What happens to you when you can’t find the right words when someone asks “what do you do”? If you’re like most people, your confidence begins to sink. How do you feel good about what you offer if you can’t describe it? How do you charge good money if you can’t tell people what they will experience as a result of your work?
If you’ve struggled with this, you’ll enjoy the story of how Helen Evans worked through this challenge, found the right words, her right words, and through that found the confidence and courage to grow her business and charge more money.
Helen came to me for help in 2010. In her own words, this is what she said: I had the skill called Scientific Hand Analysis, I knew there was a lot of great value that people got from it, but I didn’t understand why they valued it. It’s a bit out there. How do I communicate to people the value of this stuff?
I’m not a natural writer, I speak in a very emotive kind of way and a lot of people love it when I speak to them, but I couldn’t translate that on to the page. For me writing was what I was taught at school, which is very dry and factual and quite analytical. You don’t create an emotional response in people.
I was reading people’s hands but I was embarrassed to charge what I really wanted to charge and not making what I really wanted to earn. I didn’t feel confident A, to ask for the money and B, I couldn’t express the value to people until AFTER they had a session with me. They were buying basically from me based on intrigue. On curiosity. You spend hours with these people trying to do your thing and not really getting paid very much for it.
I had a basic website up. It was really, really appalling. I didn’t know what to say. I didn’t know where else to invest or what else to do because I couldn’t know what else to do if I didn’t understand the value of what I was offering.
Learning a New Way to Write
So, Helen and I began the message development process, defining her True Spirit. Helen submitted a lot of writing, and to be honest, at times she found the process challenging.
Here’s how Helen described it: We would do this kind of writing for you where you would ask us questions about certain things and we would write about it. Some of the questions I said to you, “Why is this relevant for goodness sake?”
You’d asked me to write about some childhood experience. You have all these experiences but you don’t realize they are a commentary of who you are and what you like to do. That was a massive, massive “Aha!” for me, to be able to have a mirror looking back at myself like “Oh, my God, yes I do that” and “Oh, my God, I love that.”
I wanted you to tell me all my stuff was great. I write this stuff and it comes back and I’ve got like three things that you’ve highlighted and I’m thinking “I don’t get what she wants.”
You kept saying, “More of this. Look for more of this, look for more of this.” When you first are exposed to something new that you don’t get, it feels like hard work and then you start to get it and you say, “Oh, my God! I’ve got this whole new thing going on.”
Thanks to working with you I started to see the kind of language that actually created an emotional reaction, created some sort of a picture, some sort of “Yeah! Oh, I get that!” There’s some sort of energy behind those kinds of words when they’re put together like that.
I was learning what it was that made language interesting, how to create a feeling with your words. I still don’t think I’m a brilliant writer, but I’ve got so much more confident.
Helen’s story is a great illustration of the fact that to communicate well, without tricks or hype, you have to be willing to be in this uncomfortable awkward messy place for a little bit. So often we want to be perfect right away.
When we’re trying to get it right that’s often when we miss the real substance and the real value of what wants to come forward because it’s unexpected or it’s unusual.
The True Spirit of Helen’s Work
Helen calls this Probably the most useful piece of anything that I’ve ever done. It is honestly the most useful work that I think I’ve done in many ways for my life because I’m so much more than just a hand analyst. I’m this big person who has all these different other gifts and talents and is excited and inspired by different things. The true spirit is like a reference of what excites me.
So now let’s hear what Helen came up with as the True Spirit of her Work:
The true spirit of my work is to get spiritually emerging souls on an entrepreneurial journey
The inner peace, confidence and inspiration
To transcend their apparent limitations
And step out into the world fully alive, free of their baggage and amour,
Allowing their own true spirit to shine brightly
As they experience the thrill of shooting for their stars in their full uncluttered glory
That comes from connecting to their inner truth, spiritual and earth bound,
Trusting in and loving their physical existence, anchored by the beauty and harmony of the space around them and ultimately knowing that they belong.
What I love is that Helen keeps her True Spirit on her phone, so on days where she is feeling down or losing her focus, she can pull it up and remind herself that this is what she does, this is what she is creating with her work.
When I originally developed this technique more than 10 years ago now, it actually wasn’t for communication. It was for inspiration, it was to give people a touchstone to know if they were going in the right direction. You know you are going in the right direction when you see that what you’re doing is aligned with your true spirit. It was only after I developed it for that purpose that it suddenly occurred to me how useful it would be for helping business owners develop their business communication.
Finding the Structure of What She Offers
Now the next piece that we worked on is what I call the True Wisdom and the True Wisdom is what you know allows people to have the outcome that’s described in the True Spirit.
Here’s what she said:
For me the real kind of like ‘meat and potatoes’ – if you want to call it that – of the True Wisdom was really about creating a description of the work that I wanted to do in the world in a really practical way.
The true spirit is very inspirational, but what does that mean in a practical sense?
I discovered for the first time that I had never asked myself this. I didn’t even know before I did this exercise that I thought this, that in order for a person to feel the way that I described, that there were four fundamental things that I thought that they needed to deal with that would make a big difference.
The first thing is I think people need to know is where are you heading? Where are you going? What is your vision? What is your purpose? In many ways what’s your true spirit, right? I would do it from the finger prints.
The second thing is you have to have a body that works, you have to take care of your body.
The third thing is that I feel one’s environment is absolutely essential. That’s your physical environment, whether you like the space you live in and how comfortable it is to live in, how easy it is to move around. If you’ve got computer cords all over the place etcetera then that you’re constantly tripping over them and what not. I think if you have an easy relaxed environment to live in it allows you to express your true spirit more easily because you are not hindered by it, it supports you all.
The fourth one was I realized that a key aspect of human existence is our connections and our relationships and the kind of people we chose to surround ourselves with. Looking at how we get on with them, how we communicate with them, how do we make this something really positive that we should work towards.
I didn’t know that I thought those four things were important until I went through your program.
Whether you’re doing hand analysis or coaching or a body work modality, the story you are here to tell isn’t about that specific thing, so I knew Helen’s story wasn’t just about hand analysis.
Helen said, I felt limited by the concept of just doing hand analysis. There’s a number of people in the world who do hand analysis, what made me different? What makes me unique?
You helped me understand the value of what I did for other people as well as the value of what I did for myself.
We often forget when we are in business, especially when we’re doing an unusual business, the whole point is to make a living. Yes, we want to make a living doing something we love, but we need to make a living.
If you can’t actually tell people the value or express to people in a way that they get excited about what you do, then you can’t earn a good living. I personally believe the ability to describe and talk about what you do is one of the fundamental values of having a business. I have been in business, I’ve run two of my own businesses and I’ve been in some very big corporate businesses.
But here I was for the first time being a wacky, unusual different business. Now I have a fundamental structure to be able to talk about what I’m doing, so by giving me that structure, I was then able to go out and talk about what I did in a way that other people wanted to pay me a lot of money to do it.
Now we all know there are many people out there who teach marketing communication in one form or another, but Helen didn’t want to follow some of what was being taught out there.
She said: I’m a very real person and I like to be very authentic and honest and I don’t like to pull the wool over people’s eyes. I felt that a lot of the marketing out there was serious hype and I felt that customers are jaded by it, I don’t think they believe it anymore. What changed for me was the idea that I could actually market authentically, I could talk genuinely from my heart and it could be written in such a way that people got it.
The other thing I loved about your approach is that I think a lot of other marketing makes an assumption that most people are not that bright whereas I love the idea that if I write in an honest truthful way I am valuing the people who are reading it.
I want to talk to people who are intelligent and people who want to be valued and who really want to make a difference in the world in whatever small way that is, even if that way is just simply by being happier themselves and they impact the people around themselves. That’s who I want to work with.
You gave me an opportunity to express my value in a way that allowed me to earn money instead of feeling like if I was honest about how I felt and what I wanted to say that nobody would want to buy what I had.
I’m not going to suggest to you that I suddenly become this person who’s a wordsmith and pours words out right, left and center. But at least now I don’t sit in front of a blank page and kind of go, “What the heck do I write?”
I can actually start and then I can go back and I can look at the work that I have done and I can go, “Okay, that’s a bit dry, how can I fix this up a bit?” in a way that kind of really gives across the feeling that I already have.
How Helen’s Business Changed
As a result of her new language, of seeing the bigger impact she could have, and being able to write and speak with more enthusiasm, some lovely things began to develop in her business.
Here’s how she described those changes: I probably have quadrupled my business. Obviously I can’t say that was all down to my language skills, but the language gave me a real vision of what was possible for me as well as the ability to talk about it.
Also I would say, aside from one other person in the world that I know of, I probably command the highest fees for what I do in the world. Now I don’t think that I could do that without having developed the skill to talk about what I do.
Before I worked with you, I was charging maybe $75 for an hour session and I would always go longer because I love to chat. When I was working with you maybe I was charging $150 at the most for a session.
I now charge about $750 for the same session.
Also I have people now for the whole day and they pay me a minimum rate of $1,500. A lot of my market is women going into business, but I have men coming to me now as well who are wanting to use my services because I found a way of talking about what I do to make it accessible to them.
I will tell you that people are sometimes nervous about spending $1,500 and then they will say I’m really worried if I have spent this money, is it going to be valuable. The positive for me is I haven’t had for anybody leave who’s said to me, that wasn’t valuable, in fact other people tell me they would have paid four times as much for it.
A lot of people don’t realize is that the way you talk about what you do determines people’s expectations of the service you provide. If you were talking about whatever it is that you are doing in a truthful honest way that so excites them enough to do it they are swooned when they work with you and they walk away telling all their buddies about what’s so valuable because you set clear expectations.
What you can learn from Helen’s story:
1. Don’t describe the thing you do (hand analysis, coaching, modality of body work). Desribe what people get to feel and experience as a result of your work.
2. If you want to find your unique message, you can’t follow traditional marketing formulas. By definition, those make you sound like everyone else!
3. Finding what you love, what makes you come alive, and what is at the heart of what you offer takes some work. It takes some time being messy, digging around in who you are and where you’ve been.