What do you do when nothing seems to work the way it should?
You are working hard, doing what you've always done - but you no longer get the results you used to get. Career opportunities seem to be drying up. You are not earning what you used to earn. You are not selling what you used to sell. People who used to support you, no longer do.
You used to work by the old Texas saying: "If all you ever do is all you've ever done, then all you'll ever get is all you ever got." But now, you're not even getting 'all you've ever got!' Your strategy up till now has been to try harder. To do more of what used to work before.
But you've been doing this for too long now, and you have to admit it is no longer working. Something has to change.
The cause of our frustration.
The definition of hell is trying to get others to do what they have no intention of doing.
The cause of our frustration is that others are not acting the way we want them to. Whether we are talking about a personal relationship, a job, our careers, or our business- what frustrates us the most, is that we no longer seem to 'be in control' of people whose support we need to be successful.
In the past, we could influence these people to support us, to buy from us, or to sponsor us in some way. But now, the world has changed. They have changed. We no longer provide them with what they need. And yet, they are important to our success.
Become important to their future success
The key to being successful, is change our focus. To stop focusing on what we want or need from others - be it money, sponsorship, support, recognition or love. Instead we need to find a creative way to 'balance the scales'. We need to ensure that what we offer to others is so valuable to them, that in return, they are willing to invest their time or money in us. And we need to be sure that the people we are offering ourselves to, are those who will help us in return.
When things no longer work, you need to rework your strategy.
To do this, we need to behave like a strategist.
Act like a strategist.
Know what is changing around you
Strategists in organizations know that when things no longer work, it is a signal that something in the world outside of their business has changed. So they do some research on strategic trends - what is happening in the economic, political, social, technological, industry and business environments outside of their company.
Know who your current and potential customers are
Strategists think about how strategic trends might impact on their current customers, or may point to new customers who would value what they have to offer. They also think about how these new trends may provide them with opportunities to offer more value to either their existing customers, or may point to potential new customers.
- For example a PR company used to promote their authors to readers via book reviews in newspapers, or via interviews on radio or television. But with the advent of iPads, Kindles, Amazon, Google searches and social networking, many readers now buy digital books based on recommendations from their social networks, or reviews on Amazon. So the PR company now provides services for authors on how to promote their books in this new digital world.
Think of yourself like a business.
- What has changed in the world around the people who used to support you? What new needs to they have?
- How can you meet these needs?
- Are there other 'customers' or 'supporters' you haven't targeted before? What can you offer them in return for their support?
- New trends and new technologies can also provide you with new ways of helping your customers. What can you now provide to your 'customers' or supporters? Think of something that they would value. It could be:
- A skill they need.
- The ability to solve a problem that is frustrating them.
- Helping them to achieve something that is important to them.
- A new way of engaging with them.
Know your competitors
You are not the only one competing for support or customers. There are millions of other people who want your job, your customers, or your sponsors. They may be people you already know as competitors, or they may be people you have never heard about before. But either way, they may have come up with effective strategies for getting the support you want, from your customers, sponsors or employers, They may be offering something that you haven't thought of. Something that shows your supporters that they can offer more value than you can. As a strategist of your own life you need to do some research to answer the following questions.
- Who is competing with me for my existing customers, employer or supporters?
- What are they offering?
- Who is competing with me for the new markets that I identified?
- What are they offering?
- What are they not offering?
To help you answer these questions, do a Google search on whatever you are offering. See who is competing with you. Talk to your customers. Find out how you are meeting their needs and what else you could be doing. Find out who else they use and why. Join discussion groups on social networking sites to see what people are talking about in your area of expertise.
Think about yourself differently. Ask yourself:
- What do you know that others might find valuable?
- What experiences have you had?
- What are you able to do?
- Who are your contacts? What networks do you have?
- What do you love doing?
- What are your strengths?
- What excites you? What do you feel passionate about?
Find your new niche or competitive advantage.
The key to being successful is the same for individuals as it is for organizations: It is about finding your niche, your competitive advantage, or the reason why supporters, customers or employers would choose you over any of your future competitors.
To do this:
- Create a visual competitor map. List all your current and potential competitors. List what they provide to whom.
- Find a gap. What customer needs are not being met by your competitors?
- Create a niche for yourself. What can you offer these unsupported customers that is unique? Something that they will value. Something you can do better than any potential competitor can do. Something that will cause future customers, supporters, employers to choose you, over anyone else. Something that excites you. Something you want to do. Something you can feel passionate about doing. Something that allows you to control the game you will be playing.
There is a wonderful saying about your niche or your passion. "When you find it, build your life around it." When you do what you love, what you are good at and what other people value, then success will follow you.