Ep11: Telling your authentic brand story

Belinda Shipp, Cornish Marketing Consultancy

When it comes to marketing, most new businesses forget the message and focus on the tactics; what should my logo look like, what colours should I use, should I be on Insta. Telling your authentic brand story is about working out your ultimate marketing message, defining it and communicating it clearly.

Our guest this month is Belinda Shipp, who enjoyed a long, successful career as Head of Marketing for the famous Cornish brand Rodda’s. Now she’s channelling all her experience into her own business, the Cornish Marketing Consultancy, helping businesses grow through effective marketing. Belinda also holds a Fellowship of the Chartered Institute of Marketing, and she’s a StoryBrand Certified Guide and Business Made Simple Certified Coach.

In this episode, Belinda talks about her passionate belief in the power of getting your marketing message clear and defined.

She explains how getting to grips with your core message and telling your authentic brand story has a direct impact on how your customers feel and take action, and as a result, drives business for you.

This episode is a great listen from start to finish, and full of useful tips for your wider marketing efforts.

We hope you enjoy this episode. Get in touch for more information on how we can support your business start-up journey.

Find out more about Belinda, her mission and her company at https://cornishmarketing.co.uk

Read the full transcript here

Announcer (00:01):

Welcome to the Outset Podcast, the business startup podcast from Outset Cornwall, for support and inspiration to start, run and grow your business. Here’s your host Rich Gunton.

Rich Gunton (00:15):

So welcome to another Outset Podcast. Today we’re talking to Belinda Shipp and her website is www.cornishmarketing.co.uk If you’re in front of a screen, you might want to have a look at her website whilst we are talking. And, you know, we’re thinking about the importance of telling a clear brand story throughout the customer journey. So Belinda, she is here with us. Welcome, first of all, to the Outset Podcast.

Belinda Shipp (00:43):

Thank you for having me

Rich Gunton (00:44):

Now, I’ve had a little look around on your website. Firstly, something to do with clotted cream, we’ll talk about that in a moment. And it also says that you are a chartered marketeer, story-brand certified guide, and business-made-simple certified coach. So what’s all that about then?

Belinda Shipp (01:03):

That’s far too much stuff, isn’t it? But really it means that I’m absolutely passionate about making sure that businesses grow and have marketing that works. Because marketing should be simple and marketing should work. And we do that primarily through having a really clear message for not only our external customers, but our internal customers as well. So the people that work for us and that’s how we can really get businesses to thrive and get going really from the very start, the most important thing we can do as businesses set up and as they grow is to create a really strong clear message.

Rich Gunton (01:36):

Indeed. Yeah. And it’s that clear message, I guess you did for, a decade, did you say with, with Roddas, a well known Cornish brand? Of course.

Belinda Shipp (01:45):

Yeah. So I was Head of Marketing for Roddas for just over 10 years. I was responsible for their rebrand back in 2011, when they changed from red to blue and made all those big changes that people in Cornwall would recognize and remember. Then really three to four years ago, I thought, well, you know, Roddas is a really great brand and I absolutely love the brand and I love the family that owned the brand, but actually just while I was there, I could only really help one company to grow. I realized that there were actually loads of companies in Cornwall and further afield that needed a clear message and to grow. So hence I decided to strive out on my own and set up the Cornish Marketing Consultancy.

Rich Gunton (02:26):

And that sounds really interesting because I remember through the world of Outset, being in a lovely hotel somewhere, maybe towards Falmouth I think, and we were doing one of our, when the world was, was more sociable shall we say, we were doing one of our conferences and celebrating some of the Outset clients, Rodda’s was there and it was either, he was just about, I can’t remember what you’ve just said now, but he was either just about to change the branding or they just changed. And he was sitting in a room talking through and it was, it was fascinating really that really a brand built on a kind of family business, I suppose.

Belinda Shipp (03:00):

One of the things with a great brand story is trying to work out what to miss out because you can’t say it all. And if we say too much, then actually you muddy the water. So people sort of lose the plot about what you’re actually about. So the job with Rodda’s was actually just trying to work out what the most important message was for our clients and how we would do that.

Rich Gunton (03:21):

And I can see as you said, you could only help and work on one brand whilst you’re working under Rodda’s or via any other organizational or company. And obviously now going out on your own, I suppose being in a similar position as many of our Outset clients, where they’re starting up a small part-time home base business, or like Tony Sampson, one of our poster boys, who set up Naked Solar and employs 30 odd people and has been on our Outset podcasts as well. You are able to work with those types of people who are almost in the same position as you are, to get that message right. Is that where your story-brand certified guide, is that where that comes in?

Belinda Shipp (04:06):

I have sat in a lot of meetings with a lot of agencies and some really good agencies as well, during my time at Rodda’s and sometimes as a brand manager or head of marketing, I would sit there and think, I don’t know why this is a good idea, but it somebody’s come up with this great really an idea that they just think’s fantastic. And it’s, you know, it’s the new shiny object, but actually I wanted to go with clients and say, this is going to work because I’m using a framework. We know how the brain works, which is really important in marketing, because we are talking to customers who all have brains. If we understand how the brain works and how the brain is going to decode a message, then it’s much easier to talk to them and compel them to care about what it is that you sell.

Belinda Shipp (04:46):

Also just get them to take action, which is really, really important. So the story brand came from that. It came from really understanding that what most people, the mistake most people make, especially small businesses is when they’re looking at their marketing, they will focus, almost entirely to start with, on the tactics. What am I going to do? Which channels I gonna be on? Should I be on Instagram? Should I do a video? You know, what color should I use? What logo should I look like? But actually none of those things are gonna work or matter a jot really, if we don’t have a clear message. What I found was that actually there isn’t very much out there for marketing isn’t in terms of trying to work out what that clear message should be. And then I came across Story Brand. I read the ‘Building a story brand’ book by Don Miller and I was completely captivated.

Belinda Shipp (05:33):

I realized, this is what most brands are looking for. They’re looking for a way to speak about their business clearly. So that every piece of marketing collateral, all that they put out there is going to make them more money. It’s going make doing work much easier, make your marketing easier and cut through the noise for people who don’t know how to do these things. And unfortunately what we find with brand’s people think that their brand story is all about them. And they think about, they think their brand story should, should be, I started business X amount of years ago and I did this and I did that and it was here. And then I learned this and then I learned that, but actually nobody’s interested in that side of that brand story, people are interested in their own stories. So as a customer, you land on a website, because you’ve got a problem. And because you want something and your brand story should be about that story, it should be about your customer’s story. So rather than telling your own story as an organization, what you actually need to be doing is inviting your customers into the story so that they land on your website or they see your social media or your advert and think that’s me, this brand understands me. That’s what I need and I want to buy from them. And that’s what story brand is all about. Does that make sense?

Rich Gunton (06:48):

I think so. Yeah, absolutely. And talking about visiting someone’s website and landing on what the clear message is. I have yours, cornishmarketing.co.uk open in front of me. And I think when I first clicked on it, I felt relieved. I suppose. It’s lovely because it is nice calming blue color, nice and simple Cornish marketing consultancy. It’s got some really nice sort of tag lines or different lines in bold about you, services, and how to get a free discovery call. And I think that’s really kind of a refreshing way of doing something rather than some, you know, whether it’s ultimate creative sort of marketing agencies or whatever you can get completely lost. It’s a bit like watching some of the TV adverts and you think, oh that was interesting, but I’ve got no idea what they were trying to, trying to sell, to be honest. So I suppose when you are saying about our listeners, whether they’ve gone through the Outset program or they’re just someone across our Outset podcast, how they tell their own brand story, which isn’t necessarily as you was saying, just all about them. It’s more about who is the customer, why are they what’s their problem? And why are they visiting your website if that’s perhaps the first point of contact?

Belinda Shipp (08:11):

Yeah. I mean the brand story should flow through everything that you do from the first question that people say, you know, what do you do? The answer to that question is your brand story. So it’s what you say when you meet people, it’s your social media, it’s your emails, it’s your taglines. It should flow through everything. And I think we have a saying around story brand circles that, you know, if you’re confuse, you lose and that’s what a lot of people do with their websites. They’re confusing, you know, and I’m glad you say, you’d landed on my website and you could see what I was trying to sell, see what I was trying to do, the problems that I’m trying to solve with my customers, because a lot of clients don’t do that. They think that they need to be cute and clever and quirky, but they do that at the expense of clarity. And what that really does is make our customers think too hard. And you’ve probably done it just as I have; we’ve landed on a website and think, oh, I don’t know what they do, and then you just bounce off.

Rich Gunton (09:08):

Oh, absolutely. Having been involved with the Outset clients for nearly 12 years now in Cornwall. Perhaps suffering from the condition that might be a serial entrepreneur as well, myself looking at sometimes, with the likes of Wix or Weebley or Squarespace or whatever. Where we were enticed to create our own website. I think there in lies the complete confusion, time just flies away from you. And you forget who your customer is, what it is that you are actually selling or delivering. And I think what you said about keeping that clarity and keeping it simple. I’ve done another podcast recently with Veronique, about setting out your store and so forth. And we talked there about making it simple for people to understand what we do and how they can buy from us. But very often that gets lost, doesn’t it?

Belinda Shipp (10:02):

Yes it does. And I think it’s partly cause we sort of loose track of what we’re trying to achieve. We try and design websites, but actually the easiest things to focus on is the color and the flash and the sort of exciting whizz bits. But actually that takes away from the content. And I would urge anybody listening to this podcast to start their website the other way round start with the content and the words that you want to say and create a clear layout. What tends to happen is people get excited by websites. They create a fancy design, but they actually forget that people only buy when they hear the words or read the words that make them want to buy. And that’s the bit that that gets missed. And we think that bits easy, because it’s words and we’re communicating all the time as part of our day, but actually getting the right words is much harder, getting a very clear message and cutting out all the stuff that we don’t need is much harder than just sort of piling it in.

Belinda Shipp (10:57):

And that’s what most people do. They have a good message in there somewhere, but it gets completely lost amongst all this other information that they want to pile in. And then basically we’re leaving our customers to try and work out what’s important and what’s not, and we don’t want to leave our customers to do that. We want to do that for them. We want to say, this is what you need. You know, this is the problem you’ve got. This is how we’re going, help yourself. And this is what I understand. And this is what I want you to do next with a strong call to action.

Rich Gunton (11:26):

This is the Outset Podcast, we’re talking to Belinda Shipp. You can find out more on her website, cornishmarketing.co.uk. So, I mean, we’ve touched on it a little bit in terms of the biggest mistakes then that we may make when we’re trying to tell our brand story. Are there common ones that you come across then that we can steer clear of ourselves?

Belinda Shipp (11:46):

Two real things, both of them actually are about making life difficult. So one is: Making life too difficult. That’s using insider language. Especially if you’re in tech industries or in fact any industry really, we use language that is understandable to our peers, but not necessarily to our customers. I’ve got a customer that I’m working with at the moment, for example, and I landed on their website and did exactly what I said to you earlier. I landed and thought, I don’t actually know what they do. And it’s because it’s so jargon heavy as a lay person who would actually be buying their services, I couldn’t work it out because they were just using acronyms and all sorts of things. I just, I didn’t know what it was. It was tech language. I didn’t understand. And that’s a big mistake for a lot of people.

Belinda Shipp (12:31):

We don’t realize how difficult we are making it for people to understand what we do. Becdause we suffer from what’s called the curse of knowledge. And basically the curse of knowledge says the more we know, the more we find it, difficult to empathize with the people who don’t know what we know. Its really difficult of take yourself back to the stage that you were when you didn’t know these things and put yourself into your customer’s shoes. That’s the curse of knowledge. It becomes a real problem for a lot of people. So that that’s one, one big mistake. And we touched on another one is just putting too much information in. It’s okay to be cute and clever, but not at the expense of clarity. Clarity should always come first. And the other mistake I say is, is about making it about you. And I know we touched on this earlier, Rich, but I think it’s really important that we land on our websites and I think we think that websites should be about us and our brand.

Belinda Shipp (13:20):

That’s what we think and that’s what most businesses do. And almost without exception, my clients come to me with that problem, they’re speaking them about themselves too much. So one quick test that any anybody listening to the podcast can do is nip over to their website if they’ve got one now or any piece of marketing collateral that they’ve produced recently. And just count up the amount of sentences that they have that are start with anything about their brand. So that says, I, we, your brand name, count up all those on the front page and then count up after you’ve done that, tally up all the sentences that start with you or your customer refer directly to the customer. Now I’ve been to websites where people have talked about themselves and their own brand 20 times as much as they’ve mentioned their customer. Sometimes they’ve not mentioned you or your customer one once within that.

Belinda Shipp (14:17):

When you think about that, that is exactly the same as if you, you imagine you and I met at the party, um, and you said, what do you do? And I said, I did this and I do that. And then by the way, when I’ve done that, I’ve done this and aren’t great cause I’ve won these awards and I’ve done all these things. I’ve done this. So anyway, thank you very much. Goodnight <laugh> It’s exactly the same talking about yourself too much at a party. Nobody wants to meet that person.

Rich Gunton (14:47):

Flows nicely in with the mention of party, but it’s like the old TV comedy ABFAB were absolutely fabulous, you know, and they’re in PR aren’t they? And, and what do we do? I dunno, darling. We, we PR things, you know, it’s kinda like the unknown secret that no one really knows what they’re going actually do for you. And I think with you and with your own brand domain name is Cornish marketing. Tt says Cornish marketing consultants consultancy, rather you haven’t put your own name in there. Is there a reason for that or did you want make it kind of practicing what you preach I guess and you’ve got that clarity of who you are and what you.

Belinda Shipp (15:21):

I think Cornish Marketing, well, certainly when I started the Cornish Marketing Consultancy did what it said on the tin. It was about marketing in Cornwall. The irony now is if I’m really honest that I have far more customers outside of Cornwall than I do inside. Yes. Which, you know, I perhaps didn’t foresee, if I’m honest, when I started. I could have used my name, unfortunately I have very unfortunate initials. So BS marketing doesn’t work well, and unfortunately my surname being Shipp gets misheard quite a number of times. And the P’s get replaced with T’s, that’s not a good sort of marketing either. So my own name was wiped out, I couldn’t use it.

Rich Gunton (16:10):

And talking about your brand, et cetera, I noticed on your email footer you’ve got “Most businesses struggle to communicate what they do. I help businesses clearly communicate why they matter so they can connect with customers and sell more.” Obviously if we tell the right story and we market well, in theory, we engage with more clients and the right clients or customers so that we can sell more. But starting, as you say, back at the beginning, getting that brand story right. Having the clarity is key and having a look at your website, and obviously there’ll be people listening to this, that haven’t got a website for whatever reason, or maybe they’ve got social media presence is bringing people through that funnel perhaps to a call to action. And obviously one of your call to actions is get a free discovery call or you can download your sort of free guide that you’ve got as well. So does that work well for you then? Or is that what you suggest to your client base?

Belinda Shipp (17:09):

I’ll deal with your final point person? I’ll come back to that one line that you read on the footer of my email just after that. But you asked about a Call to Action and it’s one, a huge mistake in that companies make that having a call to action button. You know, people just don’t do it or often people don’t do it, but actually we need to call our customers to action. We need to tell them what to do next, because if they don’t, we don’t tell them to do next. they just won’t do it. If you scroll down my website now, you’ll see, there’s probably about, I’m guessing six, seven, eight call to actions, book of free discovery call, Book of free discovery call, book of free discovery call. And that’s because people have to see the same message seven times before they even register it.

Belinda Shipp (17:53):

I make it very clear on my website. What do I want you to do next? I want you to book a free discovery call when you land on my site please correct me if I’m wrong, but hopefully there is no doubt as what I want, what I want that customer to do. I want you to book a free discovery call, you know. And you know, you obviously can’t buy anything from my website per se. So it’s not an eCommerce site and we need to have a call to action that needs to say, shop now, schedule a call something, a strong call to action that our customers can either accept, reject, but you don’t want sort of these rather weakened washy learn more or get started. They don’t really tell us what we want us to do, so we need to be really clear about that. Because otherwise people will just bounce. They won’t, they won’t do it. That is a huge part of what we do is make sure that you have a strong call to action button because if not, will be costing new sales. I think probably if I’m honest, it’s a bit of a British thing we don’t like to ask for the business. We feel a bit, a bit nervous about asking for it.

Belinda Shipp (19:01):

Actually what the customer is seeing when we don’t ask confidently for the business is lack of confidence. And so it’s almost like saying, I’m not really sure that I believe in my product or service, but will you do me some charity and buy me buy from me anyway please? So we need to be confident because our customers want to want confidence. They want to buy from somebody who believes in the products and services they sell. And we show that by having strong actions, that is hugely important. It’s also hugely important, you’ll notice on my, you know, on my website that you can land on that page and you can download something. And that’s for the people who aren’t ready to buy yet. Lots of people would land on a website and they’re still looking around. They’re not quite ready. They need a bit more information, not quite the right time. If you download my PDF: One, you’ll learn a bit more about me and what I do and build some extra trust in the processes that I use, but also means that I have, you know, an email address that I can send you some more useful information and keep that relationship going. And that’s hugely important. So if you haven’t got this, what we call a lead generator on your site, again, you’re missing out on business because you’re not giving yourself a way to keep in contact with those people who just for whatever reason aren’t quite ready to buy yet.

Rich Gunton (20:15):

I downloaded your PDF there. So it’s an 11 point checklist, six minute marketing audit, and it’s nice. It obviously guides you through your own audit and finishes off with a call to action. One, two, three. Part of that is to look a call with you, which it seems so obvious, but so many people make it over complicated. And I just wanna go back to what we were talking about a little earlier on, and it can be if we think of our experience as a consumer purchasing products or services and perhaps we’re slightly talking here about a service based business as in with yourself as a marketer. If we look at say an accountancy company or a solicitor’s firm, very often those websites tend to follow the same sort of trend where they are full of technical speak or legal jargon, or financial things for an accountant within Cornwell may well have a number of customers who are cake makers and dog walkers, et cetera. And so it’s knowing who your customers are. And as we’ve said so many times throughout this podcast, having that clarity and then, you know, having that communication, which is nice and straightforward, really.

Belinda Shipp (21:27):

There are a lot of accountants and solicitors, but actually just by speaking with clarity, you can actually differentiate yourself in the marketplace because a lot of people don’t, and that can be quite intimidating. Well, like you say, the startups that might come to you or people who don’t know about accountants, but if you say exactly what you stand for and you make it very, very clear you can own that space, you know, what people used to call that sort of unique selling proposition, I prefer positioning. I prefer to take a position in somebody’s mind, but that’s what we are doing by creating a very clear message and saying, I stand for this one thing and you can then own that space so that people will remember, ah, they’re the accountants that solve this particular problem whether that be being specialists in tax or making your finances easy or whatever it might be. We can actually own that space ourselves, by speaking with clarity that perhaps your competition doesn’t do. And that’s talking in a very busy space, for example, you know, there’s a lot of, like I say, there’s a lot of accountants and solicitors, the way to stand up out is by speaking clearly and making doing business with you very easy.

Rich Gunton (22:32):

You know, given that you yourself are in a service based type of environment, rather than selling, you know, widgets or books or cakes. So you know ultimately selling that service and potentially being online and online presence is part of your initial engagement, and that free discovery call. I think that’s fairly new sort of language that we hear about. I’ve had recently clients ask about different sort of landing pages or click funnels or sales funnels rather than complicated as we’ve discussed complicated, big websites, which lose you really, rather than bringing you back to a call to action. I mean I’ve just clicked on it now and it takes us through to your calendar where we can then book in a call. It tells you what we’re gonna do for that hour. And that all seems fantastic because it’s bringing us through to having that connection with you, why did you choose that? Does that, does that seem to work well for you?

Belinda Shipp (23:27):

A free discovery call, so you discover something, you’re going to discover something on that call. We’ll discover if we’re right to work for each other that said this isn’t a sales call. I’m not trying to sell you anything at this stage. This is about people discovering what I can do to help them. I would always endeavor to add value to a customer when they’re on that call with me, so they’ll go away with some hint and tip or something they didn’t know to be able to help them. So get a free discovery call is they’re getting something, they’re getting something of value by just picking up the phone or, you know, having a booking it, sorry, or booking a zoom call with me as we do now. Back to your previous, which you know, whether you are a retail outlet or whether you are online, it really doesn’t matter.

Belinda Shipp (24:10):

Having a clear message is the most vital thing that we can do as a business. And we have to remember that before somebody buys from you. So if they’re walking down the street and you’ve got a bricks and mortar property before somebody buys from you, the only thing that they can see, is the message that you tell the story that you tell, and the words that you use in the branding you use. So you’ve gotta get it righ, so products and services, it’s exactly the same and the human brain works in the same way, what moves away from confusion and towards clarity. So we’ve got to be clear about what we offer.

Rich Gunton (24:47):

This is the Outset Podcast. We’re talking to Belinda Shipp. You can find out more on her website, Cornish marketing.co.uk. So Belinda, I mean, as we come to a close then on this podcast; we’ve been talking about the importance of telling a clear brand story throughout the customer journey, any final tips or words of wisdom that we can be left with.

Belinda Shipp (25:11):

I think the words of wisdom is make sure that you put the customer at the start of your story, in the middle of your story. Everything that you are saying should be about your customer rather than about you. Even if you’re talking about yourself, you do it from the sort of almost like customer perspective and keep clear. Whatever you do. If you’ve got two ways of doing something and one’s clearer, do it the clear way because we don’t want to confuse those customers at all. We have the average attention span of the customers sort of down to about four seconds, I think now. So if people don’t know what you do within four seconds, they will metaphorically walk by. So make sure it’s clear, make sure you’re customer focused. And obviously if you want to come to my website and have a free discovery call or I’ll also offer a web review. If you want a web web review, I can look at your website and let you know if you’re doing it right.

Rich Gunton (26:05):

Super, super wow. Four second. Gosh. I’m pleased actually, because my attention span is very, very low. I think that’s more than likely the world of smartphones. Isn’t it? An instant social media and the one click by now type sort of world that we live in. Isn’t it?

Belinda Shipp (26:24):

I think it’s also we are just been bombarded with so much. Now we’re bombarded with everything and we, we scroll six times faster than we read our attention span is really short. That’s just the way of the world now. And I think we probably all recognize it in ourselves. I don’t think you are anything different now Rich, that’s just where it is, but it means that within three seconds, we’ve got to make our marketing work hard. You know, people have to know what you do, how you add value to their life and how to buy within those three seconds, whatever they do.

Rich Gunton (26:55):

Belinda, thank you very, very much. Indeed. It’s been a pleasure to talk with you on the Outset Podcast.

Belinda Shipp (27:02):

Fantastic. Thank you very much for having me.

Announcer (27:05):

Thanks for listening to the outset podcast brought to you by the outset Cornwall program, which is funded by the European regional development fund, HM government and the Outset Foundation, supporting people to become self-employed and start their own business.