It's often said (or assumed) that a fundamental principle of marketing is to have a clear, understandable message.
It's then assumed that you should come up with that clarity before you start "putting your brand out there".
This is like having a fixed mindset in marketing & branding.
Growth Mindset for Branding
A growth mindset looks more like this:
You don't "have" a clear message.
You're always working to further clarify.
You’re dedicated to the ongoing process of clarifying:
…and you keep repeating these four steps.
The fixed mindset says you "have" an identity and must clarify that before you boldly proclaim it to everyone.
Unfortunately, by committing to one identity and message early on in your business, you risk brand ossification – prematurely defining yourself – making yourself less flexible.
The Challenge of Uncertainty
The challenge of taking on a growth mindset means you need to practice staying supple, patient, brave and open in your explorations. This is where your spiritual practice benefits your business.
This also means you're opening yourself to your current network possibly calling you a flake, because they may see you post a variety of messages. Thankfully, their opinions don't matter. You only need to create for your eventual true fans because that’s a much bigger audience than the people who currently know you.
It takes a shift of mindset to remain open and multifaceted... to practice valuing uncertainty and lack-of-definition. Not easy for everyone.
For example, I continually test a “J” in the Myers-Briggs personality system, which means I crave certainty and closure and fast decisions. Yet, I’ve had to learn to explore and stay open to who my ideal clients are, and what exactly I provide for them.
12 years into my business, I still have difficulty saying exactly what I do and for whom. My brand is kind of a mess. But that’s ok. I just keep dedicating myself to exploring my ideas through my free content, then noticing what makes more impact, then doing market research using the CORE process, then making offers to my audience.
And it continues to work. My business has been financially stable for 10 years and has gradually grown every year… while I continue to explore and experiment all the time.
Why Do You Require Clarity?
Perhaps you want certainty of brand message because:
1) You don't want to waste time & money investing in a brand that will change.
2) You want to be able to fully invest in a clear brand, so you can feel “whole” and on purpose.
The problem with the first point -- if you invest in a specific brand message & presence early on in your business, you're almost certainly going to waste money, effort, and time, because you haven't yet explored enough with the market to come to that intersection of interests. Therefore, stay flexible. Invest bits over time to improve, rather than a large amount at once into a fixed version of your brand.
Detach Your Purpose from Your Brand
To resolve the second point (to keep moving forward even without emotional clarity about your brand and “purpose”) – you can prevent yourself from anxiety (not to mention, wasted money) by intentionally detaching your Purpose from your Brand.
Yes, from an “authentic business coach”, this seems like very weird advice.
In my view, Purpose is most productively found in the Moment -- in every moment -- when we aim to infuse deeper values and presence into our thoughts and actions. In doing so, all our actions bring us towards our blessed destiny. Clarity is increasingly experienced. Our “purpose” is much deeper (and grander) than our brand.
I don’t require my Brand to be a full expression of my Purpose, because I know that my Brand is continually evolving just as my expression is.
Your Authentic Presence is Your Brand
By bravely putting your varied explorations out there, authentically experimenting with your thoughts and voice, you will grow an audience who resonate with something deeper in you than an easily-definable "brand"... they’ll resonate with your energy signature.
Then, over time, you'll notice what aspects of your authenticity that your audience values most.
Of the various personas that you experiment with and emphasize in your content, what brings positive engagement? Of the variety of topics you create content about, what helps them most? What have your market research conversations revealed about what your audience would like to buy?
The more you’re willing to explore, experiment, and engage with your audience, the more it becomes clear what exactly is that intersection between your interests and your audience’s.
Then it gets easy to define your brand, if you wish to do so.
Or at least, it becomes easy to sell things successfully... by selling them what they've told you they want from you.
In summary, this is the advice I have for niching:
Start broad, test out many ideas that interest you, notice what others find most valuable from what you do, and then invest more of your time/energy into those things that have the intersection between their interests and yours.
George Kao is a Marketing Coach for small business owners, especially solopreneurs such as Coaches and Mentors. He focuses on ethical & effective ways to grow one's platform and build true livelihood.
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