If you’re an entrepreneur selling your services online, whether a coach, graphic designer, copywriter, photographer or any other kind of service-provider, you’ve probably realised that building a website alone isn’t enough to draw in crowds of ideal clients.
What you need to do is build awareness of your brand, and develop sources of traffic that bring ideal clients to your site. Essentially, what this comes down to is increasing your visibility online and establishing relationships with your target audience.
Firstly, what is brand awareness?
Brand awareness is basically how familiar people are of your business and its image. It’s not just how well they can recognise you or your logo, but to be able to associate that with what you do and the benefits you provide.
When your target market thinks about making use of the kind of service you provide, you want to be at the front of their mind. This means making your business as visible and valuable as possible even before someone makes that decision to hire professional help.
Organically building brand awareness
The strategy for raising brand awareness I’m going to suggest below is based on being generous giving away value. Before hiring a service, many people start out by simply trying to find as much information as they can. In this early “research” phase you can establish a relationship with your target market and start to become known as an expert in your field.
The idea is share your knowledge and be genuinely helpful without asking for anything in return. By doing so, you can build strong relationships where you’re not only earning trust, but also able to educate your audience on the important features and benefits of what you do — this is all an important part of building brand awareness for your service-based business.
This is definitely a long-term strategy, best for those of you who have more time than money to spare (or can outsource the work). But the idea is that, when the time comes, your ideal clients will make the decision to get professional help and think of you first. You’ll have been able to create that “know, like, and trust” factor that pulls such weight when it comes to deciding which service business to go with.
Step 1: Know your brand message
This should really be step 0. After all, before you even think about raising awareness for your brand, you need a brand! And your core message is the key to a strong, meaningful brand.
So, the first step here is to ask yourself: What is the message here? What do I have to say?
Your message should be client-centric. It isn’t about knowing your offerings inside out and or explaining your process. Your message essentially defines:
- The problem your clients are struggling with.
- What their ideal outcome looks like (the ultimate goal for them).
- How you can get them there.
You need this message before you can go any further building brand awareness because this message underlies everything you put out into the world. The content you create and the value you provide (more on that in step 3) comes back to this message.
Related post: An easy exercise for writing a brand message
Step 2: Have a consistent visual brand identity
You want to make it easy for people to recognise when they’re interacting with your brand. People consume a lot of content and you want them to know when it’s your content they’re seeing, and to be able to relate it back to valuable past experiences they’ve had with your brand as well.
Use strong visuals that tie all your brand touchpoints together. This can include things like:
- using the same headshot on all your social media profiles
- having a limited brand colour palette
- establishing a typographic hierarchy and sticking to it
- making sure your logo is visible
- having a theme to your images
You want to differentiate yourself from the other businesses out there, and strong visuals make it easier to ensure your stuff stands out. Consistency with those visuals is how your audience starts to build on their awareness of your brand.
Related post: Why brand identity is important for your business
Step 3: Create and share content that relates to your message
Okay, this is where we really get into it. Share advice, how-to’s, stories, tips, info — anything your ideal client would find valuable. You can write blog posts, post on social media, start a podcast. Find a form of content creation that suits you and do it consistently.
What do you write/speak about? Anything related to your core brand message! Your brand message isn’t a stand alone statement that you copy paste onto your website’s “about” page. It’s something you can expand on. Something you can clarity in even more depth. It sets a standard of how your brand should act and the kind of value it should deliver.
Now, the reason you’re creating content comes down to growing an audience and generating quality leads for your business. The idea is that your target market is able to gain useful insights, and the more they find your content, the more they start to notice it’s from a source they’re familiar with. Over time they grow more and more recognition for your brand and develop a relationship with you.
When we’re talking about organic growth, it’s usually the slow and steady kind. But that’s not a bad thing at all. Slow and steady also tends to mean stronger and more sustainable in the long run.
Also read: How to build a community around your brand
Now, the thing about this content you create and why it’s so important that it relates back to your message, is that you want to close by offering your direct help. Let your audience to know that you have services that helps them put into action the advice they’d just read. Don’t waste a single opportunity to do this! So long as you’re putting out genuine value, your little pitch at the end won’t annoy anyone. In fact, to the right person it’ll be extremely helpful.
Step 4: Engage with your audience
Start conversations and work hard to keep them going. Whether it’s your email list, Instagram followers or people in your Facebook group or anywhere else — engage with the audience(s) you grow. Brand awareness comes with consistently showing up. Perhaps it was one excellent piece of content that brought a new lead into your community. But that alone is likely not enough to have reached a level of trust and recognisability that leads to gaining them as a client.
The best part of growing an audience is that you can directly ask them what they want. Ask for feedback about what you’re doing so far. What’s working? What more can you do to help them? Gain insight and adapt.
People are going to be more likely to remember your brand if they’ve ever felt compelled enough to respond to you directly. And it can definitely make a big impact if you take what they say and act on it.
So, that’s my take on building brand awareness as a service-based entrepreneur. I know I haven’t gone into great detail regarding the creation and sharing of content — that’s a whole thing in and of itself! The key thing I want you to take away is that when it comes to creating content, it needs to align when your message. There needs to be an underlying theme to everything you make and put out there that helps to point your audience back to your services. You want them to connect a certain need they have with an offer you sell. Make it super clear so that when they have need of services, they’ll think of you.
For help defining what your message should be, you can start by defining your unique brand foundation. Check out my Core Brand Pillars Workbook (it’s free!) for guidance on that.
Looking for more content? Try these!
- Branding tips to get more clients to your small business
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- Why brand values are important for connecting with clients
- What is brand strategy and why is it necessary?
- How to stand out and grow organically with authentic branding