Oh, What a Difference Your Real Voice Makes
Welcome back to our continuing journey with “Heather Carlysle.” When we last checked in on her, she was learning that rejection can be a great thing and how to turn the rejections into positive results. Today, let’s continue our journey with Heather as she learns more about applying the 5-A Framework, specifically with Awareness and Attract.
Our Next Meeting
Heather and I took our usual table. I could sense something was wrong—and not just because she appeared to be more interested in what was going on outside the café than in her own business. After some small talk, Heather let me in on what was troubling her.
“That publisher rejected me again. Remember? The top one in the business coaching market. They said something about how they don’t publish this type of content, which, of course, isn’t true. We scanned through their blogs before we submitted those titles! I just don’t get it.”
I nodded. “You’re right, Heather. It never feels good getting rejected, but we talked about this. What is rejection again?” A smile cracked across Heather’s face. “Proof that we’re taking action.”
“That’s right. And the more rejection you get, the more proof we both have that you’re taking action. Besides, every rejection gives us new information. Sure, maybe a rejection means you still have more to learn about your market. But it also means there is plenty of room to grow. They’ll come around. They always do.”
She wasn’t buying it. “How can you be so sure?”
This time I cracked a smile. “Well, I got a couple of Google Alerts on your name since we last spoke. It looked like a couple of your other articles went live. How did those fare?”
She shared that two of her articles had been published on the same day. They earned her some new followers and generated engagement on social media. Plus, a few business coaches let her know how useful her content was, and she had also answered a few questions from people interested in her ideas.
Going from Good to Great by Being Real
Heather had been making progress with her articles. But they were still just good, not great. Her topics were on-point, but she wrote with a dry and overly professional voice, without her natural tone. And the stories she wrote about were, shall we say, less than engaging. It just wasn’t A+ material. So I opened my laptop to one of the articles Heather recently published.
“Your headline grabs attention. You’ve got that down, and it’s working for you. Good job. But what happens next could use some work. Your ‘Ultimate Guide’ article, for instance, sometimes reads like a textbook. It’s very academic and instructional. There is a ton of value, but we’re not grabbing the reader’s attention and getting them invested in reading. The article cuts right to the solution and isn’t anchored in a story. And humans crave good stories.”
I went on to explain how humans sat around campfires for tens of thousands of years. Stories were how we bonded—so today, our brains are hardwired to connect through stories, not instructions.
But then I got to the tough stuff. “Heather, do you mind if I give you some constructive feedback? I worry you might find it critical.” I could see her tense up, but she forced a smile. “Sure, of course. That’s why I’m here, right?”
“I love working with you. You have a strong, fun personality. You’re a firebrand. But so far, your articles read like they were written by the CEO of a large multinational corporation who’s afraid of upsetting the apple cart. They’re sterile. Risk-free. Kind of boring, if you’ll forgive the word.
“I know the real Heather. She’s passionate about her work, her clients, and her craft. So, where is she? Why aren’t you writing the same way you talk to me?”
Heather was quick with an answer. “Don’t I need to write with a more professional voice? I need to seem bigger than I am. These kinds of clients won’t do business with someone who’s not already established.”
This was also something I’d heard a lot. “Heather,” I replied, “what kind of clients do you want? The ones thinking they will be working with a large multinational corporate agency or the ones who are secretly wishing a firebrand like you would show them how to use the web? You don’t just want leads; you want raving fans.
“You want people showing up at your doorstep who you’ve trained to think the way you think—and you want them ready to do business with you. You want them to have already gotten to know you as much as possible before that first conversation. So take off the restraints and be the real you!”
And just like that, something clicked—and Heather realized there was power in being herself. I showed her a couple of basic structures to help her tell better stories with her articles. How to hook her audience within the first couple of sentences. How to create open loops that were only “closed” later. And how to build to a climax and give the reader a “payoff.”
And I encouraged her to write as if she were talking to a potential client in person. I taught her that, while she still needed to write as a professional, she’d find it better to throw out what she learned about writing in high school and start making her own rules.
Stretching Beyond Her Comfort Zone – Another Assignment
And then I paused. I wasn’t sure if Heather was ready for one more assignment, but she seemed hungry for more. “Heather, there’s also one more thing I’d like you to do. I need you to talk to enough coaches about their problems, pains, and struggles that you start to speak as if you are a business coach.”
Heather thought for a moment. “Are you asking me to start a business coaching company?” I laughed. “Not at all. Or at least not yet. I know you’re worried about extra work, but I need you to go talk to ten business coaches over the next two weeks. It’s time for you to learn the art of customer development—so you can come to deeply understand your audience.”
Heather was quite put off by this assignment. “Talking to ten people that I don’t know in a week or two sounds like insanity.”
“Fortunately for us both, Heather, you’ve been good at following the recipe so far; let’s keep that positive momentum going.”
Shortly after our meeting, I got an email from Heather that said, yes, she was committed to the process. She managed to find the time to talk to eight coaches and picked up many cues about how coaches speak and think.
The next article she submitted for publishing was anchored in a compelling real-world story about working with Amy. She changed Amy’s name for the article, of course, but she talked frankly about the root problem Amy had been facing.
Not only that, Heather unpacked what had been at stake when Amy had first come to her. She flexed her creative muscles a bit and painted the situation with vibrant detail. Best of all, she threw out the multinational corporate voice and wrote her article like she really talked—and how coaches talked. And she even kept a bit of her iconoclastic personality.
When she had finished, she wrote an email to the top publisher in her market. She felt so much more confident about the article that she was sure it would make the cut. But then, at the last second, she panicked. Instead, she emailed the article to one of the other publishers that had rejected her.
A couple of days later, the publisher responded. “Now we’re talking. We love this one!”
Heather had found her voice—and another success.
Heather’s results can be your results too. Following the 5-A Framework really does work. It might take you out of your comfort zone, but if you’re willing to stick with it and be uncomfortable for a little while, your endurance will pay off! If you think you’re ready for the same coaching that Heather received, I encourage you to apply for a free strategy session, and we’ll discuss how you can own your market and get rich in the deep end. You’ll be glad you did.
Join me next time as we learn about the fourth A in the Framework: Authority.