Everything you wanted to know about branding your small business but were afraid to ask. (Part two.)

Ever get hung-up on the stuff you don’t know about branding but think you ‘should?’

The questions that keep you spinning rather than sprinting, and you’re frankly embarrassed about because if you were a ‘real’ expert in your field, surely you’d have them figured out by now?

You’re not flying solo. Far from it. We’ve all—my team and me included— grappled with the ins and outs of what it means to build a business and a brand.

Here are some thoughts and tips you might find helpful. And for more, read on….

1. My brand message feels too broad. How do I make it clearer and more focused? I’m worried I’m going to niche myself out of the market.

Try thinking about it this way: Your biggest market is in your smallest niche.

By getting tight and tailored around exactly who you help and how, you can become the go-to expert for those people. And while this niche market may well be a small one, if you’re a solopreneur or even a small business—it may be plenty big enough for you. Imagine being known as the top design firm for dentists, for example. There’s a serious pipeline for a soloist.

To take your brand message from diluted to dynamite, start by asking yourself (and your team if you’ve got one—more minds equal more creative ideas) one question. There are plenty of others—I start my clients on a 12-page guide that gets down all the ingredients we need to build a brand message—but for now, begin here:

Why does my client choose me over my competition?

Then go deep. Challenge what comes up. Is it really true or just your take on things? Is it really special to your client—or just to you?

Nailing your dynamite is where you want to land. That sweet spot that creates value for your clients.

The one no one else can claim because it’s unique to you.

2. When I first launched my business I thought my ideal client was a particular kind of person and that I knew how to talk to her. But it’s been a year and I’ve realized the person buying from me is different to who I had in mind. How do I figure this out and shift my brand message and voice without sounding all over the place?

This is a tough one to face, but know that evolution like this is totally normal. Especially after being in business for a year or so. Three and five years in are also typical points of reflection and change.

Here’s what’s going on: When the way you’re talking and writing to someone is even just a little bit ‘off,’ they’ll feel it.

More specifically, they won’t feel like you’re talking to them. So they don’t connect with you and drift away, and you end up attracting the client who really gels with how you’re coming across. Even if they’re far from your ideal.  

It can be tempting to see this as Big Stuff To Fix, where you want to just put your head down and ‘try harder’ to make what you’ve got work. (Believe me, I’ve been there too.)

But it doesn’t need to be all-consuming.

First, if you’ve never completed a client avatar, this is the time to do it. A client avatar—also known as a buyer persona—is a detailed profile of the dream person or business you’re targeting.

Think: Intel. on everything from their biggest problems and deepest desires, to what scares them the most, which brands they admire, how they want to feel, what trends or issues affect their industry or business and much more. What they’re all about. In technicolor. (You’ll find plenty of client avatar templates online.)

The upshot?

The actual things your prospects care about and the words they use to describe these come into focus. So when it comes to your brand message and marketing, you can take their language and echo it back to them. This equals recognition and resonance and ultimately, a relationship.

An unexpected bonus?

Completing a client avatar can have value that goes far beyond your brand message.

For example, this exercise saw one of my clients decide to delay launching to a second audience because of what we uncovered it would mean for their revenue model.

3. I’ve got two audiences. How do I write for both of them?

There’s a couple of different ways you can come at this. Look at what’s the same across both audiences—or what’s different.

For the first method, start by finding what your audiences have in common. Needs, goals, problems, desires. What do they both share? Is there a common perspective or experience that unites them?

Let’s say you’re an executive coach for women in the workplace. You help women one-on-one, but you also sell coaching programs to corporates who employ these women.

Now while there are likely to be nuances and distinctly different results the consumers and companies in this dynamic are after, one outcome both audiences share is this: The desire for women to be on their A-game and feeling good.

So while the journey, motivations and benefits are different, the result is the same. And you can gear your main message in that direction.

The alternative? Speak separately to your audiences from the get-go.

You’ll often see this method play out on websites where you’re asked to choose which identity or outcome you connect most closely with. Usually by choosing a particular button, package or gateway that takes you to a certain section.

You can do the same on your own site. And from that point, in each section you can get down and detailed with content specific to that audience (while sticking to your overall brand tone of voice, of course).

Any ‘a-ha’ moments in this Q&A for you? Are there other questions you’re struggling with that aren’t covered in this post (or in part one?) Ping me here or join my workshop at the Million Dollar Women Summit in NYC on March 24th. We’ll dig into what makes your business dynamite and how to define it. Hop over here for more details and to apply.