3 Steps to Your Strategic Advantage

Are you on track to meet your goals for the year? Perhaps you are one of the lucky ones that have already met them. Maybe you’re a long way off.
Don’t adjust the goals, adjust your strategy.

STRATEGIC ADVANTAGEFind Your Strategic Advantage in just 3 Simple Steps

Over the past couple of weeks, I have run across several people who find claiming their talents or abilities to be outside of their comfort zone.

As my focus for so long has been about positioning yourself for success, encountering several business people who feel they are bragging when they talk about what they do really well, and thus are miles from owning their strategic advantage.

I offer, therefore, 3 simple steps to help people find their strategic advantage and claim it without feeling vain or boastful.

1. Define How You Can Be of Service

Write down 7 ways you are of service to others. “Service”  includes any help you provide, any act of helpful activity. 7 is a magical number, it makes you stretch beyond the 3 or 4 typical things you think about. If you can find more, that’s great, but it is important to write down at least 7.

Some examples of what your list might include are the services you offer and the benefits you provide. You may also include things like the special ways in which you do what you do.

By taking the focus off yourself, and on to the service you provide, it become easier for you to articulate your gifts. For example, as a trainer might say

  1. I help business owners work more efficiently.
  2. As a Microsoft partner, my knowledge and training helps them make the most of their software.
  3. Through what I teach them, they get things done faster and with less hassle.
  4. My training cuts their learning time in half.
  5. Because of what they learn from me, they save hours of otherwise wasted time trying to figure things out for themselves.
  6. I am patient, so they feel comfortable and learn quickly.
  7. I know how frustrating working with new technology can be, so I have developed some techniques to help people feeling comfortable and in control.

2. Understand Why You Do what You do

There are many ways to make a living, to pay the bills. How did you come to be doing what you do for a living? Describe the back story to your current situation.

Any good story has 3 important parts – a beginning, a middle and an end. Your story should have at least one paragraph for each part – and the end should follow logically from what came before (it’s what that makes the plot come alive). When you do this well, it establishes your credibility.

Even if your current work serves only to pay your bills, you can make a story about why and how that works for you. If you are just starting out, make your story about what led you to where you are. If you simply drifted into it as a result of many different things, you can make your story about the choices you made along the way to get where you are.

Writing the story focuses your attention on the decisions you made and helps you get in touch with your “WHY.” When someone speaks from that kind of understanding, people do not see it as bragging or boastful.

3. Find out what others say about you.

If you have client testimonials, get them out and go through them. What are people saying about you? What is your “style”, what do they remember about their encounters with you.

At first, set aside the vague ones that simply say things like: “You did a great job. Thank you” or “You provided great service.”  Look for ones that hold clues to your personality or character and focus on them first. “Great service” is only special when combined with some qualifying aspect or adjective, as in: “Thoughtful service” or “Expert service”.

If you don’t have testimonials, contact 5 people (phone or email) and tell them you are working on some personal development or brand development and ask them to provide you with feedback. You will find people are surprisingly generous with their time for this kind of thing.

 

Look through the results of the 3 steps, how you are of service, why you do what you do, and the effect you have on other people. Summarize and synthesize the information. It holds Your Strategic Advantage.

If it doesn’t immediately jump out at you, share it with a friend or your partner. Sometimes they can spot the essence that you have trouble seeing.

Most important of all, though, is that you take the results to heart. Only then can they truly become your advantage.

If you need help discerning Your Strategic Advantage, contact me here – at no cost!

 

Author: Sue Hines

  1. William ButlerWilliam Butler07-11-2014

    Hi Sue,
    I especially like your first point, but they are all important to consider. When we look for greater ways to add value to others, we become better simply by being more humane.

    Kind Regards,
    Bill

    • Sue HinesSue Hines07-11-2014

      That is the bottom line, Bill. no man is an island, as they say. When we share our gifts, we are in community.

  2. jacquiegumjacquiegum07-11-2014

    Other focused almost always helps one succeed. And I so much agree that one should listen to what others say about you. Not only are testimonial very useful, but self -perception is often not on target and can enable you to hone your skills.

    • Sue HinesSue Hines07-11-2014

      Exactly, Jacquie, and what we think we give is often not what people think they receive.

  3. CatarinaCatarina07-09-2014

    Great advice, Sue. To focus on the client and not yourself is essential. They need to understand what you can do for them.

    • Sue HinesSue Hines07-11-2014

      Yes! That’s their reason for buying from you. Tap into that and you get to give so much more!

  4. Laurie S HurleyLaurie S Hurley07-08-2014

    As I enter into a bit of rebranding and redefining my main business, I was a bit surprised to discover it is because I realized what people wanted the most from me was not what I particularly chose to do first – if that makes sense (it does to me!) Being of service, in whatever way is going to help others and be financially beneficial for me. Although I am not unique is the tasks I do for others, I truly believe the way in which I go about them separates me from the rest.

    • Sue HinesSue Hines07-11-2014

      Laurie, you do have a unique offering and your background in teaching is so valuable.

  5. Susan CooperSusan Cooper07-08-2014

    I think that it’s a great idea to have them focus on how they can help others. It’s the perfect way to shift the thinking from “I’m bragging” to how I’m helping and a positive connotation.

    • Sue HinesSue Hines07-11-2014

      It is also a good way to demonstrate your value. Showing what has been possible for your clients makes it feel so much more tangible than simply saying what you can do.

  6. Patricia WeberPatricia Weber07-08-2014

    Being other focused, as you say don’t focus on yourself, is key to getting over yourself! It is what shifts the feeling from bragging to helping. Three valuable steps to take for sure.

    Thanks.

    • Sue HinesSue Hines07-08-2014

      It is amazing how well it works, isn’t it? If you are shy or nervous talking about what you do, talk about what others get and it is less threatening.

      • Patricia WeberPatricia Weber07-08-2014

        Yes; that’s a regular mantra I say with my introvert clients! They can bring in more of their strengths with an other-focus.

    • Sue HinesSue Hines07-11-2014

      Patricia, it is a great tool for introverted clients. Showing your delight and joy at what others have achieved totally takes the spotlight off the speaker while conveying the message.

  7. Sue — I love “don’t adjust your goals, adjust your strategy.” It’s so true. If we set a goal and don’t meet it we tend to berate ourselves because we “didn’t try hard enough.” Maybe it’s because we used the wrong strategy.

    • Sue HinesSue Hines07-08-2014

      Ha! you said it, Jeannette. That has happened to me before – sometimes we get so focused on what we are doing, we forget the why.

  8. Paul GrahamPaul Graham07-08-2014

    Hi Sue, it is interesting that people who fully understand and buy into the need to promote a product need coaxing to promote themselves or the service that they provide. I agree that self analysis will often reveal that they have more to offer than they might have realized.

    • Sue HinesSue Hines07-08-2014

      It is a strange phenomenon – like a mis-wiring somewhere. I think it is most common in folk who have transitioned from a corporate environment, where harmony is important, to becoming business owners, where the most important thing is to make waves by standing out.

  9. Shawn DeWolfeShawn DeWolfe07-08-2014

    The “USP” Unique Selling Proposition is a really obvious necessity– what makes you stand out. I am surprised when people say they don’t know what their advantage is.

    • Sue HinesSue Hines07-08-2014

      Shawn, you are so right about the USP being a necessity. I find that even folk who have been around a long time get lost when trying to say what makes them different. Sometimes it’s nto that they don’t know what makes them good and different, it is just that they don’t know how to articulate it in a way that is meaningful and valuable to their audience.

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