Your brand is simply your reputation.
It’s the collective group of thoughts and feelings that people have when they encounter you and the work you create.
So from a tactical standpoint, I give the same advice to any person who wants to build an audience and create authority as I do to any company who wants to build an audience and create authority.
It’s 9 simple stages, grouped into 3 levels. Imagine it as a 3×3 box.
Or just scroll down and look at it.
From GuidePost Marketing:
This is the exact process I use with my clients to take them from any stage their business is in to more predictable, trackable success in their industry.
I’ve used it with dentists and furniture wholesalers and life coaches and martial arts schools and financial planners and more.
It works across enough industries that I can confidently say that it just works.
TRACTION: Laying the Foundation
The first level, the base level, is called the TRACTION level. It’s where you establish your position in the market – who you serve, what you have for them, and how you’re different from all the other companies who do what you do.
The Traction level is broken down into 3 pieces:
What audience do you want to serve? Be as specific as you can.
This should be an audience you know a lot about because you’ve got to get clarity on what their goals are, what’s keeping them from their goals, and what objections they might have about buying your products.
Once you know what your audience’s goals are and the problems they’re facing, your job is to position your offer as the solution to those problems and the path to reaching those goals.
No matter what your industry is, talking about your product from a features comparison standpoint is the fast path to the trash heap.
People don’t buy based on the logic that your product is incrementally better or cheaper or faster than the other guy.
They buy on emotion. How do you solve their problem?
If you are the only company doing what you do, take a good hard look at what you do. You’ve either created a category and are about to be VERY rich, or you’re selling something that nobody wants.
It’s usually the second one.
I can’t go online and buy ballet shoes for my owl because no one sells those. That doesn’t make it a great market to go into. No one sells them because no one wants them.
Instead, what you should focus on is how to build the perfect solution for the perfect audience for you. And then showing them that your solution is for them.
ACTION: Putting it to Work
The next level, the middle, is the ACTION level. This is where you’ll take everything you just determined about your audience, your offer, and your brand, and you’ll put it out into the world. One of the most compelling and captivating ways to do that is through the power of telling good stories.
Your job is to speak in such a way that your customer is the hero in the story you’re telling. They’re the ones with the problems that need solving, the ones that need to go on the epic journey to reach the life they’ve dreamed of, and you’re the wise mentor, the guide who can help them get there.
You’ve got the empathy to understand their situation and the authority to help them fix it.
Like the level before it, the Action stage is broken down into 3 parts:
Your Pages and Platforms
This is the stage where you build your houses. Your website. Your Facebook Page or Profile. Your Instagram Profile. Your LinkedIn.
In all likelihood, one (maybe two) of these will be your primary platform (think of them as your main residence) and the others you’ll keep up to date but won’t spend as much time on (your vacation homes).
The way you’ll determine which platform to focus on and what to do there will all depend on who your audience is, how they behave, and where they spend their time.
Your Sales Process
Once you’ve got your platforms in place and your offer is presented to your audience, how do you go about turning strangers into leads and leads into customers?
That’s a process that needs to be systemized. Otherwise, what you’re doing isn’t scalable and is going to end up frustrating you and burning you out.
Your Traffic Plan
This is stage 6 in the overall model and is unfortunately where most people want to get started – “I’m trying to build my brand, so I’m going to start posting on Instagram!”
Great, I guess.
Who are you posting for? What do you have to offer them? What do they want? How are you different than everyone else who’s doing that? Where will you send them so they can actually do business with you and how will you close that business when they get there?
Starting here is like a dog chasing cars. You might catch something, but you’ll wish you hadn’t.
Only once you’ve built the framework to handle it should you start thinking about driving traffic using social media, blogs, and YouTube.
TRIBE: Building a Community That Works for You
By the time we get to the last stage, we’ve gotten traction in the marketplace by virtue of knowing our customers and how we fit into the story they’re living.
We’ve generated traffic and turned that traffic into leads and sales, and so we have customers.
Now, it’s time to thing about building a TRIBE. That’s stage 3, the top level. It’s all about creating delight and community around your brand and your offers so that you’re not constantly hunting for new business.
Here’s how it breaks down:
Your Customer Experience
At every stage of their interaction with you, your customer will have a certain set of expectations.
They’ll expect phone calls with you to go a certain way. They’ll expect to receive email responses in a certain time window. They’ll expect products and services to be delivered in a certain way and within a certain time frame too.
This stage is about exceeding those expectations at every possible opportunity. That means that whenever you can, you deliver better service than they expect.
This means that customers are constantly delighted by your brand.
Upgraded Services and Products
Once you’ve built trust and created experiences your customer loves, you have permission to sell them more.
Basically the transaction that happens in their minds looks like this – “I spent $100 with you and got $150 in value back to me. I’d make that trade all day. I’m a happy customer.” – so when you now present them your $200 product, they trust it.
The know that they’ll get $300 back in value based on the experience they have with you.
Spending more with you, coming back again and again, is a pleasure, not something they resent.
We’ve all been here with one company or another, one we really love.
We find out about them, love how their product seems like it was built just for us (Traction). Their content speaks to us and gets us to buy (Action).
And then at every opportunity, their service is better than we expected and we go back again and again to buy more. What next?
We tell people about that company!
We spread the word. We become the marketing department. Whether we’re rewarded for it or not, sharing our experience is the logical next step in the path.
Make it easy for them to share news about you. Make it easy for them to leave you reviews.
If you can get your customers here, you win.
So as you build your brand, go one step at a time and get a working system in each of those 9 boxes, in order.
When I work with new clients, I always find a place where there’s a gap in their system, and that’s where they start losing business.
Once you reach the end, go back and tweak the system. You won’t knock it out of the park the first time, but once the framework is in place and there are no gaps, you can adjust as necessary to make your brand the best it can be for the people you care about.