How to Become Iconic
In an oversaturated market, it can be different to stand out with your product, especially if what you’re offering is already out there. While looking at how other people do it can bring you forward, mimicking their every move can have serious negative effects on your business.
No one knows this better than Ali Brown, one of the very first online entrepreneurs and the first woman to conquer a very male-dominated field a few years back. She’s one of Forbe’s “women to watch” and has been called “the entrepreneurial guru for women” by Business News Daily. Today, Ali is the world’s preeminent coach for seven- and eight-figure female entrepreneurs.
How did she get there? She made herself become untouchable. To understand how she did that, she will take us back to where it all started.
From an Email List of Ten People to Events in Las Vegas
When Ali graduated school, she threw herself into the job market and had six different jobs in six years. “I thought something was wrong with me. I kept thinking: This can’t be it, I want more.”
She was working at a small ad agency in New York making $35k a year when she decided to try a different road and become a freelancer. “I was so excited to have control and to have creativity in my work. The downside was: I had no idea how to get clients and how to run a business.”
It was before the internet was mainstream, and Ali went from one ad agency to the next, offering her services. The turning point came when she decided to create an email newsletter to market her services. “My email list had ten people on it, including my parents and my cat,” she remembers. Nonetheless, she started to get referrals which eventually led to jobs. People asked her how she was publishing her newsletter. “I remember saying: From AOL and my address book. I started thinking that it would be good if I knew more about it, so I started researching.”
Ali saw people selling e-books online and thought this was a great idea. She would learn something and then sell what she learned in an e-book. “At the time, this wasn’t mainstream at all. Today, of course this is not how you get started. But back then, I was so excited about it.” She ended up even selling an e-book on how to sell e-books.
By 2004, Ali got into coaching. “I was starting to have a following of women without really meaning to. They said they were sick of listening to all these men and they wanted to learn from me.” While she was sitting in a seminar, she heard everyone teaching about how to build an email list or how to create a product, how to build a website. “I thought: Why is no one putting this all together?” She created a workshop that included all these components and started selling it. “The sale was crazy. I did workshops and conferences, even events in Las Vegas.”
When Too Many People Get in the Game
Then came a turning point. Ali suddenly noticed that a lot of people had started coaching. “I was so immersed in making my programs better that when I stopped to look around, I realized that I had completely lost my positioning. People didn’t know who I was anymore.”
She had two choices. She could keep pushing and growing her business in the way she’d been doing until now, but spend a lot more resources and money because of the growing competition. Or she could start over completely, focusing on what she was really good at.
“Today, a lot of women who decide to have an online business are being taught by people who have never truly mastered business. As a result, they’re creating a business that’s going to be really hard to grow. They’re not standing out. They’re looking at what everyone else is doing and then do the same thing. That’s the biggest frustration I see in the market today.”
Ali says that newcomers should be aware of this difficulty “There’s so much noise online that it’s extremely difficult to stand out. When everyone is getting in the game, everything gets devalued.” Even if what someone offers is great, people are going to look for a cheaper or free version of it. That’s why it’s so important to learn from someone who has a good perspective on the industry and who has a real business background. “That’s when you’ll learn a skill set that you can use for the rest of your career, not things that will disappear after six weeks.”
Make Your Claim
Ali knew she didn’t want to be one in a million. She didn’t want to become irrelevant. When she did an exercise described in Gay Hendricks’ book called “The Big Leap” about stepping into one’s genius, she knew this was it. She knew that her genius was to work with leaders and that she was untouchable in that niche. “It was this book that made me realize that this was the right direction, but there was also an external component to it. I asked myself: Have I been following my clients and chosen the easy road, or is there somewhere I’m supposed to lead them?”
Her transformation didn’t happen overnight. She knew she was about to shift into a smaller market, she was going to concentrate on one type of client only, but she knew that once she became known for this, it would be worth it. All she had to do was make her claim.
“My advice to people who are starting out is to do the opposite of what everyone else is doing. That’s how you stand out,” Ali says. When she promoted her event “Iconic” last year, she didn’t want her sales page to look like anyone else’s. She decided on an all black page with high quality copy. “My friend called and said she couldn’t believe that I had sold out the event without making a single video.”
What Makes You Different?
Unless you’re naturally the best, competing in any category where there’s a lot of competition is going to be a losing game. “You end up competing on price, you end up working harder, you end up pouring more money into ads. It’s just crazy.” Ali says that’s why it’s so important to think about what it is that makes you untouchable. “I decided to be the preeminent coach for seven and eight-figure women entrepreneurs. There were certainly other coaches who worked with those women, but they didn’t make the claim I made.” Today, Ali is known throughout the online business world as the go-to person when a woman reaches that stage. “I get people calling saying: It’s time to work with Ali.”
To find your own zone of genius, Ali advises to think about the three things you do in your work that make you unique. Prepare three claims that no one else has, making clear why you’re different. “Women are not really used to say they are the number one. Men do this more often. Your claims don’t have to be something you can prove. They’re more something about yourself you just know, like you’re the best, the leading, the most recognized. Then start using this claim.”
As a next step, Ali swears on bold statements. “Women often hold back, expressing themselves with ‘I believe’ or ‘I feel’. You should change that into a provocative claim.” Eleanor Beaton, a client of Ali’s, used “Women don’t want power” to talk about the dilemma women are in because they want power but aren’t willing to do what it takes. “It’s provocative and it fuels a debate. Once you read it, you want to know more.”
To make such a claim, think about an opinion that you have that is related to your business, a strong point of view, and share it with one bold statement. “This is when people start paying attention to you. Debate is good online. There will always be people who don’t like what you say. Just ignore them and focus on your iconic work.”
Iconic – Ali has coined the term for her own event. The idea came to her while she heard someone talk about how certain leaders have become icons of their industry. She thought it fits perfectly to describe how she helps people discover the work they will be known for, the work that will make them iconic. “And this is where I draw the line between teaching good stuff versus leading people to a new place.”
- The Big Leap by Gay Hendricks
Connect with Ali Brown:
- Ali Brown on Facebook
- Ali Brown on LinkedIn
- Ali Brown on Instagram
- Ali Brown on Twitter
- Glambition Radio
- My Prediction of the HUGE ‘Launch Bubble’ That’s Coming Fast… and How to Surpass It…
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