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Message design for marketing your professional and personal brand
Gritty Writer is about figuring out what you need to say to your audience, crafting that message on purpose and then taking it everywhere you go. After learning message design strategies that work you’ll know how to get the best out of your marketing people, even if you’re the only one on the team. Plus, you’ll be able to identify if and when you need to get help.
And check out the core steps below. They’ll help you create and spread your marketing message with a fundamental three step strategy: discover your people, design your message and deliver your story.
DISCOVER your PEOPLE – #1
Before writing — the first move is always research. This step often begins with some driving question and that curiosity leads to conversations that’ll eventually fuel what you know about your audience and what you say about your brand.
Said another way, when operating from a marketing mindset — a necessary way of thinking for all business owners and artists in business — research always begins with your people. Since these are the folks who want and need what you have, then it pays to know them.
Well, Who Are They?
Your people are the ones who need and want what you have. Knowing them and putting faces to that knowledge makes it easier to talk to them. After all, that’s what your marketing message is — a conversation with your people.
If you run a sports-focused radio station, for example, then your target audience is not everybody trapped in afternoon traffic. Your target audience is more specific than that.
“the best sports radio in Atlanta”
“we have something for everybody”
No. You don’t have something for everybody. You have something for everybody who needs and likes what you have. Know your people so that you can get specific with your message because every business serves a specific audience. You sell maternity clothes to pregnant women, for example, not skinny teens headed to the beach.
Your goal is to understand your audience and get focused with your message. Which brings us to step two, but first my gritty suggestion.
My Gritty Suggestion:
If there’s a companion store or a community organization that caters to the people who would potentially like what you’re offering, then become a part of that group and listen close. Ask questions. Listen some more. Remember, this is your brand research. Honoring this step requires you to always look at your business through your customers eyes.
DESIGN your MESSAGE – #2
Once you understand your target audience, then you’re ready for some design work. From a gritty writing perspective, however, design often begins with the words.
Message design — the language and image you use to promote your goods or services — is key and that’s a two part process.
First, design the words that you want to say using language and stories that connect with your people. This is about taking the time to get your core content right which includes taglines, bios, press releases, headlines, etc. In fact, a tagline or a bio is really a package for your message. You can’t take three hours or even 30 minutes to tell new people about your book, software, cleaning service or play, for example, but you can get your short message in front of them. That’s what things like taglines, bios, press releases and headlines are — the bite-size, easy-to-carry, quick-to-share versions of your marketing message, and they don’t fall out of the sky. You and your marketing team have to design them.
When it comes to the business of your professional or personal brand, it doesn’t matter how good you look if what you say makes no sense. But you do need to look good. Which brings up part two of this section.
Image Matters Too
Once you know what you want and need to say, then it’s time to get your look and feel together. Your message can have a simple layout with lots of white space, big font, one breath-taking image and a handful of words. Or it can be more intricate with layered and textured backgrounds, colors bleading into each other and a look that feels more like a Manhattan city block at lunch time — crowded but on the move. The choice is yours.
Design your image pieces — personal headshots, business cards, header for your website, press kit overall look and feel — with your primary message in mind. If your style is light and airy, then a gothic design will tell a conflicting story. Likewise, if you’re going for professional and approachable, then a sexy glamour shot may NOT be the wisest choice. You have to pay attention to image, it’s also a part of your branding message.
My Gritty Suggestion:
Get your content right first, then put your look and feel together and respect this reality — the visual and the verbal both fuel your brand message. Take the time to get both right.
DELIVER your STORY – #3
When it comes to marketing most jump to this step but that’s usually a mistake. Like most things that last you work up to this step.
Story delivery is where publicity buzzwords and advertising language come into play. The tools of the trade — at this point — are social media, internet marketing, networking, even television commericals and full page ads — if you have the budget. But this is the third step, not the first.
You canNOT deliver a story that you have NOT designed (STEP #2). And you canNOT design an effective message without some research (STEP #1).
But when it is time to deliver your message — to spread the word — you don’t have to break the bank. You can start smart and small.
Give Them Something To Talk About
Setting up your website and branded social media pages are just the beginning of delivering your message. Yes, you do need a digital home that explains what your brand is, who you are and what your roofing service, for example, can do for people.
But once your website is populated with your branding message and speaking the language of your target audience, you have to give them a reason to come visit you.
In step two you get clear about what your brand message is. You write your tagline and press releases. You get your message together.
But step three requires you to go further – to distribute that message. You can share them on social media, talk about them organically through face-to-face networking opportunities or forward your message to your local journalists.
My Gritty Suggestion:
First, set-up the platforms that people are going to visit. This includes your websites and branded social media pages. Then get out and about. Give your people a reason to visit you by building relationships through avenues like face-to-face networking, guest posting on websites that your target audience probably read, and distributing press releases to media outlets that may find your story interesting.
There is more to this entire process but these three core steps will get you thinking in the right direction.