Who are you? What values do you stand for? What sets you apart from everybody else?
These are not questions that we as solopreneurs ask ourselves on an average working day.
But you should.
In this digital age, it's really important to have a brand - a unique set of identifiers that help people understand exactly who you are and what you are all about.
Although logos and images are the first things that usually spring to mind when we talk about brand, an important element of defining a brand and setting a business apart from its competitors is its core message.
It's easy to see how a core message might be vital to a medium to larger size corporation. But is it also important to smaller businesses?
Should you, as a small business owner or solopreneur, bother?
Benefits of Creating a Core Message
Identifying your core message has some immediate - and longer term - benefits:
- Knowing what you stand for will get you through the tough times and keep you focused when things get confusing, scary or you are faced with competition
- It gives you a clear starting position from where to branch out or expand in the future
- It helps you market yourself better and differentiate yourself from your competitors
"To succeed in branding, you must identify the single most important thing for you to be known for -- and brand around this consistently."
Easier said than done, right?
If you are struggling to dig into your core message, here are some tips on where to start.
1. What's your one thing?
What is the one thing that you can't stop yourself from evangelising about? If you can't keep quiet about something, or you think everybody should be using/doing it, then there's a good chance that it's also a telling pointer as to what you value or feel most passionate about.
2. What could you do better?
Identify three things your competitors are doing that you feel you could do better. This could be related to: knowledge/skills, the way you present yourself and treat others, or even where you might be considered a little bit quirky or atypical of your industry.
3. How can you educate your audience?
Think about the most common misconceptions about your industry that new clients or members of the public may have - and how you would begin to address these or educate people. It is often in the negative feedback or misunderstandings that you will find the seeds of some great branding and marketing ideas which could end up turning your biggest obstacles into stepping stones to success.
4. What's your secret sauce?
What is it that you feel your ideal client wants from you above all else - and how would you go about giving it to them? Knowing the answer to this will help you get clear about your core product or service offering - and how to market it. The more specific or detailed the answer, the better.
Your core message is the foundation for your business
Once you hit on something that really resonates, have a go at creating a draft of your core message. You may need to do this a few times until you strike gold, but you will at least have kickstarted an important process - one that's likely to be ongoing, but has some truly satisfying rewards. As business coach Rebecca Tracey puts it:
"When you are in tune with your core beliefs, values, point of view and purpose, it stands out in everything you do. Your work gets better. Your business gets better. And I really do believe that you, as a person, get better, because you are living in line with what truly matters to you. Some call it authentic business. I think it's the only way to do business."