Starting out: How to get your message right
When I first started out, it was all about the business card – if you had that, then you had a ‘message’, right? Wrong. If I had my time over again, here’s what I’d do instead.
When I first started my coaching business I got a logo, business card and website sorted in short order … and then left it at that.
12 months later I realised I was like the old analogy of the hairdresser with bad hair. I was coaching my clients on how to develop their message, their brand and business but what I’d forgotten in the process was that I was MY brand. My own message deserved the same time, effort, strategy and polish that a customer’s product did.
So, if I had my time again, what process would I follow? The same five steps I walk my clients through these days:
Step 1: Who cares?
Also known as the ‘Discovery Phase’.
"The most successful brands are the ones that speak to their audience as if they are real people rather than just a sale waiting to happen. "
If I want to connect to someone, it’s important that I have an understanding of who I am about to speak to and if they will actually care about what I have to say.
So, determining my Target Market and Niche is a crucial step before attempting to craft my message.
If you haven’t done this before, I recommend that you create three personas for your target (or ideal) customer. They could vary by age, personality, lifestyle, profession, location, income level, but are still within the target market for your brand. It also helps to give each persona a name, so that you can really get to know them!
- Demographics, psychographics and geographical location.
- Professional and personal background.
- Shopping behaviour.
- Favourite websites.
- Favourite brands.
- Blogs and publications they read.
- Purchase motivators.
- Needs and wants.
I like to write a paragraph or two about each persona, just as if I know them. I have even based this on a real person, someone who is perfect to profile! I am very visual, so using images works well for me to help illustrate a person’s lifestyle and bring them to life.
Step 2: Where do I stand?
This is the deeper research phase, it’s where I like to look at the current market and determine how my message might cut through the clutter and reach the target customers I have identified above.
Ask the questions:
- What does my brand stand for? What are its ethics and core values?
- What does the market want and need?
- What do I have to say that is different to everyone else?
- Why would anyone care enough about my message, my product or service to consider becoming a customer?
By answering some of these questions it can help me raise any objections I might face from potential customers. For example, if I realise that perhaps I am not all that clear on what I stand for yet, or I haven’t quite been able to articulate my point of difference, it makes sense for me to flesh this out a little further before moving forward. It also helps to run your answers by someone you trust to give you some constructive feedback.
Step 3: Tone of Voice
The most successful brands are the ones that speak to their audience as if they are real people rather than just a sale waiting to happen.
Identifying your tone of voice and the personality of your brand is important. Imagine your brand having a conversation with your ideal customer.
What would it say and how would you say it?
Would it go something like, “Hey man, check out our awesome new blog on extreme travel destinations?” or perhaps, “Don’t miss our gorgeous SS/18 Artisan Collection launching soon!”
Consider what your ‘voice characteristics’ might be such as:
Once I have this framework in place so far – I have a good idea of my audience, I know what I stand for and I know how to engage them, I then like to practice my writing.
I always find it’s best to develop the heart of my message first and then, if I am struggling to achieve that polished piece, I would bring in a professional such as a copywriter or trusted brand or creative professional to help me take it to the next level.
Step 4: Look and feel
“A picture tells a thousand words.”
Once I know what I stand for, who my customer is and how I want to speak to my customer, then it’s so much easier to ensure I really nail the look and feel of my brand.
This is where the help of a graphic designer or brand strategist may be in order depending on how far you want to take it.
I like to start with a logo concept and then build from there.
Creating a clear brief on the look and feel you want to create for your brand that best tells your story is absolutely crucial when working with a creative resource.
- What aesthetics, fonts and styles resonate with you?
- What would capture the essence of your brand and best represent your message?
- What look and feel would engage your ideal consumer?
TOP TIP: The clearer the brief, the more accurate the outcomes and better chance you have for your vision to come to life.
Step 5: Try it on for size
Once you have a logo you LOVE, now it’s time to consider how this creative would look across all brand touchpoints such as website, social media, print media, business cards, stationery and packaging. Does it represent your message well?
I try to think about all the applications beyond this such as marketing, PR, online and print. Don’t forget your email sign off message!
Remember: your message is just not about the WORDS, it’s about the image, the ethics, the conversation, and every piece of content you put out to the industry that represents you. So, put your very best into crafting a compelling message that does you and your business proud. But do remember, this is a work in progress, as your business evolves, your message, look and feel will also evolve.