How To Talk About Your Products or Services to Generate More Sales

First of all, never badmouth synergy.

“First of all, never badmouth synergy.” — Jack Donaghy, 30Rock

Ever feel like you get tongue-tied when it’s time to talk about what you sell?

Yeah, it happens to the best of us (seriously).

Here’s a better way to do it.

What do your customers ultimately want?

More money? More confidence? More me time? Less hassle? Less confusion?

If you can simply say…

“We offer ________ (your product or service) which helps _______ (your customer) do _________ (what your customers want in their words).”

….you’ll start many more conservations that end in sales than you do now.

Sound simple? It is. Truly.

Here are some examples: first, my friend Andy Hayes who runs Plum Deluxe (and is this week’s guest on PPP):

“We offer a monthly tea subscription which helps busy professionals create more moments that matter.”

Here’s one for Tanya Geisler, a leadership coach & Impostor Complex expert:

“I offer programs and coaching that helps high-performing women identify and achieve their biggest goals.”

And here’s one more for my buddy Megan Auman, a designer & metalsmith:

“I design jewelry that helps professional women show up to everything from board meetings to sales presentations to PTA meetings with the utmost confidence.”

The reason this works so well is because our products and services are merely tools that customers use to get what they want. You don’t need to explain your life philosophy, you don’t need to list our your company values, you don’t even need to explain your process (until they ask).

Definitely don’t use the word synergy. (Or any other industry jargon your competitors are spewing.)

All anyone cares about at first is how your product or service is going to help them get what they want.

When you open a conversation about your product by tying their ultimate desire (or one of them) to your product, you’ve created a context in which they’re open to hearing more. That’s huge.

Now, if this sounds like a “beginner” lesson, I assure you, it is not.

Look around and you’ll see all sorts of businesses that resort to spending tons of money on advertising and annoying marketing practices just to avoid making a simple statement about what their products or services actually do for people.

Don’t be like them.

I’ve also noticed while working with businesses like yours trying to break through to the next stage that refocusing on a simple statement of what they do can make all the difference in the world for identifying new opportunities.

You could completely change the way you see your business (and how it makes money) just by getting clear on what it is that you actually help people do–just like Andy did when he created the tea subscription service for Plum Deluxe.

Give this simple script a try this week and see how it goes! Let me know when you do.


5 Resolutions to Bring About Your Next Business Breakthrough

Why do some businesses seem to “tip” over and over again while others never quite seem to break through? I spend an inordinate amount of time trying to figure that out. 

Often their businesses look identical on the outside. Many times, the difference boils down to a misunderstanding about what’s going on beneath the surface and how they engineer the success they achieve. 

You can’t possibly hope to recreate a business’s success by recreating what you see at the surface level. You’ve got to dig in and figure out what else is happening.

In this post, I’d like to reveal some of the actions that are causing big business breakthroughs for the entrepreneurs you’re admiring and how you can apply them for yourself as New Business Year’s resolutions—now, or anytime throughout the year. 

If you’re trying to engineer a tipping point or breakthrough in your business right now, you’re not alone. It probably goes without saying, but everyone I work with is in that situation: they’re ready for change. They’re tipping from part-time to full-time, one-to-one sales to leveraged sales, paying the bills to creating wealth, going at it alone to growing a team, moving from one business model to another to generate exponentially more revenue.

They each tell me, “I know what got me here won’t get me where I want to go.” And, I wholeheartedly agree.

What tipping point are you at? What breakthrough do you want to engineer for your business in the next year? Maybe you’re ready to break through to a new revenue threshold. You’re ready to hire a new team member. You’re ready to expand operations or roll out new offers. You’ve got growth on your mind and you’re busy putting the pieces into place to make that happen.

Here’s what is going on behind-the-scenes of the businesses that are constantly making it happen. What can you incorporate into your next plan?  

  5 Resolutions to Bring About Your Next Business Breakthrough

1.) Put boots on the ground and find new customers.

It might seem like your next revenue breakthrough is just a traffic-building tactic away. You’re probably regularly on the look out for new ways to get more eyeballs on your blog posts, Facebook page, or sales letters. Maybe you’re looking at running Facebook ads, or the finer points of JV webinars, or constantly building new welcome gifts to entice people to your email list.

But the most effective community builders and salespeople know that nothing beats putting boots on the ground to find new customers. Literally. They’re at conferences, hosting events, picking up the phone, and meeting with prospects.

It might be slow going but the results are staggering. These people land bigger gigs, sign better contracts, and create strong relationships with influencers that put them in front of hundreds or thousands of more customers in the end.

2.) Set prices based on goals and hard data.

Sales solves most business problems. Except, when it doesn’t. Sales can’t get you to your next business breakthrough if the prices of your products or services just make things worse every time you sell something.

Breakthrough business owners use hard data to set their prices. And, they set prices based on what they want, instead of what they have.

How do they do it? They figure out how much it costs to run the business they want (not the one they have) and they figure out how much it costs to live the life they want (not the one they have).

Then they break it down. How much can they reasonably sell? What does that knowledge lead to in terms of price points? Where do those price points lead you in terms of positioning? To have a big breakthrough, you need to think of price as a way to reach all of your goals—not just revenue.

Price tells a story that can position your brand, woo the right customers, and lead to big life changes.

3.) Decide to spend more.

I’m all for finding the leanest, meanest way to make your business run. But I’m so tired of hearing business owners always looking for a free solution to their problems.

You see, free solutions have a cost. Every time someone dials your conference line and hears, “Service provided by Free Conference Call,” they make a judgement about your business. Every time you can’t use an important feature of an app because you’re not paying for it, it costs you effectiveness and functionality. 

You’ll never hit a breakthrough that makes you feel comfortable spending more. It’s a decision you make that you are worth it, your customers are worth it, and your business is worth it. This kind of worth doesn’t come from revenue—it comes from intense focus on what the vision of what you’re creating.

4) Don’t try so hard.

Business breakthroughs rarely come from working harder. In fact, working harder can make your breakthrough far more difficult to achieve. Why? Because innovation doesn’t come from working harder, it comes from creative constraints.

Whenever you feel yourself pushing to make something happen, take a step back and reevaluate. What’s really going on?

  • Is there a skill you’ve avoided learning?
  • Do you need help from someone more experienced?
  • Is your current business model holding you back from earning more?
  • Is there a fatal flaw in your plan?
  • Are you avoiding the temporary discomfort of growth by relying on what you know (working harder)?

If working harder is your usual MO, put new constraints in place by answering these questions. Give yourself a limited number of clients to reach your revenue goal (price accordingly). Learn a new skill (stop spinning your wheels). Connect with a mentor (stop trying to figure it out yourself).

5) Take advantage of a solid support network.

Stop trying to grow your business in isolation. Stop waiting for others to catch up. Stop cultivating relationships that feel safe. There is no more pressing time to break out of your comfort zone than when it comes to building your support network.

You need to connect with people who intimidate you, use different methods, and work in different industries. You need people in your corner who are making things happen at the same—or faster—pace as you are. Sometimes, you need to pay money to establish these relationships quickly. That’s okay.

Other times, you need to make serious investments of time. That’s okay, too. Relationship-building has a cost. But the return on investment is incredible.

Stop waiting for people to come to you and start building a network that catapults your business forward. No matter how you choose to set resolutions (or not) for the new year, integrate these ideas and watch them transform your business.

Now, I’d like to hear from you. What’s your big business goal for the next 12 months? Click here and tell me—and please be specific!

13 Steps for Creating a Product That Resonates

There are few things more frustrating than pouring your heart into an idea only to see it fail to sell. Because this is a problem that so many of my clients have faced in the past, I’ve spent a lot of time and effort figuring out a step-by-step system for them to use to create products that naturally resonate (and sell) with their audiences.

What follows is that process, as clearly as I can articulate it. While it is 13 steps long, it doesn’t have to take a long time (click here to find out the 5 tools we use to build hands-on training & coaching programs fast). Rapid product creation, testing, and sales is an important part of growth. Long development cycles are product killers, not indicators of success or effectiveness. In fact, you may be able to complete this 13 step process in a couple of days. I find that a couple of weeks or months is a great time frame. Any more than 8-10 weeks and you’re likely investing too heavily in untested assumptions.

In fact, you may be able to complete this 13 step process in a couple of days. I find that a couple of weeks or months is a great time frame. Any more than 8-10 weeks and you’re likely investing too heavily in untested assumptions. Tighten it up, take a deep breath, and leap.

step-by-step guide to creating a product that resonates

The Observation EngineFirst, let’s start by defining resonance. In my book, The Observation Engine, I say that resonance is “when something just feels right. When an idea echoes what you’re already feeling, a circumstance you find yourself in, or something you see coming on your personal horizon, that idea resonates with you. You’re tied to it. You give it weight and meaning.”

Products that resonate with us touch something deep inside. Which is not to say that your products have to be “deep” to resonate. Impulse buys resonate with us not because they fulfill a deep need but because they mirror a very surface desire or concern. SaaS (software as a service) products—think AirBnB or Laura Roeder’s Edgar—often resonate the same way: software that instantly alleviates a felt frustration or desire.

Of course, other products that resonate—like Randi Buckley’s Healthy Boundaries for Kind People or Shawn Fink’s Abundant Mama Project—do resonate with something deeper inside of us. Randi’s program mirrors our unexpressed desires for balance, boundaries, and space when our very natures push us to be kind at all costs. Shawn’s program connects with our desire to connect to a vision of motherhood that is intentional, mindful, and full of both giving and receiving.

Why does resonance matter? Products that resonate sell easily.

Here’s another example: Super Mario Maker is a new offering from Nintendo that leverages nostalgia for Mario and combines it with the contemporary creative culture of Minecraft. Either of these features could resonate on its own but by combining them, Nintendo has a recipe for a blockbuster. (Bonus points: This article about creating great levels for Super Mario Maker is a great corollary to creating products that resonate.)

Ultimately, using resonance as your metric of success means that your product is designed for your customers, not for you. While that might seem like an obvious imperative, designers designing for themselves is a problem in every industry, at every level (micro, small, startup, and enterprise business).

If you ensure that everything you do is designed to resonate with your customer, you can be reasonably certain you’ll have a product that will sell easily, generate word of mouth marketing, and nurture happy customers—even if you start with a mere prototype. Ready to create a product that resonates? Here we go.

Step 1: Join a conversation.

The good news is that you’ve already done this step. Markets are conversations, as the book The Cluetrain Manifesto explains. What that means is that people who have similar problems, desires, and questions tend to talk to each other. They’ll also talk with you if you’re willing to listen.

Sometimes, joining a conversation is a formal step: becoming a member at a gym, joining a forum, getting a degree. Other times, joining a conversation just means talking about what you’re into with other people who are into it too on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, or in your local community. 

Don’t overthink this step. Joining conversations is something we do naturally as human beings. If you’re passionate about what you are creating, you’re already a part of the conversation—you just need to draw some attention to it and amplify your efforts. 

If you’re really stuck, look for the #hashtag effect. Hashtags are visual and hyperlinked markers of conversations. Some, like Hannah Marcotti’s #ilovethislifenow, are proprietary (but you can still join in to find like-minded folks). Others, are generic, like #marketing or #smallbusiness. Both kinds are doors into conversations that then can lead to more productive engagements.

Step 2: Identify core questions, frustrations, and desires.

Once you draw attention to the fact that you’re already in a conversation with people for whom you could create something, you need to start cataloging their core questions, frustrations, and desires. You might mentally catalog them, or you might pop them into something like Evernote or a mind mapping tool so that you can start to spot patterns. 

In my own business, I’ve been keeping track of core questions, frustrations, and desires for years. The questions are things like “How do I get the word out about my product?” or “How do I break through this earning plateau?” The frustrations are things like “People get excited about my product but they don’t buy it” or “No matter how many marketing formulas I follow, I can’t get something to stick.” And the desires are things like “I’d love to have a team of people to bounce ideas off of” or “I really want to take a little time off from my business every so often.”

I don’t worry that those questions might not be the “right” questions or that those frustrations might be superficial symptoms of much larger problems. What really matters is that those questions, frustrations, and desires are what is relevant to the people in my conversation right now. It’s what they’re paying the most attention to.

I might have a better question to ask or a deeper problem for them to address, but it doesn’t matter if they don’t identify with it. That lesson took me a long time to learn. You have to start with what’s relevant, here and now.

Step 3: Engage those questions, frustrations, or desires.

Once you know what the questions, frustrations, and desires inherent to your conversation are, you can engage them. To engage them, you have to get curious. You want to dig deeper, pose your own questions, and find out more about what’s important to your people.

Social media is an amazing tool for this. Using the core questions, frustrations, and desires of the conversation as your starting point, you can craft content that encourages others to talk back to you, validate your understanding, and enhance your awareness.

Ramit Sethi is a master of this. In this super simple recent Facebook post, he poses a straightforward question about what people really want to buy:

Ramit Sethi engages his audience

Knowing what people want to buy gives him details he can use to better create and position the products he is developing. He can use his community’s words as sample goals and he can direct the development of his products to gear them toward those kinds of goals.

Step 4: Respond with something different.

Product designers often forget that their prospective users have already tried a lot of different ways to answer their questions, alleviate their frustrations, and achieve their desires. If it’s out there, they’ve given it a whirl. That means you, as a designer, need to understand what all those options might be so that you can respond with something different.

Take Ramit’s example above. One thing Ramit says over and over again is that he’ll never suggest you give up your daily latte habit to save money. Instead, he’d like you to live the life you want and learn how to make enough money to support it (for the record, I completely agree).

He might not be the only person suggesting this course of action, but it’s certainly very different from most financial advice people have heard throughout the years. By taking a relevant idea (“I want to save money”), examining what the past options have been (“I really should give up that daily [whatever]”), and proposing something different (“What if you learned how to make an extra $1k a month?”), Ramit is able to command people’s attention without shouting, being sleazy, or contributing to the noise. He’s earned trust and attention before he’s even started building a product.

Step 5: Understand and articulate the Before & After.

Steps 5-8 are about nailing your sales message before you build the product. This is one of the biggest changes I ask all of my clients to make and it comes from many failed products in my own experience. Being able to understand and articulate the Before & After is the easiest way to describe value.

Value is transformation. If you describe someone’s situation now (Before) and their goals (After), you’ve described the transformation they’re after. You’ve framed the value of what you have to offer in a way that immediately resonates with them. Here’s the Before that Randi Buckley describes on the sales page for Healthy Boundaries for Kind People:

“…the folks whose hearts are so very big, who give unlimited second chances, who carry the bad behavior or others on their shoulders, all while wanting to do the right thing. The folks who might even think they don’t deserve boundaries, or that boundaries might even be selfish. Or they don’t know what to do or what to say to make things different.”

And here’s how she describes the After:

“It’s a journey to feeling like you have, tend, and maintain healthy boundaries with ease and without all of the hang ups, guilt, not-knowing-what-to-do, fear of repercussions, feeling like a jerk.”

The transformation she describes is an easy way for prospective users to understand the value they’re considering purchasing. That simple description can be the difference between people “getting it” and not getting it—and it’s so often exactly what’s left out of sales copy. Before you do anything else in the process of developing a product, make sure you can clearly define the Before & After for your customer.

Step 6: Offer your Key Insight.

Everything to this point has focused on the people you’re talking to, what they’re experiencing, and how you’re understanding it. Now, we begin to flip the script.

I like to think of the space between the Before & After as being a doorway. Your customers have been trying to get through but they continue to find the door closed and locked. You, as an expert, someone with experience, or a curious soul who is in the problem-solving business, have the key.

You have a piece of knowledge, know-how, or understanding that acts to unlock the door. Your Key Insight isn’t the product—it’s the Why It Works. Your product works for a reason, which is also likely its differentiating factor, and that reason provides much needed hope and understanding to your prospective user. 

Let’s look at Randi’s example again. Randi’s Key Insight for Healthy Boundaries for Kind People is “Kindness can be a tool to take a stand for yourself.” Dr. Michelle Mazur uses the Key Insight ‘Your speech is an asset you can sell over & over again,’ to demonstrate how she helps her clients get better results and why her Speak for Impact package is different than other services they’ve looked at.

Put yourself in the shoes of their prospective users (that’s probably not too hard for you!). That statement could be the source of extreme relief and a giant a ha! moment. If you can provide that kind of feeling and exhilaration before you even ask for a sale let alone deliver a product, how much more open to buying will your prospective user be?

Step 7: Test your Before & After and Key Insight.

Now the first 6 steps set you up to be reasonably certain that your Before & After and Key Insight will resonate with your audience. But you can’t be completely certain until you test it.

Testing it is as simple as mirroring the message through social media, your blog, or email marketing. It could also be embedded into a workshop, webinar, or community event. You need to get comfortable communicating it in many different forms and seeing what the response to that communication is. The more people respond positively (“Wow, you read my mind!” or “That completely changed the way I look at that.”) the more you know you’re on the right track.

Step 8: Form your Hypothesis.

Your Hypothesis brings it all together. You connect your Key Insight to the results and goals (After) that your prospective users are after so that they start to see the product you’re eventually going to sell them as the answer they’ve been looking for. Here’s Randi’s Hypothesis:

“Kindness can be a tool to take a stand for yourself. What we tolerate, we perpetuate, and with your new tools, beliefs, and rewiring, you will use boundaries to AMPLIFY your kindness into the world. I’m totally serious.”

And here’s the beautiful Hypothesis Danielle LaPorte uses to talk about The Desire Map:The Desire Map

“What if, first, we got clear on how we actually wanted to feel in our life, and then we laid out our intentions? What if your most desired feelings consciously informed how you plan your day, your year, your career, your holidays — your life? You know what will happen with that kind of inner clarity and outer action? You’ll feel the way you want to feel more often than not. Decisions will be easier to make: You’ll know what to say no, thank you to and what to say hell yes! to. I bet you’ll complain less. You’ll be more optimistic, more open-hearted. It will be easier for you to return to your center in the midst of a challenge — I promise.”

Here’s the Hypothesis I use on the Quiet Power Strategy™ sales page:

“Running your business your way doesn’t mean making it up as you go. You can create a strategic plan that allows you to maximize your effectiveness and lead yourself to the wealth, peace, and ease you crave.”

The Hypothesis is your opportunity to join what you know to what your prospective users want. Your Hypothesis is the ultimate way to ensure that your audience is connecting the dots between their experience and what you have to offer.

Step 9: Build your product using the Before & After, Key Insight, and Hypothesis as guidelines. (i.e. Build to sell.)

Build your products to sell—not to impress yourself. 

To do that, you need to build them with the sales message in mind. You build in the features that support the benefits and end results you’ve outlined in the sales message—that and nothing else. When you do things in this order, building the product becomes so much easier. 

You see what you can edit out because you have a clear framework for what’s important. You see where you can cut corners and where you can’t because you have guidelines for what matters. For every choice that presents itself as part of the product development process, come back to your Before & After, Key Insight, and Hypothesis as your strategic guide. If you’ve already built a product but without the sales message in mind first, you’ve no doubt experienced the pain of sitting in front of a blank page unable to come up with a compelling way to sell what you’ve just poured blood, sweat, and tears into.

If you’ve already built a product but without the sales message in mind first, you’ve no doubt experienced the pain of sitting in front of a blank page unable to come up with a compelling way to sell what you’ve just poured blood, sweat, and tears into.

Step 10: Make your offer.

This is your big moment. Make your offer to the people you’ve been paying attention to, observing, and engaging throughout the process. They’ll feel like you’ve made it just for them (because you have) and they’ll feel like they contributed to its creation (because they have).

This should be the easiest sale you’ve ever made. If you want to make sure your audience is going to be ready to receive your offer, create a guided conversation beforehand. Start with what they already know, challenge any underlying misconceptions or assumptions, expand their vision of what’s possible, analyze where they’re at right now (the core questions, frustrations, and desires they have), and then provide a clear result related to the product you’ve just created. 

You can do that via email marketing, a 1:1 sales conversation, a series of videos… the possibilities are endless. It’s all about connecting what’s relevant and important to your prospective users right now with the insight you have and the product you have to offer them.

Step 11: Deliver the value.

This should be the easiest step. Give the people what they bought. Except… building a product that resonates doesn’t end here.

Step 12: Gather feedback both direct and indirect.

Once you’ve delivered the product the first time (and every time after that), you need to gather feedback. Sometimes that feedback is direct; your customers tell you how they feel about it. 

But often, the best feedback is indirect. That comes from seeing where your customers get stuck, looking for unexpected ways they use your product, and answering questions that arise during the normal course of business. Every time you release a product there’s a wealth of information at your fingertips. A few weeks ago, Danielle LaPorte posted this about her Desire Map Planner on her Facebook page:

“I say this every year: I LOVE my day planner. I’m so proud of this planner system. And every year, I totally overhaul the design and make it even better. And then I say, No, THIS year, it’s the best edition yet. Well… THIS YEAR IS THE BEST PLANNER COLLECTION EVER. It’s radically newer, smarter, wiser, funner, and sexier. It’s taken Team D and me 3 years and a bunch of surveys and feedback to really truly hit it out of the park with this edition. I feel like I’ve finally landed on the organization and design that will work for a vast amount of people and stand the test of time.”

Feedback gives you the information you need to make your product even better.

Feedback is the fuel for a collaborative, co-creative experience with your customers. You don’t have to use all the feedback. You don’t have to listen to everyone. But you do need to create a system through which you can gather feedback and keep the stuff you want to work with.

Step 13: Iterate, reposition, or differentiate.

Great products aren’t born in a breakthrough; they evolve over time. Even something as industry-changing as the iPhone started small. Marie Forleo’s B-School wasn’t a juggernaut in its first iteration. WordPress has been through dozens of versions.

If you set out to make a perfect product, you will fail. Set out to make a product that resonates and then make your goal to increase the resonance each time you offer it for sale. Add features that improve the resonance; create messages that improve the resonance; pivot the purpose to improve the resonance. 

To iterate—create a new version—you start way back at Step 2 and you work your way through the cycle again. At this stage, you may also need to reposition your product. If people love it but it does something different for them than you were originally anticipating (this happens all the time even though it sounds weird), reposition the product to reflect the way people really use it and the results they really achieve. If you thought the product would resonate with one audience and it really resonates with another audience, reposition it to better reflect that new audience.

Finally, differentiate. As my mentor Sally Hogshead says, “Different is better than better.” Once you have a better handle on how the product resonates and how people use it, you can amplify the features that separate it from the rest of the competition so that it really stands out. While differentiation should be a goal from the beginning, it’s in future iterations that differentiation can more thoroughly be achieved.


That’s it (ha!): 13 steps to creating a product that resonates. You can apply these steps to anything: an information product, a piece of jewelry, a coaching program, a podcast, etc… Once you know what you want to create and how its going to resonate, I assure you there are any number of free tutorials out there on creating and selling the exact thing you want to create.

The beauty of having a strategic framework like this is that you have so much less to sift through when you’re ready to build. You’ll get your product to market faster, you’ll sell more, and create a bigger impact by virtue of the focus you had on the strategic objectives you uncovered step-by-step through this guide. Get out there and create something that resonates.

The Real Way to Create a Sense of Urgency in Your Sales Conversations

Creating urgency for your product or service isn’t about telling people there’s a limited time to buy. It’s not about how many seats are left in your workshop. It’s not about an early bird discount or an arbitrary deadline.

Urgency is about need.

If you want people to feel a sense of urgency for buying your product or service, you need to know why they need it now.

You've been thinking about urgency all wrong

People don’t need things now because they’d might like to learn more about what you teach. They don’t need things now because they’re pretty or you’re so excited about them. They don’t need things because they’d like to speak their truth and connect with their inner spark.

People need what you’ve created now because they’re ending a 10-year relationship and want to be intentional about what they’re creating next. They need it now because they’re sick and tired of opening their closets and not having a clue what to put on their bodies. They need it now because they wake up every morning still feeling exhausted and they’re beyond ready to make a change. They need it now because they’re completely over holding back their ideas in meetings and watching others take credit for their work.

Urgency is absolutely the key to selling more of what you’re putting out into the world.

But it’s not based on numbers or time. Sure, those things help people make a decision. Ultimately, however, people buy now because they’ve reached a point of no return. They can’t help but search for a solution to their need and start using the one they find.

Listen. Observe. Know why people need what you’ve made now.

Then tell them you understand. Tell them the stories you know are playing out in their lives right now. Show them the vision you have for them and how your product will take them from the urgency their already feeling into a brand new day.

Create a sense of urgency by respecting your customers’ needs and they’ll respond by buying—now.

“Look At Me” Versus “Look At You”

This marketing strategy lesson took me forever to learn.

Once I did, everything became easier. Product development was easier. Marketing was easier. Sales was easier. Heck, even management was easier.

It might be the number one mistake I see idea-driven, passionate business owners making. It’s the main thing that keeps them from having productive sales conversation or gaining real traction with their marketing efforts.

And, it’s a major contributor to time wasted.

Your differentiating factor isn't the compelling reason to buy. But the benefit of your differentiating factor likely is.

What is it? It’s a focus on “look at me” instead of “look at you.”

It’s natural to feel like you have to prove to your prospects that your business is the best solution for them. So you list credentials, you talk up the merits of your book, program, or product, you go on & on about the quality of your materials. But all that misses the point.

People don’t buy because what you do is awesome.

People buy because it makes them feel awesome.

(Whatever the unique brand of awesome is that you’re selling.)

Here’s the painful example from my own business: for years, I tried to prove that everything I did in my business was deeper, more substantive, more foundational than what everyone else was teaching. And, I tried to convince people that that was what they really needed: deeper, more substantive, and more foundational strategy.

They weren’t buying. I mean sure, I had a calendar of full of clients, people read my books, etc… but it wasn’t easy. I was working too hard for every new prospect and every sale. Traction was elusive.

Then I figured it out. The reason people bought (literally) into my work wasn’t because it was more substantive, it was because…

  • My quest to go deeper in my work mirrored their quest to go deeper in their own work.
  • My need to figure out why things worked helped them avoid getting sucked into the marketing advice vortex.
  • My ambition to continually pursue a more complete understanding of my subject matter meant that they could relax.
  • And, finally, my focus on strategy over formulas meant they could make more money, work less, and impact more people without constantly having to rely on new tricks or tactics.

What matters to my people is: their own work, their own time & space, their sanity–and the big ones, more money, less work, and more impact. Is that what matters to you?

That’s why people buy. My customers buy not because what I offer is awesome (and it is) but because it makes them feel awesome.

The Entrepreneurs Guide to Customer Development says your differentiating factor isn’t the compelling reason to buy. But the benefit of your differentiating factor likely is.

If you’ve been following along with my CreativeLive bootcamp, Build a Stand-out Business, you’ve likely been spending a lot of time thinking about what the differentiating factor (your Unfair Advantage, your voice, your vision, etc… ) is for your business. Don’t stop there.

Don’t stop until you know how your differentiating factor leads your customers to more money, more time, better relationships, better health, etc… If you can’t boil it down to a simple, tangible benefit like that, you’re not done. What your customers truly care about is quite simple.

You have to listen to what people really want. You need to use their words, not yours. And, when the benefit they really want (more money, more time, better relationships, better health, etc…) sounds like what “everyone else is offering” push past your discomfort with that. In many ways, what you’re offering is the same as what everyone else is offering. Embrace that. Then use your unique process, point of view, voice, or advantage to differentiate.

When you push past the discomfort that what everyone else is selling is exactly what you’re selling too, you can finally get to a place where leveraging your difference really comes in handy.

Don’t tell people about what they’ll learn by working with you, tell them what they’ll be able to do differently and how that ultimately creates the benefit they desire. Don’t tell people about the quality and craftsmanship of your product, tell them how they’ll feel when they use it and how that leads to the core benefit they’re after.

Start with the “Look at you:”

  • You feel more energetic and have better relationships with your kids.
  • You feel more professional and speak out more in meetings–you really earned that raise.
  • You feel more confident, put out a great offer, and doubled your revenue.

Now, in each of these scenarios, the solution that made this happen (your solution) isn’t the first thing the customer has tried. They’ve been scratching this itch for quite a while, possibly their whole lives. This is where your differentiating factor comes in.

Add the “Look at me” to show why your solution is different:


“Look at you” marketing strategy can change the very way you do business.

Take a look at your website, your social media, your sales copy. Is the emphasis on how great your product or service is? Or is the emphasis on the simple but profound benefit your customers are actually looking for? My guess is there’s a lot more of the former and a lot less of the latter.

Make adjustments accordingly. Then reap the benefit.