Branding MECHANICS

Question 9

But First

Spend a few minutes contemplating this question:

What expertise do we have?

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Sound On

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Listen

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3 Big Ideas

Here are the three key concepts worth keeping front of mind before diving back into your Brandwork:

  1. Communicate your authority through a blend of experience & empathy.

    What you need to do is recognize that your experience only matters in the context of her life & her problems. Your expertise only matters if it’s the right expertise for her.

  2. Your expertise will resonate if you contextualize it to the problems you seek to solve.

    You don’t have the luxury of wasting somebody’s time with information that isn’t relevant to them. If how many certifications or competitions you’ve taken part in isn’t relevant, save it for an appropriate time & place. Recognize that your authority only matters if it matters to the person you're seeking to change.

  3. Aim to use your qualifications as a way to demonstrate trustworthiness.

    Highlighting your credentials builds ego while highlighting the successes of your members builds trust. The former is jargon. The latter is speaking the same language as the reader.

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All the Words

What is an expert? In your world, is it the person who is L3 or L4 certified by CrossFit HQ? Is it the gym owner who’s been in business for ten years? Is it the L2 certified coach who has 400 members & a thriving community? Is it the owner with a Master’s degree in Kinesiology whose gym opened last month?

Yes. No. Maybe? I honestly don’t know the answer.

These bits of information are just a piece of what you should use to convey your expertise & that of your gym. They’re important, but not the full picture.

I want you to recognize that this question is coming in the middle of a section on Defining Our Tribe. That's because your marketing needs to focus on how your experience matters to those you are seeking to change. That's how you'll communicate effectively. That's how you blend authority with empathy.

Listing the seminars you’ve taken & your experience competing at a CrossFit Regional is interesting information for a coach’s bio. It doesn’t say anything about the gym or the people you're trying to serve, though. It’s jargon that might be impressive to other CrossFit coaches, but it doesn’t add much value to the person wondering if your gym is the right place for her.

What you need to do is recognize that your experience only matters in the context of her life & her problems. Your expertise only matters if it’s the right expertise for her. Let’s use our community-focused gym as an example of what I mean.

Looking at this gym’s Brandwork document, it’s clear they’re not looking to build a community around competition. Becoming a better athlete in the context of a sport isn’t anywhere near the promise they are making. So it would be out of character (& therefore bad branding) if they described their expertise like this:

Our coaches are Level 3 certified by CrossFit & have each competed at multiple Regional & CrossFit-sanctioned competitions. We’ve run Spartan Races, completed Iron Man triathlons, & have experience competing in various sports at the college level.

These things may be true, but none of them matter.

First, they don’t matter because they’re selfish. They don’t speak with any empathy toward the changes they’re seeking to instigate in the person reading.

Second, they don’t matter because they contradict what this gym claims to value most. In the first Section of this program, we said that this affiliate values inclusivity, fun, & approachability. Competing in Iron Man’s & in college is none of those things.

At best, communicating their expertise like this is a wasted opportunity. At worst, it will plant a seed of doubt in the mind of a potential new member. It will leave them wondering if this place is, in fact, the right place for them.

Instead, what this gym needs to recognize is that the only experience that matters is that which relates to the reader & amplifies the mission. Anything that doesn’t do those two things is noise.

In the context of this community-focused gym, what expertise matters then?

Looking at their Brandwork document, we can find some ideas. The first sentence of their answer to the changes they seek to instigate reads this way: “We want to make our friends & our community healthy, active, & engaged with each other.” So maybe they highlight how long they’ve been working at this. Maybe they also talk about how many people in the community they’ve been able to serve. This kind of social proof can be powerful.

If we look at the problems this gym is seeking to solve, we see they’ve identified things like weight loss & longevity. Maybe they highlight how they’ve been able to inspire those kinds of changes.

So what might their answer to this question of expertise look like? Here’s an option:

We've been part of this community for over five years, helping nearly 600 people & 200 families take control of their health. Our members have lost weight, gained strength, worked to get off medications, regained mobility & independence, & made activity a daily part of their lives. Our coaches are certified CrossFit instructors with experience coaching diverse populations on movement, nutrition, & wellness.

In a few sentences, we’ve been able to demonstrate this gym’s experience over time. We’ve shown that a large number of people have already tested them out. We’ve highlighted the specific results to the specific problems this gym is seeking to solve. We’ve reminded the reader that this is a place designed to help a broad population tackle a broad set of challenges.

In other words, we’ve made the argument for why this gym is trustworthy. We’ve made the argument that this gym is a place that keeps its promises.

If the owners of this gym are both L1 certified coaches, can we consider them experts? You could make the argument that their continued education is a necessary component of keeping their promises, to which I would agree. But do their credentials matter more than their successes? I don’t think so. Highlighting the former builds ego while highlighting the latter builds trust. The former is jargon. The latter is speaking the same language as the reader.

It’s not that credentials aren't important, it’s that they're less important to the marketing & branding of this specific gym. You don’t have the luxury of wasting somebody’s time with information that isn’t relevant to them. If how many certifications or competitions you’ve taken part in isn’t relevant, save it for an appropriate time & place.

Recognize that your authority only matters if it matters to the person you're seeking to change. You get to choose how to frame & present your experience & your expertise. As you answer this question, make sure you do so with empathy.

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Our Pretend Gyms

[ Full Example Gym Brandwork Docs here: Community | Corporate | Competitive ]

Answers to today’s question:

Community Gym:

We've been part of this community for over five years, helping nearly 600 people & 200 families take control of their health. Our members have lost weight, gained strength, worked to get off medications, regained mobility & independence, & made activity a daily part of their lives. Our coaches are certified CrossFit instructors with experience coaching diverse populations on movement, nutrition, & wellness.

Corporate Gym:

Started after years in the finance industry left us burned out & unhealthy, our gym exists to provide the experience we didn't know we needed until it was almost too late. Our coaches are amongst the best in the industry, each with at least three years experience coaching CrossFit. In addition, we have a masseuse, a chiropractor, & a certified nutritionist on site to work with you however you may need.

Competitive Gym:

We know what athletes need because we've been athletes all our lives. Each member of our team is not only experienced in coaching CrossFit but also on the playing field. Our athletes have gone on to win state & regional championships, & the teams we've trained see an average 20% improvement on their win-loss record the season after they start working with us.

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Time to Do Work

Jump over to your Brandwork doc now & start putting together a few sentences on your expertise.

Check Yourself

Ready to stress-test your new answer? Do so by asking yourself these questions:

  1. Put yourself in the mindset of a prospective client now. Read each sentence of your answer & ask yourself: “So what?” Do you have a good answer? If not, revise. For example, let’s look at our Corporate Gym:

    • Started after years in the finance industry left us burned out & unhealthy, our gym exists to provide the experience we didn't know we needed until it was almost too late.” These guys are just like me; they know the struggles I’m up against.

    • Our coaches are amongst the best in the industry, each with at least three years experience coaching CrossFit.” If I’m going to do this, I want to make sure I’m getting the best. I don’t have time to waste on mediocre services.

    • In addition, we have a masseuse, a chiropractor, & a certified nutritionist on site to work with you however you may need.” If this place is as good as it sounds, then it’s the only place I’ll need to go to take care of all these problems I’m having & I won’t have to waste time searching.

  2. Take a look at your answer within the context of the problems you are seeking to solve, specifically the Public Problem. Can you draw a straight line between the two? If not, dive back into your Brandwork to refine.

Coming Attractions

Next up, we’ll be breaking down the process a new member goes through to start her journey with you. Here are two quotes worth holding over your head & lunging across the gym with.

"We’re not competitor-obsessed, we’re customer-obsessed. We start with what the customer needs and we work backwards.” (Jeff Bezos)

“Customer service is the new marketing.” (Derek Sivers)