At the heart of every business is that you create something of value, that is worth more to the customer than what (s)he pays for it.
What is the value that you create with your work?
What's it the value that lies below the list of things you deliver (a video, a logo, a training). Or below the list of features of your product. Or what's really behind the list of specifications your client came with? What does everything you do enable your customer to do or be?
One step deeper, what are the needs and wants of your client that they truly want you to meet?
Serving consumers? Bain & Company put together a pyramid with elements of value. It look a bit like Maslow's Hierarchy of needs. But also think back at the 6 human needs of Tony Robbins. What needs do you help meet with your work? What other products deliver that value to them?
Serving businesses? What do they value or want? What does your work generate for them? What does it save them? What other options do they have to get this?
And, what needs do you meet specifically for the person that hires you? Remember, they might act from a business perspective, but they're just as human.
At the heart of marketing, every time, is the promise.
Your customers often pay (with their attention, trust, or cash) before they can know for sure if your product or service is what they need or want.
What's the promise you're making?
Think of your promise this way. You're engaged with a potential client, and you're saying: "If you continue down this road with me, if you hire me, this is what you'll get in return."
This is your brand. When someone thinks of you, what do they think you'll deliver on?
Now, the promises that scale, the ones that last, are not super specific or particularly complicated. They are the visceral ones. The emotional ones. The ones that go straight to our heart.
- I promise this will make you feel like you’re part of something.
- I promise this will help you understand that you’re capable of making a difference.
- I promise this will ease the fear of imminent death.
- I promise this will re-assure you.
You probably won't use those exact words. But that is what you "say" in everything you do.
Don't be like a lot of freelancers and simply promise to do you best. But instead:
- I promise that working with me will be a process you can brag about to your boss.
- I promise that when you tell other people that I did your logo, they’ll look at you with approval in their eyes.
- I promise that you’ll not end up holding the product, disappointed and having to start over.
What's the promise you're making to your customers? Are these promises explicit or implicit? Are they emotional or intellectual? Do you need a bigger promise or a more specific promise (or more likely, a less specific one)?