A few weeks ago, my business partners and I had the interesting experience of having 3 cameramen follow us around for a day as part of a documentary they were doing that would end up being used as an education piece in college business schools across the country. The group had read about us online and knew of our unique story(for those unaware, I own a swimming pool company), so they wanted to catch footage of all aspects of the business—from installing pools to taking lead calls in the office.
During one of these lead calls in my office, as the cameraman stood over me and recorded, I had a very interesting conversation with a prospect. Basically, the prospect had two major needs: He wanted a pool large/deep enough for a diving board, but he also wanted a very large play area with the pool (section of water less than 4’ deep). After discussing these needs with him for about 5 minutes and realizing they were a critical aspect of his buying decision, I told the prospect the following:
Me: Well sir, to be completely honest, I don’t think we have a swimming pool that’s going to fit your needs based on what you’ve told us.
Prospect: Really, why is that?
Me: Fiberglass pools do not get any larger than 16’x40’. What this means is that if you have a diving pool, the first 1/3 of the pool, or about 13’, is going to be play area. The next 1/3 of the pool is going to be a hard slope, which serves very little purpose. And the final 1/3 is going to be a diving well (8’ deep). Because you’ll only have 13’ as a play area, I don’t think that will be enough to make you happy.
Prospect: No, 13’ is not enough, what’s our solution?
Me: Well, I think you’re going to need a concrete pool in this case. They don’t have size/shape limitations, and it sounds like what you’re really going to need is an L-shaped pool—two unique bodies of water, one being shallow and one being deep.
Prospect: But you all don’t sell concrete pools, do you?
Me: No, we don’t. But if you’re really serious about your two major needs of play area and diving area, that’s the only solution I can offer you. Honestly, I just don’t think we’re the company for you.
Prospect: Well thanks for your honesty, I do appreciate it.
After I got off of the call, one of the cameramen looked at me mystified, and this was the conversation that followed:
Cameraman: Are you telling me you turned down that guy’s business? I would never do that!
Me: Our product doesn’t fit his needs, and I’m not going to lie to the guy. He wants a large play area and a large diving area in his pool. We simply can’t offer that, and I’m not going to pretend we can.
Cameraman: Yeah, but selling is selling and you should still try to convince him that he should go with your company.
Me: First of all, I am not dying for his business. We do inbound marketing, and because we’re so dang good at it I get tons of leads every day. I’m looking for great leads, not ones I have to convince about our product. If I had met with this fellow at his home, two other concrete pool guys would have come out and convinced him what I just told him—our product isn’t the right fit, period.
Cameraman: Well I’ve never turned down a job.
Me: That’s because of two reasons: Your marketing has never been that good and you really don’t know who you are. My product fits 80% of the marketplace. I don’t worry about the other 20%. The fact is, I sell more because I’m worried about less.
Cameraman: I think that’s crazy.
Me: (laughing) Yeah, I may have thought the same until I really learned who I was and stopped trying to please everyone else. The moment I did that, everything changed. You should try it sometime.
I’m not sure if that phone call is going to be on the documentary, but if I was calling the shots, it would be the first thing college students saw, as it’s that important. After being an entrepreneur for over 10 years now, I’ve come to this conclusion:
Most people in business have no idea who they really are.
For example, as I’ve mentioned here before, when I started my pool company I offered vinyl liner inground pools, fiberglass pools, above ground pools, retail, and many other items. Today, 10 years later, I do ONE thing—fiberglass pools. And because of that, our company is nationally branded as the fiberglass pool company. I’m not saying this to brag, that’s just how it is.
Blogging Identities and Shticks
I see many bloggers suffering from this same problem when it comes to branding and identity. They try to make money in a handful of ways but they never become truly known in the blogosphere for anything, and that’s why they eventually give up.
For example, folks in the blogosphere know me as a guy with an incredible community that passionately talks about inbound marketing and Hubspot. I don’t spend a bunch of time trying to act like I know all things web, social media, affiliate marketing, etc. Although I may be interested in those things, they aren’t my shtick. But when it comes to inbound marketing and blogging—oh yeah, that’s me.
For example, last week I had two large companies contact me about what I would charge to come out and speak to their organizations. Both requests were practically identical—they wanted me to get their employees fired up about inbound marketing. These types of contacts are starting to become very common, but they’re just a natural result of consistent branding, hard work, and a sense of self.
But I see many other bloggers who know who they are. John Falchetto is an expat life coach. Wim is a sales coach. Alex Whalley rocks with niche and affiliate websites. Steve Scott is solely focused on helping people make money online. And the ever popular JK Allen teaches people how to hustle through life and business. These are just a few examples of bloggers with a clear sense of ‘self’.
So that’s the challenge folks. Who are you? What’s your shtick? And do other people see you or your business the same way you do? If you know these things, your ability to experience huge success on and offline will be increased dramatically.
OK, simple question for all readers: What’s your shtick? What do you want to be known as in the blogosphere and in the rest of the world? C’mon, jump in and promote yourself a little bit, plus I’d love to learn a little more about this awesome community.
***Speaking of inbound marketing, I’ll be giving a rocking webinar for the folks at Spin Sucks this Thursday. If you’re interested in having a good time and learning a ton in the process, check it out here.