Sparkly neon platforms! High-performance sneakers! 6” transparent heels! Sustainable hemp flip-flops!
Congratulations!! With the power of metaphor and me drinking way too much coffee this morning, you are now a pair of shoes. And your ideal client? Well, lucky you – she just happens to be waltzing by a shoe store!
I’m using this brand = shoe metaphor because there’s a lot of confusion around what a brand actually is and why it matters when it comes to marketing to your target audience.
I spent the first few years of my business desperately trying to be someone I’m not. I built my brand around what I thought people wanted; terrified of offending someone, acting like I was excited about things I actually despised, trying to appeal to people I didn’t even want to work with. I expended a lot of energy trying to be The Very Best Photographer for Everyone. My website was all rose gold, script fonts, and safe language. In my social media posts, I talked a lot about the weather. Ew.
When I finally mustered up the courage to start showing up as myself in my business, to build a brand that felt honest, that’s when I really started connecting with people I actually wanted to work with. And marketing didn’t just get easy – it got fun.
Back at the shoe store, things are getting intense. Your ideal client: right outside. Your goal: be the newest member of her walk-in closet. The stakes: NEVER BEEN HIGHER. And right now you’re stuck in a shoe box amongst thousands of other shoes. So how are you going to stand out to her?
First, you have to catch her attention – she needs to know you exist. So perhaps you’re modeled in a captivating window display, or front and center at the end-cap of an aisle.
And then of course you need to communicate your value, and how you will make her life better. Maybe you’re the star subject of a radio ad that plays throughout the store. You could be the poster shoe for how shoes = happiness.
After that, you gotta make sure she tries you on. So you can make sure the space around you is inviting – maybe with a bench to sit on and a mirror nearby. You can be nestled in a very chic and intriguing box.
And when she finally opens the box, it’s your time to shine. This is the pivotal moment where it’s crucial to be the most honest shoe you can be. Because you don’t have to be the flashiest, brightest, or most colorful to convince her to try you on. You don’t even have to be the perfect shoe; you just have to be the perfect shoe for her.
Even though there are hundreds of other shoes you’re seemingly “competing” with in the shoe store, being visible to your ideal client doesn’t mean being MORE visible than all the other shoes. You don’t have to scream “LOOK AT ME, I’M THE BEST SHOE IN THE SHOE STORE! PICK MEEEE!” You don’t have to stand out above all the other shoes, you just have to stand out to your ideal client.