Use These 5 Questions to Develop Your Marketing Message, USP and Brand

snow and colorful umbrella

snow and colorful umbrella

If you haven’t noticed already — the DIYMarketers site is looking a bit different than it used to.  That’s because sometime last year I started the process of tweaking my brand and my messaging.  It has been a journey for sure — even for someone who is in the business of branding and messaging, and so I thought I’d share some of the lessons I’ve learned.

Is it time to tweak your messaging?

I’m going to share something with you — I suffer from over-tweaking.  I think that just because I’m tired of saying the same thing over and over, that people are tired of hearing it and that the rest of the marketplace is bored with it too.  THIS IS SO WRONG and completely arrogant on my part because it assumes that the marketplace is out there hanging on my every word and I am the center of the small business marketing universe.  While that would be nice, it just isn’t so.

.  And that means that you have to be focused on them as well.  It’s only time to tweak your message, when the message is completely missing your target audience (or ideal customer).

You’ll know when you’re missing the mark when:

  • Your blog visits drop
  • Your email open rates drop
  • Your conversion rates drop
  • Your bounce rates go up

These are just a few signals that should tell you it’s time to tweak.

Assuming those are happening (and they can happen to even the best of us), it’s time to take a close look at re-connecting with your ideal customer, what matters to them and to get them choosing you again.

My 5-Power Questions for Developing a Killer Marketing Message

I first heard these questions inside of a product done by Milana Leshinsky, who got it from some other guru.  I’m assuming she made some tweaks to it to make it her own, and I’ve made some slight tweaks to it as well.  I’m passing them on to you – and I’m assuming you’ll make some tweaks too.

Can I just tell you that this is the easiest, shortest, least complicated way to get laser focused on your ideal customer and to craft a message, platform and brand that I’ve run across.  You will be able to answer these questions in less than 30 minutes.  But I want to warn you that actually CRAFTING the message will take a little longer.

When I first ran through this process, I answered the questions in just minutes, but it took me about 20 hours over the course of two weeks to tighten it up enough to create an explainer video and to use it as part of my signature talk.

  1. Who is your ideal customer or audience — who are you talking to?

    You know this drill.  Find a single individual to talk to.  Put yourself in their shoes, follow them through their day, create an avatar or profile.  Do what you need to do so that you not only KNOW who they are, you know them as well as you know yourself, your spouse, your kids, your dog — whatever.  You have to literally feel their pain yourself – while knowing that it’s completely ok, solvable and that you have the solution.  In this step — you just have to connect and feel their pain.

  2. What is the problem that they are desperately trying to solve?

    Now, pretend that you’re a camera, or fly on a wall or silent observer and watch your ideal customer.  What is the problem they are desperately trying to solve?  They may not even KNOW what the problem is, but YOU know.  You can tell by observing and watching their actions, how they do what they do, how they feel about what they are doing and where they are getting stopped and frustrated.  It’s a lot like watching a toddler trying to figure something out or a pet chasing its tail.  You see what’s happening, you fell their frustration, and you know what to do.  This is the moment you are capturing.

  3. What is their perceived notion of how this problem is solved?

    Let’s stay with the toddler/pet analogy.  How does your ideal client THINK they have to solve this problem?  They try this, they do that, what is the outcome?  Again, you are the observer, what happens when they try something and it doesn’t work?  What are they trying, what’s the outcome and how does it make them feel?

  4. How does everyone tell them their problem is solved?

    Now we’re at the point where they go looking for solutions.  What is everyone telling them they have to do?  Are they doing that?  If they are doing it, why isn’t it working for them?  If they aren’t doing it, what’s stopping them?  If you notice how I’m describing this, it’s absolutely critical to stay in observation mode and NOT in thinking mode.  Thinking will come later.  For now, just watch and observe your ideal customer going through the process of solving this problem from only what they see and what they know.

  5. How do you believe this problem is solved?

    This is the fun part !  This is where you step in and save the day!  What is it that YOU KNOW that they don’t yet know?  It’s really important that you share this information in a kind and nurturing way as in “It’s not your fault” or another option is to sweep in and say — “It used to be this way, but NO MORE”.  The most important point is NOT to make them feel stupid because that will just drive them away.  Your goal is to make them feel SMART for having been through the process and finally discovering your amazing solution.

YES — You can use this for EVERYTHING

I think there used to be a rule in marketing and marketing materials and messaging that says don’t try to accomplish too many things with one exercise — well I’m breaking that rule right here.  This outline is SO POWERFUL and I’m so grateful for having run into it in my travels.

You can use this for:

  • Developing your USP (Unique Selling Proposition)
  • Crafting a signature talk or presentation
  • Explainer videos to use on your site
  • Articles for your blog or your guest posts
  • Developing training and informational products to help other people
  • Ebooks
  • Podcasts
  • Entire content calendars

And there are probably a bunch more things you can do with this — that I haven’t listed.

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ivana@diymarketers.com'

Ivana Taylor is the publisher of DIYMarketers.com. She ranked #21 out of 30,000 influential people on the Internet in Fast Company. She is the book editor for Small Business Trends, a contributing author to AMEX Open Forum and has appeared on MSNBC.

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  • Ariel_Reinoso_Capsol

    Thanks a lot for sharing. It was very usefull.

    • http://www.DIYMarketers.com Ivana Taylor

      Hi Ariel — I gotta tell ya — I’m actually using this outline even as we speak to tighten up some marketing messages. It’s so useful and really helps me focus on what’s most important.

  • Stacey Herbert

    Hey Ivana, really useful post. Much of it echoes the same sentiment I share with some of my clients. I especially like how you break down that this process can be used to tackle multiple challenges we face as business owners, over our brand identity and UVP. Glad to have stumbled across it, and I’ll be back.

    • http://www.DIYMarketers.com Ivana Taylor

      Hi Stacey — Don’t you just LOVE these questions? Honestly, they have really transformed how I get my head around a brand — and even my own branding challenges.

      I’m glad you’ll be back — I’ll be here :-)

  • Marti

    Thanks. The information is awesome.

  • John Ue

    Felt like coming back to my favorite Marketing 101 back in the Uni!! The answer is mostly in the basic… keep forgetting that! Great!!

    • http://www.DIYMarketers.com Ivana Taylor

      Hi John — Absolutely – want another super simple one — there are 3 branding questions — who are you BEING, what are you committed to, what can people count on you for — that’s really all there is. Every great brand has these covered.