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4 steps persona_coverExpressing your brand

As a communications expert, I’m often asked how to best create key messages for our clients’ services, products and pricing. The truth for most companies is that no one is choosing to do business with you because of what you offer and at what price – because someone else offers it too. People buy from you for other reasons.

We are all inundated with ads and deals for services, so much so that our brains really can’t pick up on the majority of what is being thrown at us. I advise our clients that what the business needs most is to figure out the story of “who” the business is. The “who” is what consumers will connect with and it’s how our team can then effectively communicate with the specified target audience for that brand.

button (1)Get our free guide, Four Steps to a Stronger Business Persona here.

Who is your target?

One of the first questions I ask any client is, “who is your target?” If the answer is “everyone” then your business is in trouble. Targeting everyone means you won’t really connect with anyone. But when a specified target audience connects with your business persona (brand) that’s when you build distinct customer loyalty and profitability.

So why doesn’t a business know who to target? It’s usually because they don’t fully know what their business persona is. They have not gone far enough to determine the story of why they exist and who they exist for. Strong brands are those that can narrow their focus down to an easily observed experiential trademark. They do this by deeply defining their persona, drilling down into which audience will connect to that persona, and then messaging related experiences.

Coca Cola knows this. The company doesn’t target everyone. Their core persona is focused on family. Within this they focus on embracing diversity, playfulness and the experience of love. They have determined these as their core values and they don’t deviate their messaging from the persona they’ve created. From the 1971 “I’d like to buy the world a coke” to the long running family of polar bears sharing a coke, to this year’s “brotherly love”, the company always simplifies their messaging back to the persona that they’ve determined their product exemplifies.

Taking the time to determine who your business is allows for effective connection with target audiences. Getting really clear on this will guide you and your communications team to be able to engage regularly with your audience without pitching product or services every time you communicate. This type of communication builds your brand reputation.

Advertising alone doesn’t work anymore

The majority of us are just tired of all the ads out there, but younger generations have gone beyond that and learned not trust ads at all. In fact, in 2015 published a survey of 1,300 Millennials and only 1% of those surveyed said that a compelling advertisement would make them trust a brand more. So spending all your marketing budget on ads is a waste these days. Specifying your company persona and your target audience and then communicating (not advertising) direct to them through blog posts and social media – consistently – will provide greater returns in building loyal brand following and company reputation. It does take time and effort to do this, so be prepared to go full-effort into the company persona when you do. Half-hearted effort will yield a half-hearted brand image.

As I regularly say to clients, “consistency is the key.” But you can’t engage regularly and be consistent without first knowing who you are. You’ll go off message and create confusion if you do. To figure out who your business is, start by being really honest about this question: what value does your brand bring to the world or community around you?

Buckley’s cough syrup asked this question and determined that what they provide is to help people recover from a sore throat and cough. They weren’t interested in being in the market for the latest syrup flavours. They wanted to target individuals who simply wanted to stop the cough and get well. Buckley’s determined they had a product that worked and wanted their persona to focus on that and that alone. Because of this their persona became – honesty. And when they communicated that “it tastes awful and it works” their honest persona about the flavour further resonated honesty about the effectiveness of the product with the audience they aimed at. To this day the Buckley’s brand sticks with their specific focus stating publicly, “When it comes to being sick, there are two kinds of people in this world: those who want comfort, and those who want to get better. We make medicine for the second kind.”

So what is the core value at the heart of your brand and who is the audience that will best connect with that experience? If you don’t yet know that, then you need to stop the service and pricing lists and get this critical work done first.

button (1)Get our free guide, Four Steps to a Stronger Business Persona here.

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