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EPISODE 6: Are You in Control of Your Brand’s Message?

by Oct 26, 2020Podcast

In this episode we will cover:

  • The unintentional brand message you’re putting out there
  • Keeping your audience from calling B.S.
  • What is your vision/mission {+ how it impacts your audience}
  • Looking at your target audience
  • What do you really want to talk about? 
  • Identifying your values

TRANSCRIPT

Jessi:
Welcome to 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:
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 episode six of the Brand Your Voice podcast. Today, we're talking about whether you are in control of your brand's message or not. We really wanted to talk about this topic because messaging is such a slippery concept sometimes. It's one of these things that often, when we talk to people about it, they've been in business for a little while and they didn't really think about their message early on. They get to a point where they realize that even though they weren't thinking about their message, they've been developing one this whole time and they've cultivated and created a message that is maybe not exactly the message they want to create because they were unintentional about it. So first thing, first, you have a message and your business has a message, whether you like it or not. Being intentional about that message will allow you to curate content and curate an experience with your clients that feels much more authentic, much more streamlined and allows you to make sales more easily. So today, we're going to talk about four components of ... really five, four and a half, because we combined two together, of your message that you can think about.

Marie:
Yep, exactly. So, I'm going to go high level quickly through all of them. Same deal as the last few of our episodes. If you have access to a pad of paper, or you can jot some quick notes on your phone, you may want to take note of these because it's something for you to dig into. We are not going to solve the world's problems here in this podcast episode, but it can give you some real direction when you want to start thinking about your business's message really quickly. I want to urge you to think about it sooner or later, if you feel like you were resonating with what Jessi was saying, because for instance, let's say you're like, "Yeah, we're super transparent and we're very here for our clients and we really support them." Yet there's this weird little hiccup in your onboarding system and people just aren't getting a response to a particular email. They're going to be like, "I call BS."
So all of a sudden, now you have a mixed message. People aren't feeling as taken care of as you want them to be and it's really easy for that to happen. It's even literally something as simple as that. It's as simple as what's in your contracts, how you behave, how you respond on email, how you handle things when you're not at your desk because you and your team are really representatives of your company at all times and your brand. So, okay, that's my little soapbox. So the four and a half topics for us to cover today, are vision and mission, that's the one and a half there, target audience, content pillars, and values.

Jessi:
Yes. So let's dive right in with vision and mission. We combined these together because they're close, but they're not the same. They're different. So your mission is really what you see your business as putting forth right now, how you see it helping people, how it does so uniquely and the impact that is having on your audience, which we'll talk about audience in just a minute.
Your vision is really more about where you see it going. I want to mention too, that there is a personal and a professional side to this. A lot of times when we talk about the mission and the vision of a company, we're talking about the company, but this is your business and it's here to serve your clients and it's also here to serve you. So when you're thinking about mission and vision, think about it in terms of what is the mission of this business and how does that mission serve my clients and how does that mission serve me? Same with the vision.

Marie:
Yep, great point, great point. Yeah, so I think people do get tripped up on this, but again, mission is just what are you setting out to accomplish? The vision is what does it look like when you're able to design the business in a way that it's set up the way you want it to be, essentially.

Jessi:
Yeah, [crosstalk 00:05:08].

Marie:
I think that was long, too many words for it to be simple, but yeah, that's much better. Thank you.

Jessi:
Tighten it up.

Marie:
Yep. All right, shoring that up, moving on to target audience. So this is one of our little ... I'm getting going on my little platform again here and say, if you've been taught to use an ideal client avatar, and that is working for you, awesome. If you've been taught to use an ideal client avatar and that feels paralyzing for you, here's an alternative, target audience.
So if you imagine a dart board or target, I mean, we all love going to Target, right? If you're hitting in the middle of that target, that's the bullseye, and maybe that is your ICA, your ideal client avatar, but there's rings outside of that. Some of those rings are going to be people who are almost a perfect fit for working with you, but good enough. This is a great fit, this person is invested or they're willing to pay the price and they honor my boundary is and whatever.
So great, they're on the dartboard. Another group of people may be your connections, your affiliates, people who probably aren't going to ... or may not buy from you, but they still want to know what you're doing and they want to be in the loop so that they can promote and support you. So there's a lot of different aspects to your audience. When we're talking about target audience, we're mostly talking about the bullseye and maybe the ring just outside of that, but do be aware that you have a broader audience than you may realize. Because a lot of the times in our business in particular, a lot of our business comes from word of mouth. So if we're not communicating with the people, maybe on the outer edge of that dartboard, we're really doing ourselves a disservice. So you want to talk a little bit more about target audience, Jessi?

Jessi:
Yeah. I want to talk about how ominous you make it sound when you say they're willing to pay the price.

Marie:
I just meant they're willing to pay your pricing.

Jessi:
I know what you meant, but just calling that out there a little bit.

Marie:
Sorry.

Jessi:
The target audience is really designed as a way to ease up on feeling like you have to have everything hit a very, very specific person who doesn't actually exist.

Marie:
Well, you just said, "Hit a person."

Jessi:
Okay, we're doing great here today, guys.

Marie:
We're not violent, mean people, we promise.

Jessi:
I think it's important though, to mention that the ideal client avatar, like Marie said at the beginning, it does work for some people. It also works in certain situations. So for example, if you're running Facebook ads and you need demographic information that is super narrow, ideal client information can be really helpful there. We're not necessarily encouraging you to just find people who are like, "Meh, might be a good fit. Okay, I guess I can deal with them."
Obviously we want you to work with the types of clients who you would call your dream clients. I think what we really have found over the years in working with a wide clientele ourselves, is that sometimes people get so hung up on finding someone who fits the ideal client avatar, that they're missing someone who actually is a perfect fit, but doesn't fit that description. They put the blinders on and they say, "Oh, well you don't have this one aspect that's part of my ideal client avatar. So therefore, I'm not going to talk to you." When all you're doing is excluding people who may actually deserve to be included. So we really want to make sure that you're in a position where you are not turning away the people who would actually be really good fits for you. So think about your audience as in a little bit broader terms maybe than you have.

Marie:
Yeah and go beyond the demographics. With some exceptions, I'm sure, it's typically more impactful how they're thinking, how they're feeling. What's motivating them? What do they wish for? What would make their lives better? How are their emotions playing out into their decision-making, that kind of stuff, I guess the psychographics is really more of a litmus test that is useful for business owners to think about when they're taking a look at their ideal clients or their target audience members.

Jessi:
Absolutely. So moving on to the content pillars, which is the next thing. So we had vision and mission first, then we had target audience. The next is the content pillars. We call them pillars because just like pillars in a building, they hold things up, they hold up your business as the content that really is fundamental and foundational to getting your message out to the audience that you're serving, to your target audience, all areas of the dartboard. What we found is that often people talk about a lot of different things and it's a little haphazard sometimes it's, "I want to talk about health and nutrition, and I want to talk about these 10 aspects of both of them. Then I also want to talk about essential oils and I also want to talk about ... " insert three, or four, or five other things here.
None of that is wrong to talk about, but if it's unfocused, your audience may see it as a little scattered. So adding the framework of having content pillars allows you to create buckets under which all of your other content falls.

Marie:
Exactly. So instead of picturing the Parthenon with a thousand columns, I want you to picture something more like one little piece of Stonehenge, where you have two or three pillars that are holding up something above it. In an ideal world, our clients and you, dear listeners, have about two or three content pillars. These are the super broad and maybe not super, maybe just somewhat broad categories, that your content falls under. Yes, you can absolutely have subtopics under that.
We also want to encourage you, you can totally use the 80/20 rule where 80% of your content falls under these pillars and 20% is the wildcard stuff, to allow you to be creative and to share other things that may not fit perfectly under those. The other thing you can do, if you have a very narrow set of offerings, maybe you have one-on-one coaching and a mastermind, or maybe you have products for ... whatever, like you sell products that are nutritional supplements and you also sell essential oils, for instance. Then you can work backwards from there because ultimately, you want your content to help educate people, inspire people about the topics that you're an expert in. Ultimately, even if you're not selling, or having a call to action that involves an exchange of money at the end of it, you're still priming them so that they feel more confident and comfortable with making that sale when you do ask for it.

Jessi:
Yeah and as a bonus, once you know your content pillars, you can go back to what we talked about in the last episode with stories and you can actually start fitting those stories under content pillars. So using Marie's example of leading to an offer of let's say, essential oils, well, then you can go back and say, "Okay, well, which expertise stories do I have that show that I'm an expert in this, that I can include as content under this pillar?" You can do the same with all of the other stories as well. So it's really a way to streamline your content so that it is focused and it leads to something that turns into an ROI for you and your business.

Marie:
Exactly. The last piece of this, your values. This is something that is a part of your brand's message, that part of it, you can control through your words and the stories you share and the way you communicate and part of it is going to be how you behave. So in terms of how you share your values, it's really about living them out. I mean, I think everyone believes it's like, "Well, that's what you said, but how are you behaving?" Everyone's looking at that. So they need to be complementary and this may be a little difficult sometimes to say, "Hey, you know what? I think we've been failing on this front." And please don't judge yourself for that just note, this is an opportunity for you to do better or maybe assess those values.
Maybe is that not actually a value that matters that much to the brand? It is okay to shift your values over time, it absolutely is. For instance, if your value for a while was providing help to anybody who needs it and then you're sitting there like, "Okay, I've worked 18 hours, 17 days in a row and my hair's falling out." Maybe that's not a value that works for you because it's not sustainable. So it's not necessarily a failing on your part, or even a failing of your business model, if you are shifting your values over time.

Jessi:
Yeah, absolutely. It's something that often does not show up directly in your content. Occasionally you may create content that talks specifically about one of the values that you represent as a company, or you want your company to represent rather, but not always. This is the sort of thing that tying back to what I mentioned at the beginning of the episode, you have a message, whether you realize it or not, this is where it really shows is, with the values.
So we've talked about vision, mission, target audience, content pillars, and values. Before we dive into your homework, I want to talk about what we didn't mention, because I think there's a misconception around messaging sometimes where people say, "I need to work on my message. I need to get clearer on my message." They immediately go to their elevator speech, or their punchy, unique selling proposition statement. Those things are absolutely a part of your larger message but we didn't talk about them today for a reason, because your message is not just what's on the surface. It's not just the punchy phrase that you use when you meet someone or the headline on your website. Your message is actually much deeper than that and that's why we're focusing on vision, mission, audience, content pillars, and values in today's episode.

Marie:
Yeah. I want to leave you with one other story too, before we go to our homework, which is ... bear with me on this one because at first, doesn't seem related to business, but I had a really nice opportunity during a conference to talk with the sci-fi author and real activist, Cory Doctorow. I was asking him, "Hey, how do you balance writing stories that are really engaging and have these great characters, but also being an activist? Because all of your stories have a point. You've finished the story and you're like, 'I'm going to change the world. ' " Thanks Corey. I was like, "How do you do that in a way that isn't in someone's face that feels maybe kind of subtle and woven in?" He was like, "It's not subtle. I just say the thing and I just trust that my readers ... " He's like, "Because it may have felt subtle to you, maybe that's just because you agree with me or it really struck ... it seemed true to you what I was telling, even though it was a fictional story."
So I say that to you too, you don't have to be subtle about this. You don't have to be poetic, cutesy, artistic, anything. You can literally just come out and say it. So you can say, "Our vision is this. Our mission is this. We work with these people." That's the target audience. "We talk about these things. We're an expert in these things." Those are your content pillars. "And these are our values." You don't have to be as in your face as that, but that is not going to hurt you if you are that unsubtle.

Jessi:
Absolutely. So we want to encourage you to get started with this by looking at your vision and your mission and we're going to set the other ones aside for right now, though, if you want to be an overachiever and talk about those, start thinking about those, go for it. But we're going to actually talk about audience pillars and values more in future episodes, so stay tuned for that. But right now, we want to encourage you to dive a little deeper into your vision and your mission. Think about what it is that you are doing and what it is you want your business to accomplish and write it down. It doesn't have to be in pretty words right now. It doesn't have to be something that is ready to go on the front page of your website or anything, but write it down and even if you've done vision and mission exercises in the past, I want to encourage you to do it again right now. Typically, these are only one or two sentence phrases, and it's always good to reinforce your vision and reinforce your mission and see if it's changed over time because it may have, since the last time you did one of these exercises. You may have gotten a little more clarity around it.

Marie:
All right. Hope you enjoy this process of digging deeper into your mission vision and I hope that it really helps you feel like you're in much more control over the message of your brand. 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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