Is your brand story all about YOU? If it is… you’re doing it wrong. Your customer needs to be not only included, but FOCAL in your brand story if you want to connect with them on a real human-t0-human level.
And that takes a bit of intention and work. And luckily… there’s a method for that. Sean will walk you through the exact process you can take RIGHT NOW to help include your customer in your messaging more than ever – so you’re never leaving them out when you really want to pull them in.
Check out the entire library of branding episodes here.
Alyson Lex 0:03
Understanding your point of view is one of the hardest things to do in your business because we want to be authentically ourselves. But we also want to connect with our people in the right way. And that is a struggle. And so Jenny and I met Sean Atkinson, and he's a branding and marketing strategist. And when we talked with him, he we had so much fun letting him go get up on his soapbox about this, because really getting that clarity is something that that so many business owners struggle with. And that's why he's here with us today to talk about this. Shawn, thanks so much for, for coming on the show.
Sean Atkinson 0:45
Thank you so much for having me. I'm enjoying the opportunity already.
Alyson Lex 0:50
Awesome. We are so excited. We talked right before this about maybe raining in your New Yorker, but we encourage you to get sassy so I want to try to recreate the magic with this little bit of soapbox here. Talk to me about figuring out your brand and getting that kind of clarity where where do people go wrong?
Sean Atkinson 1:12
I would say people go wrong with thinking it's more about them than it is about their audience. And where they fall short is, it's like being in a room and talking about yourself at a party, to the point that people realize, all you've done is talked about yourself. And you never left room for them to say anything about themselves. So I would say marketing is the practice of reading the room. And advertising is taking the information that you take in and then being able to put that out to the audience and having that communication and everything with them from that.
Jennie Wright 1:58
But how do you get people to read the room? Like I mean, I get the analogy a lot, the whole party thing and speaking, you know more about yourself than other people. But how do you? How do you read the room properly? Like when we're first starting out? Or even if we're reinventing ourselves in our own businesses, we tend to fall back on known sort of paradigms that people use in marketing, I guess, how do we create that uniqueness? With ourselves in this?
Sean Atkinson 2:30
Sure. Well, that goes back to my 543 method to to brand clarity. We look at the brand journey, and we try to look at specifically, what is it that your brand journey? What led up to you bringing this to market? What led up to you having that? Why was it something that you experienced, and you want to be able to share it with someone? Is it something that you've seen people struggle with, and you want to be able to step in and help them? There's a lot of different reasons people bring things to market, and those are going to be the differentiators for people.
Alyson Lex 3:15
So I want to I want to dive into that part that you just said just a little bit more, right. I've seen people struggle with this, and I want to help them. But that's still very me focused. So how do I position it in that outward way? That doesn't talk about me because I can help people write copy. I see people struggle with copy. I'm awesome at that. I'll teach you or I'll do it for you. That's still 100% About Allison, great topic, but not what my people want to hear. Well,
Sean Atkinson 3:51
a good starting point is looking at frequently asked questions. One of the great places to be able to identify the problem is to go into groups, do your research online. That's what you're getting the actual language from. Instead of using jargon and industry words and things that only matter to people in the industry. What you're doing is you're actually using their words, their struggles, what they have prioritizing. And then you're repeating it back to them and saying, Listen, you're not alone. I'm here with you, I understand it. And these are some of the ways that we can address it. And here's a solution that I specifically have that I think can help get you to your goal.
Jennie Wright 4:33
Okay, so earlier, you talked about this 543 method, can you explain it a little bit like I want to understand it deeply.
Sean Atkinson 4:41
So, for me, starting with the five, it's the brand journey, the target audience, the business model, the business basics, and the marketing basics. When you start there, that's the foundation that you're going to build your brand around. That's going to allow you to be able to dig into your brand journey of what experiences led up to us saying, I want to be able to create something to bring it to the market? What's your why? What led up to it? Those are the things where you can start talking about yourself. And then you start to look at where's the overlap with the actual target target audience? So again, marketing is not just about figuring out your brand journey, but it's also looking at your actual target audiences. Where are they struggling? What's their wants, what's their needs, it could even be guilty pleasures, you have to know how to be able to look at how they are prioritizing things. And if you can figure out their priorities, then that's where you can start to look at the buyers journey, and you find the best place to be able to step in there. So the 543 is not only identifying what makes sense, but it's looking at the buyers journey is looking at the target audience. And it's looking at how can you bring something to market that's gonna allow you to be able to bypass that that impostor syndrome, where you go in, you feel like you've got a good idea, but you don't necessarily feel confident about it. You can't do your elevator pitch, because you still feel like yeah, I don't know if I have it exactly the way they don't want to be able to do it. And that's a big difference in sales. If you don't believe it, why would somebody else believe?
Jennie Wright 6:28
I get that as well. And I'm just jumping in because I knew Alison was taking some notes for our show notes on my notes. I think I think the people get hung up on this impostor syndrome side of things. I think people get hung up on the what makes me different. Something that my partner used to say to me over and over and over again, years ago was how do you stand out from what people could just search on Google? Right? Like, how are you a differentiator from like, how is your information unique? Versus if I put the same the same search parameters into Google kind of thing? And I guess my question is for you, I mean, how do you deal with clients that have major impostor syndrome? How do you get them to see that what they create is unique? What is your special method for that?
Sean Atkinson 7:15
That's the four of the 543. It's looking at your target audience, your solution, your why, and your experience? It's
Jennie Wright 7:26
just to get them out of it.
Sean Atkinson 7:28
It is when you're doing when you're doing where you're reinforcing them throughout the process. Because if you're putting something in place where you're talking about, well, why did you choose to do this? What did you see in the market that made you feel like this is something that I really need to be able to bring in so that I can either stop someone from having the experience, help them overcome an experience, it can be preventative measures, when you dig into their why, and you put a solution around it, it gives them a little bit more confidence to be able to take that next step forward. And then when you start to look at the differentiators, that's where they can start to see well, it's not just an idea, it's special, because this is what makes it special. And when you can start to dig into it, that way, you can start to build up the confidence. But personally, one of the things that I do is I listen to the words that people are using, I, again, read the room, when I hear someone say, well, I might be able to and one day, these are things that I correct them on, we're on the path of getting you to your actual goal. So we're going to take all the dow of the things that you're saying, and we're gonna make it so that we're actually speaking these things into existence. So you're building that trust, you're reinforcing, this is actually going to happen. And when you build things out in phases, so that they can see the progress that they're making, it makes a huge difference with someone that's just starting out.
Alyson Lex 8:57
Alright, so we've got the five, the foundation, those five pieces of the foundation, then we have the four things that set us apart. You know, I got to fill up my notes, what are the three?
Sean Atkinson 9:09
The three are the three stages of business, there's the past, the present, and the future. And again, this goes back to marketing. Because if you're, for example, a business that's been around for a little while, you can lean into the static marking a little bit more. This is where we started out. We've had some people that have been with us, listen to them tell their story about the journey that we've had together. If you're a completely new business, then you're looking at the president. And you're saying this is what we're bringing to market. This is the solution that you're struggling with right now what the problem that you're struggling with right now. And here's the solution that we're bringing to market for it. And that's where you see a lot of ads where people are saying, Are you struggling with this? Is this a problem that you're having? It's speaking currently about someone's situation and making It'll bring it up where it's almost like agitating to make someone think about it, and then saying, here's the solution for you. And then the future is talking about preventative measures. So there are there are things you're putting out where you say, almost like going to the gym, where you can say, if you do these things, now, this is where the gold is going to be able to get you. It's the same thing with health and Medicare, like anything medical, when you're thinking about different things that you can do to be able to prevent stuff that comes up. That that's a whole different marketing strategy. So Past, Present Future. And when you're thinking about your marketing strategy, you can use all three, but you're going to focus more on one, because that's going to be your sweet spot. And when you can identify that, again, it goes back to having that level of confidence.
Alyson Lex 10:53
And I think one of the things that I wanted to mention that is important is it's not necessarily where you think the biggest benefit or the biggest bang for your buck or owner is going to come from it's your customers so I can absolutely leverage past it right. I was trained by some old school direct response copywriters. I've got a long history. I've been doing this for a lot longer than many freelance copywriters that are my peers. But my customers mostly don't care about that every once in a while I get one and then I'm a name drop like crazy. So I use it very specifically. But my customers are thinking about right now. They're not thinking about the future. They're not thinking about their launch in two years. They're thinking, I'm doing this in the next three months. I need this now. So it's absolutely not about what you want to focus on. It's what your customers want to focus on. Correct? Absolutely. So help me, help me help our listeners understand what that actually looks like. Because I think we talked about the three. But how do we use the five and the four? In their marketing? How do they actually implement that?
Sean Atkinson 12:15
Sure. So when you're looking at the five and the for the research that you're doing is leading up to, which is going to be the best lane for the past, present, and future. So when you're researching your target audience, the easiest way to think about it is you're not trying to sell the product, you're selling the problem? Is this what you're struggling with, if this is what you're struggling with, where are you in the buyers journey? Are you at the point where you feel like it's a problem, but how are you still getting by? Versus Oh, no, this is a problem, I need to address it yesterday. So if you're talking to someone that's prioritizing it that way, then you're gonna approach it knowing that it's a shorter bias during, and you need to be able to give them the solution right away versus someone that may have a problem, and they don't really know what it is to identify it and put their finger on it. That's something where it's gonna be a longer buyers journey, and you have more time to be able to walk them through it. So that's not going to be a future that's going to be present. If they're prioritizing it, you're talking about, we can fix this now. If they're not really sure, and they can't put their finger on it. That's something that can be more in the future. Something's bugging you, you don't know exactly what it is. Let's, let's talk through it. Have you dealt with this? Have you dealt with this? Have you dealt with this, then maybe it's this. And that's where you can start to talk about Well, now let's see how much of it a priority is for you? Where are you struggling with it in your life? Is it something where you're still getting by? Because you might not need to address it right now. It might be something that you want to look at later. That's future. If you've been dealing with it forever. And you felt like you got over it, and then it came back up again, then that's something you may look at the past and be able to say when you were struggling with it before. How big of a problem was it for you? Do you feel like it's coming back up again? Are you worried about it? Let's talk about what it was like before. And let's figure out how to make sure that it doesn't come back again.
Jennie Wright 14:24
It sounds to me like there's an important aspect to what you're talking about, which has everything to do with knowing your niche. Yes. And we've had you know, we've had Jason Wheeler on this podcast who talks about niche. We've talked about niche and other episodes. Talking about it with you. I'd like to understand a little bit because it sounds like figuring this out. You know, I've kind of noticed that a lot of people stop at the who have their demographic, they don't really go any deeper and they don't go into the depths that you're talking about. Tell me how important it is to Go deeper so that you can fully understand your niche. And what are the benefits of doing that?
Sean Atkinson 15:04
Sure. If I may, I'll give you a little bit of a story to lead into why it's so important to me. Yeah. When I was a teenager, and I wanted to get my first car, my father was like, well, you're working for it, I'm not just going to give you the cards. So I ended up being one of those guys in the mall that did marketing service. And it was something where they gave us the questions, they said, these are going to be the qualifiers you need, just be able to get to question five, in order to be able to find out if somebody qualifies. And we want to be able to gather all the rest of the information from there. That forced me to not only look at the questions, but to be able to read the room, because I couldn't keep my job and I couldn't get my car if I didn't get enough people. So for me, it was one of those things of okay. Okay, more, I'm gonna figure out not only how to be able to get these people, but I need to be able to read each person. So I tell them when somebody's in a hurry. I can't ask questions one and two, I need to get to three, four, and five, the juicy ones that people really would like, just get to the point. Okay, well, I'll get to the point. And then I'll circle back and qualify those other ones after I've already got your interest. Knowing those things, is what allowed me to be able to say the better you know, your audience, the more you can get to the results that you're looking for. I had more completions than everybody else on my team, because I took the time to be able to notice. Okay, the last time I saw you walked through the mall, you said you didn't have time? Perfectly fine. Your sauntering today, you got a little bit more time. So for you? Yes, yeah, let's pick back up up on it. And let's see where this can actually be something that could be helpful for you. And sometimes you just be honest, like, I would let them know, listen, these brands are asking these questions, because they want to see where they can get better. You're in here shopping. Let me ask did you when you went in our store, did you find everything that you were looking for? No, actually, they didn't have this distance time. They didn't have this this time. I've seen you go in that store three or four times each time you came out, you didn't have a bag in your hand? What happened? Oh, well, they didn't have my size. Well, they said they were gonna order. Now, if you can speak directly to the brand, you can say, Listen, this is my sides. I'd love it if you had it in the store. So I didn't have to keep making these trips back. Do you now see why it's important for us to be able to have these conversations. You know what, I got five minutes. Let me just go and answer these questions. And I'll even add them a little bit note. So in this way, we can relate your messaging over to the brand as well. Those are the things that allowed me to be able to look at the buyers journey, the importance of it, and identifying where people are in it. And when you can speak to that person in that specific moment. With the right message, you're always going to get the results that you're looking for.
Alyson Lex 18:07
I love that story. And not that I go to the mall that often anymore, because most of my shopping happens at 4am on an impulse basis. Thank you, Ada, ADHD, and Amazon. But I'm definitely going to have a different view of those the survey takers, because I didn't think about it from that way. And I think that what you talked about was not only receiving feedback, but also handling objections using that feedback. Because they're coming out of that store. They're frustrated, they're, they're probably this is my fourth time here. They said they were going to order it, they don't have it. And now you want me to what. And so now you're overcoming the objections using the benefit they're really looking for, which is ultimately their size in that store. And I wanted to point that out, because I actually felt that was really, very poignant and good for sales calls and one on one conversations, but help our listeners understand how this would work on a one to many scale, like on our website, right? Because not everybody's going to be at the same place. Not everybody's coming out of that store without a bag and frustrated. So how do we kind of collect all this information and use it in our advertising rather than our one on one marketing and sales?
Sean Atkinson 19:35
Sure. Well, that goes back to advertising being what happens after you've already gathered all that information, and now you're starting to have their compensation. After doing the marketing, I went into advertising and what I realized was, you get that one person and then you multiply that person into 1015 20 100 1000 people. So you're how Having that one conversation, but you're having with 1000 people that think the same exact way, someone that just went through that experience. So that's where being niche comes down to, you don't need to speak to everybody, you just need to be able to speak to that one situation to that one person. And even if it's someone that didn't have that exact same thing, that exact same circumstances and situation, if it's even close, you're starting to gain their attention. Because the whole point is to be able to have someone relate to what it is that you're saying, enough for them to be able to hear you out. So you go to a website, what do you have like three seconds at the most? That first thing that gets you to scroll a little bit further down? is the whole point. And then you have something at that next one. Okay, so maybe that wasn't an exact fit for you. How about this. And then you just keep working it down so that you work your way through that funnel. So by the time you're done, you've narrowed them down into a segment that allows you to be able to have a conversation with them the way that you want to be able to have it. So I don't believe in a spray to pay. Like you don't just run around and just advertise to everyone. You find a specific person that you feel like you bond with. And you have that we're here. I've been here, I've been through that. So for me, I can give an example. I'm 6869. I remember going to stores and they told my mother when I was 1011 12. They already started telling her you got to start bringing your kid in his age matches his shoe size. And we're getting up to the point where we're not going to have this size, you're gonna break his confidence. You need to find a way to be able to help him find shoes and stuff that he wants to be able to not only wear, but fit. So I don't shop at the mall either. When I went to the mall, I went to the mall with my friends because they wanted to hang out in the mall. And only thing that I could get with short sleeved T shirts, because I knew this stuff wasn't going to fit me. That's a conversation that I could have with someone and say, Are you tired of hanging out with your friends, going to the mall and knowing that there's things that don't fit you? Here's what you can do, you can look online. Or if you're being more specific, we understand your struggle. We have big man tall man stuff that let them go shot, go hang out with them. But when you go home, get the stuff that you know this is going to fit you where people don't understand what your struggle is. And the same goes for tall people as it goes for people that that that have smaller sizes. Not all stores carry things for everyone. They try to find that that middle ground that one size fits all that range that they know that they can make sure that it fits as many people as possible. And then there's the specialist stores. That's why so many people shop online now.
Jennie Wright 23:06
That's how that market has grown. And I really want to emphasize something that you said that I'm first of all, I love it is that, you know, when we niched down, super niche down, we get like people freak out, they actually get really scared. And I've seen my partner help people niche down and they get super, super scared when you say, Okay, we start eliminating all these potential people. And they freak out because they think Oh, my God is gonna leave me nobody left. That's actually not the case. We have so many people that will be in your perfect niche. I mean, 1000s and 1000s if not hundreds of 1000s it's not going to be 15 people, it's going to be a large swath. So you were talking about the fact that you know, your 6768 you were your age was your shoe size when you were a teenager and all that kind of stuff. Right? And you probably felt like it was you know, you were the only person experiencing that but you're not and you weren't and there were you know, nowadays there are more specialty stores there weren't as many back then I had the same thing happened to me but differently. I used to ride horse I used to horseback ride competitively. And you have to when you're in a show, you have to be dressed a certain way. And one of the things is having these like specialty boots, well the specialty boots off the rack never fit me because I have a larger circumference of my legs. I had to have them custom made I had to have everything custom made. And there was one store one outfitter near me that could do all of that. And they didn't have a problem and they didn't make you feel shamed that you had a larger size or you had to have you know a special circumference of your boot and things like that. Because the circumference of my boot was the size of a man's neck anyways thank you to the Irish Scottish background of my family but what I'm what I'm the point I'm trying to make is that you feel alone in the moment. And I think from the buyer side, you feel like nobody maybe carries your thing or has what you want, which is one thing, from the business side, the owner side, you think that your ideal client pool is extremely small if you niche down, which is not the case. And though the point between the two is the marketing piece, that brand piece, so it's properly marketed to find that ideal person, and which is a lot easier than it is than it was several years ago. Am I right about that? Yes, you are. So what you do and what we're trying to talk about in this episode, and share with people is a lot easier than it was 1015 years ago? Oh, absolutely. Yeah. So that feeling of not having that disconnect with your potential ideal client, is something you can more easily overcome now than you could have before. And even though it feels insurmountable, and people have that feeling of imposter syndrome, etc. It's so much more, it's so much more, it's so much easier now than it was.
Sean Atkinson 26:06
It is, I would say the win is where as a brand, you realize you're not alone. So that imposter syndrome goes away, when you're speaking your story to an audience that you felt like, well, maybe it's too small, and then you realize how many other people feel the exact same way. That's part of building up their confidence. That's why you niche down, because when you can say I thought about this, and this, again, it goes back to your why and your experience, if your experiences were that you dealt with this, and you say, You know what, I went through it, and I don't want anyone else to have to go through this and struggle and feel like they were alone in it. When you reach out to that next person, you realize, okay, so I wasn't alone. And you both have that moment. So it's not just about them, it's also about you, and it builds up your confidence to be able to okay, then this is an audience that I can be able to speak to, and you speak more comfortably. You, you kind of bypass that feeling of Well, I don't know, when it's iffy, then you really drop your guard. And by dropping your guard. That's where brand loyalty comes in. Because you are having a conversation with them. And they feel like they know you. And that's where you can really start to build out your audience, you get the brand champions, and you go from that 110, five 100 or 1000. To people that can say, well, it's not my exact situation. But that's an experience I would love to have.
Jennie Wright 27:31
Absolutely agree. Well, we could stay on and talk about this for ages in a day, we're gonna have to wrap this episode up. Where can people find out more information about you get in touch with you all that kind of stuff?
Sean Atkinson 27:45
Sure. It's majority media on Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, the basic platforms, majority dot media is the website. If you're interested in the 513 method, and you're more of a DIY person, majority dot Academy, I've got an introduction that kind of walks through some of what we talked about. And then there's the actual course where they can take the course and go through these steps and be able to ask the right questions to lead them to the right answers.
Jennie Wright 28:16
Perfect. And we'll make sure that the links for that all end up in our show notes. So everybody will have access to that. And you know, we're gonna wrap this up in just a second. But I want to note that our show notes will have all of this and this is episode 180. So it's going to be system to thrive.com, forward slash 180. You can find out all about that.
Alyson Lex 28:32
Alright, so I want to ask one last question. Yeah. What is one thing that you'd like our listeners to take away that maybe we haven't talked about? Yet? On this episode? What's your kind of final thoughts?
Sean Atkinson 28:52
First, you're not alone. There's a path for every lead. So any one thing that you're thinking about, chances are, there's someone else thinking about it. So there's always an audience for whatever idea that you're coming up with, you just have to be able to package it in a way that allows you to be able to get it out to that person. And then it's just having the confidence to be able to do it. The other part is respect the process. If you the better you understand the process and the buyers journey, the more you'll be able to figure out where your best avenue to be able to actually get to that person. And then from there, the rest will fall into place.
Alyson Lex 29:31
I love that. I love that you're not alone. Which little copy tidbit is one of the most powerful things you can say in your marketing, because we don't want to feel alone. And again, if you want to trust the process and have the right process, we'll have the links on our website at system to thrive.com Search for episode 180. And you can check out the resources that Sean has for you, Sean, thanks again for being here. We really appreciate all of the information that you shared today.
Sean Atkinson 29:58
Thank you so much later is I've enjoyed it and hopefully I can come back and we can go into more details on other parts.
Alyson Lex 30:05
I love it. And for those of you listening if you love this episode, please do feel free to head over to your favorite podcast platform. Hit that follow or subscribe and give us a review. We love open and honest reviews. Give us your feedback. Let us know if there's anybody or any topic that you want us to cover. We read every single one of them. Thank you for listening and we'll be back next time