Episode 8: Mark Levy: Your Big Sexy Business Idea
In this episode of The Manage Your Message Podcast, host Jim Karrh introduces his audience to Mark Levy. Mark is the founder of Levy Innovation, a consultation company focused on helping individuals and businesses with positioning and differentiation. Having assisted CEOs, performers, best-seller authors, and up-and-coming professionals to develop their platforms and increase revenue, Mark has a wealth of practical insight to share. He and Jim spend their time together discussing Mark’s concept of a “big sexy idea” and how it relates to business positioning.
When Mark speaks of a “big sexy idea,” he means the thing that sets a professional or a business apart from others – its differentiator. In working to find that authentic differentiator, Mark first examines what already exists in the person’s life or the company’s life. He reads the person or the business as a book, looking for main ideas and secondary ideas. How can we make the “book” a best-seller? Ultimately, he wants to determine what idea the person or business embodies and represents.
Some people can try to force authenticity. Jim and Mark discussed ways to avoid that trap. Mark insists that a central component of positioning is honesty; individuals and businesses set themselves apart from competition by being truthful, and their differentiating concepts should be grounded in fact. This aspect of differentiation is what Mark calls the “open kitchen concept of business,” and one of its constitutive elements is the back-story. The back-story is a narrative that proves to potential clients that the person seeking their business was born to do what he/she does and cares about the work involved. It invites consumers into an organic story rather than giving the impression that one is simply peddling what is expedient. Mark instructs listeners in choosing back-stories based on transitional and transformational moments in their or their business’s history, and provides engaging examples of back-stories used well.
The final topic of the episode is that of the elevator pitch. The elevator pitch ties together some of the ideas already discussed, as it brings differentiating ideas to the attention of potential clients in short, truthful form. It is a brief story that relates a person to both the clients served and the results achieved for clients. A person should have several elevator pitches developed, Mark says, and formulate pitches of different lengths related to numerous topics. In this way, the person can avoid coming across as artificial by trying to cram too much into one short speech, and can more naturally and confidently address relevant topics that arise. When crafted well, these pitches will rely on facts about the individual or business (even in back story form), rather than irrelevant superlatives.
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