Can You Hear Me Now? [Part 1]
ideal client language

"I know that you believe you understand what you think I said, but I am not sure that you realize that what you heard is not what I meant." -Robert McCloskey

Someone emailed me with a great question, so I thought I’d share my thoughts on it here this week.

Hi Kim,
I’m getting stuck trying to be authentic and wanting to make sure that people in a different industry understand with what I’m offering. How can I talk to my clients in a way that resonates with them but still feels authentic to me?
Love, M.T.

I love this question so much!

It hits on a great strategy entrepreneurs and creatives can use: speaking to potential and current clients in a way that “resonates with them.” In other words, speaking to your customers in their language. 

You know, I remember when I was both acting and slinging drinks (the typical actor cliche), each world had its own language that made me feel like an outsider when I started. 

Apple boxes, martini shots (acting, not the bar!), going 10:20, honey wagons, mo-cap, being pinned, craft services, 86'ed, SOS, auto gratting…you get the idea.

After a little while, those words and phrases became second nature to me, but if I mentioned them to someone outside of either industry, they’d think I had a weirdly timed, strange drink craving…or that maybe I needed help with my arts and crafts project.

Joking aside, this isn’t unique to the acting or bar world.

Every field has its own language, the words that click and speak to those “in the know.” It becomes second nature and before we know it, the words that at one time may have sounded foreign to us when we were newbies become a part of how we talk. 

While it might feel nice to be part of the “in-crowd” and know the hip words that all the cool kids are using, it isn’t so cool when we get our business from clients in a different world.

To them, we might as well be speaking a different language when we use industry jargon.

It can be alienating, confusing, and in some cases a turn-off and cost us business. 

Not only can we sound like know-it-alls, which come on, is a huge turn off, but we can risk not being heard at all.

We want to connect and be heard by our customers. We want them to feel understood.

Now, most of us have good intentions and aren’t going around trying to alienate customers and act like know-it-alls. Most of us care deeply and want to help our existing and potential new clients. 

We often use this language without even being aware of it because it’s become part of our identity.

The more time we spend in an industry, the more it tends to influence our sense of who we are. This is where the concern of authenticity can creep in.

What happens when we strongly identify with our work and the words we use to describe it, yet our clients and customers come from a different “world’?

How can we authentically communicate? How can we do this without feeling like a fraud?

My offer to you is a perspective shift. 

I’d love for you to imagine going on a trip to a foreign country where you don’t speak the language. 

Maybe you’d practice the language before you go. Maybe you’d buy an app or crash course in Rosetta Stone. But, you wouldn’t be fluent when you arrived on your vacation.

Now imagine you’ve just landed, checked into your hotel (or your Air BnB, if you prefer), and you’re starving.

You go out to find some dinner.

You stumble upon two pretty similar cafes across the street from one another. What you don’t know is they serve the exact same type of food.

Inside Cafe A, no one speaks English. They’re trying, and gesticulating, and slowly saying words you just can’t understand. 

The menu isn’t in English, and it’s not one of those places that has the pictures on the menu. Your wifi doesn’t work here, so you can’t pull up your app to translate the menu. 

Ugh. 

How do you feel? Most likely frustrated, confused, irritated, and hungry. You cross your fingers and point to something on the menu. 

Now, imagine across the street is Cafe B. 

When you walk in, you attempt your best at the language and fail. The hostess, noticing you don’t speak the language, shifts into English! It’s a little choppy, but she’s able to hear and understand what you want!  

Horray!

Even better, she has a menu that’s translated. It’s cheesy, but they even put some pictures on it, so you’re able to see what some of the stranger sounding dishes look like. 

How do you feel here? Most likely, relieved, understood, secure, heard, and helped. Oh, and you love your meal because you ordered what you like. 

Silly examples, but the point here is, in both cases, no one was offering anything different. 

Was Cafe B being any less authentic than Cafe A by speaking to you in English? Did you think, “Ugh, I hate these people, they’re so fake for trying to talk to me and have me understand the menu?” No way! 

Was their menu any less authentic because it was translated? Heck no.

I’m guessing it made you feel better, made you feel more at ease, and less confused. Maybe it even made you feel a little bolder in speaking their language because you knew they understood you either way. Maybe you tried something new on the menu and liked it!

The authenticity didn’t change. The offering didn’t change, only the way in which it was communicated and understood changed, and that’s what made the difference in our example. 

The same applies to the way in which we talk to our clients. There is nothing inauthentic by speaking in a way that people can hear you. I’d actually argue that we aren’t using empathy and our emotional intelligence to it’s fullest ability when we don’t do this. 

So, M.T., I hope this helps you to see a different perspective on how you can communicate to your clients in a way they understand and still be authentic to yourself and your message.

Next week, I’ll take this a step further and jam on how you can learn your customers’ language!

Wishing you your version of success!

ideal client language
WTWTCH?
facing fear blog
"F-E-A-R has two meaning: 'Forget Everything and Run' or 'Face Everything and Rise.' The choice is yours." -Zig Ziglar

When I was still acting and living in LA, I remember sitting in my apartment, cursor hovering over the “send” button, unable to pull the trigger on sending an email that was riddled with fear.

(What is it about seemingly innocent emails that can make them so scary to send?)

Minutes later, on the phone with a good friend, we walked through what has now become a go-to strategy I use when facing a scary step outside my comfort zone.

There was a time I used this so much, my girlfriend would simply text me "WTWTCH?" whenever I was questioning a step I needed to take.

No, this isn't the acronym for a strange, religious LA cult, rather a mnemonic device to help me remember “What’s the worst that can happen?”

I'd call my friend and together we'd go to the absolute worst that could happen if I took whatever step I was scared of. 

The possible humiliation, rejection, getting fired, being blacklisted from the industry, ending up homeless…whatever it was, we shined a light on it.

We didn’t stop there. We’d go through each worst-case scenario and assess how likely it was to happen in the real world.

That’s the funny thing about fear...sometimes, just by pulling it out of the dark and seeing it for what it is, we realize it’s not a monster, just a t-shirt hanging in our closet.

We treated those fears with respect, though, and would ask, "What would you do if it actually happened?" Then, we'd outline a plan of action.

Suddenly, my fears weren't so scary and many of them didn’t seem that probable. Looking back, some of them were pretty ridiculous (but had felt damn real at the time). 

While this might seem like a pessimistic approach, it worked. We can’t always positive our way through everything and sometimes we shouldn’t.

In Originals: How Non-Conformists Move the World, Adam Grant shares, “Negative thoughts can direct our attention to potential problems, and the absence of those thoughts predicts a failure to take preventative and corrective actions.”

Pessimists rejoice, there’s a positive side to your negative thinking (wink). 

In all seriousness, this isn’t carte blanche to be a Negative Nelly. There is still a massive amount of research behind the power of positivity. But, negativity doesn’t have to be all “bad”, and when used correctly, can act as a tool to help us see potential pitfalls and prevent problems. 

So, if you’re facing a step in your business or life that is feeling a little scary, take a page from my acting days and ask yourself, "WTWTCH?"

You won't be alone if you do. Turns out, Tim Ferriss employs a very similar method and uses it monthly to look at the steps he’s considering, only he calls it “fear-setting".

Ferriss takes the WTWTCH steps and adds a very beneficial question, “What’s the cost of not taking this step?” (Watch Tim Ferriss explain "fear-setting" in a great Ted talk here.)

It's easy to get wrapped up in the fear of taking a daunting step and miss the reality of what might happen if we don’t take action.

What happens when you put this all together? 

WTWTCH + "Fear-Setting" For Success

  1. Get clear. What is the step you want to take?
  2. Shine a light on your fear. What is the absolute, worst case scenario that could happen if you take this step? Go there. This is your permission slip to be a worry monger.
  3. Reality check. Go through each of the worst cases and reality check them. How likely are they to happen in the real world?
  4. Problem solve. Plan out a course of action for each of the worst cases. What would you do if they happened?   
  5. No regrets. Take a look at that step you’re considering. What happens if you do nothing? What’s the downside if you don't take action?
  6. Take action. Unless you’ve uncovered a very real-life, negative consequence with no solution, take action knowing you have a plan in place if shit hits the fan.    

For those of you who are stalling and hanging out inside your comfort zone, I hope “WTWTCH?” will help mobilize your fear. Give it a go, what's the worst that can happen?

Wishing you your version of success,

fear strategy blog

P.S. Know someone else who might like this blog post? I’d be ever so grateful if you shared this with them!

What does Mac & Cheese Have to Do With Your Business?
advertising lessons for entrepreneurs
"To launch a business means successfully solving problems. Solving problems means listening." -Richard Branson

I was at a lecture this week where two ad executives were talking about their award-winning campaigns.

One was for a new commercial for Kraft Mac & Cheese’s new recipe. Yes, the neon pasta in the blue box we all grew up with changed their formula. The other was for a Boost Mobile campaign, the pay-as-you-go cell phone company.

Two very different companies with completely different products and branding.

Yet, as the creatives sat talking about their process and how they came up with their ingenious marketing campaigns, a few similarities struck me.

Both of their successes started as a result of listening to their customers. 

Kraft had overhauled its original mac and cheese recipe to compete in an ever conscious market of organic-this and all-natural-that by removing the artificial flavors, dyes, and preservatives from their original recipe.

The problem? When Kraft customers caught wind of this news, they were up in arms at the possibility of their childhood favorite recipe being altered. They didn’t want a new and improved, “healthier” mac and cheese. 

The solution? Kraft sold their new recipe to the public in old boxes without telling anyone.

They sold over 50 million boxes of mac and cheese before going public and announcing the switcharoo with their new tagline, “It’s changed. But it hasn’t”.

Boost Mobile, on the other hand,  heard complaints from their customers about having fewer polling places during last year's presidential campaign. After digging, Boost found the areas in which their customers lived had unequal access to voting polls or significantly longer lines.

Upon learning this, the advertising creatives that serve Boost Mobile underwent a massive task to create polling stations inside Boost Mobile stores to serve their customers and their community. 

In both cases, the advertising efforts for Kraft and Boost resulted in increased numbers. In order to get those numbers, both companies started out by listening to what their customers wanted.

They weren’t lazy about their listening efforts either. They were diving into social media and spying, er, listening to what their people had to say.

In order to successfully get their “spy” on, both companies had another check mark going for them. They weren’t only listening, but also knew who to listen to.

Both Kraft and Boost are crystal clear on who their customers are. This allowed them to find them online and effectively "spy".

What does this have to do with you?

Whether we run a side hustle or a giant conglomerate of a company, successful messaging and marketing begins with similar foundations. 

If these companies’ successes are anything to go by, it’s all about getting back to basics and building and problem-solving from there. 

What were the basics at play here? Know your people, listen to them, and show them the love.

Here are 3 Business tricks You Can Borrow from Kraft and Boost Mobile:

1. Know your clients and customers, your people, or your “tribe".  Also get clear on who's not a part of your tribe.

Put this into action: Write out who your people are and who they aren’t. Keep this somewhere you can see it.

2. Listen. Once you know who's in your tribe, if you pay attention, often they'll tell you exactly what they want. The question is, are you listening?

We all want to be right (or is that just me?). Sometimes this means not listening very well or only hearing what we want to hear. Other times, we’re listening, but to the wrong people! If they aren’t your customers or potential customers - put those earmuffs on!

Take action: Practice listening to your clients and customers. Find a group your potential clients might hang out in and "spy". 

3. Take this information and tailor your products, services, copy, and marketing. Show your customers the love by showing them you hear them! 

Action Step:  Take a look at your business, where can you infuse more of what your clients are telling you they want?

Now, I’m off to make an old childhood favorite and see if it really does taste the same!

Wishing you your version of success,

ideal client marketing

P.S. Filled out a million worksheets and still feeling stuck on your ideal client? This is something I love helping my private coaching clients get clear on. Click here to learn more about working with me!

P.P.S. Know someone else who might like this blog? I’d be ever so grateful if you shared it!

In A Creative Rut?
boost creativity by changing routines
"Creativity involves breaking out of established patterns in order to look at things in a different way." - Edward de Bono

The other weekend, my boyfriend and I mixed it up a little bit.

Get your mind out of the gutter, I’m talking about our weekend activities and the way we approached our to do's.

Our switch-up didn’t include a lavish trip or anything too out of the ordinary, instead, it was simple changes to our routine.

We ended up having a weekend filled with new memories and conversations, which you kind of expect when you try something new. What I hadn't expected, was an avalanche of new ideas and solutions to some creative work I had sitting on the back burner. 

I know I’ve talked about the power of rituals and routines...I’m obsessed with my morning routine and swear by it. 

But nothing is absolute, and that includes routine. Besides, doing the same thing day in and day out can get pretty boring, no?

Changing things up here and there, even in small ways, can create new experiences and perspectives. 

It can break us out of our comfort zone, help us to shift unhealthy or unproductive patterns, give us fresh insight, or allow us to see a problem from a different angle.

Switching things up can even affect our brain on a neurological level. 

You jolt your brain and stimulate it to make new neural connections any time you purposely change your routine. It's like taking your car off cruise control and switching to manual, you have to pay closer attention to what you’re doing and this causes your brain to wake up.

Our brains are naturally pretty lazy. We form habits and routines to make our life easier. They allow us to get through life without having to think through minute details and make decisions on every little thing - saving us from the dreaded decision fatigue. 

This is how many of us make it through our jam packed days - delegating as much as possible to habits and routines, like the good little worker bees that they are.

Except, sometimes our habits and routines can get us stuck in a rut, creative or otherwise. 

Habits may keep us from feelings of overwhelm, but they don’t do a whole lot to spark new ideas. With about 40 percent of our daily activities stuck on habitual autopilot, you can see how we might stall out.

It’s difficult to see a new possibility through the lens of routine. Our brain will always "choose the most energy efficient path" if we allow it, Tara Swart explains in Neuroscience for Leadership.

This is where switching it up comes in.

Simone Ritter and colleagues found that any kind of new experience that causes you to push outside “normal thought patterns” can help with boosting our creativity. 

This is why after a trip away or even a traumatic event, we often see our world in a new light. 

The great news is, as I found out the other weekend, we don’t have to take an exotic vacation or suffer trauma to get our brain firing and thinking in different ways. There’s even evidence that just thinking about time spent abroad can make us more creative!

What does this mean for you and me?

As creatives and entrepreneurs, we can kick our creative thinking up a notch by ensuring we keep our routines and perspectives fresh. 

Usually, work at home? Try a coffee shop for a new environment. Always work at the cafe around the corner? Get fancy and try working from a hotel bar for a day (my fav).

We’re creatures of habit, so this applies to pretty much everything we do. 

Always sit in the same chair in your conference room for meetings? Try simply moving seats and see how this perks up your thinking.

Love your morning routine as much as I do? Try adding a new element, mixing up the order, or doing the same activities in a different room.

As Meg Selig says in Psychology Today, “Even good, healthy routines can drag us down if we don’t break them and re-form them from time to time, 

So this weekend, how can you mix it up?

Wishing you your version of success,

change habit and routine

P.S. What's your favorite way to shake up your routine? Let me know in the comments below!

P.P.S. Know someone else who might like this blog? I'd be ever so grateful if you shared it with them!

Kim ArgetsingerComment