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My Dirty Little Coaching Secret with Terri Levine

by | In the Magazine, Terri Levine | 0 comments

I created a concept in my business coaching that has made me and my business unique and generated millions of dollars in coaching revenue for me.

Then I went on to share that secret with other business coaches and they profited from it as well.

Today, I’m giving you my secret. Uncovering your Core Unique Positioning Statement (CUPS) is the first and most essential marketing project you will complete to grow your coaching business. It’s the very foundation of your successful marketing plans. Before you can do this, it’s important that you have an in-depth understanding of this very crucial concept.

Let’s begin by exploring your passion. Remembering this passion will help you uncover your CUPS.

Answer these questions in great detail:

Why did you get into the coaching business? What passion drives you to stay in business and to keep trying to grow it? Your CUPS is the unique position that your company has in the minds of your potential customers. How you’re positioned in their minds determines whether or not they will choose to conduct business with you.

A CUPS must be a reflection of what your customers experience when they use your company. It cannot be all image and no substance. If the CUPS doesn’t match your customer’s’ experience they will not return and will look elsewhere. For example, how would you feel if you went into Wal-Mart one day and found their prices had skyrocketed to be equal to Neiman Marcus, Nordstrom or Saks Fifth Avenue? Conversely, how would you feel if you walked into the Nordstrom’s shoe department and received the service and quality of product that you would normally find at Wal-Mart? Those stores have different CUPS. Wal-Mart promotes itself as a low price leader while Nordstrom claims quality and service. Yet both of these organizations make money and satisfy a particular market demand. Each has its own CUPS and attracts customers accordingly.

In order for your coaching business to grow and survive in today’s marketplace and beyond, you must be able to successfully answer these two questions:

1.   Why do people buy from you?

2.   If they aren’t buying from you now, why should they? Your coaching business must have some kind of a sustainable competitive advantage.  This is what sets it apart from the competition or makes it unique. In today’s highly competitive marketplace, it’s often difficult to determine what’s unique about a particular business coaching service. Many times there’s nothing unique about it. In that case, you must establish a CUPS that the competition doesn’t offer – one that creates extra value or gives people additional reasons to buy your coaching service.

Your CUPS can take form in four different ways.

It can

1.   Be the price leader – this means that out of all the competitors in the market, your practice has the lowest price. This is a great advantage if it can be created and maintained. However, it’s often difficult to consistently be the price leader. Many companies make the mistake of trying to be the price leader and cut their price. This has caused many companies to go under. If you can compete at the price leader – great. If not, you shouldn’t play that game.

2.   Differentiate – this means that your practice can create an advantage by doing something more or better or different than the competition. It could be in the form of longer hours, better guarantee, higher quality, more selection, better service, etc…

3.   Focus on a certain niche – this means that your practice can zero in on only one small segment of the market and then become either the price leader or differentiate in some way but only to that small segment of the market.

4.   Extra Value Proposition – your practice provides more value and/or more service than your competitors.

Determine which of these four areas you see as your strength or uniqueness.

No matter which way you create the competitive advantage, it’s crucial that every company have a distinct and defined CUPS. It’s your job as the business owner to create your CUPS, document it and then firmly embed it in the minds of your employees and clients. This is so crucial to the long-term success of your business and the secret that has generated so much success for me in my coaching business.

Without an effective CUPS, people will never know why they should invest in your coaching. In the absence of any other perceived value, the buying decision on the part of the consumer will always be the price. This is great if you are and want to be the price leader, but if not, you will soon be out of business unless you can create differentiation in some other way.

Important Characteristics of An Effective CUPS

1.   Be able to articulate the proposition in 9 words or less. Answer the question: why should people do business with you and not your competitors?

2.   Quantify the benefit as much as possible.

3.   Be specific in the areas of quality, service, selection, guarantee, etc… a CUPS is not a mission statement.

4.   Fill a void the competition is not filling.

5.   It must matter to prospects and customers.

6.   It evolves – based on what your competition does.

7.   Your business must be able to execute the proposition.


Domino’s Pizza did a terrific job in identifying a void in the pizza industry and filling it. Their CUPS became “If we don’t deliver your pizza within 30-minutes or less, it’s free.” That literally was communicated in all advertising whenever you read an ad or saw an ad on TV. It was clear to all people that Domino’s had the fastest delivery and they guaranteed that if it didn’t happen, your pizza would be free. This is what they needed, in the beginning, to really get things moving – and it worked! Soon, however, Pizza Hut matched the CUPS… reminding us that a CUPS is not always a permanent position.

Lenscrafters determined a void in their industry. They knew people wanted their contacts and eyeglasses in a short period of time. They invited people to come into Lenscrafters located in the mall and have their prescription contacts or eyeglasses ready in about an hour. Their message is communicated over and over in all advertising, all radio spots, and newspaper advertising. People get a clear message. They can go to Lenscrafters and have their prescriptions filled and their eyeglasses or contacts ready in about an hour. Are you looking for stylish and affordable eyewear? Then you may want to check out these tortoise glasses frames here for more info!

The Men’s Wearhouse Clothing Store has built a tremendous business over the last several years strictly on price. Whenever the owner gets on the television he emphasizes over and over again the following: “Remember, no one – I repeat, no one buys clothes at a lower price than at The Men’s Warehouse –I  guarantee it!” People now go to The Men’s Wearhouse clearly understanding that the price is better there than any other clothing store in the area.

Nordstrom Clothing Store has done a superb job in distinguishing “their higher end clothes” from their competition. They’ve emphasized this strongly and their salespeople are clearly trained in the concept. If you’re unhappy with your clothes, bring them back for a prompt exchange or refund. They also have a personal shopper program. You can call up the store and a personal shopper will gather your clothing options for you. You meet them at a certain time and choose from the clothes they‘ve picked for you, saving you time and effort.

If you want to have similar success with your business you need to find out what voids aren’t being filled by competitors in the industry and then fill these voids.

The Power of “Only”

“Only” is a powerful word you can use in creating your CUPS. It communicates your uniqueness. It gives your customers a single “hook” to remember you. When positioned in a void in the marketplace – it sets you apart from your competitors. Use it in the writing of your CUPS! Complete this sentence: my company is the only company that…

This is how you find out what’s your “only”.

Think about what your customers need and what your competitors aren’t doing. Create an “Only” for your business.


As you work to determine your CUPS it’s important to remember that your new CUPS will not only determine who you are or have been but it can also be the catalyst for you to determine who you want to be in the business coaching industry. Right now, while you’re working to determine your CUPS is the time to find out what you can do differently. What can you do that your competition can’t? What do your customers want but may not even know they want it? By finding out what you CAN BE and then letting everybody know that you’re able to deliver is what determining a CUPS is all about.

Every CUPS should fill an obvious void in an industry.

Look at the competition and see what they’re offering. Next, ask yourself these questions: “what can I offer that they don’t? What can I do right now that fills a void or that offers my customers something that no one else in the industry or area offers?” Your company cannot be all things to all people.

This misjudgment can defeat the purpose of a CUPS. Companies that succumb to such thinking get so deluded and distracted that revenues never increase. They fail to focus properly and customers never get a clear idea of company objectives. Don’t allow yourself to make this mistake.

Do everything that you can to determine accurately what the CUPS for your company truly is.

I promise you, having the right CUPS attracts tons of qualified prospects to you each and every day and will make your coaching business profitable.

 About Terri Levine

Dr. Levine has more than 30 years of business, sales, and marketing experience encompassing work with over 5,000 business owners. She is also a best-selling author of over 30 titles and a very popular keynote speaker.

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