<img height="1" width="1" style="display:none" src="https://www.facebook.com/tr?id=658263587654409&ev=PageView&noscript=1" /> Blog | Page 2 of 35 | Blog from Ashlyn Carter | Launch Expert & Copywriter for Creatives

All the words to describe your “why” that can’t just live tucked on a shelf somewhere in your brain—they need to go on paper, as part of the “mood board” for your words.

^^ That’s your brand positioning messaging, and a big part of that? Your core values.

Let’s better articulate ~your why~ into words by defining core values, sound good?

How to write your core values | Ashlyn Writes

You focus a lot on your “branding” on the visuals—logo, color palette, mood board …

… all important, as visuals are the medium that relay up to 90% of messages to our brain.

BUT, do you have a mood board for the WORDS you’re using to market your business?

I work with thousands of creative small business owners. And out of the gate, I notice that most of us haven’t defined this on paper, for many different reasons … but chiefly because we start out as a team of one and it feel like we don’t need to … by the time hiring a VA, a this-and-that manager, a this-and-that strategist starts … we’re too busy doing the work of the freak show (I say that with so much love) that entrepreneurship is, that writing brand messaging & core values is—meh—at the bottom of the lsit.

In this post, I’m unpacking this part of the brand message you need to have in place before you write conversion copy for your website.

You’ll learn:

  • What exactly the whole “brand positioning” thing IS
  • 6 examples of core values from other businesses
  • 5 steps to writing your own core values
  • 7 things to make sure your core values are *not*

 

As you inch closer to writing your own website words, you may need today’s freebie to help you out a bit. Click below to grab your Google Docs Website Copywriting mini-template!


VIDEO


What are core values?

Like I said above, core values are part of a bigger piece of messaging—your brand positioning.

And when you have core values that align and drive your business (whether it’s just you or a tiny team), things are CLEAR.

But when you don’t?

Well … that’ll become clear, too. 😜

Your core values are a small set of timeless guiding principles you’ll use to be the north star as you grow, make decisions, build a culture (even if you’re just a solopreneur) and hire/choose which contractors to outsource to.

BUT.

You cannot just Harry Potter-wand ~conjure~ your core values—you can only discover the ones that are already there.

In Traction, Gino Wickman says “core values already exist within your organization—they’ve just been lost in the day to day chaos.”

“Core Values already exist within your organization-they've just been lost in the day to day chaos.” -Gino Wickman Click To Tweet

Another way to say it?

Core values are simply “the way we do things around here.”

To pull another quote, Jim Collins says “Executives often ask me, ‘How do we get people to share our core values?’ You don’t. Instead, the task is to find people who are already predisposed to sharing your core values. You must attract and then retain these people and let those who aren’t predisposed to sharing your core values go elsewhere.”

So that’s a relief, yeah? You already have them floating around!

It’s now your job to catch them … and put them on paper.


Examples of Core Values

I pulled a round-up from some other businesses to give you a start of how your core values may look.

For the record, I like memorizeable things. Thus, 5 core values is what *my* opinion is should be your max. <<< Maybe I just suck at memorization (TBH, I kinda do), but if you’re not able to spout them out quickly, woof. That’s the point.

Don’t have more core values than you can memorize.

Atlanta Tech Village’s core values:

 Atlanta Tech Village

Jackson Spalding’s core values (note: this is the full-service communications firm I worked for and adored—we each had a framed copy of the values on our desk, which I LOVED!)

Jackson Spalding

Barnes & Noble Booksellers core values:

Customer Service
Quality
Empathy
Respect
Integrity
Responsibility
Teamwork

American Express’s core values:

Basecamp’s core values:

Whole Food’s core values:

Selling the highest quality natural and organic products available
Satisfying and delighting our customers
Supporting team member excellence and happiness
Creating wealth through profits and growth
Caring about our communities and our environment
Creating ongoing win-win partnerships with our suppliers
Promoting the health of our stakeholders through healthy eating education


4 Steps to Writing Your Own Core Values

Step  01: Start with “why,” as they say.

First, be dedicated to the concept of starting with ~why~ … it’s  concept I mentioned early: “People don’t buy what you do, they buy why you do it.”

Watch Simon Sinek’s “Start with Why” TEDTalk. I know it’s in the creativepreneur starter kit, but watch it once again.

How to write your core values for your small business | Ashlyn Writes

Just like we said at the beginning, the important thing to realize is that YOUR CORE VALUES ARE ALREADY THERE, we just have to name them.


Step 02: Have a “values storm” session.

Next, pull out a blank sheet of paper and have a “values storm” brainstorm session so to speak. Set a timer for 5 minutes, and pull out a piece of paper. Until the timer dings, WRITE & answer these questions (psst—if you have a team, make everyone do this separately. You’ll have different answers, but that’s the point):

  • What values do you personally cling to? Believe in firmly?
  • Why did you decide to go into business—what did you want to change?
  • What’s ONE value you want every team hire (or contractor you look to for outsourcing) to share?
  • What’s something your business would NEVER do?
  • What ticks you the heck off?
  • ^^^ And related to that, what’s the deeper meaning behind why that makes you angry?

Didya fill up that blank page?

Side note: If you’ve already served clients and customers for a while, when you start to think about how to write core values for your business, it may be helpful to first think about what comes out MOST boldly during dire straights or sticky client situations. i.e. When you hit bumpy waters serving clients and customers, WHY did that get bumpy? What values were at stake??

“The brand’s values should be so strong and so clear … that behavior on social media that doesn’t reflect the brand would be completely out of character,” one of my favorite digital media experts Kevin Sandlin says.

So, what are the guns you stick to?


Step 03: Vet other sources.

Ok, we ransacked your brain for values nuggets.

And your team, if you have one.

Now, let’s flesh out your own ideas with supporting evidence that rings true for you.

Here’s how you can do that:

First, look through your Pinterest feed. Are there quotes that hit ya hard stuck on a Pinterest board of quotes? Jot those down.

AshlynWrites_PinterestGIF

Next, what about your saved Instagram posts? Your screenshot folder in your iPhone (or wherever you corral memorable quips)?

Third, Gino Wickman recommends naming 3 people you admire & jotting down characteristics they embody.

I freaking love this.

Traction_Giphy

 

If you have a team, think about 3 members of your team. But if you’re riding solo, think about those you emulate: What leadership traits do your mentors or coaches have? They’re psuedo extended team members, paid or not, and you can use them as a reference point.

Finally, let’s look at personality tests. Beyond Buzzfeed, have you ever had one you were like, FRICK YES, THAT IS SO ME? I definitely have. 😉 So, let’s vet those for ideas: Be it Strengths Finder (my favorite!), Myers-Briggs, or even the Ashlyn Writes “What’s Your Selling Style” quiz (was that shameless enough for you?), if there’s a test that’s been particularly helpful for your personal development, grab your results and see what some of your leadership traits are. Phrases there can make great core values.


Step 04: Sore into buckets, and trim down to as many as you can memorize.

When we’re working with students inside Copywriting for Creatives, the next step I recommend is we sort into buckets. Your core values are SOMEWHERE in this long list you created in steps 1-3.

So, start to piece bits and pieces together. String phrases into words. Combine things that are alike. Strike through stuff that’s good, but not great

Which values are similar-ish enough that you can group them together?

Pull the BEST way to say that out as the bucket name (which will likely become the core value).

Then, trim your ideas down to a list you can memorize. There’s no set number … but like I said above, 5 is a good place to park. 

Gut check this final list you have: are they clear, bite-size, and easily understood? Memorable? Like, literally, can you memorize them (if not, REWORK them)?

Sleep on this initial draft for a week or so, tweak, and put them on a sticky note near your laptop. Something may come up you’ve forgotten, or a certain work situation will remind you of a value so deep down in your being you forgot to list it.

Taking a page from Einstein’s “If you can’t explain it simply, you don’t understand it well enough” quote, mine are fairly close to how I operate with personal core values—that may be helpful too, if you’re a creative entrepreneur.


Finally, remember this: if your values only live on paper, it’s just an out-of-touch wish list.

“Executives spend too much time drafting, wordsmithing, and redrafting vision statements, mission statements, values statements, purpose statements, aspiration statements, and so on.

They spend nowhere near enough time trying to align their organizations with the values and visions already in place.”

– Jim Collins

Now you can use your core values to

  • Attract the right customers/clients, contractors, & teammates
  • Train anyone you’re outsourcing to or hiring
  • Review (and or hire/let go) anyone on your team

What is one core value YOU would have in your creative small business? Tell me in the comments below!


How to write your core values for your small business | Ashlyn Writes

Reading Time: 7 Minutes

Core values may be my very favorite part of the branding process! They’re the canvas for all the brand painting you’ll do. But how do you pull them together, and what do they look like? Taking a page from Einstein’s “If you can’t explain it simply, you don’t understand it well enough” quote, mine are easy-peasy, and I’d love to teach you five steps to write your own.

If you’ve ever wondered how to writes a work-with-me page or a great services page, you’re in the right place. In this post, I’m breaking down how to explain what you do for your paid services in a way that brings all your potential clients to the yard. 😉  Hit like if this page on your website needs to be refreshed or rewritten or written from scratch, and let’s get going.

This is the final part in a three-part series where I’m talking through some things you can do to get your business up off the ground or breathe fresh life into it. You can open up another tab and catch up on the other two here!

I’m also starting another series on email marketing copywriting—if you don’t wanna miss that, then click the subscribe button on my YouTube channel so you’ll be in the loop to know when they drop next Thursday.

How to Write Your Work With Me Page - Ashlyn Writes Blog

Plus, read until the end—I’m giving you a lightning round of do’s and don’ts of things that you should and shouldn’t do on your work-with-me page. This comes after drafting dozens of them for the clients in the agency side of my business and then, seeing students put into work these. These are things that I have caught and edited during copy chiefing sessions—it’s yours for the taking.

Let’s jump in!

BTW, I was feeling a *little* bit extra and made a worksheet just for this post—it’s the Work-With-Me Page Worksheet (very creatively named;)

Click here or down below to grab your FREE Work-With-Me Worksheet!

 

No. 1

The Basic Framework

Okay, so let’s start with an outline of what you need to write. The goal of your services page or your work-with-me page is to get them to the next step in the funnel. I talked about the basic funnel in the first video in this series that I would create if I was starting my business from absolute scratch today. I’m gonna say that whole “get them to the next step” probably a million more times, I start by telling you WHY I came up with the 16 elements that you need to have on this page, which I’m also about to tell you.

A quick story about how I even came up with the 16 elements I’m about to show you.

When I first started my business and left corporate marketing, I essentially had two businesses under one roof. I was continuing my moonlight gig as a wedding calligrapher and stationer, but I was also beginning to offer brand messaging website and launch copywriting as a conversion copywriter. So both of these services I’m shilling out under one roof. The more I learned about copywriting and the more that I was applying what I knew from corporate marketing, but then what I was learning as I was selling to more of a creative market, I started to develop this. One day, light bulb, why am I not using this formula that I’ve come up with over on the calligraphy side of my business, as I’m trying to market to and sell to couples for wedding services? I wanted to see if I could better anchor my prices—wedding calligraphy isn’t cheap. You also don’t *need* it to get married.  With that, this Sweet 16 framework was born.

how to write your work with me page-awblog

You may be familiar with this Sweet 16 Sales Page Template in the shop. It’s one of our best sellers. I’ve recently released a version that is more helpful if you’re specifically only selling services and only selling a digital product or offer. And I know 16 seems like a lot, it seems long. But the beauty of this framework is that it can be accordioned out for that 5,000-word sales page. And I want you to consider shrinking it down a little bit to 500 words, a thousand words for your service.

Let’s break down the basic framework…

So these first few ones, I’ve done a video on my P-A-R-I-S framework, but essentially what we wanna do right out of the gate is start with that problem, agitate it just a little bit and remind them of what they want. Before you flash them that three or four-figure price tag, you need to demonstrate empathy and authority. We also need to make sure that we’re connecting with that aspirational identity that your ideal client wants, and you can help them get.

  • 1 | Problem-You need to demonstrate empathy and authority—AND demonstrate the aspirational identity they’re going for
  • 2 | Agitation
  • 3 | Remind them
  • 4 | Interesting Fact– I think it’s so important, now that they’ve invested in the emotional side of their thinking, we need to back that up with the rational side. So here we want to give them an interesting fact, a data point, a statistic, something that can really give them some meat of yes, you were thinking this is a good decision, but let me just show you exactly why you were onto something and absolutely is. Here’s your moment to back up what you’ve told me so far by bringing in a data point, factoid, or proof.
  • 5 | Solution– After you’ve done those four things, voila, the S, the solution. You can now introduce the offering that you’re trying to sell.
  • 6 | Social Proof Pass No. 1. — And as soon as you do that, I want you to bring in a social proof pass. This is the first one you’re gonna have on the page. A testimonial, case study, some sort of authoritative figure saying why you are trustworthy.
  • 7 | Socratic Price Anchoring & Reasoning  – Headline, Body Copy-  Or as I call it more common, the Starbucks Test. Because it is 2021, and at this point, we’ve all purchased something and somebody has sold it to us by saying, you could buy your weekly coffee at Starbucks or four coffees a month or whatever, or you could put that money over here. That concept, what they’re doing there, is price anchoring. They’re helping you understand and putting it in terms that you can start to associate with where you’re already spending your money. So I want you to have a moment on this services page, where you’re doing that same thing. You’re telling them kind of the cost of not doing business with you. What is that going to bring in their life in terms of stress or money spent elsewhere, etc.
  • 8 | The Stack– I want you to list out like a grocery store receipt, every itemized thing that they get as part of the service in working with you.
  • 9 | Call-to-Action-Now you’ve done that and you can call to action, you can have the button that says either fill out the application to work with me, contact me for your free consultation, hop on a discovery call by picking your time here, whatever it is. Remember what I said at the top of this video, the goal of this entire services page is to sell that click, okay? So many of us feel like if we can just look somebody in the eye and get to talk to them and hear what they need and explain to them what we do and how we can help them, we can sell them on what we do. The whole goal of this long page is that CTA that you’re putting right there.
  • 10 | Scarcity-And yes, there’s still scarcity if you’re a service provider. Because last time I checked, you don’t have infinite hours in the day. You need to go ahead and tell them how many of these you’re anticipating booking for the year, for the next quarter. Your spots are limited because you aren’t a superhero.
  • 11 | Social Proof Pass No. 2- Let’s chime in again, by letting somebody else sell them with words and not you, which is always great.
  • 12 | Promise-Making, Risk-Reversing Guarantee-We wanna give them some sort of promise-making, risk-reversing guarantee. What if they start to work with you and aren’t getting what they like. Or they invest all this and didn’t get what they wanted. How are you gonna come in and give them some sort of happiness guarantee, or work with them on rounds of revisions. Or whatever it is that you have in your process that helps make sure that clients walk out the door satisfied every time, mention that here.
  • 13 | Credibility– A quick line of credibility to explain why I should even trust you to do this.
  • 14 | Attract/Repel -It could be helpful to include some sort of attract or repel. How do I know if I’m a fit for this offer versus one of your other offers is better for me? Or you don’t work with people like me.
  • 15 | FAQ- Related to that, give me a section of frequently asked questions.
  • 16 | P.A.R.I.S. Framework™ & Stack Recap-And finally, the last thing is, I want you to give me that one more Hail Mary pass. I want you to give me the P-A-R-I-S formula one more time with that call to action after it. So again, you can really go for the juggler and remind me of what it is that I’m wanting and how you can help me get it.

Okay, I know that was a lot and I breezed through it. Like I said, I go into it more in-depth in that template and inside Copywriting for Creatives., but I hope this gives you a basic starter package where you can take that and apply it to your work-with-me or services page.

If I could say this to you in red flashing lights—it’s something that I think really helped me when I started my businesses—I did not adopt the mentality of being a freelancer. I looked at myself as a business owner, day one. Spelling out what you do in a page like this in that long framework, that can really help you start to see what you do as a productized service.

A Forbes writer recently wrote this, I loved it. He said that, “The gig economy is still robust, but the solo-commerce model, in which service-based industries, residential home services, caterers, professional services, all of that helps people grow easily from contractors to a solo practitioner business, to even a micro-small business and beyond.” Yeah… that’s what a lot of us do as service providers. We look at what we do as a small business.

All of that brings me to this next step. Now that we have this framework, how do you actually organize this message and copy on your work with me page?

Related: The Secret to Sales Calls That Close the Deal 

 

No. 2

How to Organize it

Okay, there are two services (work with me) page templates we keep in the arsenal on the agency side of my business, and I’m gonna walk you through those here.

#1  is what I named the “services splash page”—it’s essentially a menu of your services.

#2  is that medium to long-form services page, like I just walked you through.

Here’s this sitch, that person that is in the market to spend money on your four, maybe even five-figure service, your absolute cream of the crop offer,  ideal client, is probably not the same as Budget Betty over here who’s looking to just spend, you know, a few hundred bucks or whatever it is and get what she needs. Because of that, we have to speak to these ICAs differently. You’ve got a couple of options here.

Your first option is to have that work-with-me tab on your website. Go straight to this mid to long-form services page, where you’re outlining what it is you do. It’s probably a little bit harder to have this long form page explain multiple different packages. If you have tiers inside of a package, this could be a great way to do it. But if your offer ladder—I referenced an offer ladder that I would build out if I was starting my business again in that first video—if I’m doing that, and I’m really selling to ideal clients that are on opposite ends of the spectrum, then what I’m gonna do here is drive to what I call a services splash page. I have a menu of options available for them to pick on. That way they can compare a little bit more apples to apples. They can choose to click through on one of those CTAs and zoom straight to a mid-long form services page, where you’re really explaining what you do for the high-end offer.

how to write your work with me page-aw blog

Maybe the lower ticket version can click straight to purchase that or talk to you on the phone, or whatever it is. That way if they’re seeing a services splash page, they can choose to either click to your big service and see everything that that includes in that long-form services page. OR they can look at one of the other offerings that you’re providing if they’re, again, an ICA, that’s very different from the person that’s ready to pull out their pocketbook and their hard-earned dollar and spend.

You can let the CTAs to those smaller offers be things like, I fill out an application, or hop on a discovery call with me, or whatever it is.

Again, remember the purpose of this page is to get them to the next step in the funnel—do what it takes to get them there.

If you are going with the splash page route, absolutely include some of those P-A-R-I-S elements that I mentioned back in step one. I pulled a couple of examples here from some Copywriting for Creative students. >>>

 I have both Bethie, who provides photography services

I’ve got Tiffany, who is a PR coach.

I chose these two and wanted to show you their services pages so you can see both a B2C example and a B2B example. If you like the idea of this services splash page, and you wanna see some examples of that.

Here’s another example— this is a template that’s inside FG funnels— here is kind of how that would look. Like I said, personally, my recommendation is that absolutely you add up before they see that menu.

 

That P-A-R-I stuff, the S is the menu. We need them to know you’ve got empathy, you’ve got authority—you’re really listening to their problems before you come out and say, buy my stuff.

 

No. 3

Do’s & Don’ts

Okay finally, here’s some do’s and don’ts for your work with me page or services page.

DO give an idea of prices 

Oh my gosh, I can not say my prices on my website. I’ve talked at length about this, yes, you should. I’ve got plenty of videos where I’ve talked through this. My favorite analogy is just to imagine that you’re going to a really fancy restaurant, or for today, let’s say you’re going to a fancy spa. You’re looking at the list of options you can order. The price is beside all of them, so you feel really clear about how much you’d be spending. And then there is the offer, the offer that seems like exactly what you would want. Oh my gosh, it’s what you’re dreaming of in a spa day. And it says price upon request. Well, most people aren’t gonna get their courage up to ask. They’re just gonna pick what they know, what they can see. And that’s why you need to have your prices available on your work with me page. Because a lot of times, by not including them, people just automatically are gonna assume that they can’t afford you.

DON’T focus so far down the funnel that you forget this page has one job—get them to the next step.

All right next, don’t focus so far down the funnel that you’re not remembering what I said a lot in this video. And I’m gonna say it again, that the goal of this page is to get them to the next step in the process. Maybe you’re selling your free discovery call. Maybe you’re selling a consult call. Maybe you’re selling a free audit or even a paid audit, but very rarely are they gonna be going from this page immediately hitting that call to action button and getting to check out with their credit card for your three or four figure service. There’s likely some interaction with you, whether they’re getting that pricing guide, or a proposal from you, or hopping on the discovery call. So burn that in your mind as you draft to this page, that the goal of it is to get them to do the next right thing. Get that fish on the line.

This work-with-me page, doesn’t have to reel them all the way in. You’re gonna use some other tools to do that. A FreshBook’s study showed that 50% of respondents experienced symptoms of poor mental health for the first time this past crazy year as entrepreneurs. I think a lot of the stress that comes with being a small business owner can come from the feast or famine type mentality. I personally have a lot less stress and more confidence if I’ve got some fish on the line. People I know I’m gonna talk to you about my services.

DO also embed a brief contact form at the bottom of your work with me page.

Next step, do embed a brief contact form at the bottom of this work-with-me or services page, whether you’re doing the services splash page route, or you’ve got the long form page, and that’s all you have. Maybe they think they are a special snowflake and they don’t fit into any of your tiers or any of your offers in your offer ladder. Maybe they love them all, but now they’re just having some analysis paralysis and they don’t know which one is a fit for them where they are. So include that.

And then, also, this is a pet peeve of mine, but absolutely have some sort on your contact page of form. If you’re gonna include a form there that is separate from your application to work-with-me. I can’t stand when I go to somebody’s contact page to just reach out about whatever it is, and my only option is to act like I’m a client. And it’s asking me what date is my event, and all that kind of stuff. I just wanna say hey. I know I’m not talking about contact pages in this video, but make sure you have either your email address or you’ve evergreened out that form so it can suit other types of inquiries. But on the work-with-me page or services page, you can make that one a little bit more application modeled.

Related: Behind the Scenes: My EXACT 2021 Client Onboarding Process

DON’T set unrealistic conversion rate expectations

And finally, don’t set unrealistic conversion rate expectations. I broke down conversion rates in this video, so you can watch that. But remember, it’s still a numbers game, a traffic game. You can’t just launch to this refresh page and wait for all the calls to come in. You do need to get some traffic pushed to the page to make sure people are actually landing there. They have the option to read through what you have and decide if they’re a fit or not to go to that next step in your application funnel. That’s why I said it so many times in this video, that your goal is to really get them to the next step—that is what you’re measuring for, for the conversion rate for this page.


Now, you know how to outline your work-with-me page, but what about the branding of it all and how you can figure out why you’re different from your competitors? I’ve got all that and more teed up in this video on my YouTube channel. Comment below if you’ve got any questions—here’s to working from a place of more rest and less hustle.

⬇️Don’t forget to click here or down below to grab your freebie Work-With-Me Page Worksheet that may help you sort through this a little bit more.⬇️


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How to Write Your Work With Me Page - Ashlyn Writes Blog

Reading Time: 13 Minutes If you’ve ever wondered how to writes a work-with-me page or a great services page, you’re in the right place. In this post, I’m breaking down how to explain what you do for your paid services in a way that brings all your potential clients to the yard. 😉  Hit like if this page on […]

It’s easier than ever to start a creative small business—yay!—but now branding is one of the most important facets of your business to set you apart from someone who does the same thing.  Today we are talking about how to kick off your brand strategy process.

Quit worrying so much about finding your brand voice and focus on this instead—because if you can’t tell me WHY you do what you do the way you do it differently or better than somebody that does the very same thing, especially if they’re charging less, than we need to stop there and figure it out.

Whether you are just starting to get paid for your creativity or you’re working on building your authority and doing a little bit of a brand strategy refresh, you need to know these tips to build an unforgettable, bingeable brand.

How to Kick Off the Brand Strategy Process | Ashlyn Writes

This is part two to a three part video series  I’m doing, basically called, “what I do if I woke up and had lost it all, if I had to start my business all over from scratch, this is the plan I’d follow”. Be sure to watch last week’s video if you haven’t yet so you can catch up.

Let’s hit it!



 


Tip 1: Define a very clear value proposition for your overall brand. 

A guy named Rosser Reeves is the one who coined this phrase “unique selling proposition” back in the day, but basically, this means you need to figure out what makes you different. 

Okay, let’s have a little heart to heart, all the great digital marketing tools that are out there, from paid marketing and ads to social media marketing, speaking on stages, all that’s great, it’s just going to take a microphone and hold it up to what you’re already doing and what your brand already is.

So if you look at my business—or have been around—you’ve probably heard some very clear key messaging promises, or “value props.” You may have heard me say “I help creatives like you make more money with your words so you can work from a place of rest, not hustle.” If you’ve heard me talk about my signature program, you’ve heard me say “CfC teaches you how to master your message and write your site in 60 days.” That’s a product-specific value prop. Copywriters call this a big idea when you’re working on a specific product, but I’m zooming out here to talk about your brand in general.

How do you figure out what to say here so you can really double down on that and claim it as your brand promise?

My students know we call this your onlyness factor and we work ~soooo~ hard on figuring this out as part of the brand messaging piece of Copywriting for Creatives.

A really quick way that you can start to figure this out in your own business is by leaning into your own quirks, story, or personality, and matching that with your system, your process, or your product/service itself. Say you’re the only photographer on the Eastern seaboard that services weddings at horse estate weddings—that’s very distinct.

Maybe the audience you serve makes you unique.

You can see how all this is bleeding into niching—we’re going to talk about that in a sec—but I want to bring it into a place where you can really figure out that brand promise, UVP, USP.

Another idea I’ve given students to help pull themselves out and figure out why they’re different from other people. Maybe it’s your process. Can you name your process? Do you have a certain way of working through things? It’s your IP, it’s something that you’ve developed and you’ve honed and you’ve tested. It was a hypothesis that is now all-clear systems-go and you provide it for your clients—that could absolutely be your UVP.

<< Related: How to Improve Your Brand Messaging >>


Tip No. 2| Find your niche.

Now here’s the thing: what do you do when you have that big idea or value proposition developed? Once you have this figured out, you want to double down and find your niche: you want to put a stake in the ground and decide who you’re for (and who you’re not for.)

I shared a video where I talked at length specifically about niching vertically and horizontally—I made it for people who want to start their own writing businesses, but niching will help anyone starting any kind of business. 

This is how you can start to dominate in a category—and also helps you get really specific in your copy and content marketing. Another bonus? Conferences were a lot easier to book, because when you’re the only one talking specifically about your niche, people find you faster. 

How to Kick Off Your Brand Strategy Process_AshlynWritesCopywriting

Finally, it makes you referrable. It is so hard to refer someone business if you can’t really think exactly what they do or they do a lot of things and then there’s somebody over here who does just this and that’s all they focus on. That person becomes a little bit easier to refer leads to. So think about it from a partnership standpoint too. You don’t have to hang out there forever, but the whole niche down to blow up was absolutely true for me.

<< Related: How to Become a Copywriter & Own Your Niche  >>

If you find yourself serving a pool or clientele like you like, that can be your niche. And if you’re new in business and don’t have clients yet to look at, here’s the thing to do: Start looking at where your passions overlap with a gap in the market. “Cherchez le creneau” is a French term for the marketing concept of “find the hole”—it’s like I tell my students, find the YOU sized gap in the market and go fill it.


Tip No. 3| Figure out your go-to brand stories.

Now if all this—your onlyness factor and your niche— is interesting, but the story isn’t good, people aren’t interested, right? So tip number 3 in the brand strategy process? Figure out your 3 brand stories. This is one of the easiest things you can do to build a brand and create those captivating touchpoints. It’s just simply nailing 3 specific brand stories: your origin story, your a-ha moment, and your transformation story.

Think of it this way—>OAT

O: Your origin story, why it is that you picked up a paintbrush or wanted to work in florals for a living.

A: Your aha moment. That moment when the skies parted and you realized, oh my gosh, this is a business idea, people want to pay me for it, I can’t wait, I’m starting a business.

T: A great transformational story. It might be your transformational journey, but it’s likely another client or customers’ that you’ve worked with.

Done well, this humanizes your brand and gives your audience something to relate to.

Having these dialed in gives you so many opportunities to pull people into the “why” behind your brand. Don’t you worry—I teach exactly how to tell these stories in this video.


Tip No. 4| Get visual with your brand.

As important as your brand message and copy are, if they’re not presented in a way that’s visually appealing, people really won’t want to read the message or figure out how to get the goods.

I’ve learned so, SO much from my clients on this, because I am NOT a designer or a photographer, but I know they both matter. One of my recent clients, Sandra Chau, says you don’t have an option—as the CEO of your small business, you are also the creative director. I love this! 

Investing in solid photography or spending time learning your way around styling is key. Even if you don’t want to take the pictures, you need to be able to communicate the mood, style, and visual story of your brand. 

I touched on it slightly in the first video in this series, but to go into it a little bit more in-depth, when I started my business, I did take some of my own stock imagery for my website, took me about a month to realize that is not my skillset. I purchased one $79 full, huge, massive image that I could cut and crop and use. I got it from my friend Shea at SC Stock Shop. She now has social squares, which is a great tool too, but there are plenty of stock imagery options out there that don’t look like robots. You can also buy brand boards from people and you’ll know I love website templates.

I started my website on a template. I’m five years in business. I now have a seven figure business. I’m now investing in a custom big website. I love custom work. We do custom work on the copywriting side of my business, but when you’re first getting started, you’re throwing spaghetti at the wall, and it is a heck of a lot to invest in a custom website or custom design strategy when you’re not quite sure if everything is going to take sale.

<< Related: 5 Secrets to Choosing the Best Website Template >>

Again, build the business, then build the brand.

As I grew and had more money to invest back in my business, I was told once that you have to be willing to buy your own services. That is if you’re charging 4 figures or more for your service, be willing to invest 4 figures or more in the services you need to support your business. That’ll preach! I found the art director I wanted to work with and saved and saved (and saved some more) until I was able to hire her and invest in my own business with visuals that helped tell the story of my brand. 


Tip No. 5| Listen to what people say about you.

Listen to what people say about your business, that’s your brand, that’s the perception that people have about you.

As Jeff Bezos said, Your brand is what other people say about you when you’re not in the room. That’s the perception you’re putting out there. You hear me talk about doing the research a LOT—this is key research.

So, ask people what they’d say to describe your brand or business, or if it’s built on you—YOU. Maybe it’s family, but maybe it’s your clients, customers, partners, business best friends, followers. Ask them, and pay attention to what they say. 


Tip No. 6| Add in Mascot moments.

Alright, next up in the brand strategy process is what I like to call “mascot moments”. This is a little thing that can make a big difference and may come with time. Let me explain. I love Emily Ley’s products, but she has an understated icon that quietly rides along and is woven throughout her brand—pineapples, the icon of southern hospitality. Now, when I see them, I think of her.

I’ve always loved champagne, and specifically, the brand Veuve Clicquot, because I love the story behind Madame Clicquot becoming one of the first female entrepreneurs. A brand photographer wove it into my imagery one time (producing an orange and blue theme that I really loved as an Auburn fan) but it also enabled me to start using champagne as a metaphor for teaching about welcome sequences and launch funnels. Now? I get tagged in champagne stuff constantly from followers and friends all the time because people have begun to associate champagne and Ashlyn. (Don’t mind if I do.) 

How to Kick Off Your Brand Strategy Process_AshlynWritesCopywriting

What is a kind of weird moment or a thing that your audience could see and think of you and your brand? These come best if they’re not forced. You want to ideally tune into moments that are in your life naturally. Build a brand that’s hard to mimicI’ve found that this little tip is one thing that can definitely make it pretty obvious if somebody is trying to, shall we say, get a little too much inspiration from what you do. 😉

>> Related: What Is a Brand Story? The ULTIMATE Guide for How to Create Yours (+ Examples) <<


Tip 7: Define a clear brand voice. 

Congratulations, you made it through all the other tips so we can now talk about voice because we’ve laid the foundation. I’ve done a lot of videos on finding your voice, so I’ll link some of those, but I’ll leave it at this. When you’re starting out, trust that you’ll refine your brand voice in time.

It’s a writing habit that you will develop because you have to write a lot as an entrepreneur.

You have to experiment, try different things, and let this develop. Trust that it will refine over time. If you’re having a hard time figuring out where to start with getting your voice clear and distinct, I have a quiz that will help you get on the right track and figure out how your personality correlates with the type of words that you need to be using to market your business. Once you go through it, you’ll see your selling style, I think that will be helpful for you, but you’ll also get a little mini copy bank of some words that describe your brand voice, and that can be something you can pocket.


Ok, that was a lot! 😉 You made it through all 7 of my brand strategy process tips! Don’t forget, if you need a little extra help on defining your brand voice then make sure to click here or down below to take my brand voice quiz!

Now, if you want to see that crash course one month plan on how I would start my business over from scratch, be sure to watch this video on my YouTube channel where I’m telling you what I do if I woke up, lost it all, and had to start over.

If you found this helpful, make sure you hit that like button, subscribe so you don’t miss the next series coming up, and be sure to comment below with any questions that you may have.


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How to Kick off Your Brand Strategy Process | Ashlyn Writes

Reading Time: 9 Minutes It’s easier than ever to start a creative small business—yay!—but now branding is one of the most important facets of your business to set you apart from someone who does the same thing.  Today we are talking about how to kick off your brand strategy process. Quit worrying so much about finding your brand voice […]

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