’t let it go too far, but also don’t be too novice at something and then try to talk about it anyway.

Okay. Last but definitely not least, is that we want to create content that then is geared towards that very client and that’s actually helpful to them. So not content that’s necessarily about ourselves. I had this great conversation years and years ago with a client who ended up joining the Ultimate Bundle who said, would you mind giving me feedback on my latest Instagram post? And at the time, that was something I would do. So I would be like, sure, I’ll do that. I’ll never forget it.

She had a picture of Kerrygold, the butter, which if you haven’t tried, it is unbelievable. I eat it every day. And she was like, I had a picture of this Kerrygold because Kerrygold was on sale at Costco and I wanted to let people know about it. So I’m like, okay, well, that very noble mission, okay, everybody wants to know when Kerrygold is on sale at Costco. It’s very important to know. I love Costco and I love Kerrygold, hashtag not sponsored, but I wish it was.

But we talked about it and I said, okay, here’s how I would rework this post. Right? And I think that I hope that this will be helpful to you. So instead of just posting, it was literally a picture of Kerrygold in the refrigerator at Costco and then just being like, it’s on sale, why don’t we tell people what it is exactly? Like what is the deal? Why is Kerrygold better, right. And I had heard some explanations why, but she was the expert.

So I’m like, what? Why is Kerrygold better than just using regular butter? And she spouted off all these incredible facts and reasons and she had all these explanations about what it does in the body and when it’s paired with carbs. And I don’t know all the stuff, right. And so I was like, wow, that’s fascinating. So here’s what I would have done. I would have said, like, did you know why Kerrygold is better than regular butter? Or like, do you love butter too? Me too. Here’s why Kerrygold, here are like five reasons why Kerrygold does X, Y, and Z.

And then it would be an educational post where you would have like, here are the five reasons. And then at the end of that very post you would say, and that’s what I work with. I think she works with women at the time, so she’s like that’s why I work with women to help them learn how to master, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah. And that’s what we do in my 12-week online program called X, Y, Z, which you can learn more about or apply to join at this link. Right. That’s exactly how a post should go, essentially.

So yes, it’s a snippet of your day. Yes, it’s interesting, but you’re turning essentially every opportunity into a learning opportunity for other people, and it has to be with them in mind. So you have to think that would be the customer. Your ideal customer would be the kind of person who likes to know the data or the science behind something, the why behind what you’re telling them to do. Right.

I can think of so many people in the Ultimate Bundle who have these niches of people who don’t want to know any of that stuff. Right. And that kind of post would totally fall flat and not help be helpful and definitely not convert. And then I have all of these other customers that I can think of that have their own ideal customers that are like the people who need to know the exact like why and they love the nerdier side behind what their exercises are or what they’re eating or how they’re moving their body or whatever it is. And it’s totally like it’s not good or bad. It’s just about whatever your clientele likes. Right? And that’s why it’s so important to figure that out in the beginning.

If you found this episode helpful, it would be so amazing if you could follow and subscribe to the show wherever you listen to podcasts. If you could rate it and leave a review, if you listen on Apple Podcasts. And of course, send me a DM at Sam Vander Wielen on Instagram to let me know what you thought of the episode. Thank you so much for listening. I’ll see you next week.

Thanks so much for listening to the On Your Terms podcast. Make sure to follow on Apple Podcasts, Spotify or wherever you like to listen to podcasts. You can also check out all of our podcast episodes, show notes, links and more at samvanderwielen.com/podcast. You can learn more about legally protecting your business and take my free legal workshop, Five Steps to Legally Protect and Grow Your Online Business at samvanderwielen.com. And to stay connected and follow along, follow me on Instagram at Sam Vander Wielen and send me a DM to say hi.


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