Tara Gentile knows how to stand out. With a popular coaching program and devoted online following, she’s blazed a trail for plenty of others looking to grow their business. She’s also a self-professed “huge fan” of using Crowdcast for her webinars, Q&As, and retreats, providing a powerful example of how to teach successfully over live video.
So we invited her onto Crowdcast Talks to dive deep into her advice. Here’s what we learned.
How a “small” project can become something bigger
“You can’t measure success or the validity of an idea based on even the amount of money it makes or the amount of traffic that you have. You can also understand & evaluate its validity based on the connections it gives you, or the credibility it gives you.”
From ditching a graduate program in contemporary theology two weeks before it started (“postmodern death of God stuff,” she laughs) to gaining a “crash course in running a small business” at her job at Borders as a manager, Tara’s early beginnings were a hardly traditional starting point to her current business.
In fact, her first website was a blog celebrating local craftspeople and artists in Pennsylvania, and it started small. But this “itty bitty site” that made no money helped her grow the connections and credibility that led to her success today. The lesson? Never underestimate the power of a “small” idea.
The power of blazing your own path
From choosing to put out quality content over SEO hacks to embracing her “nerdiness” in her client work, Tara’s success has come from boldly owning what made her different.
This mindset can be the difference between being overlooked to being exceptional. Instead of worrying about how crowded your market is, how can you present the same thing with a different flavor so you can best reach your own perfect audience?
Tara’s Quiet Power Strategy approach addresses just this. The key, she says, is to know what makes you effective, unique, and compelling. When these differences are pervasive in your emails, social media presence, blogging, and your style of doing business, the right people will come.
Three ways to find your Quiet Power
But how exactly do you figure out what makes you unique? Tara offers a few methods.
- List all your differences. Take inventory of what makes you uniquely you to determine what could be your fresh take on an existing topic or solution. Are you playful? Are you analytical? Do you love pop culture references or poetry? Embrace your interests so you can infuse your work with personality.
- Look for your so-called weaknesses. Often, what we think are weaknesses can be clues to our greatest strengths. It’s important not to dismiss weaknesses just because we haven’t yet identified the advantages that come with that quality. A simple reframe—thinking of your “impulsiveness” as inspiration, seeing the productivity in your impatience—can help you turn your flaws into advantages.
- Know what makes you (passionately) angry. What is it that makes you rant? What conventional wisdom do you wish you could dispel? Notice what “gets you on your soapbox” — these are often clues to the passionate and fresh perspective you can bring to the table.
Why being sales-y can be a good thing
“Your first job always is to be selling. That doesn’t mean being a used car salesman, it doesn’t mean being pushy, it just means getting comfy with saying, ‘Hey, I have something to offer you, I can make your life better.’”
It’s not just about being different, says Tara. A successful business is also about knowing how to identify a problem and being able to communicate your solution. This is too often mistaken for being pushy. Instead, a helpful way to address this fear of being “sales-y” is to think about the help you’re offering. Who needs your product? Where you can help them? And how can you let them know about it early and often in a way that serves them?
She also points out that it’s important to be specific about who you can and can’t help. It’s tempting, especially for early-stage entrepreneurs, to cast a wide net with a broad or vague selling proposition. But the counterintuitive truth is that you’ll sell more if you narrow down your niche so you can be the perfect solution for a small group of people first—instead of being almostright for a lot of people.
How to get noticed by influencers
Finally, Tara offers her tips for anyone — from solopreneur to startup — to connect with influencers to learn, network, and grow their business.
“It’s not enough to just say, ‘Hey look at me, look at me, look at me.’ You have to say, ‘Here’s this thing that I see in you that I’m connecting with because.’”
Admittedly, this approach is slower than the conventional “spray-and-pray” tactic— but about “150% more effective” in her experience, says Tara.
She also strongly advocates for getting in front of people in person. Live events are key to making an impression that can get you on someone’s radar, even if they’re hard to reach. Echoing Paul Graham’s famous advice, she urges people to “do things that don’t scale.”
When it comes down to what makes a brand stand out, win over followers and grow rapidly, Tara’s advice can be distilled to a few key insights:
- Know what makes you different.
- Don’t be afraid to start small.
- Don’t be afraid to communicate what you have to offer.
- Identify shared differences to connect with influencers.
For the full replay of Cy’s talk with Tara, watch here. And let us know your thoughts in the comments below.
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