Follow the Yellow Brick Road: How to lead your tribe when you’re a wanderer

By Jessica Albon

Wandering as a small business marketing technique

(We’re currently profiling each of the five Brand Sirens, one by one. See the full series of Brand Siren Case Studies here. If you don’t know who your Brand Siren is, take the quiz to find out.)

When it comes to Judy’s work with clients, it’s always about the journey, not the destination. (In this way, she’s Edith’s exact opposite.) This means that a Judy’s relationship with her clients is deeply rewarding, and often very personal–she knows even the minute details of what her clients are struggling with.

Just because the journey is rewarding, though, doesn’t mean it’s easy for a Judy. Would-be clients can drag their feet getting started with a Judy because they don’t see the final outcome and are reluctant to commit until they do. This often leads to endless emails and pre-work conversations–if the Judy offers free consultations, she can expect people to ask for more than one before signing on the dotted line.

Also, Judys often add new services and skill-sets as they explore, which means even Judy herself isn’t always entirely sure what she does for her clients (or, she may not be able to communicate it clearly).

All of this tends to leave Judy struggling to charge the rates she deserves because she can feel like her skills aren’t up to par because she has less experience than the other types (because she’s always adding new offerings on the fly).

Fortunately, to resolve these issues, Judy just has to follow the yellow brick road. Let’s take a look at how four Judys tackle the challenges of this type and prosper.

Assemble an audience.

Because Judy is so quick to apply what she’s learning (one week, she’s teaching herself to design a WordPress blog for herself, and the next she’s offering WordPress design services), she’s often adept at teaching beginners. That’s because she’s so close to the learning herself–she hasn’t forgotten what it’s like not to know anything about the topic.

One of the smartest things a Judy can do is to stop working one-on-one. That’s because as a Judy, you love the journey, but your clients don’t want to hire you for a journey. (Think about it: the Cowardly Lion signed on for the journey because he was promised a heart, not because he was told they’d get to meet the flying monkeys and see a Horse of a Different Color and sing and dance along the way.)

When you assemble groups instead of doing work one on one, you’re forced to declare a destination. You *have to* make a promise (that’s the whole point of the workshop or teleclass or program). You can all wander together towards the destination, but in order to get bodies in the class, you have to be very clear about what that destination is. What’s more, you can more easily make more money even at lower rates when you work with groups instead of one-on-one.

This audience assembling could take the form of a workshop with the goal of becoming a book as it typically does for Maria Nemeth who writes in her most recent book, Mastering Life’s Energies: “I’m learning about luminosity, even as I write this book. Luminosity is about living the life you were meant to live, without running yourself into the ground and driving those around you crazy. I have been privileged to learn about luminosity in the presence of about fifty thousand others…who have taken seminars from me over the past twenty years.”

Even though Judys are all about the journey, if you want clients, you have to remember as much as they may enjoy exploring with you, they want to know where they can expect to wind up!

Find your one thing.

Even though Judys tend to be interested in just about everything and everyone, there’s always one or two interests that stick with her. Pinpoint one of these interests for yourself–what’s something you could spend all day doing?

For Marta Goertzen, her one thing is that she loves exploring new creative outlets. For Jason Cardillo his one thing is that he’s an athlete. Don’t try to force the relationship between your one thing and your business, but if a relationship evolves naturally (the way it has for Jason and his work with other athletes and athletic companies), or the way it has for Marta’s work with creative entrepreneurs, that’s great.

This one thing can certainly change over time, but choose something that’s likely to outlast your business. That way, when you’re ready to change the focus of your business, you can use your one thing to bridge the gap between what you’re doing now, and what you’re doing next.

To put it another way, think of your business as one of the settings along the yellow brick road (like the forest, where we meet the Cowardly Lion, or the Emerald City, where we meet the Mayor) and your One Thing as the yellow brick road itself–the path you continue to follow that brings you into contact with new people, new settings, and new challenges.

Follow it wholeheartedly.

Scott Stratten and I first met when he had just launched Un-Marketing. To market his business, he created an online movie which was designed to inspire his target market and build his email list. Because of his success with it, he started offering a service to create those online movies using what he’d learned (about everything from web bandwidth to marketing the movie to how to designing the movie).

Now he’s pursuing his engagement in Twitter and teaching others how to use it to connect through a new book (due out soonish).

What sets Scott apart from other Judys who seem to jump from thing to thing is the way he immerses himself. So often, Judys back off their newest passion for fear of seeming “flighty” and wind up looking restless and dissatisfied. There’s absolutely nothing client-attractive about stiffing your gifts and make no mistake about it–curiosity is one of the most abounding gifts of a Judy.

When you feel yourself tugged in a new direction, see how you can tie it back to what you’re already doing (this isn’t always possible, but when it is, it’s easier than starting over), and then allow yourself to put your unbridled enthusiasm for the new direction on display. WARNING: Never, ever label this your “final” or “ultimate” path! That’s what can make you look flaky–not the wholehearted pursuit, but the belief that you’ll never switch again. When you’re a Judy, you’ve found the next step, but you were already *on* the path. (And to talk about how you’ve finally *arrived* discounts the work you’ve done before and diminishes your clients’ successes following your lead.)

Judy’s lessons for the rest of us.

Whether or not you’re a Judy, there’s magic to be found in following your path with your full attention, immersing yourself completely in the work of today. You do your clients no favors when you hold back or play halfheartedly and though Judy suffers more than most when she’s not all in (engaging clients becomes much harder), none of the Signature Styles benefit from stopping short.

Think, also, about how you might learn from Judy’s talent for leading groups–are there topics that you’d love to teach once or twice, but wouldn’t want to build your whole business around? They can make great topics for a one-time workshop or teleclass.

Judys bring a wonderful sense of “can-do” to every project they tackle, and they help those they work with ultimately learn by experience that they “had the power within all along.” If you’re a Judy, make sure you’re not stifling your curiosity, but do your best to give clients a vision of the results they can anticipate (rather than focusing on the journey in your website copy or conversations with them–for types other than Judy, the “journey” can begin to feel frustrating without a clear destination).

By being mindful of your approach–the way your curiosity is likely to always nudge you in new directions, the way you genuinely enjoy wandering without a final destination, and the way you love to learn as you go–you can effectively use your style to build an audience that lines up to work with you rather than getting locked into frustratingly slow sales processes. Like everything else in your business, learning to use your style to attract great clients is a journey, so enjoy every step along the way.



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