Today we’re interviewing Danielle Louise Ross of Brand Y-O-U. She is an actress turned coach turned marketing guru, and she gives some really good hints for businesses on how to really hone your message and really play to your strengths to get those first couple of clients in your business. She’s also really hot on networking in terms of finding new clients, so if you’re a networker, there’s some good stuff here for you, too.
Meredith: Danielle, you have a really interesting story. You help people with their marketing and branding, but you came at it through coaching and acting. Can you tell us a little bit about that and how you ended up doing what you’re doing now?
Danielle: Absolutely. Well, it’s a funny story that I come from a performance background. I feel like my beginning fascination with marketing and promoting initially came from a frustration of marketing and promoting in terms of how to promote myself as an actress. There’s nothing more high pressure than promoting yourself in acting, where you could be in a room of people who look exactly like you, and then you have maybe 30 seconds to make an impression, and I was always really curious about how to get better at it. Sometimes I was completely in my zone and sometimes I wasn’t, but it was the beginning of that curiosity for me about how do you take the training, skills, knowledge, and talent, and really get good at this whole marketing and promoting piece so you can do more of that work that you’re born to do. That’s where it all started for me.
Coaching is actually the part that wasn’t gone into too deeply on my website. I know you looked up my website, but coaching actually came on the heels of a real challenge in my life. About five years ago, I got a really bad injury. It sort of put what I thought was my career path on pause, on hold, and it allowed me to really look deeply into where I wanted to take myself. I discovered during that time this whole art form of coaching, and I found it allowed me to do a lot of the things that I really loved about performance. It allowed me to connect with people, to feel this kick of transformation, to enjoy that moment to moment, the “you never quite know what’s going to happen” sort of piece that I always loved when I was on stage. And I could do it even when I was injured, so I first went to coaching school when I had that injury.
I was sort of going through that personal transformation/crisis, and I found that I loved coaching and could do it really, really well, even when I had this impediment. It turns out that now I don’t have that impediment anymore – I healed, I got better – but that was the beginning of finding coaching.
My first coaching job was in a start-up, and I’d never been in a start-up environment before. I had never seen the ins-and-outs of how to really kick off your own business, but I got into life coaching clients within this start-up. Two big things happened that were a direct catalyst to where I am right now:
Without me even trying, all my first clients were solopreneur-type people. They were creative people who worked for themselves, who were wanting to get more out of their lives. Thus, they were able to bring me these repeated themes around promotion, how to hit bigger marks in their business, and how to package themselves. Supporting them in this was something that came very naturally to me.
The other big thing that I never could’ve predicted was that my own boss, who had launched this start-up personal development center, began to struggle to bring clients into that business. Long story short, I got to help him keep the doors open— not only keep the doors open, but grow his revenue from $2,000 or $3,000 to $9,000, $12,000, $15,000, by helping him create a promotional plan that worked for him. So it’s pretty amazing stuff and, for me, the journey has been something I never could have predicted, but which actually has been very organic and natural.
Meredith: I think one of the biggest things that people struggle with when they’re trying to move from a job to a business or starting a business on the side is getting those first couple of clients, getting that first little dribble of money coming in so that you know that what you’re doing is valid and that people will actually pay you, and that it can actually grow. What advice do you have for someone just starting out to create a marketing plan that works for them?
Danielle: The first thing to know is that that first client could come from a variety of places. So, number one, you have to just start to put yourself out there. I think that the biggest thing as a starting point for that is you need to be able to describe what you do in one sentence in away that your audience can really understand what you’re giving them
A simple way to think about this is you need to be able to really express the result that you’re going to help them get to through your service, as opposed to the process or the methodology that will help them get there. This is a big one because when we go through our training, we’re taught the professional lingo. We’re taught the terms, but we’re not necessarily taught the art of how to communicate with our audience. That’s a language, a fluency.
So first, just start with that sentence, because if you can describe what you do in a sentence, then you can start telling everyone. And your first client is probably not that far away from you, but they just need to know that you’re there, that you’re a resource, so that they can recognize you’re there. That’s a beginning point.
In terms of what specific types of activities you should do, there are a lot of options. There are some activities that are going to be, for instance, marketing accelerators. I think networking can be a fast way. If you’re hanging out, networking among your audience, people that are looking for the solution that you provide, it’s a great way to get clients quickly because it’s different seeing an ad, for example, than having a conversation with a living, breathing person who’s knowledge about this problem you have. Which one are you going to gravitate towards?
Another way is speaking — being in a place where you can share some of your wisdom in front of people that are hungry for that wisdom. That’s a way that you can connect with a whole group of people as opposed to just going one at a time. What I think is key here is make it simple and just choose a couple that you feel really confident with. Take with you your sentence of what you do, and choose the options where you’re in an environment where you feel like you can show up totally as you are, and that lead will happen. Those first clients will happen.
Jasper: Tell us a bit more in terms of the process of networking. I remember when I was living in Phoenix and did a lot of different networking/business groups, and some of them are more successful than others in terms of whether or not it worked for me. So how do you go about choosing which ones are going to be worth doing? Because you can spend a lot of time attending these.
Danielle: You can. I think there’s two main keys, big picture. One is, who’s your audience? Because if you show up places where your target audience is, where groups of them are hanging out together and they’re the people that are looking for what you have, then you’re going to increase the likelihood that you’re going to actually bump into some really qualified leads that way. You first have to know who your audience is, and that’s a process. The people listening today may know who that is or they might not be there yet.
There is actually a video series on my website. If you go to BrandYouBusiness.com, right there on the homepage is a video you can access that will walk you through a deeper process about how to identify your ideal client and your target market. But, for now, you need to figure out who that is. And you’ll know who they are not, because they’re not everyone.
There are going to be some specific ways that you can pin it down, almost like with acting, like a character profile of who you’re looking to reach. When you have that and it’s specific enough, you’ll be able to say, “Where do they go?”
For me, in working with a lot of solo professionals, small business owners, I can find types of networking groups where they’re hanging out to network, and I can also look at the groups that have similar values as I have. If the group has similar values, then the people going to the group are going to have similar values. Having those shared values is something else that will bond you with your ideal client.
A big group that I’m involved with locally is called Women With Moxie. I love the title. It’s fun. I have a huge value of fun in my business and my branding, so if I see fun and networking together, I’m like, I’ve got to show up at that event. I have met a lot of great people, partners, and clients just from showing up where my target audience is and where they also have this sort of shared value. So your target audience is one big thing to consider.
You also might want to network where people that serve your audience hang out. You may not convert them as your clients, but they are connected to an audience of people that might need you as well. So think about what those complimentary types of services might be. A chiropractor might have a partnership with a massage therapist. They could have the same audience, people that they help, but they are helping them in different ways so they can work together.
So those are the big things that I would look for. If you want to know how to weed out an event in the beginning stages, I would say weed out anything where it doesn’t feel aligned with your values, because those are people that aren’t going to resonate with you.
Favorite Book: Book Yourself Solid by Micheal Port
Favorite Resource: Google Tasks integrated with Google Calendar
Want to get a free audiobook version of the book recommended by this week’s guest? Click here to download it.
Guest: Danielle Louise Ross – Brand You Business
Danielle Louise Ross of “Brand You Business” is a dynamic Marketing Coach, specializing in helping solo professionals- who are the face of their brand- get MORE clients, through authentic branding,messaging, and promotional strategy.
Danielle loves helping BRILLIANT mission-driven solopreneurs — such as coaches, therapists, and consultants —MULTIPLY their clients and income, by signing up more of the right people, working smarter (not harder), and communicating more effectively about the true value of who they are and what they do.
To tell you more, and share how she helps her clients translate their talent into a steady stream of clients & income, please welcome Danielle Louise Ross.
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