I get this call all the time:
Nothing is working. I put out content, I run ads, I promote like crazy, but my emails list isn’t growing, no one is attending my webinars, and I’m not getting as much traction as I thought I would be. All these experts make it sound so easy. What am I doing wrong?!
Is this you? Do you feel like you keep hitting the same walls over and over?
Today, I’m gonna break it all down for you. Yep. We’re gonna go from problem to solution. So buckle up, buttercup.
The Problem: You’re so eager to start and make money that you jump into create and sell mode.
You’re ready. You see an opportunity, and you jump right in. You read all the blog posts, listen to all the podcasts. You set up your website. You maybe even put up a poll or two in some Facebook groups to see if there are people interested in your offer. You start building your product, or service. You throw some words on all the pages. Write some blog posts. Throw in some Hell Yeses! And Heck Yeas! Plan some webinars. Get some graphics together. And promote the hell out of all of it.
Then you sit back waiting for the masses sign up for your list.
…all you get is crickets.
You start promoting more. But decide to change course and start running some ads. Some people trickle in, but you haven’t even reached 100 subscribers.
Sigh. Everyone said, “build it and they will come.” Maybe I’m not cut out for this.
Am I way off?
There’s no sugar-coating this: you set yourself up for failure from the beginning.
By skipping over the foundational stuff. You know? Defining your brand personality, your brand voice, and getting to know your target audience.
You might be thinking: Ummmm I totally picked my brand colors, and I know that I’m my brand, so I represent me. And I know that my target audience is made up of women between the ages of blah, blah, and blah, blah, who have trouble with blah, blah.
Yeah. You just proved my point.
Go back and look through your brand & business planning files. How much did you write down about your brand personality, about your brand voice and about your audience BEFORE you jumped into creation mode?
See, people like consistency. People like strong brands with define values and offerings. People like brands who appear to know what they’re doing.
But fear not, dear one.
We’re gonna fix this right here and now.
You ready? Grab a pen & paper.
Fix 1: Define your Brand Personality
As you may have guessed, we’re not talking about choosing colors or defining your look. We’re talking about defining WHO your brand is.
And no, the answer is not, “well, I’m my brand.”
Is your personality one-dimensional or does it have many different facets? Does your personality vary throughout the day, and depending on where you are or who you’re with?
Then how could your brand be you?
I KNOW you’ve heard some variation of this: You HAVE to remain consistent. Consistency is key. Consistency is the queen of blah, blah, blah. You’ve heard this.
So, how could your brand be consistent if you base it on you?
See what I’m sayin’?
But why is a consistent brand personality so important? Well to explain that, let’s look at some examples:
Let’s look at the most cliché one ever: Apple
Apple is ALWAYS super consistent. We know their look is clean and simple. And when it come to their personality, they’ve become synonymous with saying little and being a bit elusive. Together that makes them a quality brand.
And people expect quality when it comes to Apple and they trust that they will get it every time.
Imagine, though, that they change their logo. And start talking about how we are all one and that mother spaceship goddess is waiting for us and that Apple products help us get closer to it. Then they start having huge sales every other weekend. Calling it the biannual sale every time.
Would you continue to trust their product? Would your perception stay the same?
I would tottttaly start wondering what’s going on. I would wonder how their product is changing that it doesn’t merit the same pricing as before. Or why they’re trying to pull gimmicks.
I bet many others would be wondering too.
Their reviews would tank, their sales would probably go down. Because audience perception matters more than what the brand is trying to achieve. As much as that sucks, it’s true.
But the biggest issue is trust. By clashing (in this example) with the brand Apple had once established and that consumers were familiar with, they broke the trust the public had in them.
Your audience has to trust that they’ll get the same thing from you every time. They have to trust that you won’t keep flip-flopping personalities. They have to trust that you will provide quality every time.
So how do you do this?
Define who & what you want people to know your brand for
Even the great Steve Jobs said: “Marketing is about values. It’s a complicated and noisy world, and we’re not going to get a chance to get people to remember much about us. No company is. So we have to be really clear about what we want them to know about us.”
You can’t leave it up to people, because they will define you how they want, so you have to have a crystal definition of your brand.
Defining your brand in 3 steps
Step 1: Identify your brand values
Sit down and deeply consider what your brand beliefs and values are. They could be value words like integrity and value, but coming up with complete phrases will serve you best. For example, The Copy Concierge believes in providing quality work despite the project size or budget.
Think of it like defining your brand’s guiding principles. These are what you’ll use to ensure that all your endeavors stay match what you want your brand to represent.
Step 2: Identify what you want to be known for
Consider what you want to be known for. When people think of your brand, what should come to mind?
Try this: Imagine your brand is at a party. You know how there’s always a role for each person. What role does your brand play?
Here’s another scenario: When your brand get their award for excellence, how do you want the award announcer to introduce your brand?
Step 3: List your core values and principles
Once you’ve completed steps 1-2, pair them together to make a list of your core values and principles.
For example, here are two of Apple’s core principles:
- We believe that we’re on the face of the Earth to make great products.
- We believe in the simple, not the complex.
Kind of impressive, right? It’s evident that they uphold these values and they come through in everything they do.
Got your core values and principles ready?
Fix 2: Define Your Brand Voice
Your brand personality and your brand voice are very closely related. Before we dive in, let’s define what your voice actually is.
Your brand voice is what you talk about and how you talk about it. It’s how you communicate the value that you offer and how your audience perceives you. It’s what set you apart.
By looking at it this way, you can see that your brand voice is one of the MOST important aspects of your brand.
If you change it too much, or if it’s not consistent, your audience will have a difficult time trusting you. Because when you flip flop, you don’t come off as dependable.
What you talk about
You’re not gonna like this, but creating the kind of brand that turns into a huge business means that you can’t follow all your content whims. Nope! It means you’ve got to be focused.
As readers, people want a trusted sources of information. They want to know who’s a good resource on which topic. And if your brand isn’t focused, they won’t stick with you because you’re too general. They won’t trust that you’ll have what they’re looking for on a particular topic because they’ve seen so many different topics on your site.
This is Niche 101. But it also applies to your brand voice.
For example, if your brand is focused on how eating grass fed and organic food, heals your body, you can’t suddenly talk about eating whatever your budget can afford because often those two things go against each other. If you came across a blog like this, you’d wonder, well, which is it? And probably think: This person doesn’t have it together. I’m out!
I’ve done that a bunch of times. Haven’t you?
So narrow it down.
This doesn’t mean that you only talk about one aspect of your niche, but that you’re selective and it matches your brand values and principles.
So if one of your principles is to be the best source of information for _____ in ______ niche, then you only talk about that on your site.
But what if I want to talk about other things related to business in general?
If it doesn’t match what your brand is about, use the content for guest posts on sites where that content is the norm. By doing this, you’ll not only have an outlet for all that other info, you’ll also get in front of other audiences and get fresh visitors to your site. Win, win!
How you talk about it
Like I said above, how you talk about something is a big part of your brand.
Let’s be honest. What you talk about is more than likely not unique.
Am I right?
There are probably a bajillion of other people who talk about your same topic. But HOW you talk about it is what makes you unique. It’s what shows who you are and what your stance is. Ultimately, it’s what’s gonna attract your tribe.
So find your opinions. Find your framework. Find your viewpoint.
A lot of people are afraid to write about things that people have already written. Why? Because they’re afraid of coming off like a fraud. They’re afraid of not having anything unique to say.
It’s a legitimate concern, but one that can be resolved rather quickly by finding what YOU think about ____ topic. Find your perspective.
You have one. Really.
This is the part where I tell what a unique snowflake you are. How no one in the history of the yada yada has had your experiences at yada yada, or come to the same conclusions yada yada….you get the point.
Sit down and find your opinion. Read everything about your topic. Then write how you see it differently. Write it with your own spin. Put your own color on it.
Fix 3: Get to know your audience.
This one’s a biggie. Like, seriously, how do you even get off the ground without researching your target market?
And NO. I’m not talking about demographics. Although, those can be helpful.
I’m talking about finding out what they know and feel about your niche. About how they see their struggle, about what they think their struggle is, how they see the solution to their struggle, and what they think solving it would get them.
This is soooo, sooooooo, important.
Because here’s the thing. You are the expert. You may see your niche in a certain way and it is likely VERY different than how your target market sees it. The truth is that unless you just recently went through the same thing you don’t understand their problem how they do.
See what I mean?
So you have to put it in their terms. You have to find out what they say about it. It’s how you’ll find the message that resonates the most.
No doubt about it.
There’s one more thing: knowing your audience will help you be in tune with what they want and what they like.
It will also help you stay on brand.
See, today’s audience connect with a brand on an emotional basis.
They connect with what your brand represents. When you break that, you’ll lose them.Knowing your audience is the key to building a powerful brand. Click To Tweet
Consider what happened with Uber. When the Uber CEO spoke about the Travel Ban in a way that didn’t resonate with their customer base, they lost over 200,000 customers in the span of a couple of days. Most of Uber’s customers live in big cities which are predominantly liberal. The CEO should have known that even a slight show of support for the ban would create a huge backlash with Uber’s customers.
See. You have to be in tune with your audience.
So be careful. If you want a business that grows into something huge, you have to think about the bigger picture.
If speaking out about social issues is part of your brand, awesome. You will attract a crowd that supports those things too.
But if you haven’t set that as a foundation of your business and you suddenly want to use your it as a platform to talk about social or political issues, or you want to rant about something expect to lose followers. They may drop off not because they don’t agree with you, but because they don’t know what to expect from you now and because that rant or content, didn’t match with the perception they had of your brand.
Take your business seriously.
All of this may sound so serious. You may even think that’s what the big brands do. I’m just a solopreneur. If you’re thinking that, to you I say: people will only take you and your business as seriously as you take it.
So, if you have any hope of having a hugely profitable business, you have to set yourself apart and do this serious foundational work first.
I’ll leave you with this quote from Seth Godin: “The entrepreneur is building something bigger than herself.”“The entrepreneur is building something bigger than herself.” - Seth Godin Click To Tweet
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Dang! This post got long! So here’s a recap
To start your business on the best possible foot, do these 3 things first (yes, BEFORE you jump into creation mode):
- Define your Brand Personality
- Define Your Brand Voice
- Get to know your audience.