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March 10, 2017

5 Things Successful Creative Entrepreneurs Know About Their Message

Delivering a tight brand message is paramount to running a business, right?


But what is your brand message?

This question was flung my way on a webinar this week, and here’s how I answer it:

Your brand message is the WHAT you’re trying to communicate.

Your mission/vision/”why” statement is the — wait for it — WHY you’re trying to communicate.

Your tone and syntax is the HOW you communicate.

I hold my students’ hands through my Copywriting for Creatives course to teach them a process called brand messaging excavation, because I. totally. get. that figuring out how to do this can be a doozy.

‘Cause you want the perfect logo.

You want a gorgeous color palette.

You want a really pretty website.

But that’s a-hem, not your “branding.”

At least, that’s not ALL of it.

Your messaging and copy is the scaffolding upon which all those brand visuals sit — and if you haven’t hacked away at your messaging (i.e. can you tell me your mission, core values, elevator pitch, tagline if you’re into that sorta thing, unique selling proposition, positioning statement, etc.) … then you’ll be dead in the water when it comes to a saturated market.

The good news is that we can learn a LOT by looking at some creative entrepreneurs that have NAILED their brand message.

Catch 5 things that successful creative entrepreneurs do when it comes to their brand message -- with 5 take-aways so you can DIY your own messaging!

Truthfully, I’m pretty sure I could get an email from each of these ladies — and yes, they’re all clients because teach what you know, right — and know exactly who sent what, even without reading the signature.

Their brand messaging is THAT distinct.

Let’s take a page from their books, deal?

Jenna Kutcher: Defines her brand’s voice on paper.

Jenna’s been a business mentor to me … I *think* she’s aware. It’s hard to tell you I’ve watched Jenna’s business explode this past year, because as most of us would say, it’s been exploding for a few years.

But seeing this woman grow her team — enough to take a month sabbatical for the first time in 5 years — reckons the truth: she’s been a mastermind of disseminating her brand message no matter the outlet.

So much so that when I came on to write for her the first time and asked for any brand style guide, she shot over a “Jenna-isms” page she already had. WIN!

Takeaway: Master your brand’s voice … and put it on paper.

Yes, this means you’ll need to write down phrases you say often. Yes, this means you’ll use the same words across channels. This means you’ll think like “I feel like I tell them this all the time … “ Good. That’s what it takes to get a message statement to sink in. How else did you learn “Just Do It” or AllState’s Mayhem cautionary tale voice? You heard them 100 times.

Then, put it on paper. Take it from me: I teach this to my Copywriting for Creatives students, and if you teach it, you have to do it, right? 🙂 Well, I’m so glad I did: I turned to my brand voice guide when I was stuck, and now that I’m growing a team, I’ve been able to hand it off to my studio manager and associate copywriters and say hey, this is what we sound like!

Oh, and if figuring your brand voice out sounds terrifying, I got you, boo.


Abby Grace: Speaking to your ICA’s most impressionable years SELLS.

One of my favorite parts of Abby’s website is on her about page, designed by Jen Olmstead.

Abby emails pop culture references so naturally that hit perfectly with me (and I like to think I’m similar to the kind of bride she’s going after). Also, she does this subconsciously: it’s just how she communicates with her audience. We sprinkled in 90s rap references (she really does say things like “you da you da best!”) and the like into her email sequence for A Practical Wedding Workshop’s course launch.

Why does it work?

Well, because fine-tuning your copy to focus on a demographic can uptick the profitability. When you get your nostalgic references JUST right … email click-through rates and conversion copy can skyrocket. You learn these things from surveys, of course, but it’s nice to know.

There’s a case study out there about a business that switched their campaign to include a Ford Mustang and Rolling Stones music — their target was 64-year-old men — and they hit the nail on the head.


Takeaway: Figure out what was going on in the world when your dreamboat client came of age.

What pop culture nuances settled into her psyche? Sprinkle them in occasionally … they really do build trust!

Heather: Core values need to be posted.

One of our first challenges in our group coaching Savvy Business Circle program was to not only define our core values, but to publish them on our website.

Heather’s values couldn’t be a more definitive construct of the business she’s built — what’s more, they’re a key player in attracting the right women to the team she’s grown.

One of my Copywriting for Creatives students Kelsey did this (there’s a unit on excavating your core values), and they look fab:

Takeaway: Define your core values, and add them somewhere in your external facing message.

Your website’s great, or even an Instagram post will do when it comes to getting these out in your messaging. Nothing attracts your dream clients and repels the ones you don’t care for so much like core values, huh?

Christina Scalera: Find the gap, fill it.

Christina makes the nerdy analytical synapses of my brain fire like laser tag guns: Christina becomes a student of what her tribe wants, and then builds it.

Never the other way around.

So much so that — and I really admire this in our industry — Christina was the first person to tell me that, at least to her, Instagram follower count was a vanity number.



Yes. Reina Pomeroy mentioned it on Megan Martin’s Instagram Summit this past week, too, asking listeners if we were putting a lot of time into something that didn’t lend itself to an ROI.

Pay attention to Christina’s messaging. Watch how any piece of content she creates is always crafted in a way to study. She’s always calculating, wondering what people need, and how to serve them … because she knows THAT is where the money is in the messaging. It’s not just in a killer Instagram feed. Instagram can be vanity numbers … but when you find the gap and fill it, you’re reducing your messaging to a clear science.

And data-driven marketing always works!

Takeaway: Survey your audience, give what they’re asking for.

Find the gap, fill it. Oh, and read Ryan Lavesque’s book “Ask.” 😜

Jessica RAsdall: Turn your mess into a message.

Be still my heart. I met Jessica and her purple hair under a twinkle-lit patio when she was in Atlanta for her book writing retreat, and her messy, battered coming-of-age story gripped me. I’ll let you read it here, but my heart was in my throat.

This woman could be labeled to the nth degree … but in an unreal act of courage, she went on to position her story in a way that challenged others to consider their actions, and ended up being featured in outlets like ABC 20/20, MTV, The Today Show, and countless universities and high-schools.


And only by grace.

Even working on copy for her upcoming launch shows me her innate talent of drawing this out in others, helping them figure out what story is there that can be translated and communicated into a succinct (and typically profitable) message that serves others.

Takeaway: Hash out your messy story, and how it makes you different from anyone else.

In my signature course, I teach this to my students as your Onlyness Factor, so see if you can excavate your own onlyness factor: what about your story equips you to serve the world how you do?

In sum, I look up to each of these women so much and how they create a culture around their messaging. We definitely have more than 5 things to learn from them, but hey, it’s a start!


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