When People Buy You

Our family has started a new evening tradition this week. We have been watching multiple episodes of Shark Tank on Hulu, gathered around our large screen computer with blankets and snacks, ready to hit pause at any moment to talk about what we see and hear.  It has been one of the most educational activities we have done this year!

One trend we notice is that most of the time (but not always), the “sharks” jump on board to make an offer when they are attracted to the owner, even though the product might just be “a slit in a towel.” They see something in them – passion, conviction, authenticity, vision. I think it’s that “something special,” that “spark of life” that makes us either sit back with a smile to watch with amazement or move forward to the edge of our seats and say, “sign me up” or “tell me more.”

As I keep meeting more and more women pursuing great things, I notice that they all have that “something special.” Their products, their services are really just an extension of who they are. Their customers come, sign up, or buy so that they can be connected to them in some way. My-Cherie, a recent customer, and owner of Shimmer & Bliss Hand-Dyed Scarves is one of those women that just immediately energizes a room with her life and joy. She said recently, “When people like you, they just want to buy something from you. Anything. Just because they like you.”

And not only that, but they want to know you. They like reading your story – past, present, and future. They’ve bought in, they support you, and they just want to stay connected. Make it easy for them. Update your blogsite regularly with stories that give readers a peek into your world – personal and professional. The stories will bring to life more of your product or service and the persona behind the vision.

Share your mission often, in a real way, why you do what you do.

Share those “blooper” moments that can be laughed about in hind-sight.

Share the day-to-day details that may be mundane to you but that help a reader feel like they are right there working alongside you.

Share your victories so that others can celebrate with you.

And share your heart, the people, experiences, and words that inspire you, as they will likely inspire your readers as well.

What is it about YOU that makes your product or service so compelling?

 

Amy Kirk and Novellas Farm

I remember seeing Amy Kirk’s name and farm classes come across in email announcements.  I watched her evolve over months from an idea for a farm class to a full-fledged business, website and all in Novellas Farm and Schoolhouse.  Without ever meeting her, I was so proud of her from afar.

I had the opportunity of even attending two of her Farm Mornings with my children. We had been studying bees and learning about milking cows in our readings for school, and I wanted to supplement it with a hands-on experience. Participating in the whole process from start to finish grew a greater appreciation for something like ice cream or honey. We all had a blast and learned so much.

Amy was wonderful with all the children – interesting, insightful, and patient.  I knew she had something special growing.

So, when she contacted me asking for help with her website and blog, I felt privileged – and very excited about the prospect of sharing this opportunity with more children around the area.

Amy needed a place to grow.  Her basic website platform didn’t allow for new and regular content that allowed her to connect with her customers, as well as to attract new leads. She signed up for the Branding Package, and we set her up with branded email, calendar, social media, blog and website systems. As much of the technology was new to her, we spent time online and in person explaining the ins and outs so that she would feel comfortable to work them on her own. I loved watching her push forward through typical frustrations in learning new things. She gained much confidence from it.

She now has a place to share her experiences and insights with readers in a way that will easily build trust with prospective customers. She is growing an asset – valuable content – which can be searched and found. Within just a week of being launched, she had a woman contact her saying that she had decided to search online for a farming school in Austin for her children to visit and was thrilled to have come across Novellas Farm!

Working Together

Amy shares about her experience working with us:

At first, I was hesitant because I felt like I could do this myself, but this was obviously not true. I wanted a blog and website that were connected, but had no idea how to create it.  I probably would not have done it if I had not met you.

I saved so much time by hiring you. You helped me “get in the real world of today” and actually took the time to teach me.  I have so many ideas and now in my mind I can visualize how it can happen. You have given me so much more confidence, I can actually see what this business can be. You may not realize how much you have helped me.

You really are helping women like me who have ideas but just lack the skills we need in today’s world. Alright I will say it, as an older woman (ouch) I needed someone to help, but I didn’t even realize it. I really, really feel that this can be as big or small as I would like it to become. You and Don are helping people to realize their dreams.

Thanks, Amy. We look forward to watching your dreams come true.  Keep growing.

 

“I See You”

One of the gifts I feel like I can give people, particularly women, is sight.  As women, we are often our harshest critics, and we take for granted our uniqueness and talent. We assume that everyone can do what we do or learn what we know. We don’t see that our habits, skills, experience or knowledge might actually be extremely valuable to someone else who doesn’t have our same “goods.”

Do You See What I See?

I like telling women what I see in them.  What makes them special.  What they are doing well.  I can put into concrete language what others just experience when around them. It’s really not superficial flattery. I consider it an honest assessment, which is sometimes so obvious that it is invisible to the owner.

One of my friends recently made me smile when she said, “I was just going about my business, and you turned on the light and said, ‘I see you.’” I had the privilege of sparking a dream in her heart that continues to grow. I look forward to seeing where it leads, as her own uniqueness can benefit hundreds of women in wonderful ways.

Joy in the Journey

I also understand that we are all somewhere along a journey. None of us have arrived, but some women didn’t even know there was a journey to be had or that they qualified to even take one. I love being the one that sees something special in a woman – something hidden to many, often behind messes, chaos, and rough edges. But that, in a sense offers them a ticket to take a step along that journey.

Why do I share all this? Because I am finally starting to “see” myself. This really is what working with “Sonya Dalrymple” is about. I gain great joy from helping women start along their “dream” journey, as well as helping women with existing businesses really grow their network, influence, and revenue.

That’s what someone special “saw” in me several years ago. I’m grateful.

What do you think others “see” in you? Are there special women in your own life what could benefit from knowing what you “see” in them?

 

 

Branding – What Are You About?

The concept of “branding” is immense – well-researched, written about, and consulted upon.

But in its simplest form, I believe it is answered and reflected in “What are you all about?” Especially for individual entrepreneurs or small companies, these questions are important to define.

Branding Questions to Ask Yourself

  • What do you like to do?
  • What do you do well?
  • What do you like to talk or write about?
  • What knowledge do you seek after? (aka – What do you read?)
  • Where do you like to go? (from coffee shops to countries)
  • Who do you “follow”?
  • What do you stand for?
  • What problems can you solve/What questions do people ask you?

If you take time to answer these questions for yourself, you will gain insight into what people see in you or what you are sought out for. When you hone in on a general “personality” that incorporates the most important answers to you to the questions above, it becomes easier to communicate your brand to others.

When building a platform and web presence for yourself or your business, if you are intentional about sharing these aspects about yourself, you will authentically attract those who resonate with you or have a need that clearly resonates with what you naturally have to offer.

For those who are seeking to grow an existing brand:

  • Make sure your website and social media avenues highlight your brand in tangible ways – photos, videos, links, endorsed books and products, comments on others’ sites, and especially in your own stories and advice.  It takes work to build a comprehensive picture.  It takes many cycles to hone in on something cohesive.
  • Be intentional about connecting with people – both who you can learn from and those who see the world like you do. I tell our children to be “interested” and “interesting.” Let conversations lead to authentic interests and passions. Take advantage of the platform to share about what you love.

 

 

True Fans

Something about Seth’s recent post just grabbed me.  “Who would come to your opening night?” he asks.  In other words, who are your true fans who show up before they read the critiques, before the paperback version comes out – they show up because they are eager, they support you and your cause.  They know it’s a risk – it might not be perfect, but they trust you and your brand enough to take that chance.

I can understand that completely.  I have a friend who unconsciously has built up a brand in the local community.  Whenever she organizes an event, hosts a gathering, or even just says she will attend a meeting, women follow suit, trusting that they will benefit from it – just because she is there. My son and husband have authors they love.  My son will actually log the release date in his mind, but both of them will purchase a new book immediately – hardback or Kindle version, trusting in the quality of the author, before reading any reviews.

How are you building your own brand and “true fans?”  How do you ensure that everything you produce is consistent — from the way you treat a stranger – live or virtual – to the published work a long-term fan holds in their hands?

Here are a few ideas that have worked for us:

1.  Treat Strangers with Intrigue and Respect – First impressions go a long way.  Treat each stranger as a future friend or customer.  It’s amazing how many doors open or close when someone mentions your name and says, “I just had one conversation or email exchange with them, but they were very professional/easy to connect with or on the flip side busy/arrogant.  Also, treat those long-term customers with as much courtesy as you do a prospect.

2.  Write Content that Connects – Most people are looking for new ideas, inspiration, and applicable solutions to real problems.  When you consistently provide those, your “fan-base” grows because they stay plugged-in, knowing they can trust what you have to share.

3.  Give Something Valuable – When a visitor to your site takes the first step of giving their contact information, give them something in return – a whitepaper, short ebook, etc.   For members of your speaking audiences, make your books or paraphernalia easy to purchase.  Go the extra mile and sign personal copies.  When people attend your events, send them a  slide show presentation or video to re-live the experience. Make sure everything is high-quality and memorable.

And in general, from my own experience, I have found that the better you are personally at being a “true fan” to others, the more you understand how to attract them to yourself.

 

 

First Customer

Everything is theoretical until you have a customer.

You can plan and hope and imagine, but nothing is real until you are forced to deliver a product or experience to a real-live customer.

We encourage you to sign up your first customer as quickly as possible.

The trial and error cycle speeds up because you are forced to build and test your process.  The urgency leads to action.  The gaps become apparent.  It’s a “Ready. Fire. Aim” mentality.

The expectations from a customer force you to answer all of the important “how” questions that formerly were just ideas.

  • How do they pay for your product or service?
  • How do they connect with you or ask questions?
  • How do you lead them through your process?
  • How do they sign up for repeat business?

Your first customer is your first investment in your business.  As you continue to refine your systems and processes, your subsequent customers will reap the rewards of your care and attention to those details.

For writers, subscribe as many people as you can quickly to your blog.  Your audience becomes real.  Publish your first digital book and charge for it.  For instructors, sign up a new student and take note of all the ways you can make the experience exceptional for both the student and parent.  For designers, instead of gifting a creation, take an order, charge for it, and package it in a way that both the product and buying experience are appreciated.

I read a quote once that has stuck with me, “Entrepreneurs are dreamers who do.”  The difference between a dreamer and an entrepreneur essentially lies in signing up and working hard to delight that first customer.

When You Are the Product

Now, more than ever, you have an opportunity to understand the reality that you are the “product.”  Whenever you work — actually, whenever you do anything — you are “selling” and “branding” yourself.  People come to know what you believe, what you know, how you are “useful/beneficial” to their own lives.

When you worked for an employer, they continued to “buy” your time because of the performance they recognized from your product – yourself.  But as moms, many of us have stopped being compensated monetarily for our time and efforts (our product).

You might not ever necessarily go back into the “workforce” again.  (or you might dream of leaving the workforce!)  And you might not ever create an actual tangible product to sell online or in stores.

But today you have the opportunity, if you dare, to create a platform for yourself again.  You can be the product.

Your knowledge and your uniqueness.

Your writing.

Your speeches.

Your words.

It’s you.

For many women, that is quite humbling.  Sometimes intimidating enough to go into hiding.  To want to say, “Pass.”  “No, thank you.”  :)

But for others, it is a magnetic calling.  “Of course.”  “Yes!  I need a way to share all that I’ve learned – both my successes and failures – with others who would benefit.”

When you are the product,  you need a “homebase” to house your words – your articles, digital books, speaking opportunities, your advice.  It should be living and cohesive.  Your brand should be apparent.  Easy for someone to recognize their need for your area of expertise.  This allows you to be memorable.

When you are the “product,” here are some concrete nitty-gritty things to especially consider.

  • Be excellent – let every touch-point communicate excellence – your systems, your presentation
  • Be responsive – when others contact you or comment on your content, engage them quickly, professionally, and genuinely
  • Be helpful – people find advice most valuable when it pertains to their family, their health, or their wealth.  Help them solve problems around those areas, and they will be most grateful.  Make it easy on yourself to share your knowledge, network, and compassion with others.