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EPISODE 36: Who Is Your Messaging Calling In?

by Jun 1, 2021Podcast

In this episode we will cover:

  • How word choice affects your audience
  • Clarifying your messaging
  • Transitioning your messaging with your audience
  • The ICA and messaging
  • Making messaging reflect your values

Do you know who your business’s messaging is calling in?

If people aren’t sold on your message, they won’t be sold on your product or service, either. So you better make sure you’re talking to the right people {and that your message is conveying both your company’s offer and values} to make those connections.

 

In this episode, you’ll learn:

  • How your messaging can attract or repel different audiences.
  • How using the Ideal Client Avatar (ICA) model can help your message reach the right people.
  • How to handle messaging when transitioning your audience.
  • How to make your message reflect your values in every aspect of your business.

 

In addition to your everyday messaging, we’ll discuss how to shift your messaging as your business goes through a transition period, like changing your target audience.

For more help nailing your messaging, you can check out the following:

 

More Resources For Nailing Your Messaging

 

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 in 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:
All right, well, welcome to another episode of the Brand Your Voice Podcast. And today we're talking about who is your messaging calling in? And this conversation is really almost a two-parter. Part of it is about the language that we use and that attracts and part of it is how we manage our messaging when our audience may be transitioning because our businesses evolve over time. And that means that our message may evolve over time so that we're bringing in the right people. And so the way that your message calls people in may change over time, and it's really helpful to be super intentional about that right From the get, go to know exactly who you are attracting, who you are repelling and when you're making specific statements, what kind of an effect that may have on your audience.

Marie:
Yeah, for sure. I mean, I think we've experienced this a lot in our 10 plus years in business. We've discovered how much the language we're using, the way we're talking really does determine who is attracted to work with us and who's repelled, but also who's confused. Right? Cause that's a part of it too. So it's language, it's messaging. It's also the values that you're displaying. Just, you're not going to attract everyone with those. And I think part of the process we've gone through is just learning to be okay with that.

Jessi:
Yeah, absolutely really quick example of something that has showed up several times in our life of our business is our stance that no business is apolitical and that saying nothing is saying something when things happen in the world that we think require a response from the business. Not all business owners will agree with that. Not all business owners will want to say something and that will garner a different response from different audience members than the people who tend to be more likely to listen to us. And that's something that is a part of our brand values. So we're not going to compromise on it. And we know that there are going to be people who see the way that we respond to things and are repelled by that and will not want to work with us. And that's fine. That is something that we have decided is worth speaking and losing those people because they're not a good fit for us.

Marie:
Yeah, for sure. There's a statistic that I will cite again in the next episode, which is all about messaging, your give back strategy. But, it's something along the lines of, and I'm doing this from memory here. It'll be more accurate in the next episode, cause I'll have my notes in front of me, but it's like 90% of consumers want to know like what causes you're donating to, because that really helps them understand your values, where you stand on things. And I'll say that like when we issued a Black Lives Matters stance in 2020 and have been following that up with action, I'd say most people said nothing, right. Then the next biggest group of people are like, I love that you stand for this and that you're taking action on this. Like we get that in our, in our application surveys all the time for people who are thinking about working with us, we get that with when we have applicants to join our team, they say things like that.
And then there was this small group of people who were like, well, what about all lives matter? Or who were like, I don't think it's appropriate that you're talking about this as a business owner. Right. And so yeah, there, there were some people like that, but it wasn't the majority of people because that's not who we're calling in. Right. And so that was, I think really it has been really interesting just to like see the breakout of responses. So I guess all that's to say your people are out there and you know, it's great if they're hearing that you all have things in common and you share values and they want to work with you.

Jessi:
Yeah. And that smallest group of people who pushed back against us making statements, they are no longer part of the audience. They've, you know, decided that we are not a good fit for them. And they're frankly not a good fit for us. And so we were able to part ways based on making those value statements.
But I wanna, I wanna go back to something else you said Marie about confusing people and not confusing people because when we're talking about messaging, we're not just talking about making statements. When things happen in the world, we're talking about what is the actual message of your business. So when you are out there talking about what you do and how you help people, what is that message, and is it clear? And I think that this is something that we actually took awhile to settle on in our own business for a while, especially in our earliest years, we were kind of trying to do a little bit of everything.
We started out at the very, very beginning writing resumes and cover letters. And then when we realized that we wanted to expand our services, we didn't know where we want to expand too. And so we sort of just told people, we'll do whatever writing you need, we'll do anything. And that meant that we were calling in people who wanted things that we either weren't passionate about were not necessarily skilled at writing, or were just not things that we were that familiar with. And so that allowed us to unfortunately have a period of time where we were on uneasy ground, because we were not clear in what we did or who we did it for because we also, during that time received some clients who were not great fits.

Marie:
Yeah, for sure. And I think that's really shines a spotlight on the fact that when you're transitioning your audience as we're actually doing right now, right. Because we are still continuing to serve our CEO clients. I mean, that's the bread and butter of, you know, Northstar's work. That's how we spend our time is with our clients. And also we're now speaking to our fellow writers. And so we're still kind of in a point of confusion, we kind of came out of one and now we're willfully entering one again. Right. But when you go into transition, I would say there's a few things that's frustrating, but you know, it's just like acknowledged the fact that it's frustrating to be switching or adding audiences. And the other part is like, you gotta take a little time to get to know the audience because if you don't know them, your messaging is just guessing. But it's okay to take that time, to do the research, to try things.

Jessi:
Yeah. I remember when we switched audiences a few years ago, not necessarily in the services we offer, but who we were offering them to. For a number of years, we really served a lot of early phase entrepreneurs who were getting their first website off the ground or had only really started nailing down what their message was. And that worked well for us for a while. But then we realized that really given the way our business was growing and the way that we wanted to serve people, it was really more effective for us to do what we did with brand voice if it was someone who had been in business for a little while. And so we needed to ship our audience to people who had been in business for a few years, had done a little bit of work on their own content and was at a point where they were overwhelmed with it. And they really understood the value of their voice. And so that wasn't a brand new entrepreneur.
During that point of transition, though, I remember we still had a lot of sales calls with people who were early phase entrepreneurs and who did want to work with us because we'd spent years talking to that audience. And so there was a period where we were talking to both and we were kind of onboarding one audience while we were offboarding the other. And during that time we had to be really intentional with what we put out there and who we were talking to and letting our old audience know that we're not just forgetting you. We're not just like pretending you no longer exist, but we are phasing out support because that's not where our services are most aligned. And here are some other resources for you while also calling the new audience in. So there are opportunities there to clarify your message and also make sure that you're not confusing two different audience points.

Marie:
Yeah. And in our case, we also had an opportunity to call some of the previous audience members to actually grow with us that doesn't always work, right? Like the CEOs may not actually be turning into freelance copywriters. And so, you know, in this case, that transition is very different, but in that case from early stage entrepreneurs to mid-stage entrepreneurs, yeah. There there's a path there there's a trajectory and some people really have continued to grow with us from that audience. And it's been cool to have those relationships carry on over time. So, ultimately, you know, I really feel that, you know, messaging and speaking directly to your audience in a way that is impactful and connects with them is possible, but it's a bit more complex. It's a bigger solution than something just like brand voice or storytelling, or just like, you know, if somebody tells you, Oh, well, all you need to do is tell stories like, yeah, that's a piece of it, but there's a bit more to it than that. Right?

Jessi:
Yeah. Absolutely. And I think, you know, I mean, at the end of the day, that doesn't mean that your message and your messaging has to be super long and robust and you know, you don't have to write a novel about your business, but making it super clear, we always say I'm the hardest copy to write is the shortest copy.

Marie:
Or your own copy.

Jessi:
Yeah, but you know, when you're writing like a long form sales page, you have a lot of room and every word does matter, but it matters in a different context than if you're trying to write like a pithy tagline, those good, the taglines can just like, they can be problematic because every word really matters in that sense.

Marie:
That's tough.

Jessi:
Yeah. But that's a really good sense of the power of messaging. Because if you can say something quickly and succinctly that not only acknowledges who your audience is and what they need, but also clearly conveys what you do.
So in our case, what we are doing for a primary audience right now, not our new audience is we are helping them overcome their content overwhelmed by capturing their voice so they can outsource their content. Something that quickly and clearly captures who they are and what they need. And the fact that, you know, work clips to do that. We're still working on what that pithy, like one sentence thing is for our new audience, because we want to make sure that it's super clear what we're doing and what we believe in and what we value and that the people we're talking will resonate with it.

Marie:
Yeah, for sure. By the way, I should give a plug here for a book. You can find it, I know you can find it on Amazon. You can probably find it other places too, but, Three Word Rebellion, by a Dr. Michelle Mazer. If you're looking to try to kind of distill your messaging down into something pithy and short, it's a great book, it's educational, but it's also like a workbook. So you actually come out of it with, you know, with the product essentially.
So, I mean, this gets down to just the importance of words, right? I mean, we're writers, we're nerdy, we loved our words. We were word nerds. And, um, you know, but, but when you get super clear on who you're talking to and how you're talking to them, this impacts those word choices, but it's not just about language, right.
It's also like messaging, I've always believed messaging is bigger than the words we're using. Right. It's messaging. I guess what you could say is that's just performative, right? If you say like, well, we serve this, but you don't actually follow that up with your actions then A, that's confusing at best and B duplicitous at worst. Right. So it's also about like, what are the boundaries you're setting, right. How are you treating your customers? Like what's your customer service? Like, like how do you actually live out the values that are present in your messaging?

Jessi:
Yeah, absolutely. I think that it's not just about it's that whole, you know, you walk the walk as well as talking the talk, making sure that everything that you do in your business is a representation of your message in action. And that includes how you talk to your audience and going back to what we're talking about at the beginning of the episode, the way that you do that will attract some people and repel others. And so being really clear on who your audience is is really, really going to be helpful for this. And I want to give a quick plug for a previous episode. I think it was episode 10, where we talked about-

Marie:
Good Memory.

Jessi:
Nice. All right. We talked about target audience specifically. The title of the episode is what's wrong with the ideal client avatar, the ICA, which it's not entirely just dumping on the ICA. In fact, we do recognize there is some value in it, but we really encourage you to broaden your idea of what your audience is. So that includes the ICA and other perspectives, other pieces of your audience, because we do recognize that audiences are more diverse than one very specific, very perfect person. And when you're transforming your audience getting really clear on every type of, we, we use it like a dartboard. So like every ring of the dartboard of getting really clear on what those are and how they look as you're transitioning is going to be really helpful to making sure that your message continues to talk to the right people. So if you haven't listened to that episode, it's episode 10 definitely go back and listen to it as you're thinking about audience, especially if you're in a transition point.

Marie:
Yeah. And I'll say one last tidbit on this is, you know, you can absolutely transform the audience that you're calling in with your messaging, but it's never going to happen if you don't talk about it. If you just kind of say, you know, I think I've been a work with those higher level entrepreneurs in our later stage entrepreneurs now, but you don't actually ever change anything in your messaging. No one's going to know what's in your mind. Right? Like you have to actually talk about it and that means being vulnerable and it means trying things. And it means also really paying a special attention to your messaging in those times.
So some tips, I guess, for, for how to do that, right. One is getting back to the basics of brand voice, right? Like some of the components of brand voice are yeah, your language, but also like, what are your content pillars, right? Like what are the categories that your content falls under? Do those make sense with your audience? Right. What about your brand values? Going back to that again, what are they and how are you exhibiting them?

Jessi:
Yeah. Yeah. And I do want to quickly mention too, that when you do this, this doesn't have to just be, if you're transitioning audiences.

Marie:
Right.

Jessi:
If you have an audience that you were like, I love working with these people and I'm going to work with them for the rest of my life. That's great. This work is still really valuable to make sure that you continue to talk to their, what we call empathy points, what other people would maybe be called pain points and show empathy for their position and also make them feel heard. And so, yes. Get clear on your brand values, whether you are keeping your audience or whether you are transitioning your audience and making sure that they show up in the way that you act in your business. Content create, get clear on the content. You're creating, get clear on all four rings of your target audience and make sure, you know, especially the psychographics of that audience, what they believe, what they value and revisit it occasionally. So that, you know, if that has shifted over time, even if you have the same audience, sometimes the way that they perceive the world and the way that they are talking about the things that they need may change. And so it's important to revisit that over time.
I also want to give, uh, a note to those of you who may be transitioning your broad name, narrowing shifting your audience in some way that it doesn't mean that you have to like burn everything to the ground.

Marie:
Uh huh.

Jessi:
Sometimes, for some people that works. But sometimes I think people try to burn things to the ground, a little preemptively because they just, they they're excited about the new thing and they're sick of the old thing. And I totally understand and respect that. And from a strictly business perspective, it is often more stable to create a transition period and just know that during that transition period you have to be really, really clear on your message so that you don't introduce confusion, but it can be more stable than just I'm burning this down. And now I'm building this up.

Marie:
Yeah. Like if safety sounds like shackles to you, then burn it down. Sure. Go for it. If safety sounds important, maybe, you know, you're relying on this income to make sure you can also afford your daughters, like, you know, childcare or whatever. Like no, then do that. I will say in our experience that usually takes about a year, really to kind of cement the new audience. And Jessi said, you know, there are pitfalls in that process, but, you know, like that, that potential for confusion as much higher, but you're gonna, you're going to go through that anyway. Right? If you, even if you're the person who burns it down, you're still gonna go through some messaging confusion. It'll just probably happen faster. Also Jessi, do you mind recapping the four sort of concentric circles of the dart board just really quickly? Cause we keep referring to them, but we're not actually explaining what they are.

Jessi:
Yeah. Yeah. That's, that's a good idea. For more detailed, definitely go listen to episode 10, but a quick overview of how we define target audience is the bullseye of the dart board is your ideal client avatar. So that is someone who, that's not just the psychographics, the hopes, dreams, spirits, values of your target audience, but also the demographics of your target audience, whatever that may be. It may be an age range. It may be a geographic location, whatever it is, your ICA is in the center, it's that bullseye. But if you go to the bar and you play darts, the goal of the game is not to get a bullseye every single time. I mean, that might be the goal, but like, it's not realistic. It's not going to happen unless you're like an incredible...

Marie:
Unless you are, Julia and from Deep Space Nine.

Jessi:
Right. Odds are, you're not going to get the bullseye every time, but that doesn't mean you don't get points. And it doesn't mean that you're not playing a good game. And so if you go out from the bulls-eye one circle, the next concentric circle is psychographics only. So this is someone who may not fit the demographic profile, but does fit the psychographic profile. They are showcasing the same values. They are showcasing the same wants and desires. Those empathy points align, but maybe they're not a perfect fit as far as the demographic profile. And that's okay. Often if we focus just on the demographics and psychographics, you miss out on really important opportunities. So we have ICA in the middle, then psychographics only, then one ring out from that or your pre clients, which is a term that came from Anna Granson, quick plug for her.
And these for us are when we define pre clients, we define them as people who will be ready to work with you soon. But they're not there yet for whatever reason, maybe they're there financially. Maybe they're not there because they're moving to your area and you run a local business. And so they're maybe Wilton, maybe when they move in a few months, they will be a perfect client or something like that. So they are pre clients. They may be clients of yours in a month. They may be clients of yours in a year, but they're not there yet. And then the final ring and the fourth, most outer outermost ring of the dark board consists of your supporters. So these are people who are not likely to buy from you. Sometimes they do, but more importantly, they are there to spread your message to people who fit in the inner three rings.
And so these are affiliate partners. These are media opportunities. These are complimentary businesses. So for us as writers, we often have strategic partnerships with web designers because they will design a website for someone and then be like, I need your copy. The client's like, I didn't know I needed that. And so we're very complimentary business model. And so those are your supporters on the outer ring. So if you take some time to look at who is in each of those rings, you can make sure that your message is crafted in a way that it speaks to the needs of each individual ring.

Marie:
Right. And so the idea is we focus more of the content on those center rings, particularly the two middle ones, but also the pre clients a bit. And then for that outer ring, yeah. You can have some broad content supporting them, but honestly, a lot of the time that stuff happens in private reach-outs. So, please do explicitly tell your referral partners, your past clients, your supporters, right about any new offers. You have any new directions, you have any initiatives you have going on. They're going to be your best refers and your best repeat customers because they believe in you and they're your cheerleaders. And they, you know, also like in the case of, for instance, the graphic designer or the website designer, you know, if you're looking for some opportunities that also means that maybe they can financially benefit from that, right. Because they could also get the clients and say, Hey, I'm partnering with North Star, we're offering this many website, copy packages this quarter together, you know, come on in, it's two shops, but we've made it one shop one and done, you know what I mean? So those people, I would say, yes, please do message to them, but it can be done privately and personally.

Jessi:
Yeah. And I want to circle back real quickly to one more temporary and word choice. And the messages that you're putting out and how they will inevitably attract some people and repel other people and just encourage you not to be afraid to repel some people. I mentioned a minute ago that the title of that target audience episode is what's wrong with the ideal client avatar or the ICA. That is a, that is a point of contention. For some people, some people will live and die by the ICA model. And that is something that they hold to as the way in which audience is defined. And that works for them. And it's no hard feelings, but it's not how we look at audience. And it's a piece of our greater messaging. That audience is more nuanced than that. And so someone who is clinging tightly to that single methodology of looking at audience may not be a good fit and may even be repelled. They might listen to episode 10 and be like, this is, this is not what I believe in. And this is not what I want to do with my audience. They're not a good fit for us. And we know that in saying things like that. We are going to pull in the people who have felt like the ICA in this example, it has been restricted and has prevented them from moving forward with truly understanding their audience and creating content for their audience and the message for their audience. And so it's not just attracting or repelling for things like, you know, human rights statements or political statements. It's also within the work that you're doing and the way that you are creating an innovative way of looking at the work that you do.

Marie:
Yeah, absolutely. All right. Let's give you some homework as we like to do. So imagine that dart board, imagine the four circles within it and take a little time to think about who's within them and then take a look at your messaging. Are you seeing any points of disconnect between them? And then I would say, make one change that helps move the needle in the right direction. It doesn't have to be big, you know, you don't have to overhaul your entire funnel. Literally sometimes it's just one word, right? For instance, there was a client, I think I've mentioned her before and an episodes, but, she is a coach, Coach Monaye Marcia. She's awesome. If you want to check her out. And she supports primarily women who've been through challenging situations and as she calls it bouncing forward from that, um, and for a long time, she was using the word trauma, right. Women who've experienced trauma, but she discovered that a lot of the things that really are traumas traumatic people minimize, they don't think of it as, Oh, that's too heavy of a word, right. Like, okay, me being laid off from COVID, you know, during that, during the pandemic, that's not really trauma, but like, maybe it was right. And so she's learned that like, if I can not use that word and instead I can use something like challenge, then it can call in more people. So even it can be something as small as that. Right. Just like changing one word and that can make all the difference.

Jessi:
Yeah, absolutely. So take a look at the messages that you're sending out, take a look at your audience, and if you're not sure where to start with this activity, my recommendation would be to actually talk to members of your audience and see what they're saying. Because often if you're not feeling settled in your message and who is calling in, those conversations can bring a lot to light. So if you're struggling with the homework, start there, start by talking to people who are within each of those ranges of your audience.

Marie:
Absolutely. Thanks for joining us.
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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