How to Create a Unique Niche

“When you’re one-of-a-kind, you have no competition.” – Sam Horn, author of POP! and Got Your Attention?
create a unique niche

Do you wish you could:

* figure out what makes you original?

* clarify the secret sauce that makes you different?

* create a competitive edge that motivates decision-makers to pick you?

The good news is, you CAN do all the above. The secret is to create a unique and needed niche that gets you noticed by ideal clients.

Are you thinking, “I know I need to do that; I just don’t know how to do that?”

Join the club. In my 20 years of being a business/branding consultant; I’ve seen many entrepreneurs fail because they couldn’t figure out how they were special.

They weren’t able to differentiate themselves from others in their industry. They never created a winning competitive edge that helped them stand out and succeed.

So, I developed a step-by-step system to help my clients break out instead of blend in.

One of the steps in my system helps you identify what you’re bringing to the table that is special, that people value and are willing to pay for.

In other words, what are you good at? What do you do well that people want and need that they’ll hire you to do for them or teach to them?

Here’s a condensed version of my 4A Process for clarifying the strategic “secret sauce” that makes you special.

Sam Horn’s 4 A Approach to Creating a Unique and Needed Niche

Ask yourself the following questions to start clarifying what you know that other people want to know or want to have done for them.

ACHIEVEMENT: What have you achieved – that other people would like to achieve?

* Did you put yourself through college, build a house from scratch, get your pilot’s license, teach yourself to design websites that make money, retire at 40, launch a successful Kickstarter campaign?

* What did you accomplish that took discipline and perseverance – and other people could benefit from your lessons-learned on how to “stay the course”?

* What skill have you acquired you could reverse-engineer into a step-by-step methodology that will expedite people’s ability to do this fr themselves?

ADVERSITY: What challenges have you overcome – that other people would like to overcome?

· Did you deal with breast cancer, get down-sized, rebound from a difficult divorce, lose all your money in a financial scandal?

· What did you survive – that you could show other people how to survive?

· What did you learn “the hard way” and you want to prevent/minimize that pain for others and give them support so they don’t have to go it alone?

AVOCATION: What is a hobby you’re good at – that other people would like to be good at?

· Do you love to play piano, garden and grow your own vegetables, ride horses, play with smart phone photography – and you could turn that into a metaphor that gives you a fresh approach to a familiar topic?

· What do you do for fun – adventure travel, museum docent, astronomy clubs –that you could share with others who want more fun in their life?

· What do you do that lights you up – and you could integrate it into your job so you’re integrating your passion/profession instead of seeing them as separate?

ATTITUDE: What is a philosophy you have – that others would find relevant, inspiring, beneficial?

· What is an epiphany you’ve had – that could save others trial-and-terror learning?

· What is a favorite motto that keeps you motivated – that others might find helpful?

· What is a contrarian, provocative insight you have– that could open people’s eyes to an outdated/dangerous belief and lead to a transformational aha?

These questions have helped many of my clients leverage their lessons-learned into a successful business and earn a good living doing work they love that matters.

Want a few quick examples of how my clients have used these techniques to leverage their A’s into successful businesses?

Achievement:

Client David Glover is a Naval Academy grad, cancer survivor and world-class Ironman triathlete. However, he’s so much more than that. Check out his website to discover how he’s been able to leverage his A’s into a soul-satisfying business where he’s getting paid to speak, write, coach and direct running races around the country.

Adversity: Christina Grimm grew up in sunny California, playing competitive travel softball from age ten. You can imagine how thrilled she was to receive an athletic/academic scholarship to a Division I school. Unfortunately, their hypercritical coach only focused on what Christina did wrong, never on what she did right. The coach ruined her self-esteem and enjoyment of the game. She ended up leaving after one year, vowing never to play softball again.

Christina is pro-active though and decided that, instead of letting that toxic experience defeat her; she would turn it into a career and mission helping others who were being mistreated. She went back to college and got her PsyD. Her thesis? “The Effect of Coaching on the Self-Esteem of Teen-Aged Girls.” She is now a certified Tongue Fu! – Never Be Bullied Again instructor and offers programs on how to confidently speak up and take responsibility for being treated with the respect you want, need and deserve.

Avocation: A financial adviser wanted to know how she could possibly differentiate herself in that crowded industry. She had impressive credentials as she was frequently featured in the media as a result of her high-profile role for a nationally-known company, but she still needed a competitive edge for her work to stand out in the glut of “instant experts.”

I asked, “What do you do when you’re not working?”

Jan told me, “I play golf.”

I said with a smile, “We’re in business. Why not use smart golf as a metaphor for being a smart investor? You could call your book ‘Go for the Green.’ Talk yourself through a round of golf using each step of the process as an analogy. Your tips on how to make/save par can be used as a parallel for how to make/save money.”

This was strategic positioning as Jan’s target clients were executives and entrepreneurs, many of whom play golf. This was something they valued and wanted to get better at, which increased the likelihood of her being asked to speak at corporate events and association conventions, which often host golf tournaments before their meetings.

Attitude: Julie Jansen, a career coach, wanted a breakout book in her genre but told me, “Sam, all the great titles – like ‘Take This Job and Love It’ – are taken.”

I asked her a series of questions including, “What attitude do your clients have? What is something that frustrates them? What is something you hear, over and over again, when they come into your office?”

She thought about it for a moment, laughed and said, “You know what they all say? ‘I Don’t Know What I Want; But I Know It’s Not This.’”

I told Julie, “THAT’s the title of your book! People will look at it and think, ‘That’s EXACTLY how I feel! People buy books that resonate with them, and that title will resonate with potential readers because it articulates a problem they have they want solved.” Julie’s book has become an evergreen classic because it expresses an attitude and frustration many people in her target market feel.

So, how about you? Are you in a crowded industry? Are you having a hard time standing out? Are you not getting the clients you deserve?

Use this 4A Process to identify what you have to offer that can be turned into a legacy message and unique niche that helps you pop out of your pack. Your “A’s” are a goldmine waiting to be leveraged into a one-of-a-kind competitive edge that helps you stand out from your crowd vs. get lost in your crowd.

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Want more ways to create a unique niche that gives you a one-of-a-kind competitive edge? You’ll find them in POP! (which Ken Blanchard says is “an inspiring guide to getting heard, getting remembered, getting results.”) and Got Your Attention? ( presented to NASA, National Geographic, Accenture, ASAE and Ernst Young). Contact Cheri@IntrigueAgency.com to inquire about Sam’s consulting services and to arrange for her to share her inspiring, results-producing insights at your next conference.

Want to Give a Career-Making Talk?

Do you have an opportunity to speak at TED, TEDx, SXSW, Small Business Expo, 99U, WBENC, Dreamforce, NMX, World Domination Summit, Wisdom2.0 or BIF?

Have you watched the careers of Brene Brown, Simon Sinek, Sir Ken Robinson, Amy Cuddy and Dan Pink SOAR after they delivered powerfully original messages?

If so, you already know that a quality 10-18 minute talk can be a career-maker.

If you have an opportunity to get up in front of a group of people, please understand that EVERYONE in the room (and watching the video later) is a decision-maker. Every single person has the power to take you and what you care about viral. Each person has the power to quote you, post about you, promote you, fund you or work with you.

Invest in your future. Use these “7 Cs of Original Messaging” to create a genuinely intriguing, one-of-a-kind talk that favorably impresses/influences everyone in the room and in the online audience in the years ahead.

1. CLEAR

A Hollywood producer once told me directors can predict when their movies will make money. How? Simple. Do people walk out of the theater repeating something they heard word for word? If so, they become word-of-mouth advertisers. When people ask, “Seen any good movies lately?” they’re talking about your movie and taking it viral.

The same applies to your talk. Can listeners repeat your big idea – your most important point – word for word? If they can, they’ll become your word-of-mouth advocates. If they can’t, your big idea will be out-of-sight, out-of-mind … in one ear, out the other.

Neil Gaiman’s 2012 commencement speech
for Philadelphia’s University for the Arts shows the payoff of distilling your big idea into a crystal-clear sound bite. “Make Good Art” resonated so powerfully with the initial audience of hundreds, the video went viral within days and was turned into a best-selling book.

2. COMPELLING.

You’ve got 60 seconds to capture everyone’s attention or they’ll start checking email.

No perfunctory opening. No, “I’m glad to be here today and want to thank the organizer for inviting me.” That’s predictable, and predictable is boring. Pleasantly surprise everyone by jumping right into your origin story or into a compelling, counter-intuitive insight that flies in the face of current beliefs.

Test your premise beforehand with colleagues. If they say, “I already know that,” it’s back to the drawing board. Or, as comedian George Carlin said, “What did we go back to before there were drawing boards?” Keep tweaking your idea until people’s eyebrows go up (a sure sign of curiosity) and they say, “Hmmm. That’s interesting. Tell me more.”

3. CURRENT

The keynote speaker at a recent conference used the often-referenced “Pygmalion in the Classroom” study of how teachers’ expectations affect student performance as the basis for her talk. Really?! That study was done in 1989! She couldn’t find any current studies to make her case? Referencing such an outdated source undermined her credibility.

Recency = relevancy. What just-released report can you reference to prove your point? Recent research will get their attention, and respect.

4. CONGRUENT

After you’ve come up with a big idea, run it by your gut. Ask yourself, “Is this congruent with my voice, my vision, my values? If the program coordinator suggests a topic, but it doesn’t feel right, it’s wrong for you. A career-making talk shares your EEE – Expertise, Experience, Epiphanies – not someone else’s. What do you passionately believe? What is a heartfelt legacy message that sums up what you’ve learned from life? What’s an exciting invention, innovation or breakthrough you’ve been part of?

An executive called me a week before his program and said, “I hope you can help. I’ve been traveling almost nonstop, so I asked our company speechwriter to help prepare my talk. It’s well-done, it just doesn’t sound like me.”

I told him, “You’re right. A career-making talk has got to be your voice. Get a recorder and ask someone to take notes while you read the script. Every time you read something and think, ‘I would never say it that way,’ say out loud how you would say it. Don’t censure or second-guess yourself, don’t try to be eloquent, and don’t overthink it. Just keep moving forward, rewording it into your natural voice. Ask your assistant to integrate your phrasing into a new version and then read it out loud again until you wouldn’t change a word. Now, it’s your talk.”

5. COMMERCIALLY VIABLE

The purpose of a talk at most venues is not to sell your products or services, and it shouldn’t be your priority. Unless this is a pitch forum where you are supposed to be marketing yourself and your company, the point is to ADD VALUE FOR THE AUDIENCE not to promote yourself, your products and services. The fact is, though, an excellent talk will scale your visibility, viability and drive business to and for you.

Witness what’s happened to Brené Brown. Brené was a professor when she spoke for TEDx-Houston. She was popular at her university, but hardly a household name. Her talk on vulnerability was so evocative, it was quickly uploaded to the TED.com site and has since received 29 million views. Her resulting Oprah appearances made her an international fan favorite, generating lucrative book deals and five-figure keynotes.

6. CONSISTENT

It’s important that your talk be consistent with your brand positioning and primary focus. Instead of summarizing what you’ve done in the past, a career-making talk is a pebble in the pond of your best future. Ask yourself, “What do I want my next 1-3 years of my life to look like? How could this talk catalyze that and set that up?”

For example, a colleague was asked to give a TEDx talk about bullying since she’d had a horrific experience being bullied at work. She feels strongly about this issue, and has a lot to say about the importance of speaking up instead of waiting for HR to rescue you (not going to happen). But she is a management consultant. She doesn’t want to keep reliving that negative experience by speaking, consulting, and doing media interviews on it. It wouldn’t serve her goals to drive demand that’s inconsistent with her priorities and the quality of life she seeks. It’s smarter to select an idea that’s in alignment with what she wants to accomplish the next few years.

7. COMPETITIVE EDGE

I had an opportunity to hear the Physics Nobel Laureate Dr. John Mather speak recently. Following his talk, I asked him, “What’s your next “big idea?” He said, “I’ve got one, but I’m researching to see if anyone else has gotten there first.”

Exactly. Jerry Garcia of the Grateful Dead said, “It’s not enough to be the best at what you do; you must be perceived to be the only one who does what you do.” Once you have a clear, compelling, current, consistent, congruent, commercially viable idea, Google it to see if anyone else has gotten there first. If they have, it doesn’t necessarily mean you should abandon the idea; it just means you should design a provocative premise around it that hasn’t been shared before.

For example, watch Sir Ken Robinson, the most-watched TED talk of all time. Certainly, other experts have talked about the need for creativity in our schools, but no one does it quite like Ken.

Does your career-making talk meet all seven C criteria of Original Messaging? If so, kudos to you. You’ve dramatically increased the likelihood your talk will be a success for you, the meeting planner, and everyone who watches in person and online.

If not, invest the effort to craft an original 7C talk that gets and keeps people’s eyebrows up. Your audience, career, and legacy will thank you.

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Sam Horn, Founder/CEO of the Intrigue Agency, is on a mission to help people create quality projects that add value for all involved. Her TEDx talk on INTRIGUE and books – including POP!, IDEApreneur, Tongue Fu! and Washington Post bestseller Got Your Attention? – have been featured in New York Times, Forbes, Inc, Fast Company and on NPR and MSNBC, and presented to Boeing, Intel, Cisco, NASA, Capital One, NASA, YPO, National Geographic.

Want to Deal with Difficult People – Without Becoming One Yourself?

Would you like to know what to do when:

* people complain, gossip, tease, blame or argue?
* people are accusing you of something you didn’t do?
* someone is not treating you with the respect you deserve?
* a customer, coworker or family member is getting on your last nerve?

We’re taught math in school; however we’re NOT taught how to deal with difficult people without becoming one ourselves. That’s where Tongue Fu!® (martial arts for the mind/mouth) comes in.

tongue-fu-hands-image

Tongue Fu!® is a trade-marked process (and book) that’s been endorsed by Tony Robbins who calls it “terrific,” and Executive Book Summaries who says it’s a “MUST for anyone who deals with the public.” These are the techniques you wish you’d been taught in school on how to deal with challenging situations you face every day, on and off the job. Read ‘em and reap.

Tongue Fu!® Tip #1. “What can I do when people complain?”

When people complain, don’t explain, Take the AAA Train. Explaining why something wasn’t done when it was supposed to be done makes people angrier because explanations come across as excuses. Instead, Agree, Apologize, Act. “You’re right, Mrs. Smith, we were supposed to send that material to you last week, and I’m sorry you didn’t receive it yet. If I could please have your name and address I’ll personally put that brochure in an envelope and make sure it goes out today.” Voila. Complaint over!

Tongue Fu!® Tip #2: “What can I do if people accuse me of something untrue?”

Whatever you do, don’t defend or deny it. If someone blindsides you with an unfair allegation, “You women are so emotional!” and you protest with, “We’re not emotional!” you’ve just proven their point. Instead, put the conversational ball back in their court with, “What do you mean?” Asking them to explain themselves will cause them to reveal the real issue and you can address that instead of reacting to their attack. Imagine an upset client claims, “You don’t care about your customers.” Protesting, “That’s not true. We pride ourselves on our quality service” turns this into a “Yes we do – No you don’t” debate. Instead ask, “What makes you think that?” The client may say “I’ve left three messages and no one’s called back.” Aaahh, the real issue. Now you know what’s really bothering her and you focus on that instead of reacting to her attack.

Tongue Fu!® Tip #3: “What can I do if people are arguing?”

Stop disagreements with a hand gesture. No, not that one! If people are arguing and you try to talk over them, what will happen? They’ll talk louder. The voice of reason will get drowned out in the commotion. Putting your hand up like a policeman will cause them to pause for just a moment, which gives you a chance to get your verbal foot in the door. Then say these magic words, “We’re here to find solutions, not fault.” Remind them that John F. Kennedy said, “Our task is not to fix the blame for the past, it’s to fix the course for the future.” If the conversation starts deteriorating into a gripe session again, make a T with your hands and call out, “Time out. Calling each other names won’t help. Instead, let’s focus on how we can keep this from happening again.”

Tongue Fu!® Tip #4: “What if I have to give bad news?”

Don’t use the apathetic words, “There’s nothing I can do” or “There’s no way I can fix this.” A front desk manager at a hotel asked, “What can we say when people grumble about the rain? There’s nothing we can do about the weather. We’re not Mother Nature.” I told her, “The words, ‘There’s nothing” and “There’s no way’ come across as a verbal dead-end. People will conclude you don’t care. They’ll get more louder in an effort to make you care. Use the words, ‘I wish,’ ‘I hope,’ or ‘There’s something’ to let people know you’re trying to help them. Say, ‘I wish I could bring out the sunshine for you. I know you were looking forward to some beach time’ or ‘I hope it clears up soon. In case it doesn’t, there’s something I can suggest. Here’s a list of rainy-day activities so at least you can make the most of your visit even if the sun doesn’t cooperate.'” In the real world, we can’t always give people what they want and we sometimes have to deliver bad news. We can at least give people our concern and offer options.

Tongue Fu!® Tip #5: “What can I do if someone makes a mistake?

If something’s gone wrong,don’t “should” on people. When we tell people what they should have done, they will resent us – even if what we’re saying is right. Why? People can’t undo the past. If they’re being reprimanded for something they can’t change, they’ll channel their feeling of helplessness or guilt into antagonism towards us. My mom used to tell me, “We can’t motivate people to do better by making them feel bad.” Telling people what they “should” have done makes them feel bad and doesn’t teach them how to do it better. When people make a mistake, be a coach, not a critic by using the words “in the future” to shape their behavior instead of shame it. Focusing on what they can do “from now on” helps them learn instead of lose face and they’re a lot more likely to do things differently “next time.”

Tongue Fu!®Tip #6: “What can I do if someone’s teasing me?”

Develop a repertoire of Fun Fu! remarks. Erma Bombeck (bless her soul) said, “If we can laugh at it, we can live with it.” Are you sensitive about something? Perhaps you’ve put on a few pounds. You have a choice. You can be hyper-sensitive about this and give people the power to embarrass you, or you can come up with clever, non-combative comebacks and keep your wit(s) about you.

Want an example? I ran into a very tall man in an airport. The people in front of me were laughing and pointing at him. I thought, “How rude!” Then he got closer and I could see his t-shirt which said, “No, I’m not a basketball player!” The back of his shirt said, “Are you a jockey?” This man told me he used to dread going out of the house because everyone made smart-aleck remarks. He finally decided if he couldn’t beat ‘em, he might as well join ‘em. “This is nothing,” he said with a smile, “I have a drawer full of these shirts at home. My favorite says ‘I’m 6’13” and the weather up here’s fine.’ Ever since I started wearing these shirts,” he added, “I’ve had fun with my height instead of being frustrated by my height.” Fun Fu! responses can help you lighten up instead of tighten up so no one has the power to get under your skin or knock you off balance.

Tongue Fu!® Tip #7: “What if I have to tell someone no?”

Turn “NO, you can’t because” into “YES, you can, as soon as.”

Imagine a staff member asks, “Can I have my paycheck early? I’m going on a trip this weekend” and you answer, “No you can’t have your paycheck because it hasn’t been approved by payroll.” That’s the truth, however people will get upset because they feel you’re brushing them off.. The words “can’t because” are like a verbal door slamming in their face. Want good news? You can often approve requests with the words, “Sure you can, as soon as” or “Yes you can, right after.” Re-word your reply to, “Yes, you can have your paycheck, as soon as it’s approved by payroll. Why don’t we give them a call, explain the circumstances and see if there’s any way they can speed things up.” One manager said, “I can’t wait to use this idea at home. My kids see me as a ‘big meanie’ because I’m always telling them ‘no.’ Next time they ask if they can go outside and play with their friends, instead of saying, ‘No you can’t, because you haven’t done your homework,’ I’m going to say, ‘Sure you can, as soon as you finish your homework.’ Instead of seeing me as the one blocking what they want, this makes them responsible for getting what they want. It changes the whole dynamic of our relationship.”

Have these been helpful? Want more ways to keep your cool – even when other people aren’t? Want to know how to handle tough questions in media interviews, town halls and in presentations?

Check out Tongue Fu!®and Tongue Fu! at School.

Are you thinking, “I’ve tried these win-win approaches and they work with most people. However, there’s ONE person in my life who ignores all this.”

You may be dealing with a bully. Check out my Never Be Bullied Again video and take this quiz to see if you’re dealing with what I call a 5%er. If so, the tips in my Bully books can keep that person from mistreating you and ruining your quality of life.

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Sam Horn, Intrigue Expert and TEDx speaker, is on a mission to help people create mutually-respectful communications. Her work- including POP!, Tongue Fu!, Take the Bully by the Horns and Washington Post bestseller Got Your Attention? – has been featured in New York Times, Forbes, INC and on NPR and MSNBC and presented to clients as diverse as National Geographic, Four Seasons Resorts, Capital One, Accenture, Boeing and Cisco.

want to deal with difficult people