Today’s consumers are bombarded with promotional messages 24/7. The marketplaces we operate in are highly competitive, and with valuable content available across all devices, our clients are spoilt for choice.
So, how can brands stand out from the competition?
By creating content that is both irresistible to our ideal customers and authentic to who we are and what we stand for – our personal brand values.
This is a big undertaking, so how can we break it down into steps?
1. Find your content sweet spot
Don’t make your content generic. This will make it boring. Instead, think about your target market and what they are interested in.
If you haven’t created user personas yet, now is the time to do so. Next, you need to develop your authentic brand values, which are the way you want to be perceived by clients.
Once you have done this you can make the leap to thinking of irresistible content ideas for your audience.
This is a true soul-searching exercise. I found creating an overview helpful to link my values to how I want to come across with my clients and what it means for my content. Here is an example:
2. Ask yourself what challenges your target audience have and answer them with memorable content
Once you identified the link between your values, audience and content ideas, you can start creating engaging content. For example, I target entrepreneurs who want to grow their business, but also feel proud of their marketing again.
If you’re struggling to get started, consider these examples of ways to link your values with your content:
- Is one of your brand values that you are relentlessly helpful? Then share helpful tips
- Is one of your brand values that you are funny? Then use humour in your content
- Is one of your brand values that you are always ahead of the trends? Then share breaking news updates in an innovative way.
3. Now consider what kind of content your nemesis would produce?
Copy editor Louise Harnby says: “One of the most useful things I learned on my branding journey was to think not just about what I stand for and what my clients want, but also what the anti-Louise would be like… so what does my nemesis do and say?
How does she present herself online? How does she respond to requests for help? What does she do that I’d never do? What do people say about her behind her back that I’d never want people saying about me and my business? I got a lot of clarity from that process!”
Test how much your content supports your values by asking yourself what kind of content your nemesis would produce. For me, the anti-Nicole would:
- Pretend she knows everything
- Never admit any difficulties
- She is über formal and can’t stand German stereotypes
This is a fun exercise, which makes the whole values/content linking exercise less theoretical. I recommend you take the time to create a user persona for your nemesis.
Get more inspiration here
The following resources inspired me along this journey and helped me to turn my vision for Lollipop Social into a reality. These are my top 4 recommendations:
Andrew and Pete’s book: Content Mavericks
Chris Ducker’s book: Rise of the Youpreneur
John Espirian ‘s blog: 5-Minute Branding
My own blog: How to create brand values when the brand is you? offers a step by spep guide to creating your own brand values.
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More sugar high bonus tips for creating irresistible content
I asked 4 successful entrepreneurs who have really nailed their own personal brand for tips on how they’ve linked their brand values, audience and content.
Louise Harnby, proofreader and copyeditor
Branding can seem impenetrable to many small-business owners. My tip is to visualize a river. On one bank, there’s you and what you stand for. On the other, there’s your target client and what their problems are. Brand values bridge the gap between the two.
Using this approach has ensured that my website, blog posts, headshots, videos, presentations and conversations reflect and respect my business and my clients’ needs, and in a way that’s recognizable across those multiple platforms.
That means I’m working with better-fit clients, and I’m more efficient. Like every other solopreneur, I’m fighting the clock and juggling multiple hats. The content I create needs to work hard and push me forward. Brand values streamline the process – they keep me and my message aligned at every touchpoint of my business.
John Espirian, technical copywriter and editorial consultant
For almost all service providers, there’s huge competition out there. Google it and you’ll find dozens or hundreds of options for every conceivable niche. That’s why SEO alone isn’t enough to help you stand out. You need a hook, something that will make you memorable.
A personal brand can be that hook. After a bit of exposure (via good content shared on a regular basis), you can be the person who others remember. And being memorable is a huge step towards being chosen.
I recommend spending some time picking out a few key brand values that are relevant to you and your business, then using that as the checklist for all of your content. Next time you write an article, produce a sales page or even send an email, ask yourself whether your brand values are shining through.
Keep the same ‘voice’ in all your communications and your words will start to have more impact. Mix that with some consistent visuals and you’ll have a memorable personal brand that sets you apart from the competition.
I’ve done this myself in the potentially dry field of technical copywriting. My brand values mean people now see me as someone who is ‘relentlessly helpful’ (that’s my tagline).
You can do it, too. Think about the values that make you and your business what they are, then use them consistently everywhere.
Natalie Hailey, content marketing strategist
Although it’s a whopping great cliche, in my experience, the biggest tip I could give people when working on their personal brand is to BE YOURSELF. That’s actually a lot easier said than done. It takes balls sometimes to put yourself out there, to show you’re upset by something when you’re upset, to show your actually pretty proud of yourself when you’ve achieved something great and to share a potentially controversial opinion on something.
At the end of the day, people only relate to people who they see are human, just like them. So share your vulnerabilities and doubts as well as the good stuff. Some of the greatest engagement and feedback, and some of the best business relationships for me have come out of real, true and honest conversations and interactions.
It’s important for me that people see that I’m the same person in a big client meeting, running a workshop or doing a talk as I am if you meet me in a field out for a walk or you bump into me in the playground on the school run. I have no game face (God knows I’ve tried to grow one in the past!) but actually now I’m unapologetic about the fact that I wear my heart on my sleeve and I’m fine with the fact that some people may be perturbed by that and others will want to work with me because of that and often to be my friend!
Andrew and Pete, content marketing duo and authors
As well as knowing your own brand values, create your ARCHENEMY – this is the opposite of who you are (and could even be based on a real-life person or business). Give your archenemy a set of brand values that you know you need to stay away from.
Having a negative influence is a great way of making sure you are making ‘on-brand’ decisions and not blurring into the noise, or even worse… being like the exact thing you DON’T want to be. It’s amazing when we do this exercise with our clients, and it turns out they’re doing the exact same things their archenemy is.
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Last updated September 2018.