Every time I talk to someone about online marketing strategies, the analogy of “digital real estate” always seems to come up for me. It’s just an easy way to take something familiar to us — property, land, house, rooms — and relate it to something less physical like a DOMAIN (propery, land) web site (House) rooms (products, programs, categories) — see what I meanA Man show his success

With that in mind, the idea of “Staking Your Claim” was a natural extension of what it means to identify and build a brand to where you become the obvious choice for your ideal customer.

“Staking your claim” definitely conjures up this image of a person confidently and boldly planting a flag on fertile ground; smiling and victorious. If you are that person – YOU OWN THAT SPACE – it’s yours! As time goes on, you may stake and fence off other pieces of adjoining property and your claim grows — perhaps we can call it “Acclaim”.

This is a very powerful visual for me – and I hope for you too.

How do you begin Staking Your Claim?

Set your mind to it

As usually, the first thing you have to do is to DECIDE to stake a claim. This may seem obvious, but you’ve probably tried to do this before and then you got hung up on the tasks that you thought were more important. When you start DOING in the place of BEING — you will lose momentum.

First, decide who you will BE. Are you going to be a creator, a solver, a doer, a generator? Who you are being will filter how you perceive everything around you. For example, I’ve been really committed to creating something new in an area where I didn’t have a lot of experience or knowledge. This meant that I was going to make a lot of mistakes. I committed to being a “craftsman” in this area of my business. So when I asked for advice or feedback, instead of receiving that feedback as criticism, I received it as a gift to help me hone and improve my craft.

Create a vision for a future to live into

Ever notice when you’re ready to go on a vacation how you project yourself there even BEFORE you ever get started. In your mind, you are already there. You have to do the same thing with your business. That’s what I mean by creating a future to “live into.”

This takes some time. When you’re taking time out for yourself, sit down and start dreaming of what your ideal future looks like. Get into the nitty gritty details. Write it down or record it. The more you interact with your thoughts, words and dreams, the more real it will become and the more you will begin acting toward that creation.

Create Backwards

Select a couple of your “Creations” from the future exercise and start looking in detail about what has happend to get you there. How many clients are you working with, what kinds of clients are they, how are you spending your time with them? Stay inside this “dreamer” state. Believe me there will be time for reality. But now, stay in the creating and generating mode. Don’t discount things because you currently?think they are not possible.

Who is your ideal customer?

Now you can start describing your ideal customer. But don’t just stick to the basic demographics, get into their head. Think about who they are, what matters to them, how they spend their day and what kinds of thoughts they are thinking or feelings they are feeling. These will all be critical elements to how you develop a platform and an offer that is irresistible to them.

Pick a platform

When people ask me about what the biggest or most critical element of getting chosen is — I tell them that it’s their platform — what they stand for, believe in and what people can count on them for.

Just think about some of the most successful and profitable products and people. I’m going to list some, and you’ll immediately see how CLEAR their platform is.

  • Oprah
  • Sarah Palin
  • FedEx
  • Dominos

I’m not going to say anymore about that. Hopefully, what you’ll see is that you don’t need some advanced masters degree to be successful and to have people choose you — you need a platform.

Your platform consists of your beliefs and opinions about things. Don’t apologize for them. Trust me, if you have family and friends in your life and they choose to listen to you, then you can only improve your branding and your business by honing in on a powerful platform.

Sell the right thing to the right people at the right place

This is the marketing component of any business. The biggest mistake small business owners make is selling the wrong thing to the wrong audience (and any combination of those two).

Sell what people want to buy

This is always a hotly contested topic. People buy two things — what they want and an outcome. The only thing I can get into a discussion about is that these two things are almost always interchangeable. What people want IS a specific outcome. We can get into semantics about it like — People want to look good, so the outcome they want is to lose weight — so they can look good. See what I mean?

Either way – focus on wants and outcomes and limit it to the four areas people care about

  • Money
  • Relationship
  • Spirit
  • Health

It doesn’t matter if you’re selling B2B or to consumers. People make buying decisions and people only care about these four things. That’s all there is to it.

Build a system and work the system

Once you have these mindset, platform, customer and offer details thought through and in place, the rest is relatively easy. You have to build a system to deliver the message and process the clients in an efficient way that allows you to be profitable and live a life at the same time.

As appealing as it might be to run just one kind of marketing system, chances are you will be running several. The key to managing it is in focusing on a message a customer and an offer and then inserting those elements into the many marketing vehicles that are available.

  • Networking – This is nothing more than engaging in conversations about how you can help others and how they can help you . You’ll need to have a firm set of modules practiced and developed that you can engage in multiple times during the day. You can have this conversation in person or via social media channels. Either way, have it often. Aim for at least ten per day.
  • Social media channels – First you have to choose the social media channels that are best for you (find your marketing personality). Then decide on your goals and then focus on having conversations around your platform.

Start loving sales

I know – I know — you hate selling. Everyone says they hate selling. What they really hate is having uncomfortable conversations that leave everyone feeling either pushy or pushed upon – as if you are selling something bad to someone. This is ridiculous. If you believe in your platform and love your customer – then you shouldn’t be afraid to have a conversation about how you can help them — and even IF you can help them.

Again. You hate selling because somewhere, somehow you’ve decided to BE selling. Just decide to BE helpful or of service to your ideal customer and watch how the conversation changes. Your questions will change, your enthusiasm will rise and you will attract customers like crazy.

Staking your claim is full of possibilities

The next thing I know you’re thinking right now is “My market is crowded – how can I set myself apart?” ?Let me answer with a few real-life examples.

We’re all saying that the economy is crappy and that no one has money to spend — right? In my neighborhood a new chain restaurant opens up at least once per year. And just when I think that they will fail because we have so manyrestaurants?– they don’t. The parking lot is full EVERY day. Not only that, but the other restaurant lots are filled every day too. Somehow, people just can’t seem to get enough FOOD — I mean any kind of food. Doesn’t matter.

I have a shoe problem. I admit it. It seems that every shoe I see is unique. I must have 4 or 5 pairs of boots. Some are brown, some are black some are?suede some are high heels and some are low — Hmmm I think I have more permutations than that. But do you see what I mean here? In the world of shoes there are boots and in the world of boots, there are as many styles as there are people to buy them. And yet we still can’t get enough boots.

The same is true for your business. There are lots of accountants, there are lots of lawyers and consultants and designers and writers — but none of them is YOU. None of them have that special secret sauce that YOU have. Once you put your attention on YOUR platform, YOUR message and YOUR customer — they will seek you out, they will find you, they will choose you.

That’s what it means to Stake Your Claim