How to Find Your Business's Core Message

What's the focal point of all your brand messaging? Your core message! Check out how to find yours...

One reason why I run my business is that I want to build a small, private animal rescue centre. And I confess that I like watching YouTube videos where people save animals, dogs in particular.

I love to watch the stories of humans finding purpose in changing a dog’s life for the better and thus, changing the lives of all those connected to that one rescued dog.

The story never ends with the dog being rescued – it rather is the start of a wonderful journey that helps the dog heal and embrace her new life, but it is also the journey of all the people whose lives are forever changed through the magic touch of a dog…

So why am I telling you this?

When you rescue a dog, you often deal with several behaviour issues and often you have to work with an expert – a dog trainer or behaviour consultant.

When you decide which expert you’re going to work with, you go through a decision-making process. And in the end, you are going to work with an expert you’re resonating with. An expert whose core message, values and beliefs you are aligned with.

Your core message drives your clients’ decision making

What is your core message? What is that magic message that draws in your audience and convinces them that you are the person they want to work with?

If you want people to work with you, you need to be able to communicate to them why they should work with you – and often that is easier said than done.

In this article, I am going to walk you through an exercise that I came across in one of Andy Maslen’s incredibly valuable books on copywriting.

This exercise will help you to find your core message and it will also open your eyes to a few new aspects that you may not have thought about before.

What is your offer, anyway?

This is a pretty straightforward question, right?

Let’s stick with our dog rescue example and imagine that you are a dog trainer.

You offer face-to-face dog training sessions.

That seems to reflect exactly what you do. However, it’s totally unexciting and won’t get anyone to book you on the spot because it’s nowhere near specific enough and does not create this emotional bond that you need to build with your audience to help them make a buying decision.

What does your offer appear to be?

Let’s find a header or better a search term that your customers can google:

You offer dog training services.

The issue with this is – so do other people. There are many places and alternatives where you can find help and information about how to train your dog.

Knowing your competition is important because it helps you to differentiate yourself from other dog trainers and other alternatives where dog owners can find help to train their dogs.

It’s best to think about that for a bit.

So, who do you appear to compete with?

Market research is absolutely crucial and knowing who your competition is, helps you to find your USP.

As a dog trainer you appear to compete with:

  • Other dog trainers
  • Dog training books
  • YouTube dog training channels
  • Google, Quora, Pinterest and other online sources
  • Other dog owners
  • Dog clubs

And because you are a thorough researcher, you look into all these options and you realise that training your dog goes far beyond teaching your dog some basic commands.

You discover that there’s a whole lot of philosophy behind it. Belief systems, training approaches like “force-free” or “balanced” training…

But most importantly, you find out more about the outcomes that your clients expect. Not just benefits like a good recall, sitting on cue, staying and waiting until you release the dog or walking on a loose leash…

Outcomes go beyond that because all those behaviours (and many more “desirable” canine behaviours) tell you…

What your service really is…

Dog training is a relationship builder – between you and your dog – but also between you and other people with or without dogs.

Working with your dog massively contributes to building a tight relationship between you and your dog. It makes your dog a reliable partner who is totally in sync with you, reads your emotions (and often we believe that they can read our minds), responds to your needs, listens to you, and loves you unconditionally.

You are building relationships with other dog owners who believe in the same training principles and like to talk with you about their dogs.

You are building relationships with people who don’t own dogs but who are influenced by you and your dog. I used to work with one of my dogs who was a certified therapy dog in a kindergarten, with special needs children, and the elderly in retirement homes.

Your training teaches people to adopt a dog-centred lifestyle that leads to more exercise like walking, running or cycling with your dog, new outdoor activities like agility, hiking or obedience classes, quiet moments that are shared with your dogs – and which are quite therapeutic because you can just “be” together in total acceptance.

Owning and training your dog has led to a more active and happier lifestyle, improved your health – mentally and physically - I could grow this list forever…

So, what you are offering, is not just a face-to-face dog training service – you are empowering people to have so much more!

This leads us to the next step in our thought process:

What are you actually competing with?

Do you see that your services go far beyond what you expected them to be? And that – because of that – you are actually competing on a totally different level and totally different service providers.

As a face-to-face dog trainer you could be competing with:

  • Personal trainers
  • Therapists
  • Human friends, spouses, children
  • Partnership websites
  • Meditation apps
  • Doctors…

And it is here where you find your core message. In the space of what you are actually competing with and the angle that you want to take.

Even if you are not a dog lover, walking through these steps will help you find your core message.

The steps to find your core message

In a nutshell – and without more references to dogs – here are the questions you need to answer:

1. What’s your offer (your product or service)?

2. What does your offer appear to be?

3. What/with whom does your offer appear to compete with?

4. What really is your offer?

5. What/with whom does your offer really compete with?

    Answer these questions and you will be well into the flow to further brainstorm and find your core message.

    You cannot find your core message on the surface but it’s often hard to figure out the steps to take where to dig deeper to discover your core message.

    Try this little exercise and see where it takes you. If it doesn’t take you all the way, you’ve always got the opportunity to shoot me a message and let me help you with getting clarity on your messaging.

    Not only your core message but your whole brand’s messaging!

    Stay tuned for more – and maybe we meet in a Zoom chat…

    But that’s up to you!

    Categories: businessfoundations, Content Creation, Brand Messaging, messaging foundations

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