This 5-step formula helps you overcome any messaging hurdle.
Everyone tells you to build a website… afterall, it’s one of the best ways to build credibility. What they usually don’t tell you is how to USE your website to get more business.
Just about everyone has a different perspective on the best way to build a site — and a marketing plan. So how do you do it? How do you authentically increase your brand visibility in a way that gets leads without totally burning out?
If you feel like you’ve been tearing your hair out, burning the candle at both ends or (insert your favorite not-getting-it-all-done metaphor here), and you’re barely building traction, it might be time to revisit your strategy.
I know exactly what you’re going through…been there, done that, got the t-shirt. Even though I had spent a lot of time working in other people’s online businesses, I had a hard time figuring out what worked for me. And even though I had a website that gave me some credibility, it wasn’t getting me the leads that I wanted. And after a particularly long stretch of work I didn’t love, I knew something had to change. I needed a plan.
So I sat down and looked at the kind of work I enjoy doing, and what it all had in common, and I started developing a step-by-step plan anyone can use to increase leads for more profit. (Spoiler alert — it might mean going back to the drawing board to review your research — and that’s okay.)
Cue The REACH Visibility Trajectory™, my flexible framework for helping business owners (AKA clients) build authority, boost visibility, and delight their audience. Why REACH? You want your customers to keep REACHING for you, just like that bowl of chips and salsa (and of course, guac). It may help you too.
So what exactly is REACH and how does it break down? As you may have guessed, there are 5 key components:
R – Research Your Market
E – Engage With Brand Voice
A – Attract with Website Copy
C – Create an Online Funnel
H – Hook ‘Em With Strategy
Each of the building blocks of REACH create a foundation you can use to make sure your business works for you behind the scenes so you won’t have to wear yourself out throwing pasta at a wall and hoping it sticks.
So how does this super-cool-thing that you’re now jonesin’ to know more about work? And how can YOU use it, too?
If you’ve just launched your website, you may be saying…but I’m already at the A phase— I have a website and now I need to get it to work for me.
First — fantastic! Congratulations my badass biz buddy!
Second — maybe it’s exactly where it needs to be.
But third — if you’re not 100% confident that your website says the right things or will attract the right clients, it’s worth your time to revisit the R-E-A stage. And truthfully? It’s worth your while to revisit this every 6-12 months to make sure your messaging fits your market and business. Because, anecdotally speaking, most business owners I talk to make an intentional pivot every 6-12 months, let alone all the small shifts that take place over time.
Essentially it means you’re no longer guessing, and instead, you’re taking a strategic approach to your marketing.
So what does implementing the REACH Visibility Trajectory actually look like? Let’s break it down into 5 steps.
1. Leverage Research to Smash Your Brand Positioning
It starts with research, also known as the skeleton key to showing your clients you understand them.
Think of it in terms of your best friends — that relationship has probably taken years of shared experiences to build. With your clients and prospects, your timeline is (probably) much shorter.
So how do you accelerate relationships? The answer is research. And, since your first goal is to grab their attention for long enough to form a meaningful connection, it boils down to understanding their needs.
Don’t get overwhelmed by all the types of research you need to be doing (customer, market, competitor, SEO, etc). Instead, start at the beginning — ask your favorite customers why they chose you, what they love about working with you, and what they’ve been able to do as a result. You can use that to dig deeper, and perhaps, get some new testimonials. Don’t have clients yet? Then ask prospective clients why they might choose to work with you in the future.
Use this data to develop a solid understanding of your clients, speak their language, and prove you’re relatable yet experienced enough to guide them along to achieving their goals.
From there, you can move on to the next oh-so-fundamental step — engagement.
→ RESEARCH ACTION ITEMS:
- Catalog your reviews and recommendations as well as those from 1-2 competitors.
- Create a survey for your audience with 5 questions asking about their problem and how they feel about your solution. You can do this even if you’ve never worked with a client before.
- Interview 3-5 past clients or people in your prospective audience to dive into how they view their problems and your solution.
- Compare all the responses for common threads and opportunities.
2. Engage Your Audience With Brand Messaging and Positioning
Okay, so you’ve finished the research. Check.
Now it’s time to build that connection and truly engage your audience by showing them that you understand their problem and can solve it.
So, what is the best way to get your customers engaged and keep them coming back for more (or heck, the first time)?
Start by asking yourself questions like:
- What are your goals and core values?
- How do you speak (the words and phrases you use a lot)?
- How do you want people to feel when they work with you?
But what do core values have to do with this, you ask?
The truth is, your marketing copy should ALWAYS reflect your internal mindset and values. Authenticity plays a BIG role in how potential leads react to and engage with your brand.
By defining your core values as a company, you’re streamlining those principles you already live by and giving your brand authenticity.
The resulting focus cuts through all the dandelion fluff and shiny object chasing to simplify everything from business decisions to content creation.
If you’re wondering how the research you did up front relates to your brand messaging and positioning, it’s time to dust off your elementary math hat and recall Venn diagrams.
On one side is all of your audience’s likes, wants, and needs (plus the stuff that drives them crazy).
The other side is filled with all the things that drive you — your beliefs, what you enjoy, and how you deliver.
In the middle is where the magic happens. That’s your brand voice and positioning.
Create A Brand Voice Guide To Effectively Position Your Brand
What should a brand voice guide include? It should list specific words and phrases that position your brand the way you want to be perceived in your market.
In layman’s terms?
Your brand voice guide literally spells out the words you will use to speak to your audience.
Do you start words with but, and, or, and because?
Think about cadence, sentence length, punctuation preferences.
It also includes your mission and vision statements (if you have them) and any other pertinent details you might want to hand over to a writer or new employee.
Your brand voice guide might also include additional marketing elements like your target market, brand colors and logo, SEO keywords, and social media hashtags.
It should be jam-packed with awesomeness that makes it easier for you to stand out.
Hone In With Your Messaging Platform
If your brand voice guide is your game plan, your messaging platform is the high-velocity blueprint for brand positioning.
It’s your brand voice guide on steroids. The Rosetta Stone for your biz.
Messaging platforms help companies expand their brand voice guide, aligning their ENTIRE team with a unified voice. This is extremely important for external communications including sales and marketing as well as internal conversations to ensure everyone understands exactly what you’re talking about.
To that end, your messaging guide can also create a more cohesive customer experience so every time a client speaks to someone different in your company.
The size of your company dictates exactly what your messaging platform should include. If only a handful of people are client-facing, then you may only need to include:
- Mission & vision
- Brand purpose
- Brand archetype
- Unique selling proposition
- Core values
- Guidance on voice and tone (think say this not that)
- Communication & response guidelines
On the other hand, the larger and more intricate your company, the more likely you’ll need a bulked up muscle-bound version.
What would that include? No two companies are the same so their messaging documents might be different, but you might expect to see things like:
- Service or product overviews
- High level themes
- Benefits to clients
- Detailed target customer profiles
- Press boilerplate
- Social media descriptions
Why is this important?
Have you ever been to a party (or any conversation where that matter), where two people are saying words that make sense but they’re referring to two different things? In that respect, it might be a matter of dialects (even a difference or Nor Cal vs SoCal). So your business as a whole must be able to communicate in the same dialect — and it should be the same one your audience speaks — which ultimately makes a messaging platform more important.
→ ENGAGE ACTION ITEMS:
- Identify your core values and what they mean to your clients.
- Write your Unique Selling Proposition (USP) and explore how you’re positioning yourself to solve your customer’s problems.
- Identify the biggest benefits to your clients of working with you.
- Define how you want to come across to your audience.
From here, we can get started on the next building block in the REACH Visibility Trajectory: Attract.
3. Attract Your Ideal Audience With Website Copy That Screams WOW
Brand positioning? Check.
Even if it’s super informal, know this — what you’ve done so far is a seriously big deal.
I’ll pause if you want to celebrate with confetti.
Incidentally, if you want people to feel like you’re rolling out the red carpet for them, you’ll really need website copy (and, yep, a website, too), that streamlines the customer journey.
You’ve probably gotten a good idea of what that looks like from the research phase, so now it’s time to use that to create #reallyawesome website copy.
If you have a site, you may need some tweaks with your research and positioning in hand. If you’re starting at ground zero, then that’s great too.
Whichever road you are on when it comes to your website, actually writing your own copy is tough…especially if you’re starting from a blank document.
And, whether I’m coaching Whomp Whomp to Wow students on writing their own website copy or explaining why you need a killer website, I have the same advice:
Every site, no matter how simple or complex, needs to speak to four things:
- who you serve
- how you serve them
- why it matters
- how to contact you (or better, how to start a project with you)
If people come to your site and don’t understand what you do, then why on earth would they reach out to you? While a website lends you considerable authority, it must also speak to your audience.
Truth be told, you can do this in 2-3 sentences if you’re creating a placeholder, like this example:
“Turn your site into a lead generating machine EVEN IF you’re just starting out as a copywriter.
In just 4 weeks, you can write authentic copy for your OWN site that connects with your ideal audience and builds authority. Email me for details.”
If you saw that you’d know:
- You serve copywriters.
- You’re teaching them to write their own website copy.
- So that they can build authority and get leads.
- And how to contact you.
Sometimes, a single page site is the best way to get started, knowing that you can always add other pages as you go.
With that in mind, let’s talk about the anatomy of your site:
The first thing you see when you navigate to a website is called a hero section because it’s where you set your client up as a hero.
Here’s the gist of the idea: (Sorry Donald Miller, this thing is super streamlined — seriously, go read his book!)
In just about every story you encounter, the main character is the hero. Along the way, they have a problem (which in this case is the problem you solve with your services) and need to figure out a solution. In essence, you’re the guide who sees them through to the other side so they can live happily ever after.
Your research uncovered your clients’ goals, fears, and motivations, so it’s now your job to position your business and services as the solution.
→ ATTRACT ACTION ITEMS:
- Identify your core values and what they mean to your clients.
- Review your research and positioning and ask questions like:
- How do your products or services help customers overcome these challenges?
- What results can they expect?
- What can they do as a result?
- Who are you, and why are you the person to solve these problems??
- What promise can you deliver on?
- Create some headlines that speak to the promise you can make your clients
Assembling the Pieces: Research, Engage And Attract
When working with clients, I blend the R-E-A portions of the trajectory with research, positioning, and creating website copy into a signature package.
The research and positioning lay the foundation for writing copy that converts.
The goal? Showing your customer that they matter and future-pacing the results so they can see what their future could look like after working with you.
Nothing is true all the time for all people, but usually? You’re selling an outcome as opposed to the service itself.
The most successful brands understand the focus is on such aspirations, and so they promise to give you just that — a result. A big hairy-yet-achievable result. Then the rest of their copy (usually) speaks to that prospective outcome.
Gyms that sell a $49.99/month gym membership with a 12-month contract shouldn’t make the membership itself the offer. What they should sell is the chance to lean up, build massive muscles, or train for that half marathon. Or… the ability to button those skinny jeans again.
Doing this sounds easy, right?
The truth is that writing your own website copy can be super stressful and amount to the equivalent of dozens of docs in your trash can. It doesn’t have to be.
Got your website copy? Check…now what?
4. Create A Juicy Marketing Funnel to Grow Your Audience and Drive Leads
Your site is written, so now it’s time to figure out how you can automate the journey from never-heard-of-you to this-person-seems-cool to sign-me-up!
Here’s the thing. Before your audience knows you or your brand exists, they’re cold — think polar bears and penguins (but not in the same place at the same time).
As they learn more about you, they start to warm up…slowly. The more value you offer them, the easier it is to fall in love with you. Which isn’t to say you have to give away all the milk for free, BUT, you do have to show that you know what you know.
Your goal? Getting to be top of mind when they face the problem you solve…so there’s no hunting, you ARE the go-to person.
Enter your funnel.
Why is it called a funnel? Because when you visualize the data, it looks like an actual funnel — you know, the thing you cook with or use to pour gasoline into your tank (among other funnel uses). Picture something wide at the top and narrower at the bottom. Your online funnel streamlines the process of getting leads and nurturing them into customers.
What do you include, you ask?
Magnetic content that draws people’s interest so you can show them how you might solve their problem. Add value. Rinse and repeat.
Here are three things to remember when it comes to writing the emails that go into your funnel:
- Each email should offer value and not just ask subscribers to buy your product or service. Maybe you’re dishing out a fact, a lesson, or a tip that people can implement right away.
- Every email should have some form of a call-to-action, or a CTA, whether it’s asking your subscriber to hit reply and answer a question or click off to go elsewhere… like your blog. Your CTA does not have to include a request to buy, in fact, it shouldn’t until you’re much closer to the bottom of the funnel. So maybe you’re sharing a resource, linking to someone else’s content, or a super cool tool you found. The main goal is to keep your audience engaged with your emails.
- Your sequence should build to something. After the first email, you want to layer in mentions of whatever you’re building towards and handle potential objections. That way when you introduce the offer (usually somewhere between the third and fifth email), it’s compelling and your readers are already excited about it.
→ CREATE A FUNNEL ACTION ITEMS:
- Choose one problem you can solve for your clients and identify a quick win that will show off why you are the perfect person.
- Find an angle that will draw them in and create a lead magnet.
- Define several lessons you can share with your audience to build trust and help them get to know you after they opt into your list.
- Identify the offer you’re building to.
With your funnel set, and your content prepped, now it’s time to get in front of more people.
5. Hook Your Ideal Prospects with A Tactical Strategy
The last stop of the REACH Visibility Trajectory train is the Hook, where you use a tactical strategy to build your audience. In other words, what tactics or channels are you going to use to get in front of people and direct them to your funnel?
Will you write blogs, appear on podcasts or videos, or build an email list? And, how will you leverage each piece to increase your visibility?
If you’re looking for another term here, you might also call it: Strategic Visibility.
Because this is the stuff that fuels your marketing machine, it’s less linear than the rest of the trajectory. There’s more iterate, rinse and repeat because you’re looking for ways to continue to show up to your current audience while also attracting new people.
The Hook is the “what’s next” portion after you have all the other REACH Visibility Trajectory building blocks in place. It’s how you start sending traffic to your site and/or into your funnel to generate leads.
I’m hesitant to say “turn lead gen to autopilot,” because there’s a huge level of continuing to show up and that does take effort. You can, however, take a more concerted approach.
You can go about this about a million different ways. I love setting a 90-day strategy to make sure #allthethings I’m doing work together to build visibility and trust so I spend less time chasing my own tail and more time doing the things that matter.
What are those things? Depends on your business.
For me it’s a blend of email, blog, social, and speaking/podcasting.
So how do you do this? Figure out your goals first. Then figure out where you should be showing up. Finally, figure out what’s reasonable for you to actually do.
And truthfully, there’s one more step — figuring out how to measure your results. What will success look like for you? And how often will you check in and review it?
Need to break this down further? Ask yourself these four questions:
- What matters most to my clients?
- What do I actually want to do in my business?
- What can I do consistently?
- What gives me joy?
→ HOOK WITH TACTICAL STRATEGY ACTION ITEMS:
- Identify where your clients hang out and where you are comfortable.
- Choose one or two channels you can post consistently.
- Identify two or three buckets of content you can speak to
- Create a schedule for posting content.
Ready, Set, GO!
You’ve identified your goals, built your content strategy, and defined your success metrics. Way to go!
It’s officially time to execute your plan.
Maybe, as part of your strategy, you’re creating your marketing funnel. (WHAT? Yep, C & H can be combined.)
Your Hook strategy supports your funnel through all the things you do to put yourself out there.
From there, it’s just about doing what you say you’re going to do. It’s true whether you’re doing it FOR the client or if you ARE the client.
My hottest tip? Sit down monthly, batch content, and pre-schedule. You can do this for almost all content including social posts, emails, and blogs.
And if you miss a week here or there? No big deal — you’re focusing on building a foundation so that you’re showing up on a mostly regular basis. The closer you stick to your plan? The more successful you’ll be — but only do what you can reasonably do.
The Best Results Aren’t As Simple as “Just Add Water”
When you have confidence in your messaging and the way you’re showing up, and you work at it consistently, success is almost certain.
But know this — building success takes time…and your success probably won’t happen overnight.
If after several months, you’re not seeing a change then definitely take a step back and re-evaluate. Sometimes it’s a simple tweak — and sometimes it’s more involved.
No one makes a million dollars on a single email or social post without having already laid the groundwork for years.
Results are cumulative. Some things you do may bring immediate rewards, while others are part of the slow build to success.
And remember: If you do get overwhelmed, take a step back and focus on one thing at a time.
— — — — —
Part copywriter, part marketing strategist, Erin Pennings helps founder-led B2Bs and startups solve their marketing challenges, delight their audience, and develop strong strategic relationships at CopySnacks. Erin is a Copywriter Think Tank alum. She appeared on Episode #277 of The Copywriter Club Podcast and is the creator of Whomp Whomp to Wow, a 28-day intensive focused on creating the perfect website.