Visibility Audit for Business Owners
Building a business can involve a confusing mass of advice from different experts all wanting to draw your attention to the ‘next big thing that’ll skyrocket your business’.
The thing they don’t mention is that the core principles of business haven’t really changed that much for a long time; make something valuable and sell it to the people who want or need it.
The confusion comes in when you start diving into how to do that. Especially online.
It’s easy to be paralysed by choice. That’s why we created this audit. So you can work your way through a step by step process with ease.
From a visibility perspective, your business considerations can be simplified down to two key questions; (i) Is my brand easy to understand? (ii) Can people easily engage with it?
If you can answer yes to both of those things then you’re well on your way to building a really strong and sustainable brand. If not, then please forget about whether you should focus your time on Instagram or Snapchat, blogging, or live streaming and get back to basics first. Once you’ve done that and done it well, you can add all the bells and whistles you like to your business blueprint.
STEP ONE: Is my brand easy to understand?
Building a brand that’s easy to understand requires clarity and consistency. In other words, your brand story needs to be tight and right. You need to:
- be deeply connected to your values and your deeper purpose for existence as a company
- know who it is you want to connect with/you’re here to serve
- have a message that excites your community
- have an origin story that’s coherent and feeds into the overall brand messaging
- represent a promise to your community (how their lives are going to improve as a result of being a part of your community), and
- have developed a brand aesthetic and customer experience that’s consistent with your message, your story, your promise, your purpose and your values.
Let’s dive into each of these in more detail.
STEP TWO: Am I connected to my values and deeper purpose?
Simon Sinek famously spoke about companies being connected to their deeper purpose as understanding their ‘why’.
If you don’t why you’re doing what you’re doing (your deeper purpose) and the manner in which you want to do it (your values), you’re like a balloon with no string attached. You’ll easily fly out of someone’s hand and float along with the breeze to who knows what destination.
For a while you might enjoy the ride but eventually you’ll find that actually, as a human being you’re here not just to enjoy the ride, you’re also here to direct the ride.
And in order to direct the ride competently, you have to have a sense of where you’re not going.
Anchoring into your purpose will remind you why you even started your business in the first place. This is particularly helpful in challenging moments when you wonder whether you should pack it all in. It’ll help you to keep going when others might give up.
Anchoring into your values will provide guidance around what to say no to and what to say yes to. It will tell you where to spend your time and who and what to avoid. It will pre-determine the answer to soo many questions you’re going to face as a business owner.
Questions to ask yourself:
- What do I care deeply about?
- What have I overlooked in the past, assuming that everyone knows how to do that?
- How do I want to show up in the world? How do I want to be seen by others?
- Which brands/businesses do I like and what is it about them that I like?
- If there were one thing I’d like to be known for before I die, what would it be?
VISIBILITY BLOCK TO BE AWARE OF: Often at this stage the visibility block relates to not clearly seeing ourselves. We under-estimate the value we’re already bringing to the world. We’re blind to our own gifts and genius. This is something we work through in our visibility block clearing class ‘7 visibility blocks stopping you from growing your business.’
STEP THREE: Do I know who I want to connect with?
Once you know your value, you need to know who you want to serve. Maybe you’re really passionate about supporting stay at home mums, or women who are trying to get pregnant, or school students studying to get into college or university.
If you know that immediately, great. Don’t question your intuition. Just start focusing in on them and forget the rest of the world.
If you’re unsure, consider who would be ideal for you.
- What do they care about?
- What’s their number 1 problem they’re hoping to solve?
- What do they want from you?
- How would they like you to show up in their lives?
(My business mentor has the most comprehensive exercise for working this out in her business program B-School. Learning from Marie has saved me so much time and money. She really is the best in the business when it comes to online marketing.)
Pro tip; align who you want to work with, with your zone of genius.
Let’s say you want to work with stay at home mums. You are also sufficiently self aware to know that one of your great skills is coming up with new ideas, that idea generation comes as easily to you as breathing.
If that’s the case, in working out who you want to serve, you might consider how stay at home mums would really benefit from the idea generation factory that exists in your head. Perhaps they need inspiration for kids parties or for organising the children’s toys or meal suggestions. As you start to dig deeper with this, you’ll come to realise that not only do you want to serve stay at home mums, you actually want to serve a particular group of stay at home mums; ones who are lacking ideas or creative inspiration to get them through the day.
VISIBILITY BLOCK TO BE AWARE OF: It is very common for people to say but I can help everyone! I don’t want to narrow my market. Trust me, you really do. Think about it; do you really want to help the 70 year old man who has a problem with arthritis, and the 20 year old young woman who’s having problems with anxiety, and the 40 year old mum of toddlers who’s struggling to get enough sleep?
Your expertise and authority in an industry arises out of your willingness to be seen for something. A thing. As you build your reputation in that area, you might add other elements to your business model. But don’t start that way. In fact, don’t even consider adding another customer group or product line or focus area to your business until you can confidently say that your original customer group is growing automatically, is well served, and that everything is so well automated that it requires very little focus or attention from you to keep it going.
STEP FOUR: Do I have a clear message I'm sharing through my business?
Once you know who you want to connect with, you need to know what you want to say to them.
Without a clear message, people don’t know what you stand for and whether they want to be a part of what you’re building. And if they don’t know that, you don’t have a community and you don’t have people to sell to.
Your business message should be:
- easy to understand
- memorable (not too long)
- crafted in language that your ideal customer or client actually uses
- something that immediately sparks some recognition in your ideal customer or client.
Most importantly, your message only needs to speak to the people you’re trying to attract. If it turns other people away or they ignore it or it doesn’t resonate for them, that’s good! That means you’ve narrowed in sufficiently to make a genuine connection with the people you’re here to serve.
VISIBILITY BLOCK TO BE AWARE OF: Far too many women who work online fall into the trap of being too broad or vague or generic in their messages. Words like ’empowerment’ are thrown around a lot because not enough people are taking the time to put themselves in the shoes of the person they’re trying to reach.
Tip; people are not walking around saying ‘I wish I was more empowered.’ They’re saying, ‘I wish I had more money, I wish I felt more confident, I wish people would take me seriously at work, I wish my husband/my boss would listen to me, I feel invisible, I feel fat, I don’t know how to build a business, I want to get healthy, I’m anxious, I’m depressed, I’m suffering from xxx physical condition and I wish I could get better.’
If you’re struggling with your message, our visibility block clearing class ‘7 visibility blocks stopping you from growing your business’ will help you work through your confusion.
STEP FIVE: Do I have a coherent origin story that supports my core message?
Consumers want behind the scenes access to the companies and celebrities they’re invested in and happily social media gives you the perfect opportunity to let them in.
To understand the power of a backstory, think about the tv shows or movies you love. How great is it when you watch an episode – or an entire movie – that’s focused on giving you a much greater understanding about your favourite character’s past experiences or an insight into their personality that you hadn’t learned before?
This is how your customers or clients feel when they learn your origin story. They become far more invested in you and your brand. Taking the time to properly articulate your origin story and understand how it supports your core message is critical to the success of your business.
VISIBILITY BLOCK TO BE AWARE OF: There can be a tendency to think that once you’ve told your story a few times everyone has heard it. They haven’t. There’s so much information flying around the world on a daily basis, it’s essential to repeat your story over and over and over for it to gain traction.
You want to get to a point where your origin story and message are so familiar to you that it’s completely second nature for you to rattle them off almost verbatim in an interview or at a networking event.
STEP SIX: Have I clearly articulated the promise of the business?
The promise of your business is what people are coming to you for. At the School of Visibility our promise is that by working with us you’ll be confident to speak up and be seen and heard in the world. Every every blog post, every video, every class, and program is directed toward delivering on that promise.
So the question to ask yourself is this; do people know the benefits, the results, and/or the experience they can expect when they engage with you?
It pays not to be wishy washy here. Promising happiness is great, but here’s a bunch of things that are better:
- landing a new job that you love in an industry you’re passionate about,
- falling pregnant when you’ve not been able to,
- earning your first $1000, $10,000 or $1000,000 in business, or
- meeting the woman or man of your dreams.
The closer you get to the point of sale, the clearer you want to be about your promise.
Let’s say your overall brand is focused on health and wellbeing. Your paid offerings should not merely promise better health and wellbeing. That’s far too generic. Your paid offerings will do so much better if you offer something much more specific like; 7 recipes for people who want to increase their intake of leafy greens, or 1 month to a flat stomach and improved gut health.
When you offer something that specific, people know your product is for them. They’re not confused. They’re not left wondering if your offer applies to their circumstances. It becomes an easy yes for them which becomes an easy sale for you.
VISIBILITY BLOCK TO BE AWARE OF: Again the devil is in the detail. Your fear will be that if you narrow down, you’ll lose people. The truth is if you don’t narrow down you’ll lose way more people. When you get to the point that you’re sharing posts on your social network platforms and people are tagging specific friends or sharing your post and saying ‘Jenny this is for you’ then you know you’ve nailed the level of specificity you’re looking for.
NB: This is something else you work through in detail in B-School. If you’re ready to take your business dreams seriously B-School is open now for a short time.
STEP SEVEN: Is everything else consistent?
Once you’ve ticked off the steps above, then you’ll want to be sure your brand aesthetics and customer experience (from the first point of contact, to their induction into your community, to their purchasing and after sales experience) are consistent with the business’ purpose and values, message, origin story and promise.
So many women seem to spend hours and days and months focused on brand aesthetics before they work out their purpose and values, message, origin story, and promise.
I know it’s way more fun to play on Picmonkey or Canva than it is to think about these things, but it’s a huge mistake not to work these things out first. Consider this, how can you use brand aesthetics to accurately reflect who you are and who you’re trying to connect with, if you haven’t worked that out clearly in your own mind first?
The other mistake that’s easy to fall into is inconsistency in the brand story and/or customer journey. Perhaps – for example – your messaging and values are on point but you haven’t put sufficient time into ensuring that your customer service is a reflection of your values.
If there’s inconsistency in this chain, instead of building trust (trust being a core component of the business/customer relationship), you build distrust. People start to feel that something is off, or that they’ve been betrayed in some way. Sometimes they can’t articulate why, they just feel that something isn’t quite right in their interaction with you.
The easiest way to ensure consistency is to draw yourself a map with steps 2 through 6 laid out in front of you. Then treat your map like a board game. Pretend to be the customer journeying from one element to the next to the next. Does your customer get lost along the way, does something trip her up or seem out of place, or is she moving smoothly and confidently from a to b to c to d?
VISIBILITY BLOCK TO BE AWARE OF: Consistency can seem boring to some people (I speak from personal experience). We want to offer new and different experiences to our audiences, we want to entertain them with offerings that are unique and original.
Your business and your community will benefit much more if you funnel your desire for unique and original into the ways you delight and surprise your audience rather than into continually re-inventing the foundations of your business.
You’ll be so much more confident and relaxed if you keep your message, your values, your promise and your ideal customer and your origin story the same, and then put your desire for new and different into uplevelling your program or improving your weekly blog posts or improving your podcast episodes. Changing too many things from year to year or month to month is a sabotaging technique which will keep you from ever growing your business into a sustainable endeavour.
STEP EIGHT: Is my brand easy to engage with?
After you’ve built yourself a brand and a business that’s easy to understand, the next thing to turn your mind to is connection and relationships.
Your brand can look amazing and your message can be on point, but if people can’t contact you or they don’t feel connected to you, they still won’t want to buy from you.
So in order to ensure you’re easy to engage with, in order to deepen your connection with your community, you want to consider the following:
- Do I know where I want to build those connections? (right place)
- Do I know how I want to manage my connections and relationships? (right relationship)
We’ll explore these final two steps below.
Before we dive into the final steps, just take a moment to do a quick review of how easy it is to engage with you. Look at your website and social media channels. If you were new to your site or social page, would it be clear:
- what the site or page is about
- who the site or page is for
- how to contact you via phone or email
- how to let you know they want to hear from you regularly (the most common method for this being to hand over your name and email address via an opt in form)
- how to follow you on your social media channels?
If yes, great! You’ve cleared the path for people to find you with ease. Now all you need to do is go out and let them know you exist!
STEP NINE: Do I know where I want to build those connections? (right place)
Once you know who you want to connect with (step three), it’s relatively easy to know where to find and connect with them. Social media is filled with information about where people like to hang out.
- If you run a Facebook group, each time a person asks to join the group, Facebook will tell you what other groups they belong to.
- If you jump on Pinterest and check out the boards of one of your ideal customers you’ll see all the things she’s interested in.
- If you are Facebook friends with someone that’s your ideal customer they’re likely share posts about things that interest them and places they like to hang out.
Obviously I’m not encouraging some sort of weird and creepy stalking, just using the research tools you have at your disposal to get a better sense of where people are and what they like doing.
Once you’ve done some research, choose a platform. A platform from which to connect and communicate with your community. Email is the highest converting platform when it comes to sales, plus it’s the one that you have most control over, so keep that in mind.
(Deciding on an email provider can send people into a tailspin. I use ConvertKit. I’ve used a whole lot of email providers over time and ConvertKit is the most user friendly, intuitive, and easy to work with. It’s reasonably priced, designed to grow with you over time – meaning you won’t have to change email providers in a few years – and lovely to use. I think of it as the Apple of the email marketing software world.)
Here are some things to consider in choosing a platform:
- Can I show up there consistently?
- Do I like the platform? Do I enjoy being on it? (You’re way more likely to show up consistently if you actually like being in that space.)
- Are my people here? If not, is everything still in alignment vis-a-vis who I want to serve and my deeper values and purpose?
- Am I willing to stick with this consistently for at least a year before making any assessment about whether it’s working or not?
- Once I’ve connected, have I developed a way to maintain the relationship? (This is where email really prevails over socials. Once someone has given you their email address, they’ve given you permission to email them. They’ve told you they want to hear from you. Also, as the social media sphere becomes more and more of a pay to play environment, if you can connect with your community each week without having to use an advertisement to reach them, that’s ideal.)
VISIBILITY BLOCK TO BE AWARE OF: Try not to fall into the mistake of trying to be everywhere. Particularly when your resources are limited. What will inevitably happen is you’ll feel so overwhelmed you won’t end up showing up anywhere or you’ll show up in a really ineffective way.
Think of it like going to a party. What’s more conducive to developing good relationships? Running between 4 different parties in one night and very quickly saying hi and then leaving, or showing up at one party and hanging out all night chatting to people?
There was a time when it was popular to try and be everywhere in the online space. Fortunately those days are past. The advocates of that approach have all burned out and the people who wisely chose to focus on one or two locations have proven that less is more when it comes to building significant relationships online.
STEP TEN: Do I know how I want to manage my connections and relationships? (right relationship)
This is a more advanced step once you’ve built a community. Nevertheless, it’s important to know – from the beginning – that this is where you’re headed.
The first thing to note is that once you’ve really locked down the nine steps above, your visibility journey becomes so much easier. You shift from building mode to maintenance mode and you regain so much of your time.
The mistake many people make is that they skip over one or more of the nine steps. They tell themselves they’ll come back to them, sabotaging themselves because they haven’t cleared their visibility blocks, and spend loads of time getting their sales funnel right or playing with pricing when the very foundations of their business haven’t yet been attended to.
Happily, you are not most people! So, once you’ve worked your way through steps 1 – 9, here are a few things to ask yourself:
- Am I ensuring my community feels seen and heard?
One very simple method I use here is to answer every comment on socials and to respond to every email. Sounds basic right? But you’d be surprised at the number of people who treat social in particular as if it’s a broadcasting platform rather than a relationship building platform. Please remember that people are showing up to talk to you, not just be broadcast to.
Beyond that, at The School of Visibility we have our #amplifyawoman initiative that gives women the opportunity to feel like they’re both seen and heard in our community.
If you have a Facebook group you can appoint administrators or community members to lead discussions in the group.
If you have a podcast or You Tube channel you can interview your community, or publish their blog posts on your website.
There are soo many ways to help your community feel seen and heard, it’s really only limited by your imagination.
- As your authority grows, you want to be sure you’re continuing to break down and unconscious biases you have so you’re giving voice to all members of your community and you’re finding ways to shift your community from followers to leaders.
Here are some ways you might do that; perhaps you invite certain community members to become mentors in your program. Perhaps they become a coach or facilitator of your method. Or they might end up working in your company or becoming an affiliate of your program.
And finally, with regard to right relationship, remember to get into right relationship with your peers and the influencers in your industry. Building relationships with these two groups of people is essential to the long term sustainability of your business. They’re crucial players in helping you to grow your business. They’re the ones that’ll recommend you to their clients when she is looking for the very thing you offer. They’re the ones that’ll interview you on their You Tube channels or include you in their summits or invite you to be a guest speaker at their events.
If you’ve taken the time to get the other steps sorted, step 10 is where you can really – as the CEO of your own business – step back from your day to day business operations and focus on outreach and on growing the reputation of your brand. Knowing that your business system is set up to capture and nurture the customers and clients who find their way to you, you can turn your attention to bringing more and more and more of them your way.
VISIBILITY BLOCK TO BE AWARE OF: In order to really lead your community, you must overcome any visibility blocks you have yourself to being seen as a leader. You must develop the confidence to step in front of your community and point them in the direction you’re headed. You must also know how to hold a community together energetically, emotionally, and socially. These are some of the things we explore in our flagship program ‘A Visible Woman’.
So they’re the ten steps in your visibility audit for your business. How many were you able to tick off?
I’ve found over the years that I’ve done some really well and others, not so well. So it’s useful to check back in from time to time to assess your progress.
There are other components to your business of course. Specifically, the money story – deciding on your business model, pricing. Once you’ve dealt with the visibility pieces though, deciding those things is relatively easy. It’s easy because you’re in constant communication with your community and they’re telling you how they want to buy from you. All you need do is ask them.
Of course, if you’ve not done any business training before or you want to be sure you’ve armed yourself with a comprehensive program that takes you step by step – in far more detail than we could in this audit – through the process of creating and marketing an online business, then B-School is something for you to consider. Each year we partner with B-School founder Marie Forleo to educate as many women as possible about how to run a successful online business.
B-School is the best business training in the online world and in advance of opening the program for registration, Marie has recently released some free training which you can pick up here. If you’re serious about growing a business in the online space, B-School is like the MBA of the online world. It’s for everyone who takes themselves and their business dreams seriously.
And whether you decide to join B-School or not, the combination of working your way through this audit and watching that training, will ensure you’re already so far ahead of the game. Truly.
So what’s your next move? You could keep telling yourself it’s out of your reach or it’s too hard or you don’t know what to do next, or you could work your way through the audit, pick up any more detailed business training you need, clear your visibility blocks, and start building the business of your dreams.
The world needs more women to step forward and lead. It needs more businesses that are focused on creating positive change in the world.
You can be a part of that movement. Many thousands of women have already stepped forward to change the world through the creation of an online business. I know you can do it too.