What do you have in common with Superheroes?
One of the first questions I ask freelancers or agency owners that I'm coaching is a simple question to ask, and admittedly a bit more challenging to answer.
They struggle a bit to figure out if I'm serious. They are, after all, paying me good money to help them. And I am helping them, even if they don't, at that moment, feel like it.
Eventually, they realize I'm asking for real, and they start trying to tell me some "superpower" they have - like empathy or listening skills.
Even though, in the context of this post, it will sound like I'm a jerk, my response is always the same.
It doesn't matter how many times they give me some power that they have, or that they care about the public, or that they're trying to do good - I keep replying with "nope."
You see, what they have in common with superheroes is the same thing you have in common with them. And today I'm going to tell you what it is - for free.
The Key To People Buying What You're Selling
The reality is that no matter how much we may not like "selling," we're all doing it. Some of us may do it casually, others indirectly, and others may choose to do it more directly. But we're all advocating something.
The question, in my mind, isn't whether we're selling. And in fact, if you're a freelancer or running an agency, you have to sell at some point, or the money doesn't come in.
I'm not saying it's the only reason money comes in - because if you do it wrong, there are a ton of ways you can invalidate the work you did while closing that next customer.
And please, don't get caught up on the word "selling." I know it's cool and hip to be "non-selling," "unselling," and twenty other words for not selling that mean selling.
My point is simply that since we're all selling, that's not the critical thing. The critical thing is whether people are buying.
And today, there is so much noise, so much competition, that it's easy to realize that no matter how much selling you do if you're not getting people's attention, no one will buy. And if no one buys, you'll be looking for work soon.
These Two Paths Cross... Right At This Point...
What I'm hoping you'll realize is that the thing you have in common with superheroes and the reason people will buy what you're selling is the same thing.
This is the connection point. The inflection point. The thing that changes everything and has the impact you want it to. The reason I'm writing. And the reason you should care about the fact that I'm writing.
Here it is: You have a backstory.
Some of you, upon seeing the title of this article, may know the seminal work by Jack Trout by the same name.
My first understanding of differentiation (and much of my marketing education before my graduate degree) came from Jack Trout and several of his books, starting with Positioning.
But you don't have to go way back to books from the eighties, nineties and 2000's to understand this idea. Simon Sinek, in his now-famous TED talk, delivered the same message in Start with Why.
No One Else Can Be You
People can copy what you do.
Trust me - today all your articles may show up on someone else's site (way too easily).
And people can go to the same events you go to. They can give talks like you do. Heck, they can even take your content from your site and talks, and tighten them up and do it better you than you.
But you know what they can't do?
They can't replicate your past. They can't go backward in time (not yet at least) and have the same experience that motivates what you do.
And that's where you get the substance of your why.
That's where you get the motivator for what you do.
And that's what helps you stand apart from everyone else.
No one else can be you.
And what that means is that when you start writing your copy for that landing page when you start working on that talk, when you write those blog posts, you're going to have to do something that may feel a bit uncomfortable.
You're going to have to bring a bit of you into everything.
So the next time you're talking to a prospect, make sure to include the short version of why you do what you do.
The next time you're presenting in front of people, make sure you put a part of your origin story into it.
The next time you're writing copy for that sales page, ask them if their backstory matches yours.
Because when you do, you'll discover that it forms the connection that drives people to feel like you and they are alike, and it invites them to trust you, and it results, more often than not, in them taking the action you're looking for them to take.
Want to close more deals, you'll need to differentiate yourself. And the trick is to look to your backstory. It is, after all, the reason you're the superhero you are today.