Updated: Oct 15, 2020
My biggest struggle with identifying my brand was finding a niche. As a facilitator and coach, it’s in our nature to include. Finding a niche feels like risking that someone feels left out.
When I performed professionally, I found myself going to “cattle call” dance auditions with hundreds of other dancers. I might have 30 seconds to make an impression, and I almost never got “seen” apart from the herd. The jobs I was successful in winning were the ones I had invested in. I found a dance company that aligned well to my style and strengths. I took class with the company and tried to learn their style. When it came time to cast, I was an easy pick. I usually did not even have to audition.
When it comes to marketing yourself, stop going after the cattle call auditions, where everyone is competing for the same clients. Stand out by choosing a smaller group to connect with and learning everything you can about them. Leading practices in marketing tell us that this focused approach helps the people we want to attract see themselves in our language. Otherwise, they might get lost in messaging that is aimed at the herd.
When you start the journey, it is hard not to be intimidated. We look at others who seem to be doing it “right” and think, “Who am I to want to live into my dream?” and “I’ll never get there.”
Instead of being our own imposter, we must embrace the intimidation, view others with curiosity, and find our private audition.
UPCOMING WORKSHOP: BUILD YOUR BRAND BOOK (OCT 27 & 29, 1-5 PM ET)
Pre-COVID, I hadn’t thought a lot about my online presence, as most clients had physically seen my work in person. With in person encounters removed, it was time for me to get more serious about helping those I can serve find me in the virtual world.
In 2014—convinced that I never wanted to tweet again for a living—I applied for an organization development graduate program, with every intention that it would help me transition away from my eight year career in communications and digital marketing. Six years later, I have found that my time spent tweeting is exactly the experience I need to push myself through a difficult time.
On October 27 and 29, 2020 (1-5 PM ET each day), I’m offering the first “Build Your Brand Book” workshop. This workshop is designed for facilitators, particularly those who have taken a hit during COVID-19 quarantine and are looking to rebrand themselves and their business online. Anyone looking to market themselves better online or internally at their current organizations, or entrepreneurs looking to start a facilitation practice, may find this workshop helpful.
I’m tapping back into my almost decade’s worth of experience as a digital media specialist to offer you tried and true strategies for thinking about your brand, plus what I’ve learned through wins and failures during the past few months.
Over the two days, you will complete worksheets that when combined will complete your “brand book.” You will also have the chance to bounce your ideas off of others in the course. You can use this brand book to kick-start a more robust marketing strategy, which you could do on your own or with help. You will have the foundation you need to proceed with confidence.
As a gift for signing up, you also receive a free one-hour coaching session with me on your branding. You can also preview the workshop for $25 in this upcoming NOVA Scribes Meetup-up on October 7, 5:30-7 PM ET.
As a sneak peek into this experience, I’m posting the first activity for free in this blog.
TRY THIS: Brand Statements
How do use this activity:
This may take several hours, days or weeks.
Start a notebook page or a sticky note wall that you can add to periodically.
Create these categories:
Connect with Yourself
Discover Your Audience
Connect Needs and Offers
Continue to add ideas until you feel excited.
Neck down to just the ideas you are truly excited about. Aim for one or two per category.
Write a brand statement using the Madlibs-style sentence included at the end.
Wordsmith your statement until it feels right to you.
Sign up for the Build Your Brand Workshop on October 27 & 29 to complete the book.
(1) Connect with Yourself
The things that draw people to us are hard for us to see ourselves. They are so tacit that we don’t recognize them. Start with connecting to your values.
When I stopped to consider this for myself, I found that my enthusiasm and energy for my work was a quality that others were drawn to. Also, the ability to connect people and ideas was something I value but didn’t see it until I stopped to consider why people come to me.
What do others appreciate me for?
When someone seeks me out, what is it that draws them to me?
What am I passionate about?
What drives me?
Use the activity in this blog to deeper dive into understanding what you value.
(2) Discover Your Audience
If there is one thing that is true in life, it’s that our time is finite. People are willing to invest in the person or company that has exactly what they need when they need it. Time is often more of a deterrent than money. People want to see themselves in your language. They want to feel that you are exactly the answer they’ve been looking for. When you try to serve everyone, you risk reaching no one. When you match well with who you serve, you will love your work more, do a better job, and make that customer happier.
Have you ever gone to a website and thought, “Wow, this is cool, but I don’t know if it’s for me”? That group has put extra work on their website visitors. Most visitors won’t take the time to connect the dots.
I learned the hard way that it was important to reach out and gather interest before scheduling a workshop. One of my biggest failures was dropping the price of a workshop, when the challenge for most was not money; it was timing.
I realized that the people who signed up for my events or sought me out as a coach were usually early career professional women who were trying to make a career change. In considering how I wanted to focus my blog content, I started writing to emerging career facilitators, coaches and organization development professionals, particularly those who were trying to make a transition into this field and needed help identifying resources.
Who do you already serve?
Who always loves what you offer or signs up for your programs?
Who comes to you for advice or to share your experiences and why?
Who, when you work for them, makes it not feel like work?
Write out each audience member as specifically as possible, considering:
Demographic data (age, gender, location, nationality)
Life or work experiences
Get clear about what makes you unique. This helps differentiate you from others in your industry and have a private audition with the groups you really want to attract.
How you approach something counts. You might do something that many others do, but you approach it in a way that is totally your own. Our experiences count, too. Something in your lived experience gives you an edge.
For example, I discovered that I rank high on Google searches for a blog titled “Tips for Emerging Facilitators and OD Professionals.” After doing some digging, I learned that there are few resources out there for professionals who want to add facilitation to their toolkit early in their career. My lived experiences having made two large career transitions make this an area that I’m uniquely qualified to advise on. That means that I can have a private audition with a whole audience of early career professionals looking to make career transitions.
How do I uniquely approach my work?
What are my unique lived experiences?
(4) Connect Needs and Offers
Imagine a Venn Diagram. On one side is what you offer. On the other side is what your audience needs. In the middle, there is magic, where the things you can offer enable those you serve to soar higher.
My coachees needed resume tips, training, mentoring, shadowing experiences, and ways to track their accomplishments. I found myself leaning into the things that helped me, such as identifying people to interview informationally and incorporating projects into my resume that demonstrated the types of roles I wanted to have. Offering this information met their need for ways they could begin their career transition.
What is it that I can offer?
What are the needs of those I serve?
When this audience is served, what does that enable them to do?
Write Your Brand Statement
Use this Madlibs-style statement to write a consolidated branding statement. You may need to shorten your language for readability.
I am a [VALUES] [TITLE/ROLE], who offers [OFFERINGS] to [AUDIENCE], so they can [NEED MET]. My [EXPERIENCE/APPROACH] makes me unique.
I am an enthusiastic visual facilitator with a passion for connecting people and ideas, who offers mentorship to early career facilitators, so they can begin their career transitions. My lived experiences of making two career transitions and facilitating before age 40 make me unique.
To get even more succinct:
I help early career facilitators begin their career transitions using my lived experiences, enthusiasm, and passion for connecting people and ideas.
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Build Your Brand Book!
A brand statement is just the beginning. Complete the journey in our “Build Your Brand Book Workshop” - October 27 & 29, 2020, 1-5 PM ET each day.
You might also like:
Jenna Kutcher “Goal Digger” Podcast 393 - “The Importance of Narrowing Down Your Niche”
Blue Ocean Shift by W. Chan Kim and Renée Mauborgne
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