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  • Writer's pictureLexy Spreitzer

Personal Branding Lesson 2: Audiences & Authenticity

[originally posted August 17 2019]

Welcome back to learning more from my mini-lessons! This personal branding lesson will focus on keeping your audience happy. Whether your audiences are customers, readers, or viewers, this mini-lesson will provide insight on how to appeal to them. This article is in relation to personal branding, not big-brand marketing or by-the-book target marketing.

Who ARE they?

Who are you trying to reach? I was helping out a friend with some branding the other day. He has this really cool clothing brand! I started out by having him list all of the goals he wants to reach with his brand. He answered questions like:

  • how will the brand inspire people or customers?

  • how will the brand help others & what value will it provide to them?

  • why would the audience for the brand want to come back, shop again, or read again?

I STRONGLY believe that every brand should focus on helping others. Whether you're marketing a clothing brand, Etsy shop, digital product, blog, or even yourself, always try to bring positive value to others. Don't focus on getting more followers, more profit, or more fame. These are usually huge goals to attain and majorly impact the success of a brand, but they should never be a brand's top priority!

WW (formerly Weight Watchers) is a bad example of bringing positive value to people. I am a huge advocate for body positivity and inclusiveness. For years, the diet industry has been a huge force on our perceptions of health. This industry neglects mental health and those struggling with eating disorders. It reinforces beauty standards that are exclusive and extreme. This industry, like almost all others, needs to drive its customers to spend money and create new ones. As such, it loves creating disordered eating habits, poor self-esteem, and a powerful illusion that physical attractiveness is all-important. WW understands that it needs to create a lifelong consumer market so it has recently targeted 8-year-olds with its new app, Kurbo. People are protesting against WW because shaming the bodies of 8-year-olds is absolutely awful. WW is trying to generate a future of major profits off its current customers and their children. Don't drive people to protest against your brand - always create genuine value for your people!

Okay, here's a GOOD example! The outdoor clothing brand Patagonia does not conduct business merely to generate profit. Instead, they give excess funds from tax cuts and business ventures to assist positive environmental efforts. Patagonia is a brand that is benefiting from their willingness to provide value to people through helping save the earth. They stand for something that all people will benefit from (even though not all people support being environmentally more sustainable). In other words, they have a goal to make the entire world a better place. Your brand doesn't need to save the world, however, it should focus on helping your audience!

So now you have an idea of what you can bring to your audience and what of value they are looking to read, view, or buy. I like to identify the needs of people first. This gives me a sense of the humanity of my audience before I categorize them into demographical boxes. This is not a typical approach, and it's sometimes very difficult to understand your audience before you categorize people. If you can attempt to understand this, however, it will give you more meaning to your brand and your audience.

Does your audience like to feel empowered for their unique differences? Do they have similar beliefs to yours? Here are some examples of how to translate the deeper meaning into demographics. This is my personal thought-process of targeting my audience! It goes through multiple steps: broad audience, sub-broad audience, targeted audience, & niche audience.

  • Your mission = a broad audience

  • developing ecologically sustainable ideas, concepts, or technologies = people who feel good while contributing less to the environmental crisis

  • Your product, service, inspiration, or ideas = the people within your broad audience who need what you're offering to them

  • If your broader audience is those who want to build their self-esteem and your product/inspiration is through photography, then that's your sub-broad audience

  • This step involves how you reach your audience. I reach my audience on Instagram and through my blog!

  • The people you want to reach out to the most = targeted audience

  • These are the people who you personally want to reach! You know what you can provide to them, how you can improve their lives, or how you can give them value.

  • My personal goal is to inspire those who have dealt with disordered eating, mental health struggles, and body image issues. I specifically love to help women with these issues, yet I also want to help everyone realize their worth & wonderfulness! My targeted audience focuses on helping all people of any background.

  • Your niche = specific ages, genders, or statuses of your audience

  • My niche audience for my personal brand are women who need to learn to love themselves wholly and unconditionally (these women include ALL women and those who identify as such). I love helping all who relate to my message, but these are the people who I aim to inspire most with my content! This is because I relate to them the most. Your niche audience doesn't need to personally relate to YOU, but instead, they should be a specific group of people that you want to target the most.

Read & Research!

A quick tip: if you're still looking to understand what your audience loves regarding aesthetics, visual branding, and content, do some research! The internet has amazing resources - take advantage of that! If you're trying to make an amazing and appealing Instagram feed, research what people in your audience are liking, tagging, interacting, and posting to get a better understanding. I might not be able to tell you how to effectively reach people who love professional golf (sorry, Dad), but there are definitely accounts and articles out there that'll give you valuable insight.

Don't Overwhelm & Keep Them Coming Back For More

Share your content over time. Don't tell everyone your purpose, mission, goals, and plans all in a few posts. Highlight different, small amounts of content within each post, product, or video. Not every bit of content needs to fulfill your utmost purpose. Keep your audience wanting to come back for more with everything you share. Writing down lists, keeping a planner, or organizing scheduled posts can help you if you have a lot to share! Planoly is an app that helps layout Instagram feeds before posting content.

If you're going to write a blog post on mental health, don't write 10 pages on four completely different mental issues. Write an article on how to relieve anxiety. Then, write a different article on how to manage depression. Maybe you'll only list a few management methods in the article and save the rest for a future one. Keep your audience ready for the next piece of content & don't forget to provide them value for their time spent with you and your brand.

Keep It Real, Keep It Honest

Above everything else in this article - stay real! What's the worst part about when your favorite musicians 'get super popular?' Their music becomes unrelatable! It's hard to connect with people when they become fake or ingenuine. Don't mimic famous bloggers, artists, or influencers. Be yourself - share what's amazing about YOU and YOUR BRAND! When you feel comfortable sharing your vulnerable side and your weaknesses, you're building relationships with your audience members. I share my struggles with my followers and readers so that they can feel inspired and hopeful. In fact, being real and vulnerable really helps me connect with and help others, thus enforcing my personal brand.

Respond to both positive and negative comments or feedback. You don't need to respond to all of them, but show your audience that you're listening to them. This creates a connective experience between them and your personal brand. Be a good listener! Relationships require effort from both ends of the spectrum. Don't just talk to people, but hear them when they talk back. This can further help you shape your brand to better provide value to your audience. Critical and negative feedback can only help you. And, once YOU know what's wrong or off, you can improve your ability to help people!

I hope you enjoyed this article & learned something amazing! xx

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