I have a confession to make. It’s my secret obsession and my other big passion, almost as big as online teacherpreneurship. It’s the Ukrainian version of the Voice show. Does it sound pathetic?
Once a year as the next season is starting, I’m there, every Sunday evening, watching every episode via youtube. I can’t tell you what it does to me, but my family knows – better not to interrupt.
There’s one episode from the Blind Audition that I watched last Sunday that stood out to me, mostly because of how it can be applied to marketing.
This will resonate with those of us who hate the salesy-sleazy-perfectly-pitched marketing (99% of us). The kind of marketing I’m going to write about won’t feel like marketing. It’s about hearing your future student’s voice and responding to it right.
But before I get into it, let me summarize briefly the idea of blind auditions and show what they have to do with marketing.
Please bear with me because it’s crucial to what I want to share with you today – how authentic marketing can work for every online teacher without any pressure.
The Blind Audition Summary.
So the first round of the Voice is the so-called “blind auditions.” The contestants sing in front of 4 coaches. Well, to say “in front” isn’t really correct because they’re actually singing into their backs.
The coaches are listening and making their choice based not only on the person’s general performance ability, but the charisma, the feelings, the emotions that the singing evokes.
If 2 or more coaches choose the contestant, they begin “fighting” for her, and the contestant then must decide who of the two is going to be her mentor.
This moment of “fighting” is crucial because unless a specific coach that the contestant wanted to be mentored by chooses her, she must decide between a couple of equally talented recording artists.
How does one make that choice? What makes a person lean towards one and away from the other? Sometimes the decision is random, but other times it’s the words that the coach says that make the choice clear.
Here’s how it played out on the Voice show.
So I was watching the audition of a young woman singing a song written by one of the coaches, clearly wanting her to “press” the button – to choose. But that didn’t happen. Instead, 2 others rotated their chairs when she was singing, and she was then faced with the decision she wasn’t planning on.
Both coaches were excellent, but she ended up going with the one who told her exactly what was on her heart. The man told her (pardon my loose translation from Russian), “You sang with your heart, with your soul. Your voice, like a new plant, was breaking through the asphalt, tearing it apart, and rising strong.”
When asked why she’d chosen him she expressed (again) that “he said exactly what I wanted to hear.”
How does this apply to marketing, specifically for online teachers?
In the world of marketing, the contestant/participant/the young performer is your future student. She wants to learn from you.
You are the coach. Ideally, you know who you want to teach. You can’t teach everyone, no matter how good they are, and so you have your own preferences.
In the online world you are the one making a choice who you want to work with.
But the contestant also makes a choice. When she makes that decision, we call it a “sale,” but it’s actually much more artistic* than just a transaction.
I must say that it’s artistic if you want your teaching to make lasting impact, change the world, one student at a time, not just make an entry on your spreadsheet.
How does a prospective student make a choice between you and a bazillion of other teachers?
The sale will happen when we, as teachers, discover how to sync our voice with that of our future student. On the show, the coach said “exactly what was on the contestant’s heart,” and that’s why she chose him.
This means that we need to talk/write deeper than “taking your English to the next level,” or “make your English shine,” or “teach Grammar to communicate,” or other popular cliches all of us have used at one point.
That means editing your website copy and your email copy ruthlessly, until it speaks like a human.
This takes a lot more work than “to pick a subject for your new online course and run with it.”
It requires depth, self-reflection, self-awareness, and yes, some hard work of sketching your ideal client. After all, you have opted out of the traditional classroom. You can choose who you want to work with, you might as well visualize this person.
Cultivate your voice to resonate with your future client.
As online teacherpreneurs we rarely see our prospects face-to-face. We have an idea of what they might be like, but we “listen” to their voices “with our backs,” just as the coaches on the blind auditions do. We don’t know their voices, and so sometimes we have to guess what drives them.
What are these people like? What do they want? What are their deepest desires? What resonates with their hearts? How can we best help them fulfill their dreams?
Yes, they do want Grammar, but is it just for communication? Are there any deeper pains that we may not see right away? You will probably accuse me of being too psychoanalytical here, but it’s not some “shrink” tactics.
It’s what makes your website copy or a blog post speak and connect, not sound like a stale page from a textbook or a glorious success report that is so flawless it makes your future student feel like she’s the worst loser.
We also are in competition with others. Yes, I’ve heard about collaboration, and I’m all for everyone loving everyone else, but I’m not talking about the mean, cut-throat competition.
What I mean is not every student can work best with every teacher. If we do care that our students find us, we need to learn to speak to them, not at them. We need to find the right words.
In the online world, thousands of online teachers are offering their services to students. Any given student (like the Voice contestant) has to make a choice, and like the coaches, we need to know what to say and how to say it so it resonates with our potential client.
When we find what to say we no longer need to “market” our services. We no longer need to install pop-ups. “Yell” at the client to choose us. Pressure them with countdown timers and fake sales deadlines.
We no longer have to portray ourselves as a mega-teacher who’s in huge demand. We don’t need gimmicks.
What we need, is to sync our voice with the voice of our potential client.
Here’re 4 strategies to help you find your voice that will resonate:
Know your “client.” The coaches on the show have certain expectations as to who they want to work with. A jazz singer will lean towards jazz performers, an opera singer – towards classical voices, etc.
The more specific you are, the easier for you to “spot” your client. Think of him/her as you write your content.
Know your client’s problems. Now that you’ve identified them, your next task is to think the way they do. The curse of knowledge prevents us from thinking like our clients, we want them to think like us. We want them to seek us out.
But thinking the way they do allows you to know their aspirations, and speak to those. If you teach Grammar – dig deeper and ask yourself why would a student want Grammar? What is deeper than just “use correct syntax,” “make fewer mistakes,” etc.?
Speak to your client, not at them. Imagine having coffee with them. All of a sudden, you both are normal human beings. You don’t have to use cliches, stale language and one-size-fits-all conversation starters. You speak the way you would with this particular friend.
Choose precise language. Veronika Palovska wrote about weeding out cliches on this blog, and I thought that this Voice example is excellent. The person uses unique language to talk to this specific contestant. Something that ends up resonating and making an impact.
For authentic and effortless marketing, learn to sync your voice with the voice of your prospects.Click To Tweet
Whatever you do, let your voice connect with the heart.
Ironically, the other coach who had tried to “win” this contestant for her team, was also using a beautiful language, but she talked only “music.” She said, “The way you sing is so unique and unlike everyone else. I loved the way you imitated the pipe sound with your voice. It’s gorgeous.”
Initially I thought that her words were more convincing because they sounded more professional. Yet the contestant resonates with the words that speak to her heart, not to her head.
Think about the copy of your website and ask yourself how much it resonates with the person’s heart. If you teach pronunciation – is it just for the sake of pronouncing words correctly so the person isn’t misunderstood, or are there deeper issues here, like embarrassment?
If you teach Grammar, is it only for clarity of communication that people need Grammar, or is it something more that’s beneath the surface?
It’s all about the “contestant” – the “client.”
The final thought about the Voice show is how it “turns the tables.” The center of the show isn’t the celebrities who are the coaches.
At the center is the nobody-knows-who, one person from the “void” who’s singing into your back – she is the center of the show.
Ultimately, it’s their voices that matter, the coaches are there to connect with them and serve them.
The same goes for your online business. Not many people care that you have a TESOL certificate (or how many letters follow your name). But they do care that you know what it’s like to be a misfit when your speech lacks confidence.
A few weeks ago, in my conversation with Carrie Anne James, the owner of French is Beautiful, I heard her say something that goes so well with the topic of effortless and authentic marketing.
I’ve used Carrie Anne James’s brand as an example of marketing that connects with the heart, because she isn’t just selling “French lessons,” but rather – the French lifestyle.
Here’s what she said,
I like to get people to fall in love with this Universe that I’ve created. And then when I know they’re within earshot I know I don’t have to scream at them and sell at them.
What about you?
Do you struggle how to connect with your dream client? Do you feel like you’re making too much noise that keeps you from listening to the voice of your potential client?
P.S. The post was inspired by Sonia Simone’s 7 Real-World Ways to Think Like an Artist for Better Content Marketing, Veronika Palovska’s excellent copy writing coaching and blogging advice, and The Voice of Ukraine Show.