I always ask my clients what they do and inevitably they tell me how they do it. While this may seem like semantics at first, the heart of what I am asking is completely different.
I want to know WHAT you are helping people with not HOW you are helping them with it.
It normally takes about three rounds of re-asking my question before we figure out “what” my client is doing. I was recently having a conversation with the life changing, fabulous John Muldoon and he flipped the question on me.
Uh-Oh, I was about to get a taste of my own medicine.
- What do you do?
- Why do people work with you?
- What do your clients get from working with you? (emotional payoff vs. deliverables)
Yes … even I had to go through 3 rounds of the same question asked in slightly different ways. I found myself frustrated, rambling, talking faster and louder but not actually saying much.
Being an entrepreneur or business owner is emotional and I was having an emotional reaction to the places I was getting stuck. My clients feel the same way when I start digging into their “stuff”.
But this isn’t about the possible (and inevitable) emotional breakdown of being a business owner. It is about learning how to break through those blocks.
Asking For Help
I can’t do it alone and neither can you. In order to go through the process of figuring out who you are and what you do, it requires utter honesty, a willingness to look at things that may be uncomfortable and to surround yourself with people you trust to shine light into your blind spots.
Caution: Make sure your trusted advisors have your best interest at heart. Their insight and advice may not always be easy to hear so you need to know it is coming from a loving, constructive, make you better not tear you down place.
Where To Start
To put things simply: WHAT you do is the big picture, the emotional payoff for your client. HOW you do it is the medium that you provide your service, the end result that is achieved.
Here is an example of what someone could do for their clients: ”We facilitate community and healthy lifestyles.”
The options of how they could do this are almost endless:
- Exercise (personal trainers, yoga studios, etc)
- Food (nutritionists, restaurants)
- Therapy and Life Coaching
- and the list goes on
If you ask someone what they do and they tell you they are a Personal Trainer, you automatically put them into a category based on your own experiences. Maybe you had a great experience with a trainer in the past. Maybe you had a not so great experience. Regardless, you have already decided whether or not they are interesting to you.
If you asked that same question and they told you that they create community and healthy lifestyles you would need to dig a little deeper to find out how they do that. It gives you the opportunity to learn about what makes them special and them the chance to explain more about their brand.
- Maybe they create community and healthy lifestyles by following up with their clients, getting involved in more than just their fitness goals.
- Maybe they connect them with other great resources like playlists, other professionals, cool new books, etc.
- Maybe they have a program that invests in you as a person instead of simply delivering the exercises to their clients, because they believe in creating something bigger.
Either way, that is an answer you are going to have a reaction to. As long as their answer is true to their core values and the principles of the brand then it is doing exactly what it supposed to: attracting their ideal clients.
A Taste Of My Own Medicine
Despite knowing this process and having walked countless clients through it, I still wasn’t prepared to answer it for my own business.
So like I advise my clients to do, I took a deep breath, put on my big girl pants, and asked for help. After many late night conversations with friends, a few yoga classes, and a long look in the mirror, I started to understand what I really do.
I help people with their marketing and branding which is what I usually talk about. A huge part of my work is emotional and psychological which is not something I normally talk about.
As I started working with What I Do vs. How I Do It, it became clear that marketing is simply my entry point. I really help people change their thinking, giving them the tools to get what they really want.
These questions can be really hard to answer for yourself. If you are getting stuck, ask some people you respect and trust what is different and unique about your business. Want to know what separates you from everyone else? Just ask!
If it feels scary, uncomfortable and a little exciting, you are probably on the right track. This definitely feels scary, uncomfortable and a little exciting.