Gail and I both enjoyed Michelle Mone’s speech on Thursday at the Buy Yorkshire conference. Already admirers of all she’s achieved, we learned more about her upbringing and the struggles she’s had to overcome to get where she is now. It was surprising to hear how many times she’s come close to losing everything; fortunately, each time her steely determination has refused to let such challenges get the better of her. Few would have been able to bounce back from what must have seemed insurmountable problems but Michelle did, and she now shares her experiences with other business owners in the hope it inspires them.
The recurrent theme running through Ultimo’s many new product launches – and particularly at the outset, when Michelle had just £500 to make a name for the brand in an already competitive marketplace – was that by applying creativity and by thinking ‘outside of the box’, Ultimo was able to stand out from the crowd. There wasn’t the need for a huge budget (which was just as well, because Michelle didn’t have it at the start of her journey).
Michelle pulled a publicity ‘stunt’ so that her products got noticed. That was all that she needed, because once her new invention, the Ultimo bra, was under people’s noses, she knew they would fall in love with the product.
The stunt she pulled involved 12 actors dressed up as plastic surgeons, holding a fake public demonstration. The ‘surgeons’ protested over her Ultimo bra, because it was ‘putting them out of work’. One actor even laid in the road as a human blockade to prove the point…and everyone fell for it. Headlines were written, the outrage was reported in the news, and the interest in Ultimo rocketed. People wanted to know why it had surgeons so angry; they had to verify for themselves what all the fuss was about. Again, Michelle’s faith served her well; as the public tried on her bra to pass their own judgement, they fell in love with it.
Without considering human behaviour, it does seem mad. Michelle essentially told the public NOT to buy what she sold. In theory, this should have seen her sales plummet, but we can all see why this didn’t happen. Michelle landed millions of pounds worth of free publicity – her £500 budget wouldn’t even have bought an advert in the same papers.
So why is The Solopreneur singling this story out? How does this resonate with the help we give our clients?
We’re not suggesting you start demonstrating, or telling people not to buy what you sell. The lessons we’d like our clients to take from Michelle is to establish yourself differently from your competitors. You need to stand out from the other providers in your field; if you’re not visible, and if you don’t have faith in you, or what you’re offering, you’ll never get ahead of everyone else.
We believe in having a platform. And what we mean by this is having a certain level of notoriety that means you’re the first person potential clients see, hear or think of when they come to need your service. Most people do this by putting themselves out there, via networking and social media. However, whenever you’re networking or plugging yourself on Twitter, you’re not earning money. It may bring you customers but once you’ve served them, you’re back to square one, trying to find new people to work with.
If you can fill your week with repeat custom, that’s great, though you can still only ‘sell’ 112 hours a week (even if you only work and sleep for the whole 7 days). Selling your time has an upper limit.
When selling your time and your service, you’re essentially passing on all the information, skills and expertise that’s stored in your head. What if you could extract this knowledge and pour it into a vehicle that doesn’t need you to facilitate it? Your ‘information’ products could then reach people at any time of day, simultaneously, which means you could serve people any time, many times over. Ultimately, there are no limits to your sales this way; location and travelling don’t come into it (you could help someone from Outer Mongolia or the depths of the Amazon rainforest just as effortlessly as someone on your doorstep). Time fails to apply – you could sell any number of your ‘products’ and serve any number of customers this way during the time it would take you to serve one if face-to-face.
We’ll show you how to also arrange the help you give your clients via your information products, so that it’s drip-fed. That way, you’re giving your customers time to apply the knowledge you’re passing on, and you’re also keeping them in your sales funnel for longer. No more feast and famine; your marketing – using products borne from your knowledge, experience and skill-set – will be working for you continuously. By claiming notoriety in some way, like Michelle, you’ll strengthen your platform of credibility, so that your name becomes synonymous with the kind of help you provide.
We took many lessons from Michelle Mone but her drive to stand out from the crowd resonated the most. You have to do something different if you want to be seen.
There could be hundreds of competitors just in your county, let alone across the world.