frustrationSo you (or someone you know) keeps struggling with their business. Maybe they’ve tried different mentors and they seem to be doing everything right. And nothing works.

Long -term, high-powered gurus rarely help. They do really well after you’ve got traction in your business and you’re well on your way. They’ll recommend things like giving away CDs, following certain steps for your launch, jazzing up your copy, holding a new teleseminar or sending out emails more often. Those are all good …but only if you’ve got something going already. That’s like saying, “Let’s fix the relationship” when you’ve never got out with the same guy three times.

These reasons can be painful to experience. So make sure you’re reading in a quiet, safe space. Grab the cat and take a drink of something. Then start reading.

Reason #1: People don’t care about what you have. Your topic just isn’t hot. As in, “Frankly, my dar, I don’t give a damn.”

Not fatal if you have a lot of ideas and keep testing. If you don’t have a good feel for a market place, choose a business model where you rely on data. A good example is Reach Desperate Buyers.

If you’re a techie, or willing to be a techie, you have a choice of gold mines. For instance, the WordPress theme Thesis is updating to a new version, Thesis 2.0 It’s a mystery and source of frustration to many people. If you like the theme and want to decode the mysteries of the new version, you’ve got a great business out there, and you don’t have to be very good at marketing: just know your stuff and collect testimonials. You’ll have plenty of money to hire a good copywriter.

Reason #2: You’ve got a hot topic, but nobody believes you can deliver solutions.

A fifty-something widow asked me to write copy for her new dating service, targeted to 20-somethings of a particular religion. I told her to test the waters. Did they want a gramdmother-type person organizing and hosting these events? She found that they did not. .

Alternatively, you may have created a fuzzy or inconsistent image so prospects don’t associate you with anything except confusion. I’ve been there. The solution is to take a break or wait till you get a powerful idea for a re-brand; wait till you’re sure before diving in feet first.

Or let’s say I wanted to promote myself as a fashion consultant. Stop laughing and move on to …

Reason #3: You’re not differentiated from the more established competition.

Ask your clients and prospects how you’re perceived, i.e., what makes you great. (I have some clever ways to do this when I work with my own clients.) If they say, “You’re like Guru X but smaller,” you’ve got a branding issue. If they’re puzzled by the question, you’ve got a branding and message issue.

If you’re on track with Reasons #1 and #2, it’s time to go on a treasure hunt. Book a single session with someone who resonates with you and focus exclusively on figuring out how you’re unique. Create a big, bold statement – something you feel genuinely comfortable promoting that fits “you” and also promises a client benefit.
After your first one-on-one call, try writing some copy with what you’ve learned. Ideally, you’ll get started on some copy during the consultation or shortly afterward. Sometimes your mentor’s brilliant insight will fade away as you try to capture it in copy, like a ghost that disappears when you try to capture an image. Sometimes you need more help translating the message.

I once interviewed a consultant I’ll call Georgina. I was fascinated by something I’d read in her blog and for the interview, I drew her out on the topic. My audience was riveted. Afterward, several people wrote to say, “I had heard of Georgina and been to her site. I even get her ezine. But I didn’t know that ‘s what she could do.”

Alas, I really try to avoid making a sales pitch after an interview, but I really wanted to! I did tell Georgina about the feedback, but she didn’t take the bait.

And sometimes you have to realize you got a bum steer. For instance, one branding consultant told me to push the idea of coffee and energy. It sounded good till I tried to write copy. Since I can usually write copy about anything, I had to stop and figure out what was going on.

If you haven’t guessed, there’s no client benefit. People don’t want high energy or coffee with their content. They want results. I’ve since changed the names of some of my caffeinated offers, despite the comments from so-called marketing coaches.

Reason #4: Your solution scares people away.

An internet marketing trainer insisted that his clients learn some HTML. He was skeptical of WordPress because it just didn’t have the best features from a technical perspective. People were scared: who wanted to learn HTML?

A marketing coach based her pitch on teaching clients to love cold calling. As in, “You must be kidding.”

Frankly, I am in total sympathy with these marketers. They’re right. All too often we have to give people what they want in order to get them to buy at all. Even doctors have to do this; just try explaining that a popular diagnostic test is so flawed it’s almost useless, and anyway there’s not much you can do if you get a positive result. End of discussion and patient goes doc-shopping.

Reason #5: You’re not one of the Beautiful People.

OK, about 90% of the time this complaint is sour grapes, but sometimes it’s true. It helps to be beautiful, especially if you’re female. It helps if you have a nice smile with straight teeth and a wrinkle-free face (or a good artist who can photoshop them for you). It helps if your voice is strong, confdient and pleasing.

But you’re not off the hook. You can find a business model that leaes you out of the picture, literally and figuratively. Once again, think of Alexis Dawes, author of Reach Desperate Buyers. She never shows a photo or speaks to prospective buyers via audio ro video. Apparently she’s an attractive woman with a great voice, but she doesn’t use them. You don’t have to either.
Reason #6. You’re clueless.

You’re sending out emails asking people if you can guest blog (or even trade links).

“Olga” invited me to be a guest on her teleseminar series. I said yes. Her next step should have been a phone meeting or a list of specifics, e.g., setting up a date and time, guidance on the topic, what she’d need when, and any special instructions.

Instead, Olga told me to go to her Time Trade account, find a time slot and book myself in. The time slots were confusing and I just gave up and never got back to Olga. She never followed up with me either. Her programs never took off and I could see why. She was clueless about the basics.

Mentors actually can help if you’ve identified “cluelessness” as your major (or only) stumbling block. You’ll learn the code, etiquette and secret handshake. But if you’re one of those social misfits (think of Elaine May’s character in A New Leaf), you might refer to the Reach Desperate Buyers model and stay out of trouble.

Reason #7: You hate what you’re doing but you’re determined to keep going. And it shows.

Forget mentors. Find a good life coach or therapist. This is about YOU, not your business.

Read more: