June 1, 2010
American Idol: A Contest In Differentiation
As some of you may know, I am a singer. As a singer, I am addicted to American Idol and watch it every year…okay, I skip the auditions and sometimes don't tune in until the top 12. I just can't stand to watch people make fools of themselves and contort their voices to do things they shouldn't even be trying to do (that's a whole other topic though!).
I was watching American Idol this season and it hit me. The entire process of American Idol is an exercise in differentiation! If you watch the progression of each contestant through to the finale, they learn where their "place" is in the music world. They are forced to try different genres for a reason. It gives them the experience to find where they fit and stand out in as many places as they can.
A few will come in knowing what their differentiation is. Adam Lambert was one of those people last year. He finished 2nd, which is an honor and got him some huge exposure to producers who would've never seen him otherwise. Why didn't he finish on top? Numbers. There weren't enough of "his people" in the audience to vote for him, but you can bet his albums will sell within his target market. He's already been at the top of the charts (above Kris Allen, the winner) several times since his album came out. He differentiated and it got him noticed by those who really want what he's selling.
One of the things I find most interesting about the process of American Idol is that in order to find out where they fit in the music world, the contestants have to find who they are. The ones who aren't secure in who they are usually get voted off quickly. So, there's an inner knowing and confidence that's required in order for the contestants to stand out. It's not just about having the best voice. People vote for the contestants they can relate to. Just listen to Simon. Usually his negative comments challenge the contestant to own up to who they are.
I find the same to be true in the world of coaching. A coach who does the work and finds out who they are, owns it, and creates differentiation based on that will find themselves with a stream of clients coming in. Clients that are the right clients. Their people.
Those who are unsure, hesitant, or don't quite know who they are as a coach yet will flounder and run around in circles trying to get clients that trickle in. In a world where there are more and more people hanging out the "coach" shingle every day, you've got to stand out and find something unique about what you offer. The unique piece comes from who you are.
Oh, and by the way. When you offer something that no one else in your field is offering, it raises the amount of trust a client is willing to give you right off the bat.
So, what can we learn from American Idol? Own who you are and differentiate around it. If you do, you'll be the next Coaching Idol to take the stage.
Kristen Beireis is the Trust Marketing Expert for Group Coaching Mastery. She helps coaches and other personal transformation professionals establish trust through marketing. First, she establishes a foundation that's rooted in your authentic differentiation. Then she follows up with solutions that bring consistency to everything that has your name on it — from your newsletter to your business card to your social media pages. And while she's happy to teach you how to do all this yourself, many of her clients love the way her team reduces their workload and overwhelm.
Greater trust means a shorter sales cycle, more of the right clients, and the confidence that comes from knowing your sales and marketing are in integrity with who you are as a person.