Towards the end of last year, I took a workshop for entrepreneurs, on value statements.
And….. to tell you the truth, the timing of the workshop was perfect.
Yet, when I attended that workshop it wasn’t that I didn’t know what my “why” statement was.
In fact I was struggling with one, very specific problem:
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I got too caught up in pleasing my audience that my work. And this made my work feel not as exciting or rewarding as it did in my first or even my second year of freelancing.
I figured that this story might interest you because it’s likely very familiar and might resonate with you as well.
Freelancing, as well know, has a lot of ups and downs, and all it takes is the loss of a regular client for things to get stressful.
Having a value statement keeps the momentum going on your business, no matter how you’re feeling/ how things are going with your business.
What is a value statement?
A value statement, or “why” statement is about purpose.
Value statements are about:
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- Looking beyond the resume description of your work
- Making your business about purpose and intention. And that purpose and intention relates to things that you care about.
How to construct your value statement
At the value statement workshop I attended, the instructor asked:
“What gives you the most strength when times get rough?”
The first word that came to mind was “community, because I immediately thought of my supportive family unit.
When you write out your very first value statement, this question will help you prioritize what matters to you the most.
Do your best to come up with one word, or a few words that summarize the first answer that pops into your head.
After you’ve written out your answer to the first question…
Think carefully about what the clients you’ve worked with so far have in common.
Or if you’re just starting to freelance, try to narrow this down to just the type of person you want to work with.
Last but not least, use what you’ve noticed about your clients to think carefully about what your services do for others, without resorting to the resume-style description of your work.
How does your answer to question one and two tie in to this?
Once you have your answer, use everything that you learned to write out just one sentence that goes like this:
“My job title is (insert generic job title version of what you do) and the goal of my work is to help people (use the answers from the exercises to come up with an answer).
Now that you’ve constructed a value statement, picture this…
You’re a potential client and you have far too many candidates to choose from.
With a large list of qualified freelancers to choose from, which one would you choose?
Now take factors such as referrals out of the picture. Let’s also say that you’re not well connected enough to ask people for relevant referrals.
Chances are you’d pick the one that doesn’t only look good on paper, but also makes you go:
“Wow, I like them! I should work with them!
That’s exactly what you’re striving for with a value statement. These statements are about marketing not based on numbers or icky sales tactics. They’re also about making a genuine connection with like-minded people.
But…how do you know if value statements are the right fit for your business?
Here are some of the benefits that I’ve experienced, after switching to a value-based model.
1) Explaining what I do is easier
For those of you who are unfamiliar with my work, I’m a web copywriter and editor.
That’s exactly why I attend small business and startup-focused networking events. Yet, that has both upsides and downsides.
The upside is that at these events, I’m often the only copywriter that made the effort to show up and shake people’s hands.
Because a high percentage of the attendees aren’t great writers, I often give out a lot of business cards.
Yet, the downsides are the low number of people that understand my job title.
In fact, my conversations with business owners often start like this:
Business owner: So…. what do you do?
Me: I’m a web copywriter for retail & E-Commerce.
Business Owner: You’re a…what?
So let’s pause that conversation for a moment, in order to think about the best possible way to handle this conversation. This is exactly where my value statement makes a huge difference:
I specialize in the writing aspect of website development and marketing. And I work with retail & E-Commerce brands. I help my clients be more searchable on popular search engines. And I also build a strong sense of loyalty and community with their customers.
Notice the difference between these two descriptions of what I do? The first one is a generic job title. Yet, statement number two, my value statement provides context and makes it clear what I can do for them.
I got my first clients through pitches, both cold and warm. If you can’t rely on referrals, it’s also my recommended marketing tactic.
But, after I started to be value-focused…
The number of instant post-pitch compliments increased about stuff like:
- My website
- And my approach
In other words, people that I’d never met in person before seemed a lot more excited to hear from me. If you want more meaningful client interactions:
Focus less on pleasing others, and more on your values and how these values relate to what your clients are paying for.
2) Transparency increases, and transparency= trust
This was the combined result of the following:
- Defining my value statement
- Having my process defined on my website
- Publishing my rates on my website
Trust is an important part of every customer relationship. That’s exactly why being transparent about your values and your approach solidifies trust.
This also served the double purpose of:
- Attracting clients I want to work
- And scaring away the ones that are a terrible fit for my approach to things.
3) No more bargain hunters/ price shoppers
One of my least favorite parts of talking to potential clients is price shoppers.
For those of you that don’t know what price shoppers are, they’re people who are on the hunt for the best bargain.
Often they’ll find that bargain in the following way…
- They’ll talk to a dozen or more freelancers who offer the same services
- They’ll only ask about price
- And then only respond to ones that offer the best deal.
Publishing my value statement scared all the price shoppers away. Because attracted like-minded businesses have become a whole lot easier.
So if working with not-so-great clients is starting to make your life as a freelancer a lot less worthwhile…
Consider coming up with a value statement for your business. Because sticking out amongst the competition will seem a lot less stressful.
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