Brand Message: Clarity, Brevity, and Niche
You hear it all the time: Pick a niche. Narrow down what you offer and who you’ll be offering it to. Market only to your niche. Talk only to your niche.
It’s nonsense, for most businesses.
The reason choosing a niche is so often advised is because of one little thing that we all as humans crave.
What am I talking about? How do the two (niche and clarity) correlate at all? Let’s look at a couple of examples before we go any further. For me, it’s so much easier to see it in action.
Brand Message Masters
A lot of brands mistake back story for brand message. A great brand story or message doesn’t focus on the brand, but instead puts the spotlight straight on the target audience or customer.
No matter what you think of 2016’s presidential nominees, the presidential race shows masterful use of brand message in action. Think for a moment about Hillary Clinton. Can you tell me in one sentence what Hillary wants to do for America? No, you can’t. Now, what about Gary Johnson? Can you tell me what Gary Johnson wants to do for America? Nope.
I bet you’re already cringing because you can tell me exactly what Donald Trump wants to do for America. He wants to make America great again. His message is clear, straightforward, and it’s exactly what most Americans want.
This clarity of message is something that President Obama also managed to achieve with his message, hope for change, in 2008. Both Trump’s and Obama’s message are calls to action. There is an implied you at the beginning of each of those sentences. You make American great again, and you hope for change. What do Americans want? They want America to be great; they want to hope that change for the better is possible and within reach. Not only is this brand message clear and concise, it is the exact solution to the problem (that America isn’t great or that Americans have lost hope that things will ever change), and it’s putting the power into the hands of the target audience, not the brand.
*Edited to add that Hillary is finally starting to get her brand message out there. She’s going with “Stronger Together,” which isn’t quite as actionable as Donald’s message but nevertheless still resonating with Americans because we are such a divided nation currently.
Brand Message Illustrated
So, how do you create a clarity in your message and how does that relate to niche?
You provide your customers with clarity the same way a good book or movie provides clarity. That super clear message will draw in the exact right customers because you will be answering their exact want. You’ll find your niche because they’ll find you. Let me use a less controversial example than presidential nominees to illustrate this point. Let’s use the story line from the book (or movie), The Hunger Games.
Step 1: Figure out your customers’ biggest want and what stands in their way.
The main character of the story, Katniss, wanted to survive. This was portrayed over and over from beginning to end.
The thing standing in her way of survival—the Capitol and its Hunger Games. I don’t want to delve too deep because I could easily get lost in the story line (I’m a fan of the books). But, I want to make it clear that the Capitol is to Katniss as tech is to the old school, brick-and-mortar business, for instance. While not being tech savvy does not put your customer’s life on the line, it may impede their ability to effective expand their customer base. It may mean that they’re missing out on opportunities to connect with new markets.
Step 2: Position yourself as your customers’ guide.
Enter Haymitch Abernathy, stage left. He’s a drunk, sure. Flawed, definitely. But, he was her guide. His role was to help her overcome her problem (the Capitol) and achieve her goal (survival).
You’re Haymitch (no alcoholism necessary, but witty banter is always a plus). Your customer is Katniss. Her goal (survival) is the direct benefit of Haymitch’s services as a guide. Even better—he wasn’t the hero. She was the hero (well, heroine technically, but you get the point).
Haymitch didn’t position himself as the expert, here to save the day. He helped her save herself.
Think about the customer who lacks tech savvy once more. If your skills include online marketing, then how can you help this customer help his or her business? Become their guide.
Step 3: Make your message clear, concise, and an answer to the customer’s biggest want and hurdle.
So, have you heard anyone talk about benefits versus features before? To very briefly summarize it, features are fact-based statements that clearly outline what’s included in a particular service or what comes with a specific product. A benefits statement briefly tells the target customer what they’re going to get out of working with you. A benefit statement gives them what they want by outlining how your product or service can help them overcome their hurdle.
Hear this: The benefit you provide your customers is your niche and your clarity.
Think about it like this. Let’s say that Haymitch met Katniss and then began to outline that he provides consultations on weapon choices, snare usage, game strategy, public speaking tips, branding help, and in-arena support by soliciting sponsors to send her items she needs at that exact moment. What do you think you’d say to that?
“No, thanks, I’m not looking for services or tutorials. I’d prefer someone who can help me stay alive.”
Instead, Haymitch (while not a perfect example) met Katniss and directly acknowledged her want. The simplicity of the message—”Stay alive, sweetheart”—was followed by a plan and strategy. He acknowledged her want and then showed her how he was going to help her overcome the hurdle in her way.
By choosing the biggest problem you’ll be solving for your customer, and then outlining very simply and directly how you will help them solve it, you gain clarity of message and niche down.
Sure, you still use twenty-two different tools to help your customer solve their problem, but the tools aren’t what you need to lead with. Position yourself as their guide and then you offer them a plan. They want to know that you will be guiding them. Your potential customer wants to know that you have a process or approach that produces results.
Get clear on your message and position yourself as the guide who will help your customer become their own hero. That’s how you’ll draw in the exact right customers and make more sales.
Step 4: Be your own hero.
Are you ready to create a brand and marketing strategy that lands you more clients and followers? Let’s make it happen!
- Start by grabbing a pen and paper (or keyboard and word processor).
- Write down your customers’ biggest want.
- What stands in their way, preventing them from fulfilling that want?
- What’s the benefit you provide? Do you give them what they want?
- How do you give them what they want?
Remember: Be concise. Less is definitely more here because the fewer words you use, the clearer your message should be. Once you have your message, shout it from the rooftops (well, don’t be obnoxious about it … just shout during normal waking hours). Put your new message where your potential customers will read it—your website, social media, in a newsletter, on a brochure, for example.
Mindy, I’m not confident I did it right. What do I do now?
Do not ask your friends and family for feedback. I know how that piece of advice sounds, but your friends and family are not your ideal customer. Even if they have many of the same characteristics, it is much harder to set the personal relationship aside to give and receive business feedback.
Ask your ideal clients for feedback. Email a few you’ve worked with asking them what they think of your new message. If you’re not comfortable asking them or you’d rather have someone to guide you through crafting your message, then I would be happy to help.
Fill out the form below to enlist my help.
Brand Message Master Consult details:
- I will speak with you one-on-one via the phone or email (your preference) until we figure out your customers’ biggest want, the hurdle in their way, and the benefit you provide that is the answer to their hurdle.
- We will complete a review of your current branding and messaging avenues and come up with a written plan for improvement.
- We will cover the options for sharing your message and figure out a strategy that will put your message in front of your ideal customers.
The price tag for the Brand Message Master Consult: $283.
Fill out the form to get started, and become your customers’ very own guide (you could totally be as legendary as Yoda)!