Mindy Schoeneman is guest posting this week from Sincerely, Me LLC.
Build Your Brand
Building a brand can be such a fun adventure. You get to choose how best to represent your beliefs visually and verbally, but branding your business or blog is about more than choosing colors, a logo, and a message—it’s about all of these and none of these, all at once. What is branding really all about?
It’s about building trust and forming a connection with your target market.
So, how do you do that without hiring a branding expert, a graphic designer, and a content writer? That’s exactly what we’re going to talk about.
A great place to start to understand the importance of defining your why is by watching Simon Sinek’s TED Talk How Great Leaders Inspire Action. Around the two-minute mark, he begins to talk about leading with your why. It will give you a good idea of the differences between our how, what, and why.
When I first started my blog and freelance writing, though, Simon was a little bit over my head. I didn’t understand how I could take what he was saying and apply it directly to myself. Let’s break it down a little.
For example, I write content for businesses. That’s one of the many things I do at Sincerely Me, but it is what I do. I interact with the business owner, ask lots of questions, and get a clear view of their values, beliefs, and personality before I begin writing. That’s how I do what I do. Why do I do it this way?
Because I believe that sincerity and vulnerability draw people in. I believe that sincerity fosters person-to-person connections. And not only does it create connections, but sincerity connects people who are likeminded and share the same values and beliefs. Forming a sincere brand message is super important.
Why is that important in brand messaging, specifically? Because it draws your ideal client to your brand. There’s something so much more satisfying about working with the clients who get you, who understand your value and the benefits of working with you without needing to be convinced.
This may take a little thought. For new business owners, bloggers, and entrepreneurs, often times this can feel like beating your head against a wall. Articulating your why may start somewhere like, I want to make money from multiple revenue streams so I can have more flexibility in life. But don’t get lost in the personal reasons you’re doing this.
Try a different approach. Pull up the video recorder or voice recorder on your phone. Turn it on and start talking. Talk about your new venture. Talk about what made you decide to take that step and start something new. Talk about your vision of the future. Talk about how you plan to get there. Talk about how you do what you do.
When your brain has moved on to something else, go back and grab a pen or word processor. Play the recording and listen to the words you use most often. Nouns (like sincerity) are important, and so are the descriptors. How do you describe what you do?
Play it again and start writing down those important words. As you listen and write, don’t skip a word if you’ve already written it. Write it down as many times as it comes up.
Many times when I’m working with a client who can’t put their finger on why they do what they do the way they do it, it’s because they’re too close to the situation. They are so wrapped up in the how and the what that they can’t see the why. The way I remedy this is to talk to them. We just talk about their business, how it began, their vision, and so forth. Then I ask them what’s important to them.
I ask them to tell me what’s important to them again, and again (usually three times total), randomly in the conversation until I hear the same words being used over and over. Usually their why is hidden in those words. Those words form the foundation for their very personal brand message.
This is what I want you to do with yourself. It may take a week or even two, but it’s worth it to get this right. This part right here is what you will use to build every other aspect of your brand.
Find a way to bring all of those words together. For me, when I began, I kept using the words nonfiction, writer, business, content, sincere, authentic, engaging, unique, sincerity. What resulted was my very first elevator pitch:
I’m Mindy Schoeneman, a nonfiction, business content writer. I write unique and engaging content that is a sincere reflection of your business.
Notice my why still isn’t there in that pitch? I dance around it. I never tell them that sincerity is important to me. I even named my business Sincerely, Me LLC. But I still didn’t get that I needed to make sure my why was clear.
Where do you start to put your why in terms others can understand it?
Put your why into a because statement. What is that?
Because I believe in the power of sincerity. . .
Because I believe sincerity fosters connections. . .
Because I believe sincerity is something we all want in our lives. . .
Once you have a few because statements, set them aside. Now it’s time to put the shoe on the other foot.
Who are you trying to reach? Who is your target audience or customer? Think about that person carefully. Think about what motives that person may have. If you’re a blogger, think about why someone would read your posts. Like, if you blog about co-parenting, then most likely your reader is going to be a person who is in a co-parenting situation. What does that person want to hear? Probably that they’re not alone, that it isn’t simple for most people, and how to make the best out of a situation that may not be ideal.
If you’re an entrepreneur, think about why someone would need your services or product. Maybe you are a virtual assistant. You have a bunch of skills and expertise in Canva, social media posting, and bookkeeping. Your target customer is most likely the busy entrepreneur who needs someone to handle some of the day-to-day tasks. Your customer is too busy to do it all and still grow their business. You’re providing a valuable service by offering them more time.
For example, I’m writing this post to the beginner entrepreneur or blogger. Why? Because Amy does a great job in writing to and for her target audience of beginners. As I’m writing, I’m constantly considering my words and the direction of this post. I’m thinking, Is this information that would have been beneficial to me when I very first started as a freelance writer and blogger? The answer has to be yes or I delete what I just wrote.
Write down any and all reasons you can think of.
These reasons are called your customers’ pain points, and knowing these can help you state your why in a way that is easily understood by the people who matter—your target audience.
This will help you keep your message on-point. Don’t try to be everything to everyone. Be everything to the right one.
Start forming a message that explains the why, how, and what.
Remember those why statements? They make great lead-ins.
Because I believe sincerity fosters connections, I help entrepreneurs stay true to their story so they can create connections with the right customers. I take a person-centered approach, focusing on getting to know each client and their story before a word is written. The result is content that carries a message that will resonate with my client’s ideal customers.
I just explained my why, how, and what in three sentences. This is my brand message. Everything I say and write about my business should come back to the message in these three sentences. Every blog post I write should be a reflection of my brand message. Like this post: Even though this isn’t a post about my business or what I offer my clients, I am writing using experience I have gained as Mindy Schoeneman, the one who executes my what using my own version of how driven by my specific why.
Once you have your why, how, and what, that’s all you need to build the rest of your brand.
Now it’s time to take this message and make sure it is represented throughout your brand. Your logo, your colors, your font choice, your images, etc.
For the solopreneur or blogger, often you are your brand. This means that you need to present yourself for people to get to know you, grow to trust you, and then either buy from you or continue to read your posts.
How do you present yourself? With images and words. Amy has the photos covered, and I can help you with the words.
Write an about bio. If you’d like some help with that, shoot me an email and I will gladly send you a guide I created so you can write your own bio in less than an hour. My email is email@example.com. No opt-in required, either. You can do that now or later, but it’s important so don’t forget.
Thanks for having me, Amy, and thank you for reading. If you have questions, you know where to find me.
Mindy Schoeneman is the owner of Sincerely, Me LLC, where she helps her customers create connections to their ideal clients through sincere marketing and branding. She began as a freelance writer in 2013, taking on a myriad of contracts before she found her true niche as a content marketer. In 2015, she took the next step by creating Sincerely, Me LLC.
Because she believes that finding the right clients means you have to be honest, sincere, and a little bit vulnerable, Mindy approaches each project with sincerity as the top priority. Her goal is to help each client craft a brand message that is genuine, heartfelt, and true to their business identity. She believes creating a brand message should be a no-spin process.
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Amy is the owner extraordinaire at Learn Blog Photography and Amy Paris Photography. She's a single mom to an amazing teenage son. She's passionate about photography and skiing (downhill), the faster the better! Sign up for a FREE 30-min call to light up your photos & biz! bit.ly/2udzBXB