The saying “new year, new me” is one we are all too familiar with. This new year, instead of reinventing yourself – I want you to identify yourself.
2020 is over! It’s time to start fresh and rewrite your story. The pandemic has been hard on everyone and made it extremely difficult for businesses to operate. Whether you own your own business or you’re an employee, the start of a new year is a great time to rewrite your story.
In 2020, the world went through an identity shift. It’s only natural that you did too.
Every business is going to struggle in 2021 as the pandemic has caused market needs to change. Mid-2020, I reworked my messaging to focus on new markets after a handful of contracts cancelled due to the pandemic. We didn’t pivot to offer new services, we pivoted to a different market to expand our reach.
Strategic planning is key to increasing market share and sales for the next year. But after you’ve established your plan, how do you actually accomplish that growth? It all comes down to your messaging and storytelling. You can accomplish your goals in 2021; you just need to have a clear narrative so that your audience understands how to engage with you and, most importantly, how to buy from you. Your story needs to help people understand who you are as a company. Good narratives will eventually convert to a sale.
The audience you’ve been talking to in previous years may have different needs and priorities post-pandemic. It is time to focus on what this new audience needs to hear. There’s so many distracting messages out there right now. You have to let people know, ‘hey, I’m still here. I can do an amazing thing. I can help you.’
Cut through the clutter
If you’re continuing to do the same old thing, you’re not really expanding your marketing reach. These efforts will still provide some growth, but if you’re trying to hit a specific revenue goal, you’ve got to get very strategic about what it is you’re saying. It all comes down to understanding your audience and communicating the value you offer. When it comes to your audience, you not only want to know the demographics of where they are and who they are, but you need to know the psychographics and how they think.
One of the best ways to understand your audience is to have conversations with former and potential clients. For non-business owners, it’s important for someone in a marketing or communications role to sit down with a client and truly understand the value that you brought them through your service or product. By doing that, you will create an even deeper bond and relationship with that person who loves your brand. They’ll become a brand ambassador and advocate on behalf of the company. When you listen and let them share their experience, it will help you better understand your story and why what you do is important.
Reach out to the last 5 or 10 clients who’ve purchased from you and have a conversation. Ask them why they chose you to service them. Ask how your approach was different than what they’ve tried in the past. Ask how you can better serve them. Look for patterns in the group’s answers to identify the value that you brought. They will tell you the exact words and messaging to use in your marketing.
If you’ve interviewed clients from your different audiences, use the interviews to update your buyer personas – the truths you believe about your audience – with the things that matter most to them. This will help you to fine tune your messaging to your audience segments in the new market.
Once you’re able to get to the bottom of why things matter to your customer and how things help them, you can communicate that value to prospective clients.
Grow through your story.
Good messaging captures attention. Great messaging creates conversion. Be clear on the value you offer and say it in a way that the audience understands. Be the solution they’re looking for. Use the words they use to describe your service. Add those key word descriptions to your website, blog, and social media feeds as an inbound marketing method for people searching for the solution you offer.
When people land on your website, do they know what it is that you offer? I received a call the other day from someone who had visited my website but was calling to ask if we recorded videos. I was shocked. Something in the copy that I had written didn’t convey that we produce videos to that potential client. When you receive feedback like that, it’s invaluable. Don’t take it as a mistake, you get the chance to fix something!
Part of growing is trying out different messages for different audiences. I market to multiple audiences to increase my chances of booking a client. Ultimately, I’m still giving the same service, but using different messaging or value statements that the specific audience segment cares about. For example, in our most recent internal messaging exercise, we let empathy guide our messaging to small businesses. As a small business, we knew only too well the pain felt of operating during a pandemic. Funny enough, our messaging was on the power of messaging and how it grows businesses. That’s what my fellow small business owners need right now. Money’s tight and we are focused on growth.
Now that you know your value, how do you increase your audience?
For me, the pandemic took away a pillar of my business when live events were canceled. I had to lean heavily on my video production and storytelling aspect of the business to help make up for the loss of income. We leaned in, grew our audience, and landed key contracts. How, you ask?
We expanded into new markets.
You can have an amazing story, but if you don’t have a plan for sending it out into the world, your story stops.
Use your current network to ask for referrals and introductions. Tell them ‘2020 has been hard and I’m looking to grow; could you make a referral?’ Or, ‘could you make an introduction to someone who you think might need support with what I offer?’ Growth is truly built upon relationships. Book that call and introduce them to the services you provide and the value you offer.
One day you will get a random phone call, an inbound sales call from someone asking for your service. You didn’t have to work to get that call, it came to you because of what you’ve already put in place.
That’s the power of your story.