Building a Strategic Brand in 2024

Building a Strategic Brand in 2024

Unlock Your Genius, Unleash Your Brand Power

In the dynamic and competitive landscape of 2024, building a brand has never been more critical or daunting. With the mind-blowing volume of content on every social media platform, how can you, as an entrepreneur, effectively engage with your target audience and differentiate yourself in the marketplace?

The most common suggestion is to lean tactical: create content, post on every social media platform, and engage with your audience.

But what content should you create? What social media platforms will serve your goals best, and who exactly is your audience?

We’ll cover three steps that will make creating, posting, and engaging with your ideal audience infinitely easier:

  • Identify Your Core Strengths: Discover how to leverage your unique skills, passions, and experiences to create a brand identity that resonates with your target audience.
  • Align Your Brand with Your Market: Learn how to integrate current market demands and industry trends into your branding strategy, ensuring relevance and competitiveness.
  • Create a Consistent Brand Narrative: Develop a cohesive narrative that aligns all aspects of your branding, from marketing materials to your online presence, reinforcing your unique value proposition.

Identifying your core strengths, aligning your brand with market trends, and crafting a consistent brand narrative will allow you to create a powerful and resonating brand that sets you apart in today’s saturated market.

Step 1: Know Thyself

It might sound like a waste of time, but it is an essential first step to differentiate and position yourself in a way that doesn’t lead to creating endless content on platforms for people who don’t notice or care.

Many entrepreneurs skip this step, not understanding that it involves knowing who you are at your core and how you fit into the broader marketplace.

Identify Your Core Strengths

Identifying your unique skills, passions, and experiences requires a deep and introspective look into your personal and professional journey. This process will help you pinpoint the strengths and abilities that set you apart. Once these are identified, you can incorporate them into your brand, creating a distinctive identity that truly reflects you and resonates with your target audience.

Skills are the simplest place to start. Over time, you’ve accumulated a skill set that’s easy to list. These might include things like copywriting, graphic design, coding, website design, or other hands-on service skills like hairdressing, interior designing, or home organizing. You might also have verifiable degrees or certifications showing your expertise in an industry or discipline like coaching or consulting.

Take action: Make a list of your skills.

Once you have a list, circle the skills that you emphasize in your business. You’ve likely built your business on the skills you feel you excel at.

Next, list your passions. The word “passion” is overused and has become synonymous with everything from a passing fancy to a complete obsession. So instead, let’s create a list of your sustained interests. These are things that you return to repeatedly, leaning more toward the “obsession” side of the scale.

Here’s the qualifier for your “passions”: You’re a competitor or professional in the arena; it’s been part of your daily routine for more than five years; or you’re new to it but are obsessively focused on it.

Not sure? Review your social media: what channels have you followed and subscribed to? Review your book and course purchases. What courses have you taken that weren’t required for your job or business? What are the themes of the books you’ve purchased? These are your interests.

Take action: Make a list of your sustained interests (aka passions).

Finally, make a list of your experiences. I’m not talking about experience in a field or skill here. I’m talking about lived experiences.

Make a list of the unique challenges or opportunities you’ve experienced that have given you new skills or perspectives, shaping how you do business. This list should look something like this:

  • Challenge: How I overcame it and what I learned that applies to my business solution.
  • Opportunity: How I embraced it and what I learned that applies to my business solution.

These experiences can differentiate you from others in the marketplace, even if they might seem unrelated at first. Your lived experiences are some of the most uniquely “you” things you have.

The List Match Game

Now that you have your three lists, combine the elements to create different pictures of how what you offer in your business is truly unique. This introspection about brand differentiation can affect not only the products you offer but also your messaging and how you communicate that message in your content.

Step 2: Future-Proof Alignment

Let’s face it: part of the overwhelm your brand is feeling comes from trying to keep up with what’s trending and popular.

Ensuring your brand’s relevance and competitiveness relies on two factors that we’ll cover here: current market demands and industry trends.

Does Your Market Want What You Have to Offer?

You’ve gotten to know yourself better and have created interesting combinations of your skills, sustained interests, and lived experiences. The next question to answer is, which of the combinations aligns with what your ideal customer is looking for?

Your People

You have something to offer that is perfect for someone. Someone is desperately searching for a solution only you can deliver. Who is that person?

Let’s define your audience. One of the best ways to do this is to embody the character of the person you can help the most. Sometimes this is easy because that person is who you were last year, five years ago, or three months ago, when you decided to start a business that could solve your problem.

Let’s say you’re a personal finance coach. You help people get out of debt by developing a positive money mindset and creating a budget.

It’s not enough to just think about the general avatar or persona, not even if you give them a name. For example, “Cathy is a 23-year-old female college graduate, living at home, unmarried, and making $50K per year.” You can list her interests and problems, but does that mean your brand messages will resonate with Cathy?

Instead, become Cathy for a minute:

“I’m Cathy, and I’m in a panic because my college degree that cost me $45K in student loans isn’t turning into a job that can pay it back anytime soon. I feel frustrated and stuck. I have a job that isn’t in my field of study, and I don’t love it. I’m not making enough money to move out of my parent’s house. I spend time on social media as a distraction, but it only makes me feel like I’m far behind where I should be at my age.”

Your Genius

I define your Genius Thread™ as the specific interests, talents, skills, values, experiences, goals, and aptitudes that make you a unique brand of one. In the Core Strengths exercise, we considered three elements of your genius: skills, interests, and experiences. Now that you’ve embodied what Cathy is experiencing and feeling, let’s go to your results to see how you can help her.

Look back at your combinations. What skills, interests, and experiences can you combine that will resonate with Cathy?

Here are two examples of combinations that might have seemed disparate but will stand out to Cathy:

Example 1:

  • Skills: Coaching (certified life coach), writing, interpersonal communication
  • Interests: Personal financial literacy (Dave Ramsey books), productivity (Atomic Habits)
  • Lived Experience: You have a bachelor’s degree in English literature, but by the time you finished college, you were broke and had to move back in with your parents. You took personal finance courses online to get out of debt and worked with a life coach. You enjoyed working with your coach so much that you became a certified life coach.

Example 2:

  • Skills: Coaching (certified life coach), writing, interpersonal communication
  • Interests: Personal financial literacy (Dave Ramsey books), fitness (follows fitness accounts on YouTube, has a gym membership, and works out daily)
  • Lived Experience: You became a personal trainer at your gym. You became certified and worked part-time to supplement the income you were making to get out of debt. You love coaching others to become healthier.

How you combine your skills, interests, and lived experiences can be expressed in how you communicate your differentiation in your industry or the products you offer. Cathy might find a video about “5 Habits for Financial Freedom” intriguing. She might be acutely interested in joining your “Debt Busting Bootcamp.”

At this point, the most important question is, “Are there enough Cathys in the marketplace?”

The answer lies in understanding that, as a brand, you must “own a problem.” In this example, the problem to be solved is how new college graduates can overcome debt. Overcoming debt is a big problem, and narrowing it down to new college graduates makes it a specific audience in need.

Do the same exercise to find your people and the problem you can own. Next, we’ll define how to keep your brand consistent and future-proof.

Step 3: A Concise, Compelling, and Consistent Story

Your brand is who the public says you are. Therefore, your brand strategy consists of activities to influence this perception positively. Part of the strategy includes the overall messaging of your brand and how and where it is distributed to your ideal audience.

Creating a brand strategy that supports gaining identification and favorability in the marketplace depends on three factors: telling a concise, compelling, and consistent story about your brand.

There are three stories related to your brand:

  1. Your story
  2. Your customer’s story
  3. The story your customer needs to hear

Your story is your brand story and includes elements of your unique genius. These elements serve as differentiators and position you in front of the right audience who needs what you offer.

However, your brand won’t stand out or stay relevant if all you talk about is yourself. Look back at the exercises you’ve done so far. There’s information about how you are different and unique, and that difference is reflected in the products you offer and how you communicate your offer. But

that communication is about your customers and the problems you can solve for them.

Your customer’s story is considered in your mission and messaging. You need to know who you can help (your target audience) and why you must help them (your mission).

The story your customer needs to hear is created by positioning your customer as the hero and your brand as the guide who can help them solve their problem with your ideal solution.

Don’t Confuse or You Will Lose

As a StoryBrand Certified Guide for over five years, the main message I repeated to my small business clients was this phrase coined by Don Miller, the CEO of StoryBrand: “If you confuse, you lose.”

It’s noisy out there.

The digital marketing and content creation landscape is an ever-increasing cacophony of information, entertainment, and advertisement. To be heard and understood, your brand doesn’t need to be louder; it needs to be clear.

Clarity is created not by more explaining but by using the fewest words possible to create a message that resonates with your audience and one they want to repeat.

When you create your messaging through a narrative story framework, like the one offered by StoryBrand, you create clarity for your customers with messaging that’s easy for them to remember and repeat.

What’s Compelling is What’s Real

Why is reality TV so popular? Because the audience believes it is what it proclaims—real.

This sentiment can be carried through to how your brand is represented in your marketing and content. The term for this is “authenticity.”

Remember that your brand is built on your unique genius, as we covered in the first exercise. The reason for going through that work is to ensure that, whether you’re just starting, growing, or scaling, you stay true to the essence of your brand, which is you.

This is why copying the type of content that works for another brand isn’t a solution for building your standout brand strategy in 2024.

In other words, dancing on TikTok might not be for you (it certainly isn’t for me or my brand).

If you need permission to focus on just one, relevant-to-your-brand platform, you have it.

Trying to market your brand by creating content for every platform is like being the “I’m for everyone” brand. If you are for everyone, you are for no one. The outcome is exhaustion on the way to failure.

Focused, Aligned, and Consistent Action

Every strategist will tell you that consistency matters. But trying to duplicate another brand’s 100 pieces of content per week strategy is a recipe for inconsistency for most entrepreneurs.

Let’s return to our previous exercises to put this step into motion.

Now that you know what makes you different in the marketplace and you’ve embodied the character of your ideal client to identify your audience, the key to resonating with that audience now and in the future is this:

  1. Create a message they can hear: Make it a story about them, their problem, and how you’re the brand that can help them with a solution. Write or talk about what they care about related to the problem, and paint a picture of what’s possible when they have the solution.
  2. Choose the most relevant platform: You know who your audience is. Now, where are they hanging out, and what are they doing there?
    1. Is Cathy on Instagram distracting herself with pretty pictures? Is she on TikTok seeking entertainment from funny cat videos, or is she doom-scrolling on X (Twitter)? The type of content you create and on which platform is both brand- and context-dependent.
  3. Create a system that delivers: Starting with or prioritizing one platform allows you to create a brand-aligned, customer-relevant content production and distribution system that you can become consistent with (in the way you’ve always known you could be).

Focusing on one message to one audience on one platform is the quickest way to consistently reach your audience, increase brand awareness, ensure attention, and ultimately convert your true fans into happy customers.

The Future Demands Strategic Action

These are the building blocks for a consistent brand strategy in 2024, but unlike the tactics you’ve likely seen, heard of, and even tried to implement, they will still be the foundation for a solid brand strategy for years to come.

You may choose to implement AI into your content creation system (here’s a link to my free Notion template to help you do just that), but you’ll still need to know what your unique genius is, who needs the solution you offer, and how and where to communicate with them.

Building a powerful and future-proof brand strategy is easy when you understand these three important elements: differentiating with your core strengths, creating alignment with your market, and crafting a clear and consistent story that continues to engage your customers now and in the future.

How to Create a Marketing Strategy for Your Small Business in 3 Easy Steps

How to Create a Marketing Strategy for Your Small Business in 3 Easy Steps

Marketing is essential for any small business, but it can be hard to know where to start. There are so many options and pieces to marketing that it can be overwhelming, especially if you’re on a tight budget. 

But don’t worry! Creating a marketing strategy for your small business is easier than it sounds, and it’s something you can do in just three simple steps.

Step One: Determine Your Target Audience

The first step in creating a marketing strategy for your small business is to determine your target audience. Ask yourself who your ideal customer is, what their needs are, and what they’re looking for. 

But, don’t just use demographics, like age, education level, and marital status. To really understand your ideal audience (and, importantly, where they like to hang out, you need to think about their interests. 

The truth is, your product might be a great solution for a 20-year-old college student and a 45-year-old creative entrepreneur. Dive deep into understanding everything you can about your ideal client. 

If you want to take this research even further, check out SparkToro.  With this research tool you can find out the social accounts your audience follows as well as the websites they likely visit!

Once you understand your target audience well, you can start thinking about the best ways to reach them.

Step Two: Set Some Goals

The second step is to set some goals. What do you want to achieve with your marketing? Do you want to increase brand awareness, drive traffic to your website, or generate leads? Once you know what your goals are, you can start brainstorming some ideas for how to achieve them.

Many entrepreneurs need to pay more attention to the importance of this step. As a matter of fact, most of the entrepreneurs that request my help with strategy will say that the main problem they have is that their marketing isn’t converting. The problem is, they are not clear about the type of conversion they are measuring; ie. conversion to a lead which is a soft acquisition level conversion, or conversion to a sale; a revenue level conversion. 

The best way to determine your goals is to decide on the One Metric That Matters (OMTM) for each level of your funnel.  Here’s a definition courtesy of The One Metric That Matters (or OMTM) is a single number that you care the most about at the current stage of your company. Keep in mind that this metric can change over time as your company grows.

Here’s a chart for reference:

omtm chart

Click here to access an editable OMTM chart (make a copy)


Step Three: Choose Your Tactics

The third and final step is choosing your tactics. This is where you’ll decide what channels to use to reach your target audience and what kind of content you want to create. There are many different options out there, so take some time to research what will work best for your business. Then put together a plan and get started!

Keep in mind that your distribution channels are both audience and intent-dependent. Always pinpoint and prioritize one channel. It should be the platform you are most likely to find your ideal audience. 

Intent-dependent means that each channel has a behavior related to it. Think about why someone would go to YouTube to consume content. Likely, he or she would be looking for “How to”, “The best”, or “___vs____” content depending on where they are in their customer journey. On the other hand, the same person might visit Instagram to be entertained by memes and short videos. 

Your content will be a great match for your audience on some platforms and not as strong on others. Prioritize those that are likely to resonate best with your audience while maintaining your brand identity. 

Here is an example of content marketing tactics for small businesses to get you started.


Pillar to Post

1. Determine your pillar content topic

Your pillar content topics will be the main topics and sub-topics in which you have expertise related to your business.

2. Write or record your pillar content piece 

Your pillar content is generally long-form content in the form of a blog, podcast, or video. 

3. Atomize your pillar content

To atomize your content piece means to “chop it up”. Choose snippets of the blog, podcast, or video as quote posts, carousels, or short-form videos on social media.

4. Post your pillar and atomized content on your distribution channels of choice.

Distribution channels include your blog, podcast, email, social media, and other channels like Medium, or Reddit, for instance.

Creating the best marketing strategy for your small business doesn’t have to be complicated or time-consuming. By following these three simple steps—figuring out who your target audience is, setting some goals, and choosing your tactics—you’ll be well on your way to developing a plan that works for you and helps you achieve your objectives. 


Coach, Consultant or Strategist: What’s the Difference and Why it Matters

Coach, Consultant or Strategist: What’s the Difference and Why it Matters

Coach, Consultant or Strategist: What’s the Difference and Why it Matters

You’d like to get some outside marketing help for your small business, but you’re confused about whether you need a coach, consultant, or strategist. This article will explain the difference and why it matters.

What’s Your Boggle?

The first step to determine who can help is to define what the problem is. Are you stuck for ideas in your overall marketing strategy? Is your social media a mess? Does your target audience even know who you are? Let’s sort it out.


Define the Stage

All small businesses have bottlenecks but not all small businesses are in the same stage when they happen. Different issues arise depending on whether you are in the startup, growth, or scaling stage. Determine what stage you are in in your business, but don’t stop there. The sales funnel stage matters, too. When a new client comes to me, they often tell me that their marketing “isn’t working”. Here’s how the dialogue generally proceeds: Client: “My marketing isn’t working.” Me: “What do you mean by ‘isn’t working?” Client: “It’s not converting.” Me: “Not converting in what way?” Client: “Well…I hired a social media manager and I’m not getting any conversions. I feel like I’m wasting money on Facebook ads.” Me: “Are your Facebook ads part of an awareness campaign or a sales campaign.” Client: …” a sales campaign, maybe?? All I know is I’m spending money on advertising but not making any revenue from it.” In this example, the Facebook ads could be focused on awareness: getting people to visit your website or visit your group page, acquisition: promoting a free download, or sales: asking the audience to make a purchase. How to determine if the marketing tactic is working or not depends on the goal for the stage of the funnel. For instance, if you’re in the early startup phase of your small business and you aren’t hitting your goals for new website visitors from Facebook, then your social media marketing in the awareness phase might be the stage of the funnel that needs attention. The stage of the funnel matters both in defining the problem and in deciding who can help to solve it. Here are the stages of a sales funnel, the definition of each stage, and the corresponding stages of the customer journey. (*The Pirate Funnel is a helpful customer-lifecycle framework invented by Dave McClure that you can use to map out and optimize your marketing funnel). pirate funnel

Describe the Problem

Clearly defining the problem before you invest in the solution will save you time, money, and frustration. Revisit your goal, mission, KPIs, north star metric, and OMTM – one metric that matters. Then, write out what the problem is in a sentence. Here are definitions that might help: 1. Goal – what’s your overall goal for your business? Ex. I want my online course business to make money for me while I sleep so I can quit my 9-5 retail job. 2. Mission – what is the problem you need to solve, for who, and why? Ex. Women spend too much money on uninteresting, uncomfortable shoes. My online course teaches them how to DIY great sandals so they save money and create something they love to wear (this is a real, top-selling course on Teachable, by the way). 3. KPI – what is the key performance indicator? Ex. Increase in revenue from course sales. 4. North Star Metric – The main metric you are measuring. This is most often revenue. 5. OMTM (One Metric That Matters) – The one metric that matters for the stage of the funnel/ customer journey that you are measuring. This is where you can take action to change an outcome as long as you have a good product-to-market fit. Ex. The % of leads from Instagram that convert to course sales. From the example dialogue above, the problem could be defined like this: “I’m not getting a high enough percentage of leads that convert to sales from my social media marketing efforts. My course has sold a few units, but, as a new business, I need to increase my revenue from course sales month over month so I can quit my retail job by the end of the year.” Who is best suited to help you? We have one more step before we can make that decision.

Define the Desired Outcome

What does success look like? In order to make the best choice. Define exactly what success looks like for you. And here’s the key, it’s important to recognize that a business coach, consultant, and strategist each approach solving your problem from a different perspective and expertise.

What’s in a Name: The Business Coach

“I have the resources to help you find the answer.”


Think of a business coach as your guide, mentor, and motivator. This professional can motivate you to break through boundaries and find resources.


Motivation, education, and support. Your business coach can help you to find small business marketing resources or suggest a tool for more effective email marketing, for instance. He or she has broad expertise in what makes a business work well.

But, don’t expect…

Don’t expect a business coach to have deep expertise in any one area of small business or to do the work for you. Just like a football coach doesn’t block, tackle or throw a pass, a business coach calls the plays from the sideline.

When to Hire a coach

Small business coaches are often along for the long haul. They can help motivate you at the launch of your project and support you as you grow.

Best use case example

If your sticking point with social media is that you don’t have an active social media presence, your marketing strategy might benefit from including videos of you that would give a personal brand boost that your target audience needs for trust. Your business coach can help you with resources and motivation to get in front of the camera.

What’s in a Name: The Consultant

“I’m an expert in the solution.”


A small business consultant serves as an advisor with a specialty. Consultants may specialize in small business marketing, small business operations, or even digital marketing sub-specialties like search engine optimization or human resources.


When you hire a consultant, you can expect that he or she will provide an overview of your business as a whole and will then make recommendations based on his or her area of specialization.

But, don’t expect…

If you hire a social media marketing consultant, you might also get a done-for-you service. But, if you hire a small business growth consultant, you wouldn’t. Generally, consultants aren’t “doers” they are advisors who provide expertise in a specific area.

When to seek out a consultant

Consultants can be helpful at any stage of a project when their specific expertise is required.

Best use case example

Let’s look at the example above from the perspective of a small business marketing strategy consultant who specializes in advertising search engine marketing. After reviewing your business, your consultant may suggest that you expand your social media efforts to include additional channels, or that you strengthen your email marketing copy but it would be through the lens of what works best with a paid, search engine marketing plan.

What’s in a Name: The Strategist

“I’ll help you define the goal, the actions steps, and the resources necessary to solve the problem and reach your overall objective.”


The Strategist has the task of formulating an overall plan as well as defining the action steps and resources required to execute the plan. Strategists start with the overall goal of the business in mind and then review and refine the steps to the goal in order to uncover anything that could be part of the obvious, initial problem.


Small business strategists are analytical problem solvers. And, if you are looking for someone whose focus is ensuring your business grows, a small business growth strategist is the expert you are looking for. A small business growth marketing strategist is considered a “T-shaped marketer” or a “CMO Lite”. Strategists have a broad range of skills with expertise in two or three areas.

But, don’t expect…

They’ll help define the goal, the steps, and the resources needed, but don’t expect them to do it for you. Your strategist won’t provide inspirational quotes like a coach or focus on only one area like a consultant, but don’t expect them to run your social media for you. The focus of this professional is on the data. They are an “extra set of eyes” that can uncover the truth in the numbers and solve the problem.

When to seek out a strategist

Strategists are an ideal first expert hire. At the beginning of your business venture, he or she can help you with the market fit, competition, feasibility, and launch. If you run into a problem, your strategist helps you to fix it. And, if you want to pivot your brand, your strategist is there to help you find the way to do it.

Best use case example

Are you sure you should even be on Instagram? In the example above, your strategist would be looking into that question. If you are unclear about what is causing the problem, your strategist analyzes and diagnoses as well as gives you a plan and the resources to solve the problem from a 360 ft. view.

The Best Bang for your Marketing Buck: Think Strategy First

Now that you have defined the problem and you know your options, who is best to help you? It’s important to choose the best problem solver for the problem at hand.

Savvy marketing comes down to focusing on strategy first. The best tactics can’t be effective unless they are attached to a plan.

If you are struggling with social media, you might think hiring a social media manager is your best bet. If SEO isn’t making sense to you, you’re likely to search for a search engine optimization agency to solve your problem. Unfortunately, that’s where most small business owners find out, only too late, they’ve wasted time and spent money but they haven’t solved their problem. Remember the dialogue I referenced earlier in this post? Most small business owners hire a ‘doer’ first. Doers are practitioners with specific skills. They are great at completing the work but completion isn’t the final goal. This is where getting help from a specialist in the form of a coach, consultant or strategist is your best bet. Each of these professionals will help you to define your best strategy first. Then, getting the help of a doer will give you the outcome you’re after. If you use the formulas and definitions above to clearly define the problem and the professional best suited to solve it, you are on your way to business success no matter what marketing snafu you encounter.