You have a great idea. You work hard to build a digital platform – a website, a personalized email, an account on five social media sites – then you get stuck.
You keep looking at what other people are doing.
You keep changing your slogan.
Every day you’re tweaking your website.
Waiting for everything to be perfect before you put it out there.
I know this journey. It held me back for almost two years.
Get Inspired: Connect with Your Customers
I realized that I was putting things out there that looked like my brand, and sounded like my message, but it was all surface level.
In all honesty, I just got caught up researching others too much. That’s when my voice began to sound like a meld of my competitors. You couldn’t differentiate my brand and my approach that easily. Although my intentions were 100% genuine, I was coming across as superficial, talking AT my customer, versus TO my customer.
This transition to connect directly with them took some experimentation.
I began to post more about my hobbies and revealed sentences from my journaling, but it was one particular post that really began the conversation between me and my audience.
It all started with the process of designing my book cover. It was the first time I really spoke directly to my audience. Asking them to come along on this journey with me by helping me choose a book cover. It turned out that the majority of my customers and I had similar taste.
Real. Connection. Virtual Style.
One medium at a time.
It’s been beautiful growing with them.
Your social media followers and e-mail list are a focus group at your fingertips.
It’s a win-win when you talk to them about the process, and invite them to use their voice and share what they like, don’t like, wish they could do, and so on.
It gives you a peek into their needs and challenges. Which means an opportunity for you! You can now begin to talk directly to this, establishing trust, and a human factor to your brand.
To have a profit-making business, you must have your customers’ trust.
The more you engage them, and are there for them, the more you will gain trust in what you are putting out there.
For many entrepreneurs, regardless of industry, our work is our art. It is a piece of yourself you are putting out there. It’s a beautiful reminder and opportunity to fuel up on those tough days.
So, where do you find your customers the most? Instagram? Your blog? Your email list?
Pay attention. Meet your customer where they hang out.
Become virtual friends, reflect on where they shop and hang out, perhaps what magazines they read, or where you could find a similar audience in a publication.
By understanding the personality of your audience, you are able to reach more of them directly.
During the writing and launch of “Find Your Voice,” I lived in Houston. I wanted to build a strong local network for many reasons. The main one being a concentrated effort is more professional, and gets you the momentum to reach national audiences, and then an international customer base.
Houstonians love Instagram. Many of the people that actually showed up to my speaking engagements, bought my book, and hired me to facilitate their book clubs, were on Instagram. I met them and gained their trust on Instagram.
And, it all started with that first post asking them to help me choose my book cover.
There is always a way to bring a personal feel to your brand. By putting more of it out there, the more you will get back. Bottom line.
If you’re not sure what the voice of your brand is, look at your niche.
Get Inspired: See the Big Picture
The big picture is clear, but getting there is rarely that way.
My strategy for many years was summed up in this sentence: “next year this time I will be where I want to be.”
Wow, was I setting myself up for failure! Because the next year would always come, but the big picture was NEVER achieved during that time frame.
Every year I accomplished many things, but because my expectation was that it would take 365 days to get from point A to point Z, I could never really recognize what I had done. I felt stagnant. I felt like I was a constant failure.
Meanwhile, my friends, family, customers, social media fans, and even my own publisher would always comment on how well I was doing. My numbers were consistently above-average, and I was making affluent connections.
Like you, I am a multi-passionate entrepreneur.
I wanted all the areas of my business to be growing exponentially, and simultaneously. I wanted to have national press on my book, to book non-stop paid speaking gigs, I wanted to coach 20 hours a week, and I wanted tens of thousands of social media fans – all of this I expected “by this time next year.”
I had to learn two very important things the hard way :
- Annual stepping stones build a badass foundation to reach the big picture but do not expect the big picture in just a year from now.
- Pushing all areas of your business at once actually waters down your business potential. You are spread thin, and so is your message.
So, where do YOU start?
How do you not give up on all that you are passionate about while growing your business strategically?
Start with your entrepreneurial superpower.
Then, answer this:
+ what are your customers really digging from you
= This is your starting point.
The answer to this will clear up so much for you, and channel your energy in the most efficient way.
I had a coaching client that was building a women-owned business networking group.
She had started with a meet-up group that grew to nearly 5 thousand women under a year’s time. The overwhelming response had her take the leap from her corporate job to follow her entrepreneurial passion.
And, that’s when things got watered down.
As she began to build a professional digital platform and offered more events, she noticed the attendance was going down.
She got stressed. She noticed competitors popping up and having more success. She continued to get discouraged. She felt like she had made a huge mistake.
In reality, she hadn’t, she was just confusing her customer with too many offers, too many messages.
I provided her with the same equation I have provided to you. I asked her what area of her business she is most passionate about, and what her customers show up for.
The answer was = FOOD!
She was a foodie, she loved trying to new restaurants and cafes.
When she would post food pictures she would get the most likes and comments.
When she would host food-centered events, she would get the most sponsorships and sell the most tickets.
When I brought this to get attention, she listened but was resistant. She was afraid that she was giving up her ideas of hosting retreats and starting a membership model.
I explained to her that focusing on what she is good at, is not giving up on her other ideas. It’s about mastering her niche, building customer loyalty, then adding on her other passions.
Before you knew it, and in real-life entrepreneur terms, that means two to three years, she was offering cooking classes locally, and food tours internationally, and making more money than she had ever imagined.
Now, let’s reflect on your brand.
What aspect of your business (income channel) do you feel most confident about?
We start with you because your customers will feed off of your genuine passion and confidence.
If your customers are not feeling this part of your business yet, don’t let that stop you. It could just be that you are not pouring enough love into the details – your messaging may need a little tweaking.
Commit to it for three months, and ask your customers for their opinions consistently.
Regardless of what happens, the minimum you will walk away with is more clarity about your starting point.
Don’t get sad or anxious that you are giving up any part of your dream. This is more about building a solid plan to turn your dream into a reality.
Get Inspired: Using Your Voice to Represent Your Brand
You’ve established your logo.
You are happy with your website.
You have a clear message, and you’ve started a following.
Now you’re ready to take things to the next level, but fear and uncertainty are creeping back up.
If you are experiencing this, that means you are on the right track.
Every time your business is ready to hit the next mark, it will feel unsettling.
This is your chance to turn fear into momentum, and you can only fight fear with facts.
The fact is you are meant to be doing this work.
The fact is there is nothing physical in your way, it’s just your mind.
The fact is the most budget-friendly brand exposure is using your own voice.
So, what is truly next for your business?
This is not the space to start counting what you lack…I can’t afford a P.R. team, an agent, or a marketing guru, damn, I guess I’ll just wait until they discover me.
No, no, no.
You can use your voice in many ways to bring more exposure to your business.
You can write emails.
You can write articles.
You can make videos.
You can make cold calls.
There is going to be a certain level of discomfort when you first start, but you will find your way, the more you do it.
Let’s start with a simple step, make a list that includes:
- 5 potential customers that you want to pitch to (this can be people or companies)
- 5 places you want to be published (whether you write the piece, or get interviewed by them).
- 5 ways your business idols are found doing their work (this is not your favorite singer unless your brand is in the music industry).
Now, make bullet points about your approach, what you want to say.
Be aware of what is going on with the business or person you are approaching.
I’m a firm believer that in life, everything is a conversation away. By getting to know more about the business or person you are approaching, the more natural your conversation will flow.
Please keep realistic expectations, and take the perspective of planting seeds and starting the conversation.
This is also your place to be confident and communicative about your excitement for what they are doing, and how it is aligned with your brand’s approach.
This is the space where you align your product or service as a benefit for their publication, event, or store.
This is your pitch, you will have to do it at some point or another, there is no use avoiding this step.
Let me be clear, that your business is not Noah’s Ark: if you build it they will come – no, no, they need to know that you exist, first.
The more you do this, the more clarity you will have on how to pitch with an added-value tone.
Be ready for rejection, and approach it with curiosity versus taking it personally. Ask for feedback from people when they say no, and even go as far as asking if they know another publication, person, or business that may be the right fit for you. All they can do is say no.
After my book was published, I was on the road for an entire year speaking and doing book signings. It was a beautiful experience that pumped up my confidence. Then it was time for me to take it to the next level, and I felt lost.
I had so many ideas of other topics I wanted to talk about, but I wasn’t sure where I would go, and how I would frame it.
I did finally, and there was a lot of hit-and-miss. There were a lot of events at yoga studios and bookstores, but I wanted to sprinkle in other experiences as well.
I felt ready to speak to bigger audiences.
My potential was keeping me up again and telling me to apply to speak at conferences and fortune 500 companies. I had to reframe my pitch to speak more to my mission, than just the message of my book.
This was mostly inspired by my audience. Listening to your customer and flexibility are a must for any growing business.
My audience was not the 24-32-year-old woman, it turned out to be teenagers, men from 34-42, and women from 45-70.
I listened to who was impacted by my message and re-pivoted my pitch. I began to show up where my new audience was hanging out.
It’s a beautiful dance when the energy you are putting out is reflected back to you. This is the experience every entrepreneur wants. To see what you thought the world needed is exactly what they were looking for.
Never give up on your dream.
Keep listening. Keep planning. Keep resting.
Your words and your voice are your superpowers. Use them to connect through conversation, and you will create the path to becoming peers with your idol.
Leave a comment and let me know about this part of your journey. I want to hear your voice!
Until next time, stay inspired.
Best of luck to you,