When I first started my online business, I had next to no idea how to market it. This world was all new to me!
Before I worked for myself as a website and brand designer, I had some pretty random jobs! After graduating with a psychology degree, I worked as a server and taught English abroad, so suffice to say, I didn’t know s**t about marketing!
If I’m being real with you… I was terrified! I was used to having a script or a precise set of rules to follow. I didn’t need to be personal. I didn’t need to ‘talk myself up.’ I felt absolutely terrified at being outwardly confident and found myself super uncomfortable…
In the first few months of running my online business, I ultimately struggled to find a way to market myself authentically. For example, I thought I had to post on Instagram every single day to be successful… which is laughable to me now, as I barely use Instagram in my current marketing strategy because it wasn’t sustainable for me and my mindset! That’s why I started blogging and using Pinterest more!
Over 2 years later, and here I am to tell you that it doesn’t have to be this hard. You don’t have to do anything you don’t want to do. You don’t have to be anyone you’re not. All you have to do is be willing to experiment.
I’m here to share my learnings with you now about how to market your own brand authentically. These steps are here to guide you but remember, above all else, you make the rules!
Before you go any further, you must determine why you’re doing what you’re doing. Think back to the school days of the 5Ws… Who, What, Where, When, Why? I highly recommend that you be able to readily articulate each of these in your business. But the why is the most important piece because it’s what will appeal to your people on a much deeper level.
The thing is that there may be countless other people out there doing what you’re doing, but the why behind what you do is entirely unique to you!
Take some time now to consider WHY you started your business before moving on to step 2.
Next, determine who you’re serving in terms of your ideal client and/or your niche! I don’t say and/or because these two are interchangeable. Still, sometimes as a service provider, your ideal client is detailed enough that you are already identifying your niche. But, sometimes, you will need to specify both!
For example, I’m a brand and web designer. My niche is designing beautiful and affordable website templates for new entrepreneurs. In this, you see that I’ve easily articulated my ideal client within that niche.
Your turn… WHO are you serving? Here are a few questions you can ask yourself at this stage:
Your business mission is an essential piece that you’ll want to write before you go to market your business! Another way you can think about your business’ mission if you’re a personal brand or entrepreneur is to think of this as your “I help” statement.
Not sure how to begin? Try this template!
I help (WHO YOU SERVE) do/with (THE SOLUTION YOU PROVIDE) through (HOW YOU DO IT) so they/you can (YOUR TRANSFORMATION)
Not sure what I mean precisely by transformation? Then it’s time to dive into step 4!
The transformation is the ultimate result (or types of results) that your ideal client can expect from working with you! ‘Tranformations’ can be found in coaching relationships especially, but that’s not to say that they don’t exist for service providers too! For example, as a website designer, my transformation is that I support entrepreneurs and business owners to have a beautiful high-converting website that they feel amazing about. But other transformations that occur from this process can also include an increased sense of confidence, improved brand recognition, and more. That’s why it’s essential to take some time to really consider here the transformations you provide beyond the obvious!
If you’re a product developer or service provider, you can also think of this as the ultimate ‘benefits’ of your offer. Benefits are not to be confused with features. Features are the nitty-gritty details of what’s included in your product or service, while benefits are the greater outcomes they achieve due to these features.
Next, set some SMART goals for your marketing plan. SMART goals are Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic, and Timely, which is a beautiful framework for setting goals that you really will feel good and you can meet.
Goals are simply there to guide you and leave you with points to celebrate along the way. It’s important to celebrate even our little wins along the way!
Examples of SMART goals you could try:
Track your progress as you go in a way that feels good to you! This could be a simple spreadsheet or in a dedicated notebook just for your wins!
Trust me… you want to be celebrating all your wins, no matter how small, because this is a journey we’re going on … there are going to be moments when you will feel defeated and overwhelmed with marketing your online business, and that’s why it’s so essential that you have these wins to really remember why you’re doing what you’re doing!
Next up, you’ll want to craft some key messages about your brand and core offers. Key messages are points that speak to who you serve, what you do, why you do it, the transformation you provide, and more. Think of key messages as the things you want your audience to consistently remember about you and your brand.
Then you’ll need to determine WHERE you’re going to market your message and business! Again, there are many options, and it’s important to start intentionally with 1-2 choices before trying to master all of them!
Where you can market your business:
I have something to tell you… your brand identity exists even if you don’t actively plan it.
Even if everything you type is in Ariel font and you use stock images + the entire rainbow of colors – that’s a brand identity (albeit not a very cohesive one, but it still is!)
You have a brand identity whether you like it or not, so why not take control of it and maximize its power and effectiveness?
An optimized and strategic brand identity has the power to increase cross-platform brand recognition, speak to the mood + sensibilities of your ICA, and allow you to foster the know, like and trust factor.
The important thing is that you first have followed step 7 and crafted your key messages before moving on to your visual brand. Take the time to strategically develop your key message, then design your brand visuals to support that vision. Everything needs to make sense, from the choice of your colors to the images you select.
Here’s what you’ll need for your visual brand:
1. MAKE IT SEAMLESS – Keep your brand identity consistent across each and every platform you’re active on. This goes for your headers, banners, colors, images, logos, and other visual branding elements.
2. BE STRATEGIC – Images and colors have an automatic association process, which is a powerful and underutilized tool for your business. Have a solid idea of what you want to convey before designing your visuals so you can maximize the impact. With platforms like Instagram, there are incredible opportunities from a visual standpoint to make a lasting impact.
3. SHOWCASE WHO YOU ARE – Your visual identity will give ideal clients an understanding of who you are and your vibe. By showcasing your personal brand identity with solid and cohesive visuals, you have the double-packed benefit of showing who you are while still building upon your strong brand identity.
Only after all of the above is done should you be creating your website. Unfortunately, I see far too many new entrepreneurs skip all of the above steps to go straight to creating their websites. This is definitely not the best use of your time because as you start to uncover more about your brand and ideal client, you’ll likely have to scrap and re-do alot of work.
So do yourself a favor and be patient, and wait to create your website after you’ve determined your key messages, ideal client, and brand identity.
Here are a few of my favorite posts that will help you get ready for creating and launching your website!…
And of course, when you’re ready to build your dream website, you’re going to wanna check out the template shop!
Once your beautiful website is up and running, it’s time to start using it strategically to build your authority! You can, of course, build your authority on social media as well, through providing valuable pieces of training and tips to increase the know, like and trust factor. But for this point, I’m specifically talking about your website and the best way to build authority…. Blogging!
To blog about topics you want to be known for is an essential part of a strong Search Engine Optimization strategy. Check out this post for the 411 on blogging!
Ready to add a blog to your website? Add one now today!
You don’t have to get it all right the first time around. You don’t have to be perfect. You just have to get started!
After all, you created this business for a very important reason! It’s time to share it with the world!
If you’re ready to share your gifts with the world with a powerful website and blog, then I invite you to visit The Template Shop: The Template shop is the one-stop-shop for Website + Blog Templates thoughtfully designed + curated for the passionate online entrepreneur!
With Showit website templates for as little as $97, my mission is to make beautiful design more accessible to new entrepreneurs.