Whether you realise it or not, as a VA you are a brand.
That’s true whether you’re well established or just starting out, and whether you have a team or on your own. If you are working as a VA to make money, then you are a business. And you should operate like one.
Part of that is creating your brand and brand story. I’m not talking about getting a fancy logo or the beautiful colours on your website (though the design does play a role in branding).
This is about perceptions, values and positioning. Your brand or brand story is, ultimately, what other people believe, think and feel about you and your business. If you don’t tell the story, somebody else will. Here are 10 ways to help you get a clearer and sharper brand message.
1. USP or Elevator Pitch
This has become a bit of a cliché now but it’s still a useful way to get thinking about how you explain with brevity what you do. USP stands for Unique Selling Point or Unique Selling Proposition. It is essentially about what makes your product or service better than the competitors.
Are you the fastest? The cheapest? The first? The smartest? The safest? The most experienced? The biggest operator? The most authentic? The most ethical? The most environmentally friendly?
The elevator pitch idea asks you to imagine you get in an elevator and your ideal client (or a big name in business) is in the lift with you. They ask: “So, what do you do?” You have 20 seconds to ‘pitch’ them.
One of the ways to express your USP or elevator pitch (you may have heard it called something else, like ‘captivating introduction’) is to use a little formula.
“I help [insert your ideal client group here] to [achieve what outcome or result] without [insert a potential obstacle or objection] so that they [insert the transformation or difference it makes].”
2. Crown yourself King or Queen
Obviously, we’re not talking about taking over the monarchy. This is just an exercise in positioning. Think about how you would describe yourself if your sentence had to start with:
“I am the Queen of….” or “I am the King of…” Don’t just think of one idea. Have several goes at it. Let your responses flow and see what you come up with.
You may not end up using the phrase in your published marketing. But it may help you to find a stronger way to brand yourself or create a tagline.
As it happens, too many of my audience I am still known as “The Queen of Microsoft Office“.
Others know me as “The MS Office Maestro”. Either way, it points to someone who is well established and knows what they’re talking about. Someone worth listening to.
3. Give the Answers to Key Questions
To get clarity about what your business and brand is about, and how to express that, you need to be able to answer some key questions.
The five big ones are these:
1. Who are You & What do You do?
2. Who do You Help?
3. How do You Help Them?
4. What Difference do You Make to Them?
5. Why Should They Choose You (and not somebody else)?
If you can answer these questions and narrow it down to a few lines, you’re well on the way to a strong message or finding a smart tagline.
4. Understand and State your Values
What are your values? What is important to you? What are the principles by which you lead your life and run your business?
Set them down. Express them on your website, in your sales process and in your social media activity.
5. Use the Power of Story
A good way to express your values is through sharing stories. You can use ones that illustrate the values you hold dear, either through a time when you lived up to that value or a time when you did not. Or use the stories of others to make the same point.
6. Tell Your Back Story
One of the brilliant things about my podcast, Virtually Amazing, is hearing the guest experts talk about how they started their VA business.
Some of the stories about how people have overcome health and other life challenges to get where they are today are both emotional and inspiring. It really helps you to get a sense of who the person is and understand why they do what they are doing.
You may have a back story that you can use to help people get to know more about you. It’s a perfect element for an ‘About Me’ page on your website… or a spot on a podcast.
7. Create a Tagline
A tagline is like a slogan or memorable phrase about you and your brand. Something that people associate with you and nobody else.
Think ‘Just do it’ for Nike.
“Beans Means Heinz” for Heinz baked beans.
“Vorsprung durch Technik” for Audi cars.
You may have many more you could add to the list. These are just well-known examples of what a tagline is.
I’ve already mentioned how I’m known as “The MS Office Maestro“. People associate that with me. Shelley Fishel – The MS Office Maestro.
There’s even a tagline for one of my products.
My Tomorrow’s VA – The Hub is the complete box set of my online training courses for VA’s and other Assistants who use Microsoft Office and 365. It’s called The Hub but some know it as ‘The Full Monty’. The tag just stuck in people’s minds so I’ve kept using it.
What could your tagline be?
8. The One-Sentence Wonder
An exercise to try is to express your brand and what you do in one sentence or less. This might lead to a tagline or simply give you a smart set of messages you can use in your marketing and content.
Could you sum it up in 12 words? In 10? In six or even fewer words?
Give it a go.
9. Ask Your Audience
A different approach to the one-sentence exercise is to imagine what is in the mind of your ideal client and express that as a question to them. For example:
Do your PowerPoint presentations fall flat?
Does it take you ages to format and brand style your Word docs?
Does the thought of running another meeting in Teams leave you anxious?
Isn’t it about time you knew how to pivot in Excel?
These are basic questions. You can add more oomph to them by layering in a more conversational approach and the feelings and around ‘not knowing’ how to use Microsoft Office and 365.
Do you dread it when your client asks you to just ‘polish up this presentation’?
Can you feel your neck and shoulders tense the instant you hear the words “Can you support our next Teams meeting?”
Is the anxiety of blagging it each time you turn on the computer really worth it?
I’m sure you’ll come up with something even better.
10. Cut Out the Jargon
Review your website and marketing material. Look for jargon, cliches’ and tired phrasing.
Highlight the words and find an alternative way to express them.
I’m not saying there’s never a place for a cliché or technical terms, just make sure they are relevant and right for where and when you’re going to use them.
If you can, avoid phrases like “I am passionate about…” or “Our company is all about excellence”. How else could you say that – or illustrate that – so the audience understands.
Or, as the marketing phrase goes, show don’t tell.
That’s a tagline, by the way.
Do share what you come up with as different ways to express your VA brand.