As I understand it, there are four areas to define in a traditional marketing program. Call them the 4 Ps. Proposition. Price. Place. Promotion.
What do you propose? Think of your branding messages as propositions. My branding offers the following to prospective clients: “I propose that your people/members can learn to click with people, to build connection and relationship with purpose.” As a professional providing a service or set of services, you should build your brand around your core strengths, skills and experience. I have an interest in lots of things, and I’m pretty good at a number of things too. But my core strength, the one around which my business has experienced the most growth, is helping people create positive change in situations requiring communication, persuasion and conflict resolution skills. I have a lot of strength in this area, and I can aim it at a specific demographic: people who want to make a difference, make their mark, make something in their lives change for the better. Thus, my brand, The Art of Change Skills For Life™.
What are your core strengths? What constitutes the bulk of what you do? Or what do you do that provides you with the most enjoyment and impact?
If you’re a speaker, and you provide industry specific information, you need to let your prospective clients know that. If you’re a natural medicine doctor, and you have a general practice that treats all comers, you need to let people know that. If you facilitate groups rather than talking at them, that’s important information for your prospects to have.
If you specialize in a natural medicine practice, seeing mostly women, or children, or working with families, or seniors, or use a particular modality more than others, like nutrition, or acupuncture, or counseling, I think you need to let people know that up front in your marketing efforts. It helps people qualify themselves for your services without stringing them along until they feel they’ve wasted time finding out that you’re not for them.
At the same time, it can be a big mistake to create so narrow an offering that there isn’t a sufficient market for what you do. Building business is the inevitable result of expanding your market. A general offering meets a larger need, a specific offering speaks to a specific segment of the marketplace. A combination of both may be the most productive choice of all.
Some years back, before I branded my business, I had a catalog of seven programs that I was confidently able to deliver. Most of these programs were never requested, a few consistently were. I eliminated what wasn’t serving and focused on what was. Today, I have three offerings, but they all are sheltered under the one umbrella: The Art of Change Skills for Life™ and a relentless focus on the skills necessary to bring about positive change. This is my core and purpose. This is where I have the most strength and motivation. I own it. I love it. This is my brand. What’s yours?
When you do what you do, what do you bring to the table with you that others do not? How do you distinguish yourself from others offering the same service? This is your unique value proposition, and it sits at the center of all that you do. I create customized speeches and training programs for my clients, by applying my expertise to their needs and interests.
I also provide a customized handout, made especially for my audience, rather than the typical boiler plate looking handouts that get tossed or lost within days of receiving them. My handouts are designed to be most useful after my programs, rather than as something for participants to distract themselves with while I’m talking.
Can you hear the clarity that my brand gives me when I tell you that I offer not just actionable content in my speeches and training programs, but I’m interactive with my audiences, and the learning is fun. If I don’t find it fun, I’m not going to bother with it, so I wouldn’t expect any different from the people in my audiences and participants in my training programs. Now admittedly, there are thousands of speakers, trainers and coaches who can make these claims. But the real question is, can I?
The same holds true for you. Whatever strengths you have and claims you make, the real question is can you back them up? And does it light you up when backing them up? Because there’s only one of you, and if you are being true to you in what you do, that’s really all that’s required of you. Let the hundreds or thousands or tens of thousands of others who do work similar to you concern themselves with their own marketing. They are not your concern. How do YOU differentiate what you do?
Your prospective customers and clients and patients should know exactly what you bring to the table and what they’re getting by working with you, and it’s up to you to describe that for them. Unsure how to describe what you do? Ask people who have benefitted from working with you for their descriptions, and adapt what they tell you so you can use it to tell others!
Once you’ve identified the core of your business and practice, remember to use simple and common language to describe what you do. Jargon is off putting and often leads to misunderstanding. Common language is accessible and understandable. Decide on your core messages and stick to one brand name. Over time, it will grow roots, branches and flower!
Also, be consistent in the way you market your brand. Consistent colors, consistent fonts, consistent systems for handling things, you get the idea. That way, people can come to know what’s on the inside of your practice or business, when exposed to your brand on the outside or face of it.
Next post, we’ll talk about the second P, price! Meanwhile, I’d love to hear your comments, feedback and experiences, along with any questions, below this post.