How to tell your story

How to tell your story:

  1. How did you get to the place you are at now? Tell us about your journey.
  2. How did you know that you wanted to do “this” for a living?
  3. Core Values – What are your core values and how can you add them to your products or services? (We have a lot of resources o our website on core values)
  4. What makes you different? How do your products or services stand out from the others?
  5. What do you say when people ask you “What do you do for work?”
  6. Who is your target market? What problem are you solving for them or what pain point are you addressing? This will tie into your WHY!

Notes:

  • Once you have your story written down, make that your “About Me” page or create a blog post out of it. Also, create a video that shares your story, Add it to Facebook, Pinterest, make a short one for Instagram.
  • You are creating your Personal Brand with your story
  • Make sure you are fulfilling your target markets needs, are you solving a problem or fixing a need? By writing your story it will help you fill in the gaps you may be experiencing.
  • Check out your competition. Both locally and nationwide, look at what they are doing well and look at what they could be improving on and take notes!

Once you have your story complete and you are ready to move into the marketing piece and really being able to speak to your target market, you need to know first what are they searching for? What keywords are best for your business to be blogging about that will reach your target market and attract those perfect customers or clients.

You are on your way to creating SEO-Friendly content for your website and blog! Please sign-up for our FREE  training video on performing keyword research to improve the SEO on your website and blog posts.

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Social Media Audit

How many of you created your business Facebook page well over a year ago? Or have had a Twitter account for more than a couple years? With social media being around for over 10 years, it is important to make sure your profiles are updated with your current brand image and message. It is key to be consistent in the digital marketing world from your website, social media profiles, to your marketing materials. Everything should have your brand colors, brand message, website, and logo.

In this video, we run through each platform on how to check your profiles to make sure they are updated!

Each business should have a list of core values, your core values are what makes your business run. What type of people you want to hire, or work with. This is the foundation of your business.

We will learn in 5 simples steps how to figure out what your core values are.
Download your FREE Core Values Checklist Here

How to Use Your Values to Create Exceptional Content for Your Business

You’ve heard you need to have identified core values for your brand and business, but what does this actually need?

We recently posted a video about how your core values are a set of standards for your business and how values drive how people perceive your business. Now it is time to take a look at translating this into the content you create. Here, we are going to be taking a look at a few different facets of your marketing:

  1. How to use your values to identify your target market
  2. How to use your values to create content that will move your brand forward
  3. How to use your values to understand ways you can react to both positive and negative reviews online.

Your brand and your mission need to flow through every aspect of your business and online, content is one of the main ways prospects can get a sense of who you are and what it would be like to work with you (or purchase your products). Do your personalities align or do they clash? Do you focus your attention on the same details your clients care about? How can you put your best foot forward online?

Let’s start with utilizing your values to identify your target market.

I’m sure you’ve been told that we work with people that we know, like, and trust. I must tell people this every single day. When your core values flow through your business, people with those same values will tend to be more attracted to working with you. They can help you really connect with those individuals who can then turn into raving fans.

A process to identify your target market that starts with your values.

Unlike most exercises that drive you towards creating a description of your target market, I invite you to think first about your values. More and more business experts are discussing how your employees should encompass your brand values, especially if they want to be more fulfilled, so why not bring this same notion to your consumers? Rather than focusing most heavily on the demographics of your target market, take a look at the psychographics. This includes the more personal characteristics of a person, including:

  • Values
  • Personality
  • Lifestyles
  • Attitudes
  • Behavior
  • Interests/hobbies

Think about how your product or service actually fits into your target consumer’s lifestyle, how will the product be used?

By going through this exercise, you open yourself up to thinking beyond just age, income, and location. You allow yourself to better understand what actually drives your consumers and what matters to them. Where do your business values come in? Well, ideally, your consumer’s values align with those of your business.

The next piece of your brand values is to use them to create content that moves your brand forward.

Here we will discuss possible topics that your business can write about that will better position your brand.

There are many different ways to come up with topics to discuss in your blog, so, just as a disclaimer, here I’m really only discussing one element of creating your content strategy. Your content strategy should be diverse, but there are ways to make sure within your strategy, your brand messaging and values come across loud and clear.

Actually discuss your values

We recommend sitting down once a quarter, or at least once per year, and actually write a blog about your values. This may seem strange the first few times, but provide examples about how your values have dictated what products and services you offer. Or create a blog emphasizing your attention to detail and customer relationships that also highlights testimonials from your clients. There are a lot of different ways to highlight your values in a blog post, but one thing I do want to emphasize is how important it is to try and relate these articles back to the benefit for your clients.

Nobody wants to read something only about you, but how interesting would a story be of how you found your supplier because of their fair trade employee salaries or how you came to be a life coach because of the struggles you had before you started living aligned with your values. These are things people can relate to, and topics that can help you form a real connection with your market.

Understand who you are writing for – and use words that convey your values

Okay, so this really ties into the first part of the blog where we look at psychographics to identify your target market. By understanding the values of your market, you can use language that they will relate to more clearly. Let’s say you are a winter sports company who is marketing ski helmets to parents. The language you should use should highlight the safety and comfort of their children. However, let’s say the company is edgy and markets to the park-rat. Do you think they should focus on comfort and safety?

No! Their target market wants to look cool and may care about being connected to their devices. They want a way to easily show off the sick tricks they are throwing in the half pipe while jamming out. Everything from the imagery the company would use to the verbiage would have to shift.

The same is true for your business. Who are those different consumers you are trying to work with? Do you find that you are intuitive when you work with clients or are you very process driven? Work to find what words you can use in your marketing that conveys your brand values.

Lastly, we are going to take a look at how to use your values to understand ways you can react to both positive and negative reviews online.

Creating a process to respond to reviews online

Far too frequently, businesses with high integrity receive negative reviews online. Often times we actually see this for our clients’ when they work with individuals with conflicting values to the business, but here we really should focus on what you do after you receive a review.

First, visualize that you have just received a notification of a 1 star review. What is your gut reaction? You’ve worked years to build a reputable business and now everyone will see this negative review, who wouldn’t be upset?!

Before you do anything, STOP. Think about your values – how do you want to be perceived?

Most business values include some sort of idea around integrity or relationships, so you want to make sure that how you respond also projects this. Unless you are a business like Shinesty or Cards Against Humanity, where you embrace an ‘in the face’ brand presence, we recommend the following:

  • How would you respond if the reviewer was speaking to you directly?
  • Was this an issue that you had tried to resolve and were aware of?
  • Is the customer actually right? Often times with negative reviews, the customer just can’t get over something (or maybe even be a competitor posting as an irate customer), but other times we can actually learn from legitimate negative reviews.
  • Think about what else could be going on in the individual’s life. If you truly think you did everything you could and that you bent over backwards, perhaps this individual is having the worst week of their life. Changing perspective can help you to calm your nerves and think more clearly about a situation.
  • Draft a reply comment in a word document that explains that you are sorry they are disappointed with your service, that you take pride in X,Y,Z, and that you are available to speak offline via phone or email.
  • Sit back an hour and reread your draft response. Check it for any spelling or grammatical errors, then copy and paste it as a reply to the review.

Following these steps will make sure you aren’t jumping in with your gut reaction, but rather that you are allowing your values to dictate how you will treat others online.

Positive reviews are easier to respond to, but many businesses fail to actually write back each and every time they receive a review. Again, think about your values. Let’s say Community is a brand value, what better way to showcase this by taking the time to thank each reviewer and reestablish your invitation to them into the community that you are building.

In this post we’ve taken a look at how to use your values to find your target market, how to write content that exemplifies your brand values, and how to respond to reviews in a value-driven way. Just remember in every aspect of your marketing and service to clients, your values can and should act as your compass.

 

Core Values, Why They Are Important To Your Business

What Are Core Values?

Core values are a set of standards for your business that everyone involved in your business must use in order to deliver the best possible product or service.

Core values force you to raise the bar and set the standard, the tone, and the cadence of your business.  Make sure you are doing what you can to set the right standards for your business to get the outcome you are looking for.

This video will help you establish core values for your business.

What is a personal brand?  

A personal brand is a feeling, an emotion and an expectation about who you are as a person and and a professional.  Your personal brand tells people what your character is and what they can expect to experience when working with you.  

How Do You Build A Strong Personal Brand?

Our 3-Step process will help you identify what your personal brand looks like.  Once you identify what your personal brand is, it will be your job to nurture, grow and tweak it along the way.

STEP 1:  WHO YOU ARE

Identify 3-6 core values that describe you.  Core values are those things that drive you and make you who your are.  They can be anything from trustworthy, respectful, innovative, leader, etc.

  1. _____________________________________
  2. _____________________________________
  3. _____________________________________
  4. _____________________________________
  5. _____________________________________
  6. _____________________________________

Power Tip:  

Need help?  Use Google to do some research!  Type “List of core values” into the Google search engine and see what comes up.  Select core values that really describe who you are and how you want people to perceive you.

STEP 2:  WHAT YOU DO

Write out a descriptive statement of what problem you are able to provide a solution to.  

______________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

The point of this descriptive is to illustrate how you think and want people to perceive you.

STEP 3:  THE VALUE YOU PROVIDE

Strong personal brands deliver value ALL THE TIME!  With everything they do, there is always a piece of value available.  Two value-focused brands that quickly come to mind are:

Facebook:  Provides people the opportunity to connect with friends, family, and businesses everyday!

Google:  Delivers information instantaneously!  It costs you nothing to do research from the comfort of your own home!

Make a list of all of the pieces of value you offer to your target market:

    • _______________________________________________________________
    • _______________________________________________________________
    • _______________________________________________________________
    • _______________________________________________________________
    • _______________________________________________________________
    • _______________________________________________________________
    • _______________________________________________________________
    • _______________________________________________________________
    • _______________________________________________________________
    • _______________________________________________________________

 

 

Putting it ALL Together

Now that you have a clear picture of:

  • What makes you who you are
  • The solution you provide
  • The value that you offer…

You begin to see what your brand looks like.  From here, you can go anywhere!  With every piece of marketing you do, the product you deliver or conversation you have, you can design it all to reflect how you want people to perceive you, your business, and the product or service you deliver.

Take It One Step Further…

Put your brand to the test.  Work with a trusted colleague, mentor, or friend, someone who will give feedback, and tell you what you NEED to hear, not what you WANT to hear.  Ask them how they honestly see your brand and the product you deliver.  If they are unable to identify the problem you solve, how valuable your product or service is or if they are unable to identify any of the 6 core values you listed above to describe you and your business, you have some work to do.  You must either change one or all of the steps above or you must change yourself.  

Personal branding is a marathon, not a sprint, and, it is definitely a journey.  You will need to constantly work at it and improve it each and every day.

Many times people use the terms personal brand and personal image interchangeably but, they shouldn’t.  There is a BIG difference between the two!  Once you understand the difference between them, it will make a difference in your business.

Let’s dive in…

Personal Image:  

Everyone has one!  It what helps people form a mental picture of you.  Here are some characteristics of a Personal Image:

  • Sense of humor
  • How you talk, the language you use, the accent you have
  • Sense of style
  • Favorite color
  • Your overall preferences of what you like and what you do not like

Personal Brand:  

A personal brand is how people perceive you and it sets the expectation of how you will conduct business with another professional.  Your personal brand:

  • Sets you apart from others in your industry
  • Broadcasts your skill set
  • Describes your work ethic is
  • Provides insight into your character and values
  • Illustrates the expected level value you provide

Think of your personal brand as your professional reputation on steroids.  Your personal brand is the emotion, thought and an idea that is conjured up each and every time your name and business name are mentioned in your target market.   What do you want that thought or idea to be for you and your business?

Now that you know how important your personal brand is, you must protect it at all costs by delivering a consistent message each and every time you interact with your target market whether it be on social media, through a marketing program, during a meeting, consultation or a deliverable product.

Picking your brand colors

Do colors really mean anything for your brand? I mean it’s just colors, right?

WRONG! There is a whole lot of research done behind the meaning of colors!

When you think of your ‘Brand Identity’ what does that mean to you?

Personality is the emotional, and human, association to a brand. Identity is the image created and used by a company to relate to consumers. An identity can include all forms of communication and visuals such as logos, colors or fonts. But the two are symbiotic. A brand’s identity should be part of its personality.

This is one of our favorite color meaning charts: Attribution http://blog.visme.co/color-psychology-in-marketing-and-brand-identity-part-2/  

When you talk about creating a brand it all starts with the colors, fonts,  and styles.

Here are a few steps to get you started

  1. Mood Board Inspiration
    *Types of things that inspire you: Colors, Styles, Textures, Images, Fonts. Pinterest is a great free resource to look at types of brands you like.
  2. Color Palette & Fonts
    What color makes you happy? What’s your favorite color?
    – Which colors and fonts are you naturally drawn towards?
    – Are there certain colors that can represent your design niche the best?– Which colors would you prefer to avoid?
    -Are there certain colors that can represent your design niche the best?
    -What do I want the identity of your business to say to my clients?
  3. Primary Logo
    Primary Logo is: Do you have one? Do you have a stacked logo for social media?
  4. Social Media & Marketing Graphics
    What social media platforms do you have, that you need to make sure your graphics are correct?
  5. Website & Consistency – Keep your brand’s tone and personality consistent across channels

Is your brand identity unique?
Does it have passion behind it?
Is it consistent?

What are brand colors

WRONG! There’s a whole lot of research done behind the meaning of colors!

When you think of your ‘Brand Identity’ what does that mean to you?

Personality is the emotional, and human, association to a brand. Identity is the image created and used by a company to relate to consumers. An identity can include all forms of communication and visuals such as logos, colors or fonts. But the two are symbiotic. A brand’s identity should be part of its personality.

This is one of our favorite color meaning charts: Attribution http://blog.visme.co/color-psychology-in-marketing-and-brand-identity-part-2/  

When you talk about creating a brand it all starts with the colors, fonts,  and styles.

Here are a few steps to get you started:

  1. Mood Board Inspiration
    What’s a mood board?

It’s a collection of different items that can help you get a feel of what your brand is all about. It can contain images, textures, patterns, typefaces, and other design elements. You may even put together a mood board with logos, website, images that you like the feel of to maybe replicate.

How to make an effective mood board:

Don’t set limits.

The moment you start making a mood board, understand that this is not a place for you to hold back. Put as many elements into it as possible. Remember that it’s always easier for you to take out elements that do not work out in the end. But if you hold back, you might miss out on things that you could have added, but thought twice about

Be detailed and specific.

Sometimes, you would add an image that struck you because of a specific element. A screenshot of a webpage perhaps, or a poster you found online. You may like the font used, or the color scheme applied. In these cases, make sure you add notes that specify what you liked about the image. This way, you can remember which element you should be zooming in on when you encounter the image in your board.

2. Color Palette & Fonts

Your brand identity is not just a logo of your business, but a reflection of your personality. When it comes to creating your brand, color plays a vital role in the process. People choose brands, make buying decisions, change their actions, choose what stores to go into, all because of COLOR, and they may not know they even do it!  

Think of a stop light, you always know Red means stop, Green means Go and Yellow means caution or slow down, right? This changes the way we think about colors and what they mean to us as individuals. At the end of the day, Color is EVERYTHING! These colors will be in your logo, website, social media, print materials, publications, promotional items and so much more, it’s important you take your time and really think about this.

What color makes you happy? What’s your favorite color?
– Which colors and fonts are you naturally drawn towards?
– Are there certain colors that can represent your design niche the best?– Which colors would you prefer to avoid?

-Are there certain colors that can represent your design niche the best?

-What do I want the identity of your business to say to my clients?

3. Logos

Primary Logo—Size and Scaling The logos are all saved to paths—which means they are rendered as vector art and can be continuously scaled. When changing the size it is important to do this proportionally and not stretch the art or change the original proportions. The logo shall not be used below the minimum size shown below
Primary Logo—Color Usage The primary logo may be used in four different color combinations as shown below. The logo should never be used in any other color combinations other than those specified below.
Secondary Logo The secondary logo was created for situations where Highline is more of an endorsement or equal party. It can be used in situations where there is limited space or where the full name is not necessary. It may also be interchanged with the main logo if the name Highline Community College is stated elsewhere.
Secondary Logo—Size and Scaling Like the primary logo, the secondary logo is saved to paths—which means they are rendered as vector art and can be continuously scaled. When changing the size it is important to do this proportionally and not stretch the art or change the original proportions. 

Do you have one? Do you have a stacked logo for social media?

4. Social Media & Marketing Graphics

When you are creating all these graphics, it’s so important to make sure you have the right size for each social media platform, cheat sheet here http://www.visualistan.com/2016/12/the-2017-social-media-image-sizes-cheat.html


What social media platforms do you have, that you need to make sure your graphics are correct?

5. Website & Consistency –

When communicating as the brand offline or via your website, social media profiles, or other online channels, it’s important to keep a consistent tone and personality. If your brand is fun and friendly on Twitter, it should have a similar flavor on Facebook and LinkedIn. Your messaging on LinkedIn may be less casual or more professional, but it shouldn’t sound like it’s coming from a different brand altogether. Think about it this way: there is the “at work” you and the “at home or with friends” you. Your personality is the same, but your mannerisms adjust to the context. The same goes for your brand personality and selected communication channels.

Is your brand identity unique?
Does it have passion behind it?
Is it consistent?