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How to build a brand your customers will love.

Posted: Tuesday October 12, 2021 by effinlazy

People don’t buy products and services anymore. They buy into Stories and Brands.

And this blog will help you to communicate who you are, why you’re here, and what you can do for others – in a clear and compelling way that makes them want to buy.

I’ll guide you through  insightful tips and activities for building and implementing the all-important foundations of your brand.

The WHY 

To kick things off, I want you to think about why you started your business.

Is it because:

  • You wanted to make more money?
  • You want more autonomy over your work and personal life?
  • You suffered a problem and want to help others overcome the same issue?
  • You were made redundant and had no choice?
  • Or something else?

I’m asking you this because without a strong reason for running your business (otherwise known as your ‘why’) you’re more likely to give up on it when things get tough (and believe me, running your own business can get tougher than sun-soaked leather at times).

Your ‘why’ is your secret sauce for resilience.

Knowing YOUR why is the first step to making sure you get on a path that you’re still going to care about and be motivated about 6 months from now. 

To find your why, you need to spend some time with yourself. Get reflective. Ask yourself, why did I start this business? What is it about the idea that made me excited in the first place? What is it I love about it? 

I need you to put pen to paper on this one. We need to let your brain flow all the ideas in your head;  ‘why’.

  • How did you end up here?
  • What actions did you take?
  • What circumstances did you face?
  • Dig deep and think back 

The next few questions will help trigger thoughts and memories ; 

  • What did you want to be when you grew up?
  • Did you carry on education after high school? yes? no? why? what happened?
  • What career did you choose and why, how did you end up doing that?
  • Where are you now from where you thought you would be 10 years ago?
  • Where do you want to be 5 years from now?

Capture it and hold on to this, we’re going to come back to this later. This is a good time to take a break. I’ve often found many clients find this exercise very emotional and they need to step away from it to let it absorb.

The story of my ‘why’ – I quit the same job twice because I didn’t know my ‘why’.

In 2016, I was completely fed-up with my corporate job in advertising.

Despite creating ads for some of the biggest brands in the world and having a top-class team around me, the workplace culture stuck in my back like a razor-sharp knife.

Somewhere along the line, the rhetoric in our agency had shifted from “Well done on the great work.” to “Well done. Here’s some more work”. And eventually, the expectation to arrive earlier and stay later each night, just to fill the swelling corporates’ pocket got to me. So I quit.

Then a few weeks later, I got a job doing the same thing but for a smaller agency.

I thought the tight-knit, entrepreneurial atmosphere at this new agency would help restore my love for advertising. But it didn’t.

I realised shortly after starting that I’d made a massive mistake. I only lasted nine months before I quit again.

This time however, I took the opportunity after quitting to figure out what I really wanted from work. In other words, I went to find my ‘why’.

It’s taken me almost a decade, and a lot of introspection to figure it out, but now I finally know….

You are my why.

Entrepreneurs just like you who want to grow something great for yourself, so you can serve others and never suffer another day in a job you hate.

That’s what gets me out of bed every morning. Helping you.

— 

The WHO – Your Secret Selling Sauce

Once you’re clear on your why, you’ll be so much better at understanding the WHO.  

Do you know how to really grab your audience’s attention?

How to stop them completely in their tracks? Make them sit-up-and-listen, and buy what you’re selling?

If your answer is ‘no’ or ‘I’m not sure’, this is your lucky day!

I don’t like secrets so I’m just going to tell you straight…

The secret sauce for selling your stuff (and the thing you cannot sell without) is Knowing Your Audience.

Knowing them so well that you could guess with 99.9% certainty what they had for breakfast and who their favourite Game of Thrones character is (or if they even watched it).

Why’s this important?

Because the most effective brands and marketing messages are those which make people feel seen, heard and understood. They draw attention to the audience’s pain-points and position their products as the perfect solution.

It’s these brand messages which get people to buy regardless of price, features, or competition.

All that, because when people feel understood by you, they trust you. And they believe when you say your stuff can change their lives.

So whether you’re flogging custom-made furniture, or hand-soap; seventeenth-century circular basket weaving classes or brand design; without knowing your audience, you’re at risk of wasting precious time and money on marketing that doesn’t work. And potentially coming across as insincere, which I know you’re not. 

It’s difficult to find examples of brands who’ve suffered this fate, because, after neglecting the importance of their audience, they disappear.

So, how do you go about knowing your audience well enough to deliver what they need?

Get your Shovel!

The key to really knowing your audience is: developing in-depth customer personas. Detailed descriptions of your perfect buyers.

You see, most brands experiment with customer personas at some point in their journey. But few dig-deep enough to divulge the most lucrative details…

In-depth customer personas, like the one I’m going to help you form, are essential to creating a brand that people can relate to and want to buy from.

Without them, you may as well flush your marketing budget down the toilet.

Here’s how NOT to flush your budget down the toilet, by creating perfect buyer personas:

(But Sid, I have so many potential buyers!

Okay, that’s fine but for the purpose of this exercise let’s focus on your one ideal customer.)

I like to think of developing customer personas like an archaeological excavation…

You start by unearthing broad, general chunks of demographic data, informing your target market’s:

  • Age
  • Location
  • Job title & Salary
  • Industry
  • Company size
  • Marital Status

Before employing your trusty hand tools to uncover more intricate psychographic details like:

  • What causes them pain – in life and work? What are their biggest challenges right now?
  • What do they currently do to try and solve those challenges?
  • Where do they spend most of their time online?
  • What kind of content do they engage with the most?
  • What are their values? What do they believe in?
  • What do they dislike?

The first set of data covers ‘Demographics’, which shows you broadly where to look for customers – in terms of industry, geographical location or social media platforms (it’s after uncovering this data that many brands stop digging).

The second dataset however, is what helps you to craft a compelling brand, and a consistent stream of marketing messages that attract and convert your true fans – the people who will buy from you and continuously share your business with others.

In a nutshell: Knowing your customers on a deep level helps your business to grow.

*Tip* – when developing your first few personas, it can help to take inspiration from pre-existing customers.

But if you haven’t served any customers yet, here are some fantastic research ideas for you to explore instead (these resources will also help to fill in any gaps left by pre-existing customers):

  • Online Reviews & Testimonials from customers or on your competitors’ sites
  • Online Conversations & Forums (Quora, Reddit, Facebook Groups, Twitter)
  • Conducting 1-1 Interviews
  • Focus Groups
  • Surveys & Polls

End Note:

Developing effective customer personas takes some work. But it’s the most important part of your marketing and branding mix, so don’t neglect it.

You’ll see some groups and sets of people start to appear. It’s on you now to decide the one you want to focus on and then take that set of people and define one persona around it using the psychographic questions.

Once you have gone over and captured everything that is relevant you can write a story about them like I do for my clients.

(P.S. It helps to give your customers a name and a profile picture – this makes visualising them and writing to them a lot easier).

(P.P.S. If you’re struggling to pin-point your perfect customers or understand their deepest desires, my brand audit can help! Just choose a date and time that suits you and we’ll work through it together).

The WHAT – What are you REALLY selling?

When someone asks, “What do you sell?” How do you respond?

Where most brands go wrong is by offering a list of their products, services & features:

  • “We sell super-fast broadband”
  • “Pencils of all colours!”
  • “The Best Marketing Money Can Buy”

These responses are ok, but they’re not fit for selling.

Why?

Because (as science shows us time and again) people buy with their hearts. And features, like the above, only appeal to our brains.

Thus, what separates the best brands from ‘the rest’, Virginia, is the fact that they successfully tie their product features to benefits. Because benefits speak to hearts.

An example

One of the most infamous case-studies of advertising benefits over features is Apple’s flagship iPod campaign.

At the time of its release the iPod had some cool, innovative features, like a unique scrolling mechanism. But it wasn’t the first mp3 player on the market and it arguably wasn’t even the best.

So how did the iPod end up dominating the mp3 market? And why can’t we remember any other flagship mp3 players of that time, if they were better than the iPod?

It’s simple…

When promoting the iPod, Apple put their customers first.

Whilst other manufacturers were busy rolling-off features, Apple told people what those features would do for them.

Apple, like other manufacturers at the time, could have easily boasted their iPod’s 5 GB hard drive, larger screen, simultaneous charging and high-speed music synchronization capabilities. But they didn’t.

Instead, they showed us what their device could do for us – “1,000 songs in your pocket.”

Genius.

Apple knew that people wanted access to more music on-the-go (as did every other mp3 maker at the time). But Apple were the only brand brave enough to ignore the features and put their solution front-and-centre.

The result?

Following its launch, the iPod became a market-leader and even helped push iTunes to the top of the music platform charts. Over the next nine years, Apple launched several more market-dominating products, and eventually became America’s first trillion-dollar company.

Apple excelled because whilst their competition promoted features, they were getting straight to the heart of the matter.

So I’ll ask you again…“What do you sell?”

Lead with the benefits.

On a piece of paper, brainstorm all the features of your product. Once you are happy you have captured as many as you can spider off from each feature the benefits. Tie the benefit back to that ideal customer.

HOW- Backup your Benefits

We’re almost done working through your brand’s true purpose , but there’s one more lesson we need to cover – your ‘How’.

GIF

I already told you that most brands respond to the question “What do you sell?” with a list of their products, services and features:

  • “We sell super-fast broadband”
  • “Pencils of all colours!”
  • “The Best Marketing Money Can Buy”

But as we know, these responses aren’t effective. And if you offer a similar answer to your customers, you’ll inevitably miss out on precious sales.

Why?

Because the above responses are actually ‘how’s’, not ‘what’s’. They appeal to our brains and therefore are best used when they accompany the benefits you have to offer (appealing first to our hearts).

If the above sentence confused you more than a vegan buying from a butcher (it did me at first), let me simplify:

  • Benefits are What the customer ultimately gets from you.
  • Features are How those benefits are delivered.
  • Benefits without Features grab attention but may be unbelievable.
  • Features without Benefits aren’t compelling enough to sell.
  • Benefits backed by Features make incredibly compelling and believable promotions.

Shall we put this into practice?

Super-fast broadband

“Our super-fast broadband (features/how) gives you seamless streaming, glitch-less conference calls and uninterrupted working (benefits/what).”

Pencils of all colours

“We help you to unleash your unlimited artistic creation (benefit/what) with pencils of all colours (feature/how).”

The Best Marketing Money Can Buy

“Sell more of your stuff for less (benefit/what) with the best marketing money can buy (features/how).”

The bottom-line: Back-up your benefits (what) with features (how) to create a truly compelling sales message and brand statement.

Well done and thank you for tuning-in. It’s been a ride, hasn’t it?

I hope the tips provided have made you feel clearer and more confident in your Why, Who, What and How.

(P.S. Grab a free call with me if you are interested in  taking your brand-led business development to the next level. Talk to Sid ).