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EPISODE 22: Business Growth through Consistent Messaging

by Feb 22, 2021Podcast, Writers

In this episode we will cover:

  • How we became known for consistency
  • How messaging consistency helps you as a content creator
  • How to clarify your message

The loudest voice doesn’t hold people’s attention the longest. The most consistent voice does.

It’s something we learned after a few years of writing professionally. When we asked people why they chose to hire us, a lot of them answered, “Well, you’ve been doing the same thing for a while. It seems like you know what you’re talking about.”

But here’s the thing: you don’t have to have years of longevity to win over clients. You can have decades of experience, but if you’re not talking up that experience consistently, no one is ever going to know {or care!} about your skills. What REALLY matters is trust

And you build trust through consistent, reliable messaging.

In this week’s episode, we’re discussing the importance of having a clear, consistent message as a writer or content creator. You’ll learn:

  • How we made consistent messaging a core part of our business {and why that helped}
  • How consistent messaging can help you too as a content creator
  • Ways to clarify your message and convey it to your audience/clients

 

Remember, you can embrace the broken record! Just because you’ve said something before, doesn’t mean you can’t say it again. The consistency actually helps people form an attachment to you and your work.

Tag us on Instagram @northstarmessaging to tell us the consistent message you want to be known for!

Additional content referenced in this episode includes:

Brand Your Voice podcast episode 8: What Are Content Pillars + Why Do You Need Them

Show Your Work by Austin Kleon

 

TRANSCRIPT

Jessi:
Welcome to the Brand Your Voice Podcast, where we're digging into how you can create personality driven content that connects and converts. I'm Jessi...

Marie:
...and I'm Marie. We're the co-founders of North Star Messaging + Strategy where we support business owners and outsourcing content without sacrificing authenticity.

Jessi:
Every brand has a unique voice that sets it apart. We're digging into how to capture the way your brand communicates from the words you use to the stories you tell, So you can create more compelling content that strategically helps you meet your business goals.

Marie:
And if you choose to outsource that content, you'll be able to do so with confidence, knowing your brand voice is in good hands and you can reclaim your time. We're so glad you're here and hope you enjoy this episode.

Jessi:
Welcome to another episode of the brand, your voice podcast. Today, we are continuing a series where we're talking specifically to content creators. So freelance writers, if you want a copywriting firm, if you are actively creating content for clients, and if you're a business owner ads, are you hire content creators or we'll hire content creators at some point. So this is a good episode for you to pay attention to as well. Today, we are talking specifically about business growth through consistent messaging. If you're a content creator, odds are you spend a lot of time helping your clients create consistent messaging in their business. But today we want to talk about consistent messaging in your business as a way to not only continue bringing in clients, but continue bringing in clients who are a good fit for you and who reflect the clients who you most want to serve and are best, best set to serve.
So we're going to dive right in and talk a little bit about our own history with creating a consistent message in our own business.

Marie:
Yeah, because ultimately this series that is for content creators is something that we were inspired to do when we were thinking about like, what are the, what are the things that have really made a difference for us in our business? From going from a literally a three figure company that's, as in hundreds of dollars made our first year. We. Too, you know, consistent multiple six figures creating content. And, again, I really do think this is completely applicable for other CEOs too. You don't have to have a content creation business or be a freelance content creator at all, to be able to benefit from this. But, we're here really to serve in this series, our fellow writers and content creators.
So, yeah. So going into story time, yeah, so we have been around since 2010, but our business has changed a lot and it really wasn't until when do you think that was Jesse like 2014, 2015...

Jessi:
Yeah, about then.

Marie:
That we like really stepped into serving our current sort of fellow entrepreneur entrepreneurial audience. And, um, a few years after that, I'm not sure two, three years later, maybe maybe three, it was early enough that I was kind of surprised at how quickly this happened. We started getting applications to work with us, people filling out, you know, discovery calls, or we call them no application calls, things like that. And that's not irregular, but what was strange was we started getting this feedback on it. It was like, you know, why we have a questions? Like, why are you interested in working with us? And we kept seeing this pattern. It wasn't everybody who submitted it, but it was like enough people that they were like, well, I just know you've been around a long time and, you know, doing the same thing. And, that means that I trust that you're probably pretty good at it. And so I just wanted to reach out and we were like, that's, that's why you trust us? Is that like, we've just been yammering on and on about the same thing for three years? But we discovered something really important then that's like, that actually is a big trust builder, especially in an industry where there sometimes is a lot of turnover.

Jessi:
Yeah. Yeah. And I think too, for content creation specifically or really, really for any done for you service where you spend a lot of time creating on the behalf of your clients, sometimes that consistency in your own business can fall off the table. It's one of the things that gets pushed to the back burner while you're spending so much time serving your clients. And so it was something that we, in those earlier days of serving our current audience, once we started seeing that pattern, we realized, Oh, okay. So we have been present enough because that's always kind of a concern, but also we've been present enough with a consistent message. Let's double down on this. Let's start talking about this even more and see what happens. And what happened was we started attracting even more of the people who were really good fit for us in our business. And these were- sometimes they were referrals, which are always great because you kind of have that extra sense of confidence from them because it's coming from someone who there's mutual trust with them. But sometimes there were people who just came out of the blue and they found us because we had been around doing the same thing for so long, and that allowed us to showcase our expertise through our content that we've created over the years, through our portfolio of past clients, And just through the way that we were talking about what we were doing.

Marie:
Yeah. And, two things here. I mean, you know, one is, all of us have seen, you know, these companies they'll include something in their little tagline, like, you know, family owned business since 1912 or whatever. And you know, it's the same principle at work here. Like, Oh, you've been doing this for awhile, so you're probably pretty good at it if you haven't gone out of business yet. But it's not something that's only accessible to people who have years and years and years of longevity. Right. It's really just something you can cultivate with consistency with however long you have been operational. Even if it's only operational, like within a certain audience or a certain set of services. The other thing is, it's not just about how you talk in like your social media posts or things like that. Right. I really believe that messaging is bigger than the words that we put out. it's bigger than the way we spend things. It's bigger than the way we communicate with our audience.
It also extends to the way we handle relationship building and the way we treat people. Because ultimately at the end of the day, messaging is a signal for your values and all of that is too. And so it's all tied together. So even if, you know, you've had a big shift and maybe you're serving a different audience, or maybe you've shifted from writing blog posts to now you're just strictly writing conversion copy, or something like that. Some of that consistent messaging can come through things like I treat my clients fairly. Right. And then you act upon it. You have these good relationships with people you have worked with, right? Like clients you've worked with in the past love to refer you out because they felt like, you know, you handled the project well, and they were treated well by you. All of that comes into play too. So again, it doesn't have to be something where you've had decades of experience.

Jessi:
Yeah, absolutely. I think, you know, when you get down to the core of what we have witnessed and experienced and what we believe around this concept of consistent messaging is that creating that consistency allows you to build trust and legitimacy, and it helps you to become more recognizable. Because we do exist in such a busy space, especially, you know, post 2020 when even more people are online than ever. And as a result, there are a lot of people competing for attention, and it's often not the loudest voice that gets the attention. It's the most consistent voice. It's the voice where you can go to them to understand and to know, to be reassured that, you know, what you're going to get from them, you know, what kind of support you're going to get, you know, what kind of feedback you're going to get. And so that repetition of the message becomes really, really important, especially when you're in busier marketplaces.

Marie:
Exactly. So, going back to one of our old favorite sayings, embrace the broken record, right. This is really going to serve you well. Even if it's just within a small audience and like bottom line is you don't have to have the biggest audience to have a really successful business. You just need to have a slightly big enough one, right. And honestly, that can just be, you know, that could be even as simple as referral based. Once you've landed those initial clients, a lot of those initial clients can come through relationships. So, maybe it sounds a little weird for people who create content to say, like, you don't actually have to create tons and tons and tons of content to be successful. It's really just about consistency of however, that message is being presented. And ultimately to, you know, give your, give your people time to listen to you, you know.
This is, I think one of the easiest pitfalls to fall into is, you know, I set an intention that I'm going to be talking about this, and I talk about it and I create all this beautiful content around it and I'm communicating it. And then, you know, like three weeks later, I'm like, why is it nobody heard me? Why is nothing happening, right? And then I just like, I'm like, well, that doesn't work clearly. And so I move on to the next thing. And it turns out, no one's actually just like waiting on pins and needles to see what anybody is going to say about anything most of the time, unless that person's like, you know, at the crux of some kind of scandal or something. Right. And so, that's actually kind of lovely in some ways, because the pressure's off of it. But in other ways it's like, we're so much more cognizant of what we're doing and putting out there than other people are. You know, we're facing algorithms, we're facing full inboxes, we're facing extremely expansive internet, you know, and, in that way, there is a lot of competition for attention. And so have some patience to allow your message to get through.

Jessi:
Yeah, absolutely. I think this is something that, you know, we saw a lot with people who may have been putting some content out for the first time. And I can think of a specific example around list building. This seems to happen a lot. We'll have conversations with business owners who are trying to build their lists maybe for the first time, or maybe with a new audience for the first time. And they'll create this opt-in and they'll get their fancy little funnels all set up and they're really excited about it. And then they'll come back a month later and be like, it's not working. We need to scrap the whole thing and start over. And you dig a little deeper and you find, well only like 10 people have gone through the funnels. There's no way to tell if the funnel itself is working or not. And they've only talked about it with their audience a handful of times. And just for the reasons Marie said, people are being pulled in so many different directions and have so much competing for their attention. That those few times talking about the new opt-in were not enough to get it in front of the audience to actually see if the message is working or not. So I think a big piece of this is having patients and that's both patients with your audience for, you know, giving them time to see something and decide if it's for them and also patient with yourself. And I think that's the hardest part sometime because we're painfully aware of how often we are talking about something to the point where we're like, Oh, it's too much. It's too much, but usually it really isn't too.

Marie:
Right. You can also remember, if your audience is continually growing, if you're putting something out there for the 400th time, it may actually be someone's first time hearing this message from you or from anyone. So I like to think of it as I like to aspire to... I don't always do this, but I like to aspire to have any time that I have content going out that like I bring the energy to it. That would be something I would bring if like I knew I was stepping into a room of people who'd never heard this before, but also bring the warmth to it that somebody who has been following me for a long time can feel my personality and, you know, can just continue feeling good about the relationship that we've cultivated. So that's kind of, you know, the partnership to strike.
And honestly, I mean, I think that's true in daily life, right? Like here's an example from yesterday, yesterday, I was at a conference and the person who was presenting first, he just brought this like very warm, like I've known you a million years kind of energy to the space, even though he knew none of us except for the facilitator. And so just having that sort of sense of familiarity while also he was preparing this information for people who hadn't heard it before, it's a really nice balance to strike. And so this is something that can happen. Just think about how it happens in like just conversations and people you've been sort of impressed by with, you know, teachers that you've had in the past or instructors or presenters. That's the kind of energy that we can bring to our content.

Jessi:
Yeah. I remember back at my last job before I went full-time with the business, I was at a museum. It was at a science museum in Houston, Texas. And one of the things that was a little strange about the building was kind of where the bathrooms were. They were a little kind of off in a corner. So it was hard for people to who were visiting the museum for the first time to find them sometimes. And so visitor services, people would kind of get frustrated and be like, I feel like I spend my whole day telling people where the bathroom is. And my boss at the time, I just remember her talking with someone who was relatively new to the position and saying, you know what, for that person who's asking it is their first time ever where the bathroom is. You may have said it a thousand times, but it's their first time hearing it.
And so just bring that energy every single time someone asks the same tired question, because they're genuinely interested if in that case, they genuinely had to go to the bathroom. And in the case of your content, if someone is starting to ask questions and show this interest, they may be hearing it for the first time. We're going to talk in just a second about getting clear on your content pillars. We have talked about that ad nauseum for years now. We did a whole podcast episode on it previously, we will continue to talk about it ad nauseum. Not just for the consistency in our messaging, but also because it's something that works. And I think that's a piece of this. That's important to your messaging as you're putting it out there and being consistent with it, you know, focus in on the things that you really do see mileage out of them and your audience members. Once they start absorbing that message and putting into practice in their business or in their lives, they see mileage out of it as well, because that's going to make the process even faster.

Marie:
Yeah. We call this, like, influence content or influence stories. It's not that you're an influencer necessarily to tap into this, but like, what is the stuff that when you say it, you see light bulbs go off in people's heads? People change the way they think about something or behave around something. Those things are, those are like your little sparks of brilliance, right. That you're bringing to the world and I'm sorry, but you're going to have to keep repeating them. And you may want to find other ways to repeat them and you may want to bring in some stories, but the alternative is just not having that spark be there anymore. Not having people have that revelation in that powerful way anymore. And so I think, you know, the lesser of two evils is you repeating yourself.

Jessi:
Yeah. I think there's a tendency for people to want to do something new and shiny. And I get it because it gets tedious sometimes feeling like you're repeating yourself constantly, but the truth of the matter is growing your business isn't always the sexiest thing in the world. It's not about finding the shiny new way to do things or the fancy new platform to be on. It's really about being reliable and creating reliability. And you do that through your messaging through the way that they perceive you through the things that you said.

Marie:
Yeah. And this is why content pillars are so powerful. Right? So now we're kind of shifting into like, from high concepts, this is what we recommend to, this is how you can step into it. Um, content pillars are a way to organize the content that you have. And you probably know this if you're already a writer, but bear with us for a second, because this could be your first time hearing this. Right. So we're bringing that energy just in case. It's a way to organize your content into like usually two or three sort of broad categories that all your content, more or less, will fall under. Yes. There will always be also photos of your puppy or whatever. Right. That's totally fine. But the key about these content pillars is if you can have a content pillar that ties in with your offer in some way, you are always preparing somebody with all the pieces of your content to step into the next level of that relationship with you, which is not putting a ring on it. It's putting the name on a contract and getting you money. Right.
And I think the other thing about content pillars that's important for me to clarify is sometimes I have this conversation. I'm like, what kinds of content are you creating? Or like, what are the topics? And people will say, Oh, well, I have like kind of educational content, and I have like entertaining content, and I have like, value-driven content, I have sales content. That's not what I'm talking about. Those are the types of content. Um, all of your pillars can have any of those types of content. This is really more the topic, right. So maybe the topic is, you know, for like a nutritionist is going to be around like whole foods. And then there's another one that's around meal planning and then there's whatever, right? Like it's around that kind of thing.
Right. So thinking about what that is for your business, what are the things you talk about, right. Maybe it's content re-purposing or maybe it's brand voice for us. Right? And then under that, there could be some topics and under that you can have sales copy and under that you can have educational copy and like all the different types, but we're really talking about topics. Because like, let's say I'm talking about repurposing content a lot, and then maybe that means that I'm priming people so that when I launch a workshop on repurposing their content for the quarter, they've been thinking about it. They've been hearing this from me for the last 90 days or so. And they're like, yeah. And I'm like ready to do that. Right. So...

Jessi:
Yeah. And I think, you know, a lot of times when we work with clients to help them define their content pillars, one of the problems that they come to us with, one of the things they're struggling with is they have not been able to create consistency in their messaging because instead of two or three or maybe four content pillars, they have eight or nine or 10. And so where getting clear on your content pillars can really help you. Is it forces you to narrow to the two to four things that you, as a business are going to be talking about consistently, as opposed to, I'm going to talk about these eight or nine different things, which means that each of those eight or nine different things gets a little less screen time. Gets a little bit less time in the spotlight and it becomes harder for your audience to then hear that repeated message.
And so really we talk about niching a lot in business. This is about niching down on your content niching down on what specifically you're talking about and making sure that it does tie to a next step of some sort. So just thinking about that, and then the next piece of that is what kind of data can you collect about it? What information do you have to let you know if your consistent messaging is working or is not working. And data does not just have to be raw numbers, although it can be, you can be looking at things like conversion rate number of people who you've added to your email as things like that. But it can also look like conversations. Going back to the intake form that Marie mentioned earlier, we also saw this repeated in the actual calls that we would have with people.
And we would talk with them, we'd ask them, well, you know, what brought you to us? Why do you think we're a good fit? What is it about our businesses that, you know, allows you to feel like there's some cohesion there? And the longer we stayed consistent with our messaging, the more we would hear them repeating our own points back at us. The things that we were talking about in our content almost verbatim sometimes would be repeated back to us. And so that let us know without directly asking, do you read all of our content? Do you listen to our podcasts? Like it allowed us to know, Oh yeah. Okay. So they are paying attention and they are hearing what we have to say, or at the very least what we're saying is reflecting what they're feeling.

Marie:
Yep, exactly. And it's a little bit of one of those chicken and egg things, right? Like, I'm not sure if it's, like, we were saying it because we were hearing it or they were saying it because they heard us say it, it doesn't really matter though. At the end of the day, there was alignment of our messaging and their need. Right. And that really only happens when we listen and reflect back and then they listen and they reflect back and this sort of reciprocal process occurs. It doesn't actually matter where it comes from at the end of the day. So long as it's true and honest, you know? And then the other thing to mention is your business will shift, right? And it's not just because you're chasing sparkly, shiny objects. It's also just because it may need to shift, right? Like maybe you've become a parent for the first time. And so all of a sudden, instead of offering these 12 different types of content, um, you need to offer two different types because that's just stuff at your fastest at, and you have the highest profit margin. And that way you can spend more time with your baby, right? Like whatever it is. Like there will be completely valid reasons for you to make even enormous shifts in your business. Our advice to you would be anytime you are making a shift, uh, especially one that's larger, I would recommend letting your audience know about it, being really transparent with them, letting them know why. This may feel a little counterintuitive for you if you have, especially if you have kind of a more corporate background.
When I first started creating content for our company for Jessi had to come in behind me and like, be like, okay, we're going to use contractions. And we don't have to use all super polysyllabic words. Because I came from like this grant writing background and everything was like, you know, for the government or for a foundation or a corporation. And it was very professional and also having personality can be a super professional, right? Like you get to define what that means. It just, wasn't the kind of professional I had been in up until that point. And so, even though, you know, I had to shift my language a little bit, that transparency piece was always there. Right. So this is something that I learned in the nonprofit sector with stewardship reports, right? Like, so when a donor gives to a nonprofit, the appropriate and responsible thing for the nonprofit to do as a steward of the resources that they've been given is to report back and be transparent with those donors and say, this is what your gift allowed me to do. It's not always, you know, completely possible for them to do that for everybody who gave 50 cents and up, right. They may have to have a cutoff like, okay, only $10,000 enough or whatever that you get a personal one, but that's what then the nonprofits marketing is for, and sort of these like bigger blasts of information. Right. And you can do that too. Right.
Even if your audience is list of 10 people, you could send a letter out to them and say like, I just want you to know this is happening. And this is why it's shifting. And I just want you to be a part of knowing that, because you never know what's going to happen through that. Like it could mean additional referrals. It could mean that you're an even better fit for somebody. It could mean that you're not a good fit for somebody anymore. And don't- you want to know that before you get stuck in like some kind of six month contract with them and you're hating each other.

Jessi:
Yeah. And I want to add to that too. It's okay to show them the process of that decision as well. I think sometimes people plan a shift and a pivot and they get really excited about it and they kind of pull the curtain over it and they work on it behind the scenes and they wait for this big unveiling moment when actually people don't necessarily care about the unveiling moment. It's just another person announcing another thing. But if you're able to spend some time talking about your thought process behind the shift, talking about how you're getting ready to make that shift a reality, how your content is going to shift how you serve your clients is going to shift and you start building to that. They're going to care a lot more when you're ready to roll out whatever that pivot is then if it's just like, and look at my new thing. Because again, it's a busy, busy marketplace and you don't want to just be a blip on the radar, partially because if you just make that announcement once, and then they're like, okay, I told everyone, now I'm off on this new path. Again, you need to repeat your message for people to hear your message. And so that announcement may not be enough. So building it into your content, into your process when you are making shifts can be really, really valuable to making that shift become more effective and take less time for your audience to get on board with whatever the new version of your businesses.

Marie:
Yeah, really good resource for this is Show Your Work, a book by Austin Kleon. You can take a lot of inspiration from that. Another little story I like to share around this is when I worked at a museum, when a new exhibit was going in, you know, it could be kind of dangerous. People couldn't walk through there, there could be like, you know, giant pieces of wood and like circular saws and paint buckets everywhere. And like, you know, you can't just have people like checking it out, but also having a door closed over this has like, you know, new exhibit construction in progress stay out is like the most tantalizing thing in the world. And visitors are like, I got know what's in there. And so when you, when we were able to actually have like some social media photos of things in progress, going up that generated a lot of interest because people do kind of want to see what's going on behind the scenes. And that's so much more exciting to be, to feel like you're a part of it, you know? And so take a little lesson from that and your own content, like it is okay to show the messy process behind the scenes.

Jessi:
Yeah, Absolutely. And you might notice, we're not giving you like hard and fast rules here around consistency for your message. We're not saying like, go do these three things and then you'll have a consistent message because part of it really is finding where that curiosity is. Finding the things that you want to talk about and talking about them. And it really can be that simple. Um, and I want to remind you to be flexible too. It's okay if things change and you, if you do have pivots and changes, it's okay to talk about that process and to just make it a part of your daily connection with your audience in some way. We're not here to give you the hard and fast. This is the only way to have a successfully consistent message, but we are here to tell you that when you create that consistency in your business, it really can go a long way, not just towards finding the right clients for you, but also towards creating retention around those clients and really feeling like you are stepping into the place where you can fulfill the vision that you have for your business.

Marie:
Absolutely. Okay. So hope you're really excited at this point about doing this because we got some homework for you. So we actually have two assignments. The first assignment is... please don't hate me for this. We're going to ask you to commit to a consistent, clear message for 90 days. That is a quarter of a year, three months and track what happens, right. Just track the outcomes. I was going to say, track how well it, how well it works. But, sometimes the positive outcome, it can be something that you never anticipated. And so it's going to drive you crazy around, sorry. That's not the term I want to use. It's going to be frustrating for you probably if you're anything like me around like the 30, 45 day mark, you're going to be like, okay, I'm so tired of saying this, stick with it. This is our challenge to you, 90 days on a Clint system message and just see what happens.

Jessi:
And what happens? Maybe you decide and discover it doesn't work, but at least you'll have done it long enough to really be able to say that with confidence, or you may land on something that really is special and resonates with your audience or find something that's a surprise, as Marie said. And then your second piece of homework while you're having these consistent conversations with your audience is to open up a Google doc or a word file, just a blank one, and start tracking how your audience is talking about you or to you. What are the words that they're using when they respond to questions? Like, well, why did you approach me? Why do you want to work with me? Because that's where you do start to notice the patterns and not just what you're putting out there, but what out of all the content you're putting out there is actually being picked up. What is, what resonates with your audience? So during your 90 days of consistent messaging, keep that file where you just document everything your audience says, when you're talking with them about why they're looking at you, what their frustrations are, you know, where those conversations are happening, where those light bulb moments are.

Marie:
Exactly. So happy content creating and happy listening. Cause that's the other half of this puzzle.
Thanks for joining us for this episode of the Brand Your Voice Podcast, make sure to visit our website northstarmessaging.com, where you can subscribe to the show on iTunes, Spotify, and more.

Jessi:
If you found value in this episode, we'd love for you to leave us a review on iTunes and share it with your friends. Thank you, and happy content creating.

For additional content strategy and branding tips, check out northstarmessaging.com/blog. Also, please tag us on Instagram and let us know you’re out there! @northstarmessaging 


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