Monday morning. As I stand at the threshold of the week ahead, the quality I experience most clearly is one of ordering and shaping.
Sipping mint tea this early spring morning, my heart expands out my living room window into a landscape where silver sea meets sandy shore. The coastline unwinds below at low tide. Sand flats curve sinuously into the bay.
Fringed with grey beaches and tall fir trees, this shore creates a boundary between land and sea. The horizon beyond offers its own boundary, that separates sea from sky. Without these shaping boundaries, there would be no Sea, no Sky, no Beach. No swell of silver tide as the sea presses up against the body of the shore and is gently returned to its own undulation.
Boundaries define and give shape to our creations.
One of my clients, this week, is a consultant who is struggling to find the shoreline of her business. That intersection between her product, the services she offers in support of it, and the needs of her customers and clients.
She’s frustrated. Her clients love what her product enables them to do, once she gets in there and shows them how to use it to solve their business problems.
But, she says, she hasn’t yet found a shape with which to market it effectively. She has a hard time explaining what her product is and how it works. So her business struggles. Her warehouse is filled with unsold inventory–a tender offering of her heart that isn’t being sufficiently used or appreciated.
As we explore her dilemma, I realize that her customers can provide the shoreline for her product. Their problems-the things they want to accomplish-are relatively fixed. And like the shoreline, they offer contours to shape her product, which is fluid and can be applied in many different ways, to many different businesses.
You could use the term niche marketing, to describe this meeting of sea and shore. But when the product or service that you offer is born from your creative spirit, it requires a more organic shape, one that emerges naturally from its meeting with the needs of the people you want to serve.
If you’re struggling to put your work out there and have it be seen and valued, here are some questions to ask yourself: What are the fluid elements, in your work and in your business? What has power and depth, like the sea, but lacks shape and form?
Then, ask your customers and clients. What keeps them up at night? What do they need?
Finally, ask your business: Where does your fluid, creative heart meet the shore of your clients’ needs?
Take some time to sit with the shape of this boundary. To feel it intuitively. Then map it out. Craft your offer to fit that shape.