Grow Your Lifestyle Business
Get growth hacking strategies to help you improve your online branding, solidify your website marketing and propel your business results to free yourself to live with more intentionality.
Your brand is not just your logo and your brand strategy is not just: “I will use blue as my signature color.: Learn the 5 things that make up a modern brand and how you can simplify your “brand” with one short sentence or phrase.
Your product is the key to unlocking your perfect target audience. Learn the 2 questions that matter most for determining your target audience and my secret weapon when it comes to making your brand unforgettable with your target audience.
Your conversion goal is crucial for the sustainability of your business. Discover the #1 conversion goal you should be focusing on and learn why spending your time on social media could actually be hurting your business.
High-powered and high-revenue startup companies use growth hacking to produce explosive growth for their businesses. Learn the framework that’s fueling their success and discover how it can help your business.
Ready to make your funnel more impactful, more effective and more intentional. Turn your successful growth hacking funnel into a marketing megaphone designed for heart-centered results. Learn how in this section.
With more than a dozen years of experience in small business enterprise marketing, search engine optimization, communications, and branding, I’ve grown businesses and audiences, managed million dollar budgets, led large marketing teams and generated seven-figure contracts.
I’m THRILLED to teach you what I know.
Want the full break down of everything along with a workbook to help you walk through the concepts? Sign up below for the free full training.
SECTION 1 : A CLEAR BRAND STRATEGY
So, what is a brand?
A mark of ownership made by branding?
A particular type or kind of something?
Simple identification was what branding was in the distant past.
This is still done today, to some extent. The big white apple symbol on the back of my computer identifies it as a product by Apple Inc. The label on my almond milk identifies it as being from Silk.
A simple label used to identify who made the product.
So why dig any deeper?
Why put so much thought into it?
Why not just produce a good product, slap a name on it and call it a day?
Branding, at its most basic level, can be used simply to label a product. But if you combine a brand with character, with emotion and with the right audience, you create a richer brand.
Douglas Atkin, author of “The Culting of Brands,” said
“The same dynamics are at play behind the attraction to brands and cults”
If you can create a rich and authentic brand and you’ll build deeper relationships with your audience.
A rich brand opens the door to more fans, higher sales and more loyal customers who tell others how awesome you are. All because you’re able to develop meaningful relationships with people through your brand.
This training is designed to teach you how to create that rich and authentic brand by introducing you to the elements that make up a powerhouse brand and teaching you how to use those elements to create your own. Then I should you the marketing framework to use to share your brand with the world.
So let’s be clear: Your brand is not just your logo and your brand strategy is not just, “I will use blue as my signature color.”
- An effective modern brand, a brand that connects deeply with people, is the combination of 5 key things:
- your product
- your “why”
- an unspoken promise
- a spoken promise
- strategic marketing.
Branding is the sum of every single interaction with your company.
Let’s break down my brand definition by each item.
1. “Your product” is easy — or it seems that way.
Want to know the secret to creating a timeless, unforgettable brand? Don’t think about your product in terms of the actual widgets you exchange for money. Think about your product as the experience your widget delivers.
For example, if you’re a romance author, your main product is not a book about two people falling in love, it’s the immersive experience of falling in love that your works give people.
If you sell jewelry, you aren’t just selling earrings, you’re selling beauty, confidence, affluence, and the feeling of being the best “you” you can be.
Your product is not just a widget. If you look at it as just a widget, that’s how products become commodities. And brands that offer commodities and not experiences are easy-to-forget.
2. “Your why” – your purpose and how that purpose connects to others.
Why you do what you do has the biggest effect on how you do what you do. This affects how you create your products and how you position your products.
Product positioning is more important than the product itself. Product positioning is the difference between a Nokia and an iPhone, or Jordans vs New Balance, Beyoncé vs everybody. And product positioning can be enhanced by a number of things, but most powerfully, it’s enhanced by your “why.” Not sure what that is, I’ll explain:
Simon Sinek is an author of the book “Start With Why” and creator of a beautiful concept called the “Golden Circle.” He has a great TED talk on the topic, so I encourage you to watch it. It’s all about the concept of a “why” and why it’s important for businesses, organizations and leadership in general.
The Cliff’s notes version: Your “why” is: Your purpose. Your cause. Your belief. Why does your business exist? Why do you get out of bed in the morning? And why should anyone care?
Your “why” matters because, as Simon says:
“People don’t buy what you do; people buy why you do it.”
Also, people tweet/like/endorse things, not because of what it says about you and your company, but because of what it says about them. So if you infuse your brand with purpose, not just information, you’re more likely to connect with buyers who believe the same things you believe or have a similar purpose.
Simon gave an example of product positioning that starts with “Why” for Apple as:
“Everything we do, we believe in challenging the status quo. We believe in thinking differently. The way we challenge the status quo is by making our products beautifully designed, simple to use and user-friendly. We just happen to make great computers. Want to buy one?”
When someone reads positioning this way — when it starts with WHY you do what you do, then goes to HOW you do it, then to WHAT you actually do — it has the ability to connect with them on a deeper level instantly.
Here’s the thing, engagement from a consumer perspective with brands is all about risk assessment. Consumers are thinking: “Is this worth my time?” “Is this worth my money?” “am I likely to regret this?” So if you don’t make that connection as quickly as possible and give them that sense of “Hell Yes!” this is most-likely worth the risk, consumers are most often going to decide “no it’s not worth the risk” because a confused mind will always say no.
Making your “why” core to your brand strategy will make it easier for you to connect with the right people instantly and start building a stronger relationship with them.
So let’s play a game. Let’s take 1 minute to write the first draft – this does not have to be perfect — of your “why.”
Look at the “What is your why?” section in the workbook for this training.
So take a deep breath and ground yourself. Get out of your head and into your body and your emotions…then answer the questions.
Question 1: What is your business? What do you do?
Question 2: Why did you choose this industry? What was missing from it before you started? How is what you do different?
Question 3: What impact do you ultimately want to have in your industry? (Don’t base this on money, awards, etc.)
Look at your answers and think about the “Golden Circle.” Chances are: your answer to #3 is your “why” or close to it. #2 is your how or close to it. And #1 is your what.
You’ll want to take a moment and write your “why positioning statement.” With your “why, how and what” in that order.
Write your own “why positioning statement” now. This is going to be the core of your marketing strategy. This may not be exactly what you put into your marketing, but the root of it should be felt in your marketing.
Infusing your “why” into how you do business and communicate about your products will make it easier for you to connect with the right people instantly and start building a stronger brand.
3. An “unspoken promise” – I also call this your brand essence.
It’s core to your art. It’s visceral, it’s emotional. It’s not tidy or neat, but it is essential for creating a brand with raving fans. It is also my dirty little secret for branding. We’ll go over this more in section 2.
4. A “spoken promise” – Your spoken promise is your brand identity, which is your overall outward, visual and verbal expression of your brand.
This identity will eventually include how you incorporate your “why” into everything you do and how you represent yourself on your brand’s online platforms – or the devices and vehicles you use to support your brand.
All of these elements work together to create the “identity” of your brand and tell people “this is what you can expect from me” which is why I call it a promise.
The core of that identity should be based on what I call a brand identity statement, which is a short sentence or phrase that describes what your brand is that you can use as a guide in your marketing.
Your brand identity statement is the basis for your brand. Think of it as the framework for building a house. It’s the bones of what the public will see. It’s short, it’s easy to immediately understand. It’s not flowery or emotional like your “why” could be. It’s just the facts, ma’am, as much as possible. Because it’s used as a guide for your marketing, it needs to be as clear and non-ambiguous as possible.
Here’s an exercise to help you create a starter brand identity statement. This is also in the workbook.
Step One: Define your brand characteristics or adjectives:
Look at your why positioning statement. Take a few of the most important characteristics or adjectives from that “why” to use in your brand identity statement.
These are going to be things that could be represented visually or verbally to imply characteristics of the brand. Or they are elements that can be used to refine the core audience.
Take a moment to write down these characteristics in your workbook.
Step 2: What’s your industry or offer?
Try to use industry-standard terms, but describe what your product is, what you are actually offering.
For example book publishing, graphic design, custom jewelry, affordable fashion.
Step 3: What’s the theme?
What is the common theme or thread of everything that you do? It’s probably already in your “why,” but, again, this needs to be short and sweet and not flowery. This should be something concrete and VERY simple to explain and represent. Sometimes this theme has the ability to create a “me too” feeling for the brand, or a sense of community or the fulfillment of a need.
For example: maybe multiculturalism is your theme or empowering women is your common thread or, in the case of Walt Disney Parks and Resorts, happiness is the theme.
Step 4: Put it all together:
Now take the keywords you pulled from your “why,” your industry/offer and your dominating theme and write them all down together.
Now, see if you can combine these statements, into a description that makes sense. Something that can be used as a basis for a branding strategy. It may not be a neat, tidy phrase, but it needs to be concrete, simple and you (or whoever is doing your marketing) need to be able to say – *lightbulb* “Oh ok. I know exactly what that is.”
Each element of this phrase should be something you pull out and highlight in pieces of your marketing.
5.”Strategic marketing” – this is everything you do to support the four previous elements.
This could be how you interact with customers, how you post on social media, to what your email marketing looks like. Strategic marketing is both separate from your brand and part of your brand. In that, you leverage your brand to your audience via strategic marketing, but the way in which you do that also contributes to the perception of your brand.
Because a big elusive part of branding is perception, it’s important that you build and codify your strategy so that you can consistently show and tell the same things with all the elements of your brand. This will help you more easily align your idea of your brand with your consumer’s idea of your brand. We’ll go other this more in section 4.
So let’s wrap up this first section of the training.
We talked about “brand” and what it takes to make an effective modern brand.
It’s the combination of 5 key things: your product, your “why,” an unspoken promise, a spoken promise, and strategic marketing.
We created a “why positioning statement,” we made a “brand identity statement.”
Your “why positioning statement” and your “brand identity statement” combined to create the foundation of your brand strategy. Your why describes the vision of your strategy and how you position your products. It’s that north star your aiming for. Your brand identity statement functions as a guideline or guardrails on the highway getting you to that vision. It will help you maintain consistency so that you can more easily get to that vision. This is why you base your brand identity on your “why.”
With every activity you use to promote your brand, you should look to your why and your brand identity statement to make sure they are aligned.
Misalignment or inconsistency can create dissonance between your brand and your audience.
In the next section, we’ll dive deep into who that audience is and review some powerful strategies for maintaining alignment with them.
SECTION 2: A REFINED AUDIENCE PROFILE
When it comes to finding the right audience, most of the time people hunt with a shotgun, targeting as many people as they can— some who SHOULDN’T be targeted— with crappy ammo.
Don’t do that. You don’t want EVERYONE to buy your product or service. What you want is for everyone who does buy to love the experience so much that they tell people who they know will love your products or service. That’s what Kevin Kelly’s “1000 true fans” is all about.
That’s how you build the right kind of audience, stellar reviews and a community that spreads the word for you. An audience that loves you.
Your “why,” your “brand identity statement” and product determine your audience and your clear communication and marketing research finds them and converts them.
Your product, what you’re offering, and the characteristics of that product are designed (intentionally or unintentionally) to be attractive to certain types of people. Not everyone needs or wants what you have to offer, but certain people will and if you can identify what is attractive about your product and then refine your audience enough to be able to speak directly to them, you will build more loyal customers and higher sales.
So let’s do a little exercise to help you figure out what is attractive about your products specifically. Walk through the questions in your workbook.There are two main questions you need to answer to come up with those distinguishing characteristics:
What are your USPs (unique selling points)?
A Unique selling point is a feature of a product that makes it different from or better than its competitors’ products.
It’s very hard to make these “1 in a million people” unique, but they need to be notable and elements that might make someone pick your work over the competition based on preference or need. Sometimes elements of your “why” as they relate to your products, can be USPs.
The second question you want to answer is: What problems do you solve for people?
The problems you solve for people don’t have to be “Miss America” answer-worthy.
Remember: Not having entertainment is a problem. Not having humorous books is a problem. Not having beautiful earrings is a problem. Etc. Wherever there’s a void, is a potential problem you can solve.
Here are some example answers to these questions using the example companies from our first section:
For Apple, the USPs might be:
• Elegant, modern design; easy-to-use interface; uncluttered digital work environment; virus-resistant technology
The problems they solve might be:
• Reliable technology; devices that sync seamlessly;
These unique selling points and these problems you solve – again – will speak to particular people.
Not everyone values “elegant modern design.”
So take a moment and download the workbook to write out your USPs and the problems you solve.
So now that you have an idea of what is desirable about your products, now you need to decide who your products are right for. Yes, YOU get to decide…and this reasoning is based on what you have to offer them.
Look at everything you’ve listed and decide:
Who wants this? Who are you trying to reach? Based on these things, who needs this?
The answer is not everyone because you can’t effectively target everyone.
Write down some basic demographic information about your audience. (Age (no more than a 20-year range), gender, location, etc.) Don’t overthink this. You can, literally, pick… but you MUST base who you pick on the characteristics you listed about your product and brand.
Keep in mind: You should be able to refine your audience down enough that you can name this person and select a picture of someone that represents who this person is.
If you can’t see this person clearly enough to be able to select (or create) 1 picture that could represent your ideal audience profile, you haven’t refined your audience enough.
The reason for this is simple: In order to be able to effectively target your audience, you need to communicate directly to them, you need to be on the platforms where they are… you can’t do this with a fuzzy impression of them.
So by now you should have an overview of who your ideal audience profile is. You’ve written down the basic demographic information (Age (no more than a 20-year range), gender, location, etc.) and you can clearly see the vision of the person in your mind.
Or if you’re like me, you may have developed a short info sheet about your person.
Once you have the clear vision of your audience in your mind, then we want to get emotional for the next section. There’s just one question, but you will definitely need to pause the video to answer this question.
Now you want to answer:
What does your target person secretly wish were true about the world and/or themselves that your product can address or solve for them?
When it comes to the “secret wish.” This isn’t to say that your product is the magic pill for what’s clearly a larger issue, but it speaks to that element of your audience’s life and provides a salve of sorts or comfort. Don’t forget that comfort can be completely irrational. Think about the things you do to emotionally comfort yourself. For me it’s emotional eating, watching reality TV or “window shopping” on Amazon.
That secret wish relates to my little secret branding weapon that for building mega-supporters that I call your “unspoken promise.” Remember when I said your brand is a combination of 5 things: your product, your “why,” a spoken promise (brand identity), strategic marketing and…YOUR UNSPOKEN PROMISE.
Your unspoken promise is your brand essence. It’s a thing that you would probably never ever say in your marketing because it represents how you want your audience to “feel” when they experience your products.
This is marketing psychology. This tapping into our primal human desires in order to communicate fit and alignment. This is something that big companies do all the time to make millions and billions of dollars by subtly speaking to the basic human needs of safety, happiness, belonging, elevating oneself for prime pro-creation prospects, the success of offspring, etc.
That “Secret wish” that your audience has always relates to a basic human need. The whole point of pinpointing what you think your brand essence is is so you can keep that experience in mind as you create your whole marketing strategy. So there’s not emotional misalignment in overall experience with your brand.
It very easy to discount the art and psychological side of marketing when the science side is almost seen as sexier, but if you aren’t diving deep and living in the art side of your brand and considering that human experience, not just that data point – you aren’t building for the long-term.
This is why I include your “unspoken promise” or brand essence as core to building mega-supporters. Because how you make people feel – If you give them hope, If you make them feel as part of a community or help them feel at ease or make them feel like you’re aiding in their offspring’s success – It endears them to your brand.
This is also why refining your audience profile is essential, because if you know specifically to whom you are speaking, you can communicate more specifically to them.
And If you can clearly define your target audience, your brand identity, your brand essence and plug that information into your growth hacking strategy consistently YOU WILL WIN!
SECTION 3 : A 24/7 SALES ASSISTANT
So far you should have:
• A “why positioning statement”
• A “brand identity statement”
• And an audience profile that includes a “brand essence”
With these three things, you can start marketing like gangbusters, BUT you need to make sure that your business is set up in such a way that your marketing will be successful. In that, it’s set up to give you the best chance at accomplishing your conversion goals.
What are your conversion goals? Your conversion goals are part of the “science” of marketing. They are based on the quantitative metrics that are important to your business.
99% of the time, a company’s most important conversion goal is revenue. Whether it’s product purchases, buying services or, in the case of PBS, donations.
Having a plan for conversion, in general, is crucial.There is no point in having an amazing outbound strategy if you can’t convert the inbound attention. The best way to convert inbound attention is to optimize your website and online platforms to function as 24/7 sales assistants for your brand.
These are platforms that are always on, always telling the world what you do, always providing cues to signify your value to potential customers, they are your best way to scale yourself. You can’t be “on” 24/7, but your online platforms can.
IMHO, your website is your most important sales tool because it can sell, sell, sell your products 24/7. And, most importantly,
it’s your real estate. It doesn’t belong to Twitter, or Google in the case YouTube or Mark Zuckerburg. This is your house…as long as you keep paying those hosting and domain fees.
An optimized website should do four things:
1. Communicate who you are and what you do
2. Collect information from visitors
3. Convert your goals
4. Categorize your brand for search engines
I’ll explain each of these further.
Communicate who you are and what you do:
As soon as people go to your site, they should see who you are and what you’re about. Your brand identity should be used to guide the visual and verbal elements on your site.
Collect information from visitors:
You want to be able to collect data on how people got to your site (can be done by installing Google Analytics) and what they are doing on your site.
Convert your goals:
We talked briefly about conversion goals. Obviously, monetary conversion is super important for the sustainability of your business… and, you know, life in general. There’s another conversion goal you should prioritize on your site and that is: email conversion.
Email marketing is important because:
1. It’s yours. An opt-in community is something you take with you wherever you go. If Facebook shuts down, you can’t take those likes to another platform. The reason why spending all your time building your social media audience could hurt your business, is because YOU DON’T OWN THAT AUDIENCE! If Facebook shuts down, you can’t take those likes to another platform. If Twitter goes bust, what are you going to do with those “follows?” Also, if you’ve noticed every few months there seems to be a new Facebook algorithm change that affects the reach of your content anyway.
2. It gives you the power. Email marketing is a results trigger. That’s because you have the power to initiate the communication once they have opted in. Unlike your website, where you have to wait for someone to visit to read the information you need them to read, with email marketing you can hit people almost instantly via their inboxes.
But your website is the home base for building that email community that you then can nurture into sales.
So why not, just ask for a sale conversion? Good question.
So…This process is a little like dating. Asking for sales before you’ve really built a good relationship with your audience could give you some good results or…it could just get you a bunch of thotty transactional customers.
I’m not saying don’t try to sale, I’m saying focus primarily on being able to build that relationship with people via email. Cause I can promise you it’ll create a larger life-time value per customer.
The 4th thing your website should do is: Categorize your brand for search engines:
This means: SEO, SEO, SEO! Search engine optimization still matters. Remember how you came up with your brand identity statement? Those keywords you used could easily be your website keywords. Sprinkle them throughout your site. In your about page, in your blog posts, etc.
SECTION 4: GROWTH HACKING 101
You’ve probably heard the term “marketing funnel” before. A marketing funnel is a marketing model that outlines a theoretical customer journey towards the purchase of a product. My favorite marketing funnel framework is the “Pirate Metrics” funnel.
The “Pirate Metrics” growth hacking framework was invented by Dave McClure.
Pirate Metrics is essentially a way of categorizing different metrics and KPIs of a marketing funnel, and is made up of the metric “categories” Awareness, Acquisition, Activation, Revenue, Retention, Referral — or AAARRR for short (like a pirate. Pirate metrics, get it?)
Using a framework like this will help you better organize your work and better track impactful results.
I’ll break down what each element means.
Awareness focuses on the brand awareness-building aspect of your efforts. They are focused on introducing yourself to your potential customers and trying to drive them to take action.
Acquisition is when you can begin to identify your customers as individual users and people. This is your first “transaction” with a user. Only instead of exchanging money, they are opting in to your brand in order to hear from you.
Activation is the process where your user actually tries your product. This is generally an “appetizer” of sorts. For SaaS companies, we are most familiar with a limited time trial (like a 14-day free trial) or a freemium offering with limited features. For an author, it could be a pre-quel, free first 3 chapters or a free first novel in a series. It’s a taste.
Dollar, dollar, bills, y’all. Revenue is probably the easiest stage to remember. It is when your contact finally takes the plunge to swap out some of their money for some of your products. It’s another form of value exchange.
Retention is the amount of incremental revenue that you can generate from a given person. The goal is for your customers to become “sticky.” When you think about your Customer Acquisition Cost (CAC) of acquiring a new customer vs retaining a current one, there’s no comparison. As long as you deliver enough value to your customer in your interaction with them and have more options for them to purchase, you can maintain your revenue without having to constantly seek new customers.
Referrals are one of the most important and often overlooked element to focus on. With referrals, you get other people to build awareness for you and that word of mouth comes with more credibility than anything you could produce.
Word of mouth marketing is one of the most important customer acquisition channels to focus on. In fact, “84% of consumers reported always or sometimes taking action based on personal recommendations. 70% said they did the same of online consumer opinions.” (Nielsen data)
SECTION 5 : YOUR MARKETING MEGAPHONE
I’ve always loved the idea of marketing funnels until I was in the front row of a Seth Godin talk this fall and he seemed to speak to my soul when he talked about empowering your consumers and building community.
And he said, “That’s how you turn your funnel into a megaphone.”
A marketing megaphone takes the science and structure of funnel and combines it with the art of brand and the experience of community. That speaks to me and how I want to use my marketing experience to run my business with both art and science.
As I said, I LOVE this framework and I think it’s still useful, but I needed more joy and intentionality in my work, so the idea of stuffing people into a funnel and squeezing folks out the bottom just doesn’t appeal to me anymore. So let’s flip it.
Let’s look at it this way:
My ideal audience profile is the start of my funnel. It all starts with this person.
At the heart of the megaphone is my “why.” This is the core of why I do what I do.
On the label of my megaphone is my brand identity statement, this will guide my actions.
And I’ve flipped the funnel, so the megaphone’s order is now: Referral, Retention, Revenue, Activation, Acquisition, Awareness.
I’ve begun with the end in mind. My focus doesn’t center upon stuffing people into the funnel – because often when that’s where people focus their energy, they never optimize the other elements to create an optimized experience.
For each step in the funnel, you’ll want to answer the following:
• What I will measure
• Tips for optimizing (previous step(s))
• What it impacts (next step(s))
For example, if you look at the referral section:
• The goal would be to get my ideal audience to talk favorably about there experience with my content online.
• What I will measure: social media shares, reviews, links for personal websites, etc.
• Tips for optimization:
⁃ I will ask for feedback regularly and often in public platforms. I will respond to and address comments that mention my brand
⁃ I will survey each of my customers; I will ask happy customers to share their happiness publically; I will seek feedback and understanding from unhappy customers. This will create a culture of intentional and productive feedback around my brand, not just a culture of bitching and moaning.
• What it impacts: this will expose more people to my brand and therefore increase Awareness.
You’d do the same thing for each element of the megaphone.
Once you map out your funnel using your “why” and brand identity as guide you’ll have a complete optimized and strategic growth hacking marketing strategy.