When you’re just starting out, it can feel overwhelming.
I get it.
But if you put a plan in place before you start, you can be much more strategic about how you spend your time and money to reach your audience.
I developed the CATCH Branding system as a framework to help you get started and make it easier to remember.
Your mission? Every thing that you do, every piece of content you create should be CATCH-tested so you can focus on getting your message across, and being memorable, to your perfect client.
The CATCH System
C – Consistent Look.
Create a look and feel that people can recognize as you.
Here is all you need to get started:
- Create a simple text logo with your name. Put your logo on all the content you create.
- Write a simple tagline that sums up what you do. 10-12 words max – less is better. Use the tagline in your email signature, your social profiles, your business cards, and on your website.
- Start your “style bible” which can be just a simple Word document. It should list your two (not six) colors that you use for everything (list the hex color number which will look something like this #ABEBC6), the fonts you use for headlines and the font you use for the body your documents.
Please (please, please) don’t spend weeks or months agonizing over a logo. A simple word logo built in Canva will get you started. Use it everywhere: website, social, email, ads. Start to build name and image recognition – but don’t get bogged down.
I have had to do “interventions” with clients who spent months and multiple rounds of edits and changes rather than getting their business going.
So pick something that you can grow with and start using it consistently.
A – Authentic Voice.
Be honest and open about your area of expertise. Tell people about what you struggle with – and how you overcame problems. Offer help without being condescending. We are all on this journey and all on different parts of the path.
There is the school of “fake it till you make it” and frankly, I am ambivalent about this.
On the one hand, it can be a boost to your mindset when you act as if you have already achieved. There is real science that says it can be a psychological boost to your performance and success.
But on the other hand, there is also fatigue from your audience. There are w-a-a-a-a-y too many faux successful Internet hucksters who project an image of success. But check behind the curtain and the cars are rented, the house is not theirs, and the women are hired models. Fake it till you make it might not be your best strategy.
What I typically advise is to adopt a mindset of success and expertise – but don’t lie. If it ain’t your Ferrari and you have less in the bank than the average fast food worker, don’t give the illusion that you are more successful than you really are. It not only will come back to bite you (and it will) it will simply not read as genuine to your audience.If you approach your audience with honesty about your struggles and sincerity around your success, you stand a much better chance of actually gaining the trust of people you can help. Click To Tweet
So sure, preach the gospel of success, but be honest and open.
T – Targeted Audience.
Know exactly who you are talking to.
Fitness guru? You are not selling to “everyone” you are selling to “people interested in fitness.” But unless you want to compete on a race to the bottom on pricing, you need to dig deeper into who you really serve as your audience.
Let’s go back to you as a fitness expert. Your specific audience might be “pregnant women looking to manage their health” or “18-30 year old males looking for washboard abs” or “experienced marathon runners looking for faster recovery and nutrition guidance.”
All three audiences are interested in fitness. But they are very different audiences with completely different messaging. Know who you are talking to and then help that specific group achieve their goals.
This is probably the #1 mistake that new businesses make. In their push to just sell something, they throw a bunch of different messages and offers out. Rather than make you a versatile business, it dilutes your message and your brand.
Specialists make more than generalists – and typically have an easier time attracting the right clients.
If you have tax problems, you go to a tax attorney not the woman who is an ace criminal attorney (unless your tax problems go to the criminal…whoops). The tax attorney is also not interested in representing you when you sue the guy who hit you in the parking lot.
Micro-target your audience so that you become the obvious solution to their special problem. You need to be the specialist who can get the job done rather than the generalist who is often stuck with commodity status – and competing on price rather than value.
C – Creative Content.
Be creative when you are helping your audience. The fitness guy might make some serious videos around proper weight lifting techniques for pregnant women, and also create a Pinterest board with easy-to-use fitness flash cards, some downloadable nutrition guides, or five-day fitness jump-start challenge.
Your audience will consume different content in different ways. It does pay dividends to pick 1-2 social channels and create content.
Note: Yes, I am serious about 1-2 social channels at the beginning of your business. Unless you are hiring a creative team, there simply is not enough hours in the day to run your business – which should be your #1 priority – and create endless content for 4-5 social channels. Go deep on 1-2 channels and nurture your audience rather than scattershot on 4-5 where you will never get traction because your audience does not hear from you often enough.
Content creation can get out of control. It can feel like you’re on the content hamster wheel. That’s why it’s critical to understand where your audience is so your content creation helps with your marketing rather than wasting time and money. And to focus.
The key to sane (and profitable) content creation is to spend the most time and money where your audience is. Your fitness mommies are probably on Instagram and Facebook and may be active on mom boards, healthy family eating, or wellness groups. Your washboard ab young males may also be interested in tech and cars. But you can’t know that unless you talk to your audience and spend time getting to know them. Deeply.
Once you find your audience, listen. React. Comment. Take notes about what comes up over and over. Answer questions (bonus points if your answer can refer back to your website).
You will also hear exactly how they phrase their problems, wishes, and desires – and you can tailor your message with their language. Not to fool them, but rather to demonstrate that you hear and understand. Customers you can genuinely help find you and put their faith in your ability to solve their problem.
Know where your audience is, how they prefer to consume content, and help them achieve their goals with shareable, interesting content.
H – Helping
Reach out to your audience and offer help and guidance. Be the person known for spot-on, kind advice. Give your expertise willingly and often. Offer the helping hand without asking for anything in return. It does pay off in the long run.
Helping can be anything from instructional videos to eBooks to in-person clinics.
Your “helping goal” is two-fold:
- demonstrate your expertise and experience in solving problems
- set you up as the most logical solution when it comes time to hire someone.
If you follow the CATCH system, you can laser-focus on delivering your message to the right audience, with a consistent look and feel, and building your reputation as a thought leader in your niche.
Spend some time on the front end using these strategies, it can make the process less confusing and get you launched right.