There is a question that you and I absolutely need to know the answer to.

If we don’t, our business and everything that we’re doing is in serious trouble.

More on that in a second…


I recently met with a client to map out her membership site strategy. She is a doctor who serves women over 40 dealing with menopause.

This is a market that I have never dealt with. It was fresh for me. It was all new.

…boy, did I learn a lot (LOL).

The key thing is that this particular client really wants to help women in this age bracket live a healthy and happy life. That is her ultimate goal.

But… that’s a really big goal for a really big market! It’s really hard to crack through and separate yourself from everybody else when you aim so broad.

I encouraged her, “Look, one of the things that we absolutely want to do is to get specific. Because if we’re trying to be everything to everyone, we’re not going to be anything to anyone. It’s going to be a lot harder to get people’s attention that way.”

Here’s what I mean. Back when I was beginning to rebuild my personal brand, I knew I had to get specific.

I asked myself, “What are you known for?”

If you don’t know how to answer that question, chances are people have no idea how to share with others what it is you do.

I asked this client the same thing. “What do you want to be known for? What could you become known for now that would help you build a ton of momentum down the road?”

Building my brand, I realized that I want to help ALL entrepreneurs. I want to help them make a lot more money and I want to inspire them to give a ton of that money away to the causes and people they’re passionate about.

…but I couldn’t start there.

The thing that ended up bringing focus and clarity for me was deciding, “I want to be known for helping entrepreneurs produce recurring revenue.”

That made sense because it was built on my expertise and experience.

Having built a software company that powered tens of thousands of online membership communities, building multiple seven-figure membership sites, and working with some of the world’s top membership site owners, I know what works.

Because of this, it’s easy for me to focus on membership sites. It makes sense for me to be known as the membership site guy.

Even though I want to help all entrepreneurs in all kinds of different ways, to begin with I had to narrow my approach.

Being specific about what I’m known for helped me create a lot more momentum a lot faster than if I started with the broad approach.

The same goes for you.

Imagine your friends or colleagues chatting with somebody else who has a problem that you can help solve. They’re talking to your ideal customer.

Will they know that you are the person who solves that problem? If someone were to tell others about you, would they mention that very thing?

Your area of expertise should come across in your messaging so that when people have a problem that’s related to the very thing that you are known for, you are the one they think about.

That’s really where you’ve got to put your energy – especially in the beginning.

Later, you can branch out and go more broad. But, in the beginning, you are going to create way more momentum if you are focused on one specific thing.

Then, when people have those kinds of problems, boom … you are top of mind.

If you’re not known for anything specific, it’s really hard for people to spread the message.

You’re fighting an uphill battle trying to get attention in this world of nonstop noise, and you’re not standing out in any one particular way.

People want problems solved. They’re seeking solutions. If you become known for a certain solution, you’re going to gain a lot more traction.

Get specific. Ask yourself, “What do I want to be known for?”

You’ve got to be known for something and that’s got to come across in all of your messaging.

Focus on that and I guarantee you’ll gain a lot more momentum, and you’ll start to see better results from your marketing.


 

  • Chad R. Allen

    So good, Stu! I want to help all nonfiction writers get their books into the world, but my initial specific area of expertise is helping writers craft great book proposals. Having worked in traditional publishing for nearly 20 years, I’ve reviewed thousands of book proposals, and so I know how to help people write them. So hopefully I’ll become THE guy for nonfiction book proposals and will be able to branch out from there. Thanks so much for this article, Stu!

    • LOVE the focus and as soon as I read it, I immediately thought of friends who are writing books now. So that’s a good sign because when you share it with others, if people come to mind right away for them, you’ve nailed it.

  • Codie Barron Leath

    This is really helpful, Stu. Thank you. Seeing your example in this solidifies the point too. And it encourages me that if I start specific I won’t loose a broader audience – I’ll actually gain momentum to reach that broader audience later. And if I start broad I may never gain a real audience to begin with. It’s a no-brainer.

    • YES! It’s all about the momentum. That’s what makes it easier when you do transition to a broader audience.

  • Thanks, Stu. Creating momentum in one specific area is brilliant. It’s great to see you sharing your expertise with entrepreneurs interested in producing recurring revenue AND giving tons of money to charities. I’ve been doing that (recurring revenue) lately by creating Amazon Kindle 1-hour reads quickly. My Google Grants (https://goo.gl/FG506f) 1-hour Kindle read just came out yesterday. I want to be known as the guy who creates 1-hour Kindle reads in as little as 1 hour.

  • Ness Baxter

    Hi Stu
    This is so insightful and really nailed where I am at right now. I was almost frightened to narrow but I can see how it can work to my favour if I do. I am all about getting everyone cooking again including kids and teens to ensure a healthy body, life long learning, a healthy mind etc 🙏

  • Nikki Rowley

    Thanks for the reminder! It’s so easy to want to go broader. Than you, Stu!

  • I asked exactly the same question in STC India Annual Conference 2016 newsletter that I republished later on Medium, at: https://medium.com/you-too/be-your-own-story-da2db69b3baf#.htez9ukkx

    I always believe that an organization’s brand is the sum-total of personal brands of all people working there and so every individual should work towards their own brand for their own self, and to contribute to the organization goals more effectively.

  • Great article & great point. Tremendously valuable tip. I was waiting for you to say what niche you found for this client (because it seemed niche enough initially) … but you never did! I’m thinking “help menopausal women with sleep problems”, “help menopausal women who struggle with depression & emotional rollercoaster”, “help menopausal women continue to thrive while managing wavering energy levels”, “help menopausal women maintain their beauty … hair loss, dry skin, hair texture changes, belly fat”, “help menopausal women manage emotionally-chaotic households when raising teenage girls whose hormonal fluctuations clash with their own”. Can you tell I’m a 48-year old woman?!

    • Love it.

      And imagine, if a woman is challenged with those things (or has a friend who is), it makes referring you SO much easier.

  • Great post. This is something I feel I overlook and have trouble with. I’m definitely going to try to zero in on this. Thanks Stu!

  • Reminds me of a verse in Matthew 16… 13 When Jesus came into the region of Caesarea Philippi, He asked His disciples, saying, “Who do men say that I, the Son of Man, am?”

    14 So they said, “Some say John the Baptist, some Elijah, and others Jeremiah or one of the prophets.”

    15 He said to them, “But who do you say that I am?”

    16 Simon Peter answered and said, “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.”

    • Lisa W Smith

      Not that He didn’t know, but that they would solidify in THEIR own minds who He was! Good analogy!

  • Kirsten Johnson Samuel

    Thanks Stu. I was recently reminded of the need to be specific. I thought I was, but I was challenged to go even more narrow in my target audience. Loved that you said, “to begin with I had to narrow my approach”. That is key. Clear, concise messaging.

  • Cathy Hay

    A great tip, Stu! I’d like to add a further question… Specific according to whom? Among my entrepreneur buddies I’m about as quirky and as specific as you can get, but within my niche I’m kind of broad, appealing to fashion designers, theatrical costume design students, and re-enactors, all of whom have different goals. It can be challenging to truly speak to them all!

    • That’s true. But what’s the commonality? What’s the common “thread”? (yes… pun intended 😛 ).

      It’s about being specific to your market. Everyone else doesn’t matter 🙂

  • Louise Ives-Wilkinson

    Thanks for another great post Stu. Any help with being more specific in interior design would be much appreciated, do you think being an interior designer specific enough!!?? Thanks!

    • I think you can get more specific.

      Perhaps in describing your “style” of interior design? Or for the clients you work best with? Or the rooms you are best known for?

      I like to ask myself this… “how would a happy client refer you to someone else?”

      For example, my wife and I are in the midst of redesigning our kids rooms. And as you can imagine, we (mostly my amazing wife) has been researching online… a LOT.

      If we had someone who was known for designing awesome kids’ rooms, the next time we were in a conversation with a friend who was doing the same, it would be SUPER easy to make the referral.

      “Oh you’re redesigning Lauren’s room? You should check out Louise… she’s an awesome interior designer who specializes in kids’ rooms”.

      See what I mean?

      Hopefully that helps.

  • Great article, Stu. I basically coined the title “Book Director” because that’s exactly what I want to be known for. And my companies speakittobook.com (for entrepreneurs) and sermontobook.com (for pastors) are doing fantastic.

  • Karen Thomas

    I help parents recover their children from the symptoms of autism using the 3 necessary stages of healing the gut, heavy metal detoxification, and brain support and repair. The key is that I do it in a step by step video program showing exactly how I recovered my own son from his symptoms. No one else has anything like it. http://autismmomsmentor.com and http://naturallyhealingautism.com

    • This is good Karen… I like it.

      One quick suggestion…

      I’m getting stuck on “recover their children from the symptoms” part. I’m not sure that’s how someone would describe it if they were in a conversation with friends.

      As much as possible, try to use language your market would use. They’ll connect MUCH faster to you and what you have to offer.

  • Nicole

    Thanks for this. I’m not really sure what I’m known for! I guess I have some thinking to do….

    Nicole | The Professional Mom Project

  • Mathew Peachment

    Thanks Stu! This is such a reminder for me to drill down and focus on something. I know I can take my expertise in many different ways being a designated accountant and looking to build my own online business. I need to have that phrase established so I can focus!!

    • Yeh it’s hard… especially when you can go in a bunch of different directions. But the more narrow you are (or specific about the market you serve), the faster progress you’ll experience.

  • Stu, as usual, a well written article from someone who’s opinion and experience I trust because I have come to know, from your posts and Tribe, what it is that you are known for. Thank you for this and your many other posts

    I see this as an incredibly important question to ask myself, and about which to remind myself at frequent intervals, so that whatever I attempt to offer to prospects is kept in line with not only what I have to offer but also with what my prospects want to get from me so as to stay in integrity with myself and my audience. It is a question that I am sharing with my own audience for them to consider.

    My goal, based upon what I have learned from you, from Tribe, from Jeff Walker, James Wedmore and Yaro Starak and Ryan Levesque, is to become know for providing guidance on how to achieve comfortable self-sufficiency with self-reliance in an age that would have us all otherwise be totally dependent upon the state for our welfare and survival.

    We’ll just have to now wait to see how realistic is that goal and if all of this learning about launching an online business and membership can actually be applied to produce paying results and a reputation fitting with my goal.

    This is the first time I have publicly stated my goal, which leaves me with a queasy feeling, but I am encouraged by knowing that Grandma Moses did not start upon her road to success until she was 78 and I’m not quite there yet! Hope springs eternal. 🙂

    • Thanks for your kind words Peter.

      I like where you’re going with this. Here’s a quick suggestion…

      When describing what you want to be known for, use words that people would use in regular conversation. And try as much as possible to keep it tight. Meaning, the shorter it is, the more likely someone will remember it (and therefore tell others).

      Hopefully that helps.

      • Thank you Stu.
        You are so right in that observation. I guess you can take the man out of engineering but you can’t take engineering out of the man! 🙂

  • Stu, great question for everyone to be 100% clear on.

    ​I support and encourage men and women 50+ from around the
    world who want to advance from where they are now, to where they want
    to be as The world needs us to be it’s wisdom-seeking stewards and
    Elders. https://www.fleurknowles.com.au/

    • I like the specific focus on who you serve.

      But I’d encourage you to get specific about the problem they face. When you do, you’ll gain a lot more traction.

      • Stu, thank you so much for responding. I’ll take that great thought on board and adjust my spiel.

  • Maria Lucassen

    Perfect Timing! Something I need to figure out as my current websites, mini course and summit are not converting to new leads. It seemed logical for you to choose membership site building. I believe I know my purpose in life: help career women over fifty that want to retire find ways to create income so they dare to quite their job from corporate America. It is much harder if you worked as an executive Housekeeper on cruiseships, and now are a corporate accounting manager, to find a link to your target audience. In another class this week they used the question: where do you stand for? Some of my best friends gave me this answer: I stand for thoughtful, hard working, perseverance, honesty, loyal, cost conscious and like to help people. Oh, and I like to learn and improve myself. Now I need to translate all this in my image for the future ME. Any thoughts how to tackle this? Suggestions? Thank you!

  • Nicky Harvey

    Hi Stu, for the past year I have been ‘nurturing ‘ an idea 😉 as a 46 yr old mum, wife, friend, business woman etc, there are many many times I have lost complete sight of who ‘I’ am and its through illness and stress that I had to find ways to have some ‘me’ time and to reconnect…. this has led to realising that I am not alone.. that many women feel the same way…. friends and clients have described me as someone who lifts their spirits, inspire them and make them feel so much calmer…. But I wonder if my business idea/niche is niche enough??? I am now wondering is this too broad?? here is my idea…..

    LOVE, NOURISH, CREATE

    Give yourself a little ‘ME’ time…. In this busy world us women live in, where multi tasking seems to be something we are not only good at but have got to have a masters degree in these days, have you ever wanted to just scream “stop the world I want to get off” when it all just gets too much?

    We are just so busy, preoccupied with being Mum, Wife/Partner, Daughter, Work Colleague, Housewife, Friend, that no wonder the last person we ever think about is ourselves!

    Have you ever heard the saying “you cannot pour from an empty cup, take care of yourself first”? Well that’s the thing… As women we often give first and then, and only then perhaps if there is time at some point we might try and fit ourselves in! and we know that actually the truth is, that time pretty much never comes! does this sound familiar to you? And…… have you ever sat and stared at yourself in the mirror and wondered who is staring back at you?

    Well during the past 10 years I have come to realise that we have just got this all so wrong! That actually the saying above is just so right….. We have to take care of ourselves first! We need ‘ME’ time, not only for our sanity, but for our whole mind, body and soul being….. By loving and nourishing ourselves regularly we are then in a far stronger and more balanced state of being to enable us to be our ‘best self’ not only for ourselves but for everyone else around us.

    So this is all very well but I can hear you shouting, yeah, yeah, yeah, I hear you but that’s never going to happen in my house, there is always something or someone calling me! So I have come up with an answer, a solution……

    I am on a mission to help women create a better more inspired, connected and calmer way of living….. How would you like a place to go,) a ‘ ME’ place where you can meet with like minded women who just like you need a place to relax, de-stress and reconnect with themselves…. Forget the whole ‘woo woo’ spiritual approach to holistic living, which to be honest is just not needed!! This is a relaxing online sacred space where you will learn simple yet powerful tools and techniques in order to create positive changes in your life, with a little bit of ‘girly’ fun and chat thrown in of course for good measure.

    No having to talk about what’s bothering you unless you want to of course….. Just a heart warming safe place where you can ‘plug in’ and relax, unwind and most importantly reconnect with ‘YOU’ …. Whether you have 10 mins to spare or an hour, there is something for everyone…… Relax with a gentle de-stressing meditation, change limiting beliefs with our proven self hypnosis downloads, learn new tools and techniques and be inspired to create a more balanced life for YOU, to enable you to live a more creative, purposeful, nourishing and calmer lifestyle.

    You will leave feeling not only relaxed, but also inspired, balanced, and most importantly, completely reconnected to your whole being <3

  • Stu, thanks for reminding me again of this. Often, because I help a variety of clients with their digital marketing, up to this point it’s been difficult for me to narrow in on just one focus. But after reading your article (which I’ve heard several times before from you), I took a day off to reassess my “one thing” to figure out what I’m really really good at and what others say I’m good at. So I will be completely revamping my message & offerings to reflect what I want to be know for, which is: The Digital Strategy Guy. So this will be my brand slogan: “I have a 5-part framework that helps entrepreneurs create a brilliantly simple digital strategy that converts visitors into buyers.” Thoughts?

  • Dacia Coffey

    So challenging to use the discipline to pick just…one…thing (lol!) Here goes: I help manufacturers grow their revenue by tying their marketing strategy and message to their sales cycle. (OR… I help manufacturers improve how they are perceived in order to speed up sales and growth.)

  • Nicky Harvey

    Hi Stu, for the past year I have been ‘nurturing ‘ an idea 😉 as a
    46 yr old mum, wife, friend, business woman etc, there are many many times I have lost complete sight of who ‘I’ am and its through illness and stress that I had to find ways to have some ‘me’ time and to reconnect…. this has led to realising that I am not alone.. that many women feel the same way…. friends and clients have described me as someone who lifts their spirits, inspire them and make them feel so much calmer…. But I wonder if my business idea/niche is niche enough??? I
    am now wondering is this too broad?? does this say what I am known for?

    Give yourself a little ‘ME’ time…. In this busy world us women live in, where multi tasking seems to be something we are not only good at but have got to have a masters degree in these days, have you ever wanted to just scream “stop the world I want to get off” when it all just gets too much?

    We are just so busy, preoccupied with being Mum, Wife/Partner, Daughter, Work Colleague, Housewife, Friend, that no wonder the last person we ever think about is ourselves!

    Have you ever heard the saying “you cannot pour from an empty cup, take care of yourself first”? Well that’s the thing… As women we often give first and then, and only then perhaps if there is time at some point we might try and fit ourselves in! and we know that actually the truth is, that
    time pretty much never comes! does this sound familiar to you? And……have you ever sat and stared at yourself in the mirror and wondered who is staring back at you?

    Well during the past 10 years I have come to realise that we have just got this all so wrong! That actually the saying above is just so right….. We have to take care of ourselves first! We need ‘ME’ time, not only for our sanity, but for our whole mind, body and soul being….. By loving and nourishing ourselves regularly we are then in a far stronger and more balanced state of being
    to enable us to be our ‘best self’ not only for ourselves but for everyone else around us.

    So this is all very well but I can hear you shouting, yeah, yeah, yeah, I hear you but that’s never going to happen in my house, there is always something or someone calling me! So Ihave come up with an answer, a solution……

    I am on a mission to help women need create a better more inspired, connected and calmer way of living….. How would you like a place to go,) a ‘ ME’ place where you can meet with like minded women who just like you need a place to relax,de-stress and reconnect with themselves…. Forget the whole ‘woo woo’ spiritual approach to holistic living, which to be honest is just not needed!! This is a relaxing online sacred space where you will learn simple yet powerful tools and techniques in order to create positive changes in your life, with a little bit of ‘girly’ fun and chat thrown in of course for good measure.

    No having to talk about what’s bothering you unless you want to of course….. Just a heart warming
    safe place where you can ‘plug in’ and relax, unwind and most importantly reconnect with ‘YOU’ …. Whether you have 10 mins to spare or an hour, there is something for everyone…… Relax with a gentle de-stressing meditation, change limiting beliefs with our proven self hypnosis downloads, learn new tools and techniques and be inspired to create a more balanced life for YOU, to enable you to live a more creative, purposeful, nourishing and calmer lifestyle.

    You will leave feeling not only relaxed, but also inspired, balanced, and most importantly, completely reconnected to your whole being <3

  • I’m sort of in a pickle. People KNOW me for something I’m really NOT. There’s no deception in this, just how my business is successful. Here’s what people think: I’m the expert debate coach who will show students or coaches how to be champions. In reality, I hire “expert debate coaches” and publish their material on my publishing site (with a healthy membership strategy, thanks to you, Stu).

    So, my business site takes care of students and coaches, but my personal site is (or should be) about business. Answering your question, I’d like to be known for solopreneurship, something I have done successfully since 2004, before the word was even used. I’m more of a businessman than a debate coach. I have an MBA, not a communications degree. I suspect there is a world of people who would find my input valuable, perhaps even pay for courses or counsel, to be coached in running their own business “solo.”

    What do you think, Stu? I suspect you have found yourself in a similar situation where people THINK they know your special talent, but it is really something else.

  • Jonathan Van Horn

    Thanks Stu, great reminder!

    I work with pro soccer players and help them understand how their faith integrates within their competition. Even more specific, I help pro athletes navigate and manage healthy transition. Mainly, the transition from playing professional sport to the “real world”.

  • Makes a lot of sense, Stu, at first I thought I would work anyone with with anxiety…oops, that didn’t go so well. Many people just wanted a quick fix.
    Now I know I want to serve coaches who want to build their businesses by releasing limiting beliefs. I am more focused and getting more Ideal Clients now knowing who they are and who I am!

  • Kelly Talamo

    Wow Gregory! Great catch on that Matthew verse! Good job Stu..

  • As an experienced dentist, I help people learn how to avoid fillings and dental treatments! I teach effective home care for adults and kids that will improve their mouth health – without flossing – to prevent and naturally reverse cavities and gum disease.

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