Hi, and welcome to episode two of Startup Marketing. Today we’re going to focus on the starting point for your brand: your story.
There’s a lot of reasons why having a brand story is important. So, let’s dive in.
First and foremost, whenever I work with a client, I have them get super clear on their “why”. It’s so critical because it gives them a sense of purpose and clarity, but also pride. Being an entrepreneur isn’t easy and when you’re really clear about the reason why you get up and do your job every morning and why you believe in your offering as much as you do, it’s motivating. But, beyond that, when you’re clear on your “why”, you can tell your story and create a relationship with your potential customers.
So, I start with two questions:
- Why start your own business? For me, I wanted more white space in my calendar. Not just on a daily basis, but on a yearly basis too. Even though I had a job that I excelled at, was super flexible and was teaching me a lot, far too often, I found myself feeling like I rushed through my family time and rushed from meeting to meeting at work only to come home depleted and not having the mental white space to get in quality time with my family. I also wanted to be able to unplug for long stretches of time to reconnect with my extended family from out of state. Nothing would soothe my soul more and that harmony between work and life is hard to find when you’re in a traditional 9-5 and being at a desk is a critical element of your success.
- Why *this* business? Insert: why a marketing coach? Why a fitness coach? When I boiled my “why” down, it came to this: I freaking love marketing. All of it. I am so passionate about it as a discipline and I truly believe in how transformative it can be for businesses when they execute it correctly. I was working in the corporate world and would often get asked by my small business friends how they could do this or that in regards to marketing. So, as I thought about what Authentic could be, I really wanted to fuse these elements together: my passion for this discipline but also the content I was being sought out for. It wasn’t realistic for me to be a one-woman marketing team, nor did I want to do that. Which is how I landed on a marketing coach. Why? Because I believe that smart business women are capable of learning and doing the basics of marketing efficiently for themselves and it can propel their businesses to unimaginable success. And I have the ability to teach them how to do it. I am passionate about marketing and I know how to get it done. Helping other women succeed in building their businesses would give my knowledge purpose.
In a nutshell for me, my personal “why” is because I crave more white space in my calendar so I can be a better mom, wife and friend. I created my coaching business because I’m passionate about passing my marketing expertise on to other women to make them more successful.
Once you’ve gotten super clear on your “why”, your story really starts to take place. Having a story is so critical to your brand because without it, your customers won’t connect with you in a way that feels authentic.
Humans, at their very core, are storytellers. History shows that, long before there were ways to record our stories, we told them to each other. Storytelling is still one of the most powerful ways to connect. Can you think back to your childhood and remember stories from someone like your grandma? How do you tell someone about your day or a project that you’re really passionate about? We tell stories and they create connections.
Our businesses are no different than our personal lives. Think about your favorite brands. Why do you love them? Sure, you may connect with the aesthetic of them. Or their mission, like decreasing the amount of plastic used in cleaning products, for example. But, you likely connect with them because of the way they tell their story. WHY is it important to that company to decrease the amount of plastic used in cleaning products? WHY is it important to that fitness coach that you have easy access to workouts and meal plans?
The way you choose to tell your story to your customers is going to create a connection that will resonate with them. I can relate to the mom who wants to create more time for her family. I can relate to the tea shop owner who likes to create quiet moments of solitude in the morning or facilitate a friendship over a cup of tea. I can relate to the fitness coach who started her business because she just wanted to feel closer to the woman she was before she had kids. I can relate to the woman who didn’t want to keep showing up to a desk job every day and give her loyalty to a company that didn’t seem to appreciate her.
I’m more likely to purchase from a store or a service provider when I can relate to their story. I want to work with the fitness coach who understands that I don’t have hours to spend at the gym. That my meals have to be universally liked because I don’t want to spend time prepping my own special meals and then making something the rest of my household will eat. I’m not on a path to being a cross fit competitor; I just want to know that I’m pushing my body to be healthier physically and that when I’m taking care of it with good food, I feel better about myself. What I’m saying is: when you tell your story in an authentic way, your audience is going to believe that you can help them or that your product or service is best for them because they believe you understand who they are as people.
Let’s go through the elements of a good brand story:
- Incorporate your why. You don’t need to say it literally, but you want to tell a story around it. So, make sure you’re super clear about it. This is where you implement all the things we’ve been talking about. Give your audience a reason to connect with you! Make them believe that whatever product or service you have to offer is going to add value to their lives.
- Illustrate why you’re unique. You aren’t just like everyone else, so don’t tell your story in a way that could be copy and pasted over to someone else. You have something unique. Tell the world about it!
- Make it personal. For some of us, it’s hard to be vulnerable; it’s something I have to work on all the time in my new role. Your audience wants more than a glossy story and pretty pictures, so open up and tell your personal story too.
- Make it authentic. Nobody likes a faker—be genuine and sincere when you tell your story. And make it an accurate picture of who you are, who you want to be and where you are today. Your story should feel like a natural extension of you as a business owner.
- Use impactful language that paints a picture. Remember all of those creative writing courses you took as a kid where your teacher implored you to use descriptive and unique words to tell your story instead of just vague language? Lucky you! You get to dust off those skills and put them to work! Your story should be exciting! Don’t just put some ho-hum words together. Paint the picture for your audience. Make them feel! People will naturally imagine you within your story. If you don’t use impactful words, you won’t make a lasting impression.
Certainly this may all sound like something only a professional can do, but I love seeing women who are brave and not perfect try to put their story together. Even if you ultimately decide to end up working with a professional like myself to create your brand story, starting the first draft is something I love to watch my clients do! After all, it is uniquely yours; someone like me can help you refine if that’s what you desire. But, at the end of the day, your story doesn’t have to have perfect grammar and punctuation; it needs to be something that resonates with you and your audience can connect with; that instills that belief in you like we talked about earlier.
If you want an example of a brand story, head over to: getauthenticbranding.com/resources and download a free copy.
What do you do with your brand story once it’s done? You’re going to use it to help narrow your focus for key messages (that’s another episode) and you’re going to use it to keep yourself inspired and motivated. There will be tough days. Your story should inspire you to keep going! It’s going to set the tone for the rest of your branding exercises and help give you the clarity you need to plan out the rest of those elements. Plus, it’s going to be a great resource to pull from when you start building out marketing materials like your website. And when you’re big enough to start hiring a team; it’s going to give them a clear picture of who you are and what your company stands for. Finally, if you ever have to hire out third party vendors to create any kind of marketing for you, it’s a great resource to make sure they understand the essence of your business so they craft the right messages on your behalf.
This is YOUR story. You want to own it and be proud of it! If you don’t fall in love with your story, why should your customers or clients?
Your assignment this week is to get super clear on your “why”. Why did you choose to start your own business? Why *this* business? From there, start incorporating some of the key elements we talked about to create your story. Not sure where to start? Let’s chat. You can always reach me via my website: getauthenticbranding.com.
That’s it for today, I hope you enjoyed this episode and have all kinds of creative energy to get started writing your story! Don’t forget to rate, review and subscribe to Startup Marketing!