I was at a networking event recently and was asked 'what do you do?'
Now the short answer is: marketing, copy and communications. But the bit that I do most and love best is the clarity bit. My challenge is that it's so hard to explain.
I found myself sharing examples of work I'd done for clients to make what I do more real. I could see the expressions on people's faces change from one of blankness to one of 'oh yeah, that would be really useful.' So what was it that made people go from politely glazed to animatedly interested?
Story telling. That's what.
If I said that I 'help small businesses get clear on what they want their business to be', it doesn't mean anything. But when I told them a story about how I actually helped a client change, they got it.
Story telling is what I do for my clients. And it's what you can do too to bring your business to life for your ideal clients.
Let me make up a story to explain.
You're an accountant. You've left the corporate world and decided to set up on your own. You think you've got your target market sorted: small businesses who can't afford the big accounting firms.
In your head you know that you hate corporate bullshit and you're a lovely, warm, funny person - despite being an accountant (sorry accountants). But you've got this hangover from the corporate days that tells you that you need to come across as serious and professional because, you know, you're an accountant and money is a serious business. So you create a website that shows WHAT you do for these small businesses e.g. tax returns. You may even go to great lengths telling them HOW you do it for them ....with your wonderful step-by-step, bite sized packages.
But you don't tell them WHY YOU. And you don't show them how you are different. You don't show them that funny, warm, lovely side of your personality (which incidentally is what makes you different from all the competitors. No-one is you).
You choose a name like: Whizzy Accounts. You think you're being different and showing off your fun personality. But you're still just another accounting firm with a more brightly coloured logo perhaps.
What if you flipped it over and made your lovely, warm funny personality front and centre of your brand? They're going to be working with YOU right? So make your brand and the experience they have working with you match.
What if instead of dreading doing tax returns, they wanted to come and see you? Because when they see you, they have a laugh and a lovely cup of tea and it just feels relaxed. So why not call it Tax over Tea (or something that you spend longer than the 10 seconds I just spent coming up with) that demonstrates not only what you do but your entire vibe and how it helps them?
Paint the picture of what that feels like. Show photos of you having a laugh with a client while you drink cups of tea. Sure you do tax returns. But really what you do, is take a truly shitty part of running a business and turn it into something fun. Isn't that awesome?!
Your approach should be front and centre of your brand story. And I don't just mean having a cup of tea as part of your logo (in this particular case). Remember, a brand is so much more than a logo. It's the entire story you tell people in every single interaction they have with you.
One thing to remember as you tell your story: You need to tell it in a way that shows how you help your ideal client. This isn't about you and how wonderful you are so much as it's about how your wonderfulness helps them. There's a subtle but important difference.
So ask yourself: what is your story? What sets you apart? Are you telling that to your clients?
No? Then change it.
A final thought: doing this can be hard as it's difficult to see ourselves clearly. We're too self-critical or close to what we do. Sometimes we need someone to hold a mirror up to us and say: hey, you are THIS. If you need someone to hold that mirror for you, drop me a note. That's what I do. Find our more here.