I had a great call recently with a client who really wanted to talk about how to market her services. She was ready and excited to hit the ground running and start making sales; meanwhile, I was still trying to understand what it was that she did and what she was selling.
We were on two totally different wavelengths, and here is why:
Often, people come out of the gate super excited with their ideas, and they're just ready to go! Ready to make the connections, ready to make the sales, and make the money, but they don't have that foundation work done.
Businesses start with the business of business.
What I mean by that is, you will lose your footing (probably sooner than later) if you don’t do the foundation work. I’m talking about knowing your brand inside-and-out.
Getting clear on:
· Your brand overall,
· Your voice,
· Your core values,
· What exactly you sell,
· And, of course, your ideal client.
That doesn't mean all of those things can't evolve over time, but you need to have that architecture in place first so that you can succeed and know exactly who you are.
Here’s an example: let's say that you offer calligraphy classes, and you know that you want to start teaching over Zoom. You're ready to start selling, and you're going to start small.
So, you start reaching out and pitching over Instagram, and you have a relatively small following that feels safe. You get a couple of bites and some questions:
· How much are your classes?
· Can I buy a package?
· Do you offer painting classes as well? I'd love to do that for my mom.
· Actually, we would really like to do them live. So can I buy a couple of classes live?
Now you're super excited that you're getting this feedback, and you want to get things going. So, you're being flexible and you're letting things flow, but soon your business idea has gone off the rails and this isn't even what you wanted to do.
Remember your initial concept? You're actually a calligraphy artist, not a painter, but money is money, so you keep going, which is what most people do.
Listen, this might feel like you're being malleable in an entrepreneur’s world, but you're actually not. It's super messy. You have no foundation set, and you're attracting the wrong clients because of that.
The truth is: you have a niche, and you can make money doing what you actually want to do, not what others want you to do. But you didn't do front-end work, so you're not prepared to say no.
I like to say that a brand is a lot like a person, and they can't love themselves until they know themselves.
So, in order to feel the authority to say no, you have to really know who you are as a brand. This is part of what I do every single time with a new client. And it might not be as sexy as making the sales - but it's what's going to make the sales that you want to actually make.
Here’s a jumping-off point to do this foundation work if you haven't already. You should be able to simply and clearly explain these few key areas of your business:
1. Your brand values
Your core brand values are the beliefs that you, as a company, stand for. They serve as the compass that guides your brand story, actions, behaviors, and decision-making process. There will be times in business when you have to make tough choices.
2. Your brand voice (messaging)
The uniformity in selection of words, the attitude and values of the brand while addressing the target audience or others. It is how a brand conveys its brand personality to the external audience.
3. Your core pillars
The pillars are the mission, values, purpose, positioning, voice, tone, look and feel. These become your compass—the lens through which you evaluate all decisions at every level of the organization.
4. Who your ideal client is
The "bullseye" client, the dream client. Get very clear on the details.
5. What it is that you sell and prices
Your offerings, your products, how your structure them and the pricing.
6. What makes you different
Out of the sea of all the other people that offer similar work, why should a client want to work with you specifically? This can also be your value proposition.
Now, get to it and set your foundation because this is what's going to allow you to make the sales that you actually want.