In this episode, Beth Farris joins me to talk about messaging. Like I’ve mentioned in previous episodes, branding is not just about the visuals, and Beth is here to tell you that you need both a visual and verbal brand identity to stand out and succeed.
Beth is a business mentor and brand strategist for starting solopreneurs. She spent 18 years working in creative marketing communications for companies before starting her own business. And today, she loves helping others do the same by helping them get clear on their unique brilliance, business, and brand. “Start with clarity” Beth likes to say, “and simplify your path to success.”
TL;DR For those who want to connect with Beth, you can find her here:
Disclaimer: The following text is not a direct transcription, and while the general flow of the conversation is there, it’s not 100% accurate.
P: So Beth, let’s dive in shall we? Welcome, and thanks so much for joining me today!
B: I’m so happy to be here, I feel like we speak the same language and I love what you’re doing here… demystifying the whole branding thing.
P: For those who tune into today’s episode, what will they be able to take away from it?
B: Right! Well we’re going to talk about how to uncover and express your unique vision and value. In other words, how to get clarity on your point of view and why you? (Why people should buy from you.)
P: Excellent! So where should we begin? There’s a lot to unpack here.
B: Absolutely. So let’s start with this. Your visual brand identity…when you think about the tangible things that includes… it’s your logos, fonts, colors, photos, images, icons… right?
P: Right… there’s also things like tone of voice but yes, in terms of the tangible elements, that’s correct.
B: Well so the tangible things your verbal brand identity includes… it’s 6 things really, just to give an overview:
- your key marketing messages that highlight what’s unique and what’s valuable about you, your product or service, or your approach
- your point of view, the key themes you talk about, your perspective, opinions, beliefs related to what you do or your niche
- your key phrases that capture the essence of what you offer or your POV — so for example your tagline, a headline, mantra, or website hero message
- your bio — either written or spoken — which people often refer to as “your elevator pitch”
- your story — and really what I’m talking about here is your origin story – your journey or what led you to the moment you started your business, what influenced who you are and what you do today
- your why, vision and mission — you know, the change you want to see in the world, your purpose
P: Wheh! OK……
B: Yeah, I know, it’s a lot. But when you’re clear on all these verbal and visual elements, it’s a powerful combination. Like Batman and Robin, Thelma and Louise, peanut butter and chocolate,
P: Wine and cheese….haha, but on a serious note, this is what I talk about all the time… that branding requires both strategy and design. You need to do the invisible work to get the visible output.
B: YES exactly! You need a holistic approach. The visual elements should reflect and reinforce the verbal elements, and vice versa, so they support each other. And together they create an overall impression of your business, your vibe, and they should reflect the unique value and experience you offer to your customers or clients.
P: OK, so walk me through what you mean when you say unique value. Let’s dig a little deeper there…
B: Well, on the face of it, value points to the benefits and unique to how you are different.
Value is weighing the benefits you got vs. what you paid. You know that expression you say when you say ”gosh that was really worth it”? That’s where that comes from.
Now the benefits can be both practical and emotional, so you really need to get clear on those in your business.
For example, if you buy a nice pair of shoes — say you buy some super cute, unusual or stylish rain boots. (We’re in the rainy season here in the Netherlands so you see what’s on my mind right now) OK – let’s say they have some incredible high tech padding and insulation to keep your feet dry and comfortable (practical)….. Emotional = status, uniqueness, individualism, look trendy/cool.
Or let’s say you’re a language teacher who teaches expats how to speak the language of their new country. A practical benefit might be that you offer classes at night or on the weekends, which is great for working professionals. But an emotional benefit you provide is a sense of belonging… feeling free to express yourself more fully with others … confidence even.
So that’s benefits, but there’s also identifying the super benefit – the ultimate benefit, result or brand promise.
For example, when I talk about the benefits that I provide as a business mentor, I talk about things like getting you past overwhelm, helping you define your niche, and get started with clarity and confidence so you can create more impact and income. << that’s the ultimate benefit.
P: Right – so a trick there is to add on the “so that” phrase to your benefit statements to help you highlight what that benefit ultimately means for someone.
B: Yes, the ultimate value.
P: Alright so then there’s the unique bit…
B: Yes, so this points to why someone should get that value from you vs. your competitors. Why are you (your product or service) why is it special or different? What is your unique added value?
P: Yeah, the brand lingo here are phrases like unique value proposition, unique selling proposition, a positioning statement. So how do you help your clients get clear on this?
B: Well, it’s important to note here that my clients sell services, not products, and we always start with Competitive Research – because how else are you going to know how you’re different, if you don’t know what’s out there, right?
- Conversations/questions in sessions
- Approach – “how” you go about solving a problem or reaching a goal; unique method / framework / process
- Superpower survey
- Your unique combination of personal/professional experiences and skills
- And just YOU – your personality. Even if the message is the same, the messenger is different. No one is you – that’s a competitive and unique advantage – and someone may just prefer to get the value from you vs. someone else because they prefer your style, they feel a click with you.
P: All great ideas. So now that we understand unique value, there’s another key component of your verbal brand identity… your point of view…
B: Yes, point of view. And a great starting point here is to just think about why you care so much about what you do? (a simple but powerful thing). On my own website, I have a “start here”page with an article on why clarity matters. And there I break it down…all the reasons why clarity helps you succeed as a solopreneur. Essentially what I am saying here is ”hey, here’s why this thing I am selling is valuable.” But for me it goes a bit deeper than that because clarity also speaks to my approach. It’s the how in my business – it’s what I believe to be the key to solving my client’s problems. So think about that for your own business, as in, what do my ideal clients or customers need to know and understand that would make ALL the difference?
P: And so this clarity thing, that’s sort of become your mantra, like the big idea you’re most passionate about…
B: Yes, when you find yourself speaking about the same idea or concept over and over – the big idea you can’t get out of your head — the idea you could never get tired of talking about – that’s very likely your core message.
P: Your Ted Talk!
B: Yeah exactly… someday who knows, maybe I’ll write a book or do a Ted Talk and if I did, it would most certainly be on this topic of clarity in business.
P: So it sounds like one of the ways to think about your point of view is, what could you talk about or rant about for hours? Heh.
B: Yes. One of my specific rants is – I kind of can’t stand in my niche, all the get-rick-quick hacks and overblown promises that some coaches claim where they claim to instantly get you to 10K months, overnight success, and that kind of thing. I advocate for simple and organic marketing methods vs. complex funnels and hacks.
So this key message of mine… it is coming from an authentic place – these are my beliefs and they reflect my values – but also it’s a message that’s different than a lot of what you see out there, so this uniqueness in my message and methods – it helps me stand out from others in my industry.
P: OK – so for some of my listeners who might be a little skeptical, who might be asking themselves, “yeah but how does all this really impact the bottom line”? What would you say to them?
B: Yeah, fair question – and here’s what I would say…
- People don’t just buy WHAT you do. They buy the how, the why (as Simon Sinek says), and the experience of working with you, how you look and sound, all of it – the whole package – the visual and the verbal you know?
- And people prefer to do business with people they like, with shared values… now more than ever, people want to buy from ethical companies and more human brands… from people and companies that stand for something beyond just, their own success… people who have conviction and an inspiring message
- Today we live in an era of #metoo #BLM, climate change, political polarization, and so much more…. So people are tuned in to this, look at Nike with the Kaepernick campaign and other companies taking a stand and taking action on political and social issues.
Part of this requires, being willing to confidently stand in your point of view, put it out there, and be a thought leader… and that can be scary!
The message that scares you the most, that deep down you know you need to say… that’s most likely your core message. that’s the thing you need to say and find the courage to say, because you only live once and also, that’s the message that’s going to connect and resonate with someone and help or inspire them. And you can’t stay silent if you want to have that kind of impact.
But still, I get that fear…. I used to hold back more. There’s fear of judgement…trolls, people throwing rocks at your arguments. There’s fear of putting yourself in a vulnerable position. The funny thing is – once you do it – that nightmare scenario in your head does not happen. You actually end up inspiring people; people start to follow you… You end up attracting ideal clients; the right people and people you have a click with; people who will already be open to your methods/ways of doing things.
P: Right, and this is how you can both build your personal brand – what you want to be known for – and at the same time attract the right people to you.
B: Yeah and it’s important when you talk about all these things – your unique value and your point of view – to whenever possible, use everyday language. Versus industry insider speak and jargon. That’s key when you are crafting your message. And the way to discover those phrases is through market research. Conversations with ideal client types; observing conversations inside FB Groups; gaining a deep understanding of your customer….
P: Right, a message filled with jargon or phrases that are abstract and vague are just not going to connect. It’s important to meet people where they are.
B: Yeah, and connect on different levels with your message. You need to speak to both head and heart. You need to talk about those practical benefits (or features) as well as the emotional benefits to kind of speak to both sides of the brain.
P: OK, so as we bring this to a close, do you have any other advice for us on how to get clear on your message and verbal brand?
Yes, there’s a couple more things I want to mention.
- First, a great message can be simple with profound implications. It doesn’t have to be a brand new novel idea. It can be an old idea said in a new way.
- Sometimes your mess is your message. Know what I mean by that? If you reflect on your life and think about all the important life lessons you’ve learned and the struggles you’ve overcome, the causes you have supported, in that might lie the clue to your core message. I think we’re all motivated to teach and talk about the things we’ve struggled with the most.
P: So to recap…
- use everyday language
- speak to both head and heart
- don’t be afraid to be bold, to be different
- tell us why what you offer MATTERS
- and WHY YOU
If you could give our listeners one simple tip, that they could implement today to improve their brand messaging, what would that be?
B: 2 tips…if I may…
- The “So that” trick is a great one to uncover your ultimate brand promise…add that onto your benefit statements to reveal the ultimate outcome
- Consistently create thought leadership content (blog, vlog, podcast, FB Lives) to find your voice and find different and better ways to articulate your point of view
P: Awesome! I know you have a free Messaging Workbook coming soon, so for anyone interested in learning more from you, tell us a little more and also let us know where they can find you online?
B: Sure! I love LinkedIn, so definitely connect with me there, and I’m also sharing lots of business and brand insights in my newsletter, so you can join that at beth-farris.com/insights and get lots of tips and get alerted to when that workbook is available.
That’s it for this episode. I hope you enjoyed it! If you did, any ratings and shares are much appreciated. See ya next time!