"Would you ever go back to working in an office?"
My husband asked me during a walk after work.
No hesitation, no second-guessing.
I am taking it after my mum, who once said to me (at the beginning of my solo career):" I cannot see you working for anyone else."
I took it as a compliment, as she mentioned how I have far too many ideas to be contained by anyone - I mean, I guess it was a compliment?
I feel alive when I am creative and cherish it (whether by writing, recording a podcast, or teaching our students over at Alt Marketing School). It's just the way the ol' cookie crumbles.
Yet, creators are now the new entrepreneurs, wearing multiple hats, juggling different balls, and still trying to make a dent in the online space.
This shift in attention has created a new form of celebrity: the experts and creators. That is pretty much where the term creator economy comes from. Rather than 10 TV shows consumed by billions of people, we now have 100s of millions of shows that cater to billions of people, accessible at any time.
In her brilliant Substack newsletter, user Li mentions the idea that: "work is being unbundled from traditional employment."
"The rise of "micro-entrepreneurs," or free agents, creators, freelancers, and independent workers who utilize digital platforms to make a living by leveraging skills and knowledge in the absence of a traditional employer-employee relationship." - Li's Substack newsletter
She mentions a whole new set of platforms, what she refers to as the "business-in-a-box" model, wherein companies provide individuals tools to build an independently-owned business for a given line of work.
With so many opportunities, changing and evolving with the industry is the only way to survive. Take it from someone who left the 9-to-5 nine years ago.
The market is crowded. The space is saturated. Recessions and global lockdowns happen (oh, hello, 2020). Yet, there are a few straightforward ways to stand out in a crowded market.
Find what is unique about you and your audience
You may be lucky and start a new business filling a market gap. Yet, most likely, that fantastic idea of yours is not that new. Or, even worse, is one that was so good that the rest of the flock followed suit.
There is one specific antidote to stand out in a competitive market, and that is specialisation. We are not re-inventing the wheel here.
However, specialisation and "niching down" can mean a lot of things:
- Teach one specific framework to many industries (Amanda Baker and her 5 Stories method)
- Serve one specific market (marketer Ayo Abbas focuses on marketing for engineers and architects)
- Trying to solve one specific problem focusing on clear psychographics (yours truly, helping busy entrepreneurs and creators by offering one solution - reclaim your time)
Whether we like it or not, the more defined we get with outlining the problem we are trying to solve and how we can solve that problem for a particular portion of the online and offline world, the more our messaging, product and offering will resonate with them.
Creating clear offerings that reflect your unique sauce
This process will help you understand the best way to specialise, based on some of the ones outlined above.
Specialising allows you to be memorable because you create boundaries where (how dare you, Fab) you will confidently say no to people who do not fit your target market.
If you are already in business, this is your friendly reminder to write a survey to get people's feedback crystal clear and constantly refine your offering.
- How is this offer helping your audience with one specific problem?
- Can you map out alternative solutions based on their journey (beginner, intermediate, advanced or any other way you can segment your audience)?
- Do you have further options for them once you fulfil their need?
- OR can they repeat the process to further learn from you (or get help)?
You may find that the poll of people is too small, which is not what you want either.
If you are the 5k coach, some of your audience may not be repeat customers for long. However, most entrepreneurs will need to go through the process of up-levelling their business, which means you become a vital part of every entrepreneur's business journey.
You should not appeal to everyone as a potential customer; that is where the magic spot lies.
Most clients and students I encourage to work on specialisation feel apprehensive about it. I get it.
Yet, if you want to build that pool of incredible humans only you can serve, you have to make sure your products and offering speak to a unique set of individuals.
Create a brand that taps into the subconscious
When teaching our positive impact marketing principles workshop for our certification, I talk to great lengths about the importance of that sweet spot of uniqueness.
Think about entrepreneurs like Gary Vee and the great flock of fans he amassed over the years by having their unique brand.
It's less about colours and fonts and more about the unique way they show up:
- Subtle ways they mark their content with visuals
- A specific format for their posts, like my pal Amanda Lutz and her SEO memes
- Their tone of voice or unique words they use (like a tagline)
- Colour association, or even a particular emojis like master storyteller Amanda Baker
You need one very targeted way to influence the subconscious mind of your audience. What would be yours?
- To survive in a crowded market, you must find new ways to let your uniqueness shine
- Get specific about who you serve by either refining your market, solving one specific pain point, or focusing on one framework
- Start mapping how your offer uniquely serves your audience, creating more opportunities for growth
- Look at memorable ways to create a brand that speaks uniquely to your audience