Episode 66: Getting clear with your messaging with Adria DeCorte - Business Bites

Getting clear with your messaging

Episode 66 on the Business Bites Podcast

The Gist Of It:  We all struggle at one time or another with knowing what our story and messaging are and even who our people are.  Learn how to identify your message and effectively communicate what you do so people buy into you. In this episode, we’ll discuss message clarity and how to explain to people what it is you do.

What you will learn:

  • What a message clarity coach is
  • How to figure out what your message is
  • The differences between messaging and marketing and how they work together
  • How having a clear message can help you stand out among the crowd
  • and more!

Expand To Read Episode Transcripts

Rachel: Hey guys. Welcome back to another episode of the Business Bites podcast. I am your host, Rachel Brenke and I am joined today with a lady who I love on a topic that I absolutely have grown to embrace and really preach in the last couple of years. No, it’s not legal. We’re going to talk about message clarity. I have Adria DeCorte here with me today. Adria, thank you for coming onto the show.

Adria: Yeah thank you Rachel. I’m super excited for this conversation today.

Rachel: You know what? Me too. I think I feel like I say this about all guests that come on. I’m really super excited about this and that’s probably why I ask you guys. Guys, Adria is a TedX speaker. She’s a former architect – okay, listen to this – turned plant ecologist and she has shared her own voice on over 30 podcasts, radio and video shows. We are going to dig into this topic of message clarity. If you guys have heard my past episode about attracting your ideal client avatar, it’s in episode 12.

Rachel: I talk a lot on messaging and getting clear there. So this is going to be like level two for you. She’s going to bring you the direct tips and things that you need to know because she’s also the creator of the group program called Get Clear, Get Clients. She’s the host of The Unforgettable Podcast and her expert advice, this is so fun, has been featured on Huffington Post and the Fox Morning News Las Vegas. And I love this, on a personal note, on weekends she can be found hiking around her hometown Las Vegas with her fur child Lexie, the Doberman. I love that. I’m a dog mom too.

Adria: Dog moms.

Rachel: Yeah, you may hear mine come snuffing along here in a little bit. They’re typically in the office with me. So, let’s get started. You’ve had such a diverse education and career path. Plant ecologist, total plot twist. Tell us a little bit about how you went down that path from architect, plant ecologist, to now entrepreneur.

Adria: Yeah. Well honestly, the thread that connected all of them was this need to continually evolve and follow the spark of what felt right for me to really be tapped in to work that felt aligned and realizing when it wasn’t quite right. I’ve started to notice this a lot, this not just being multi passionate as an entrepreneur, but being someone who has had a really windy path. That it’s okay right. So funny that I actually use parts of my past careers in the work I do now with clients. It becomes part of your story right?

Adria: So for me, I went into … I got my first degree in architecture and I was in that world for a while and I really loved the parts of architecture that were more user experience. They were thinking about how someone is going to move through a space and how you’re going to create it and shape the built environment to create different experiences. I bring that into my work now with when I’m thinking about, we’re talking about message clarity and messaging and how someone is seeing your brand and how they’re experiencing what you’re doing and how they’re connecting and understanding and seeing the value.

Adria: So that comes into play now. Then, plant ecology was when I was in the architecture world working at firms and realized that it wasn’t quite right. The actual real world of it wasn’t the right fit. And I started getting really passionate on the side about botany. I’ve always been a nature person. So I ended up making the actual shift into … like okay, I’m going to go for my Master’s and I’m getting a Master’s in environmental science and started working for the government as a plant ecologist. I was doing that for a lot of years. And then got the little bug on the side saying, “Okay. There’s something else.” I started writing my own blog, doing my own side thing and realized I was so much more passionate about that and getting just super passionate about business.

Adria: But all these pieces are part of what influences how I show up and what my messaging is today.

Rachel: So can you explain for us what exactly a message clarity coach is?

Adria: Good question. There’s kinda two parts there. One is, I’ll start with the clarity part. That is, I, both on my podcast and in my group program and with my private clients, just whatever I’m doing, a lot of my work ends up being helping my people get clear on whether it’s honing in on their niche. Whether it is their messaging, whether it is what is it they really do, who their people are. There’s a lot of clarity that comes with that because a lot of times people are really fuzzy about it, maybe they haven’t really thought about it, didn’t realize that they needed clarity around it. Or they’ve been stuck and not putting themselves out there, not sharing about their work, not even knowing what they should do for work with people because they have some lack of clarity. So that’s one part to this work.

Adria: And then the second is the messaging part. So the message, which is essentially I like to think about I as everything that you’re saying. Everything that you’re saying in your business. So whether it’s what’s on your website, whether it’s your marketing materials, whether it’s when you share your what do you do statement when you’re at a networking event, all those pieces that kind of become the language around your brand is what I think of as the overall messaging. And words have a lot of power to connect with people. A lot of power to help them understand what it is you do and why it matters to them and to also kind of move them to action. So this messaging is a powerful tool to do that. So as a message clarity coach, I’m supporting on both these levels.

Rachel: You know what’s interesting is … when I first started entrepreneurship, I kind of always put my head down, dig into it, do what I need to do. I didn’t have a solid visual brand. I just was telling who I was and what I saw that my audience responded to, but I never really went through the steps of going, “What is my messaging?” What is it that I’m actually trying to say beyond sharing this legal and business stuff. Because there’s always an extra level to that. It was kind of, how is it that I can get this information to these people, but I never really considered it in this context of message clarity. So, I just think that I kind of did it backwards. Now in the last few years, I’ve gotten more clear on my message and on my visual brand. I just think, “Oh my gosh. It probably would have been way easier a decade ago had I gone through these steps.” But, there may be some people sitting there listening who are going, “I don’t have message. I have no messaging.” Debunk that for them. Everyone has a message right?

Adria: Yes. Yes. So everyone, no matter whether you think you do or not, you probably have something that you’re saying, something you really care about. Maybe even something you’re not saying because you feel scared or criticism or scared of what people will think or not feeling like you are enough to be able to share it. But chances are, you have something inside of you. That’s definitely a big passion of mine is helping you pull that out and figure out what that is.

Adria: So if you think about doing a TedX talk, that would be like the big idea. The big idea you want to spread the core message behind it all, the thing that you want to get known for. And then, outwards from that comes the, okay, well how do you talk about what you do? So people know why it’s worth paying for. And how do you introduce yourself when you meet someone, like all those little pieces. Then it all connects back to that core idea because the core idea is where your heart is. It’s where that fire is behind the work you do that gets you lit up, that makes you so attractive to people, to your potential clients.

Rachel: You know what’s interesting, I’m glad you say that because I think that if you have that fired up feeling, but you’re not really communicating it, you’re losing a huge piece of, and we’ll talk about marketing versus messaging here in a minute, but it’s a huge piece of connection and marketing and messaging to your audience and to your potential buyers. Whether you’re selling a product or a service, whatever it is, especially when we are in this age now where it’s so easy for anyone to get set up with an Etsy shop or a Facebook page. When I first started, it was a little bit more difficult to even just set up a web page.

Rachel: Well now, you can do it within 10 seconds. It doesn’t take much time at all. And for that reason, we’re having a saturation in all industries. So, for me, that excuse of I can’t make it because it’s oversaturated is BS because people like you are showing by correct message clarity and by using the direct message the best way to be able to cut through all the other loud noise to connect to the people that you actually want to connect with. Who are in turn going to buy into you and make you successful.

Adria: Right. When you think about this, this thought that there’s so much clutter and there’s so many people out there. Sometimes, especially I work with a lot of coaches and just very service based, very mission driven business owners. A lot of time, you have this feeling that there’s so many other people doing the same thing that you can’t possibly stand out. But your messaging is part of that equation to help you stand out because there are four things that I think of when I think of crafting into your messaging. So it’s effective and it does set you apart that completely make you unique.

Adria: So one of those is your solution. So what’s the actual problem you solve for people? Another one is your stance. We talked about what is this core message behind your work? What is this thing you really, truly care about that lights you up? Then we have your skills, so that’s what a lot of times, we like to talk about what is our training and our modality and our, all those different pieces of credibility. Like what makes us special at doing this work. Then your story. Your story, only you have.

Adria: So these four pieces together, when you’re using all of them, then suddenly, you completely are a unique person. And you’re able to represent your business, your personal brand, in a way that really does connect to the right people, that pulls in the right people. A lot of times, I’ve had clients before where they said, “Okay. I’m pulling in all the wrong clients. How can I pull in the people I actually want to work with?” Well, this putting you in your messaging and being able to have all these pieces in place is part of what does that.

Rachel: So explain to me, is there a difference between marketing and messaging or are they kind of intertwined?

Adria: They are intertwined. But I think of messaging as the foundation that comes before marketing. A lot of times, you talked about in the beginning of business, that just putting yourself out there and doing a lot of work. And I had the same experience in my business where I, in my first year in business, I wrote over 100 blog posts. I published a cookbook. I’ve had all these things I felt like I needed to do to put myself out there. But I really didn’t have the clarity on the messaging first. So it was a lot of work that wasn’t really being leveraged. Because when you have the messaging in place and it is clear and it is compelling and it’s speaking to your people, then everything that you put out there has the potential to connect and pull people back.

Adria: Now in my business, I have calls with potential clients getting booked while I’m on vacation because my messaging is really clear. It’s this leveraging process. So a lot of times what happens, and I get business owners who have been in business for a couple of years who come to me and they’ve been doing so much work. Like working so hard and burning out, but it hasn’t really been landing. They haven’t been getting a lot of engagement. People haven’t really cared about what they’re saying. They haven’t been getting clients from it. Then when we do work around clarifying this, which would be so much better if we could just start off with this piece, then things start to click into place.

Adria: So, that’s what I would say is the difference between marketing and messaging is that messaging is just the beginning piece of what then your marketing can build off of to be a lot more effective.

Rachel: What’s your recommendation with, I guess we should do messaging first before we develop any marketing, that would make sense. So you can choose the right social media platforms that are going to best deliver your message for you right? Or do we kind of want to work the other way and go, “Oh. These are our available platforms. How can I fit my message into this?” Which is beneficial and more efficient for an entrepreneur to approach? Either start with the tools, then the message, or the message then the tools?

Adria: I would say that a powerful way to do it would be to have both at once because messaging developed in conversation with your people is going to be the most powerful. So, say like you really love Instagram. Instagram has been my favorite place to be lately. So I do Instagram stories or I do a post or whatever it is and I can see what’s resonating with different people. I can kind of play with saying things in certain ways. I can practice putting something that feels really uncomfortable to take a stand for out there. And you’re doing it, not in a bubble because it’s definitely, it’s called creating at the white board. Playing big by Tara is one of my favorite books for women leaders and it’s a concept she talks about.

Adria: That, a lot of times we want to create things in our head, when really the most powerful way and especially as messaging is to be creating it by seeing what’s resonating and connecting. But really, the first step, and you said you had another episode where you talked about this, getting really clear on your avatar and who your ideal client is, who that person is and really knowing deeply what they care about and being able to get in their head, is one of the most powerful things for crafting that messaging. So I guess my answer is kind of two-fold. You really do need to have some kind of clarity on who it is you’re speaking to and what their problem is, but also creating while you’re going.

Rachel: I think that was hard for me in the beginning, being transparent. I always am with my audience here, but definitely … I just knew the end result that I wanted to give. I had the solution part of those four Ss down, which you identified; solution, stance, skills and story. It’s so funny because I even, a few years into business, realized it’s hard to move anything. It’s hard to be the mover and shaker if no one’s actually, really buying in to me as the person. I can provide them the solution, but there’s the other aspects.

Rachel: And once I started injecting the story and the messaging in, everything exploded. However, a couple of years ago, I did have one person, it’s crazy how one person can do this. And I regret it now because I’m still trying to come back from it, but I had one person make a comment to me and it targeted in on my story, the fourth S. And they said, “I don’t want to hear about you being a mom, ” or something to that effect. You’re such a mom-preneur type of attitude. I took it as a negative. Mind you, 99% of my audience is what? Moms. And other female entrepreneurs.

Rachel: So I took that and I was like, “oh, I guess I need to get more polished and professional” because one person, out of hundreds of thousands right? This was so dumb on my part. I allowed it to impact me so much that I started to pull back and pull my story and my voice out of my marketing and my messaging. My messaging was removed. I literally was just marketing at this point. I was only providing solutions. I was only providing content. There was no story. There was no connection. It’s interesting because once I started injecting the story back in, I really, like you said, saw where the engagement … and kind of the cool thing is now, when this all happened initially, platforms were different.

Rachel: Facebook you could see most of the posts. Instagram was just really starting. So all the algorithms and everything has changed so it’s kind of really fun to see, even now when less people are seeing your content, how engaged they really can be once you inject that clear message, for me, of my story. But, yeah, I share that with people and everyone listening that, once you get clear and once you identify that there’s an aspect that is connecting clearly to the people that you’re wanting to connect with, don’t let one negative person destroy that.

Adria: Yes.

Rachel: I still can’t believe that I let it shake me so much.

Adria: And that’s so true. It’s definitely a real thing. Something that affects us and keeps us from sharing it so often and keeps us from connecting and pulling in our people. It’s exactly why. We were talking off air about the challenge that I have coming up, depending on when you’re listening to this. That’s why I put that together. It’s because I want to have a space where we can, one, get some clarity around what it is we’re even saying, what our message is; but also get comfortable taking that stand and putting it out there and realizing that if you get criticism, if you get anybody saying anything, that’s more about them than about you. And that if you want to play big in the world, those things are going to happen.

Adria: It’s kind of inevitable, but it means that you are playing big.

Rachel: Well, and that’s the thing is that I fell into this mindset of this one person said it, so there’s must be thousands of people that think it and they’re just not saying it to me. It was dumb. It was funny, I actually got a rude email from someone who had just joined my email list this week. They spent like four paragraphs to tell me how I’m doing everything bad.

Rachel: I’m thinking, “Hmm. You connected to me initially, so I’m obviously not doing something bad.” But in the end, they end and go, “I’m sure you’re good at a lot of things, but this, referring to my email and my content, is not it.” I want to write back and say, “No, it really is it because you’re removing yourself from my list. My messaging is not for you. My messaging is for somebody else.” So, my goal is to aggressively get people who do not connect with it, who do not buy into and connect with my story or want my solutions, I don’t want to spend any time, money, and the energy on it. So I just really want to write back and go, “No, my messaging is really working. You just took it upon yourself to send me negative feedback.” But, it doesn’t hurt my feelings.

Rachel: I just take it as a win now.

Adria: Right. And I think that’s a really good point that the people that it matters whether our messaging is connecting with them, are the actual people we want to serve. They’re our people. So when we’re thinking about messaging clarity, it’s how do you explain your service and what you do to those people? So it lands for them and so they’re ready to actually buy it.

Rachel: Well, you know, I’m glad you say that. Actually, before we go into that, I do want to touch base. Guys, this is going to be episode 66. Rachelbrenke.com/epi66. We are going to be putting the links to the challenge that she just mentioned a minute ago. It’s going to be at the end of September. So if you guys are listening to it before then, go ahead and get into the episode. We’ll have the links, sign up free challenge. It would be great to dig in, even if you think you are solid on your messaging, you could always do a revamp on it. You could always fine tune it a little bit.

Rachel: If you are listening to this past September of 2018, we’ll also have the links to her three month VIP messaging package so you can work directly one on one. She can come in, look at your stuff, rip it apart, tell you how you can fix it so that you can … she’ll do it in a loving way, I’m sure. But that way you guys can get really focused on the messaging. Because like with the email, my email messaging is very pointed and very aggressive because I don’t want to spend the money sending to individuals who don’t want my content. If they really don’t want it, what’s the point in me just sending it for them to throw me into spam.

Adria: Amen.

Rachel: So do that, episode 66. But going back to what you just said, right before … I just wanted to touch on that in case people are like, “Oh, I want to know about this challenge,” because it’s going to be amazing. I’m actually going to dig into it. So you guys can join me there. You said something before that, along the lines of how we speak to certain individuals about what we do. It struck me because I find myself at different events giving my elevator pitch and it’s always different, depending on where I’m at.

Rachel: I used to think I had to have one elevator pitch. Then I noticed I was giving the same one all the time, people’s eyes would start glazing over because the messaging wasn’t connecting with them. They didn’t understand the terminology that I was using or the context. So just instinctively, I started crafting multiple, I hate the term elevator pitch, but I don’t know what else to call it, of when people ask what I do. So do you have any tips to leave the audience with of how they can evaluate their messaging to fit specifically with one person that they want to speak to versus another one?

Adria: Yes. That’s one part and I would say that possibly part of that is that if you’re using the same phrase over and over again, that phrase might start to feel canned to you. Then that gets translated and then if it feels canned to them, they’re not actually listening to the words. One way that doesn’t actually have anything to do with whether you shift it based on the person is, it should be more conversational and just to have certain ways that you explain what you do that aren’t like what you would write on your website as a one-liner.

Adria: Because when you’re saying it conversationally, like the connection matters more than anything. Yeah, so I would say that’s the first thing I would say around that. You can, based on the audience that you’re in, you shift it to language that you think that would land better with them. So if you’re in a much more conservative or professional environment, maybe you use a little bit different language, or if you’re in a room of one type of business owner, maybe you would use language they would understand. But, your people are your people.

Adria: What makes the most sense is to use language that’s going to connect with the people that are your people and then those people will get it. But-

Rachel: And then those that don’t, their eyes will glaze over [crosstalk 00:24:28].

Adria: Their eyes glaze over. Yeah, I think you can also keep adjusting and realizing, “Okay. I noticed that landed, so I’m going to keep saying something around that.” That one, their eyes glazed over, I’m going to not say that because it doesn’t land. Because you also want people who could be referral partners or people who could share about your work to get it too. So really, it’s just being simple and clear.

Adria: I have three steps to kind of help you tap into what will really land with your people if you would like me to share those.

Rachel: Yeah, share it. That would be great.

Adria: Okay. The first one is really that clarity piece, like really being clear on who your people are and also on the problem you solve for them. So we talked about this as a solution before. But really, what is the problem that they’re experiencing from their perspective? Not from your expert perspective, because you know so much more than they do about it, right. So what are they actually sitting in? What is the mock and the struggle that they are in that they’re aware of? So that’s the first piece is that clarity.

Adria: Then the second is to really, I like to think of it as physically taking your expert hat off and setting it to the side and getting in their head and really tapping into what are they struggling with, what does their life look like? What are their fears? What do they wish was different? How are they feeling? Really deeply understanding them and then crafting what you’re saying from that place so that it’s connecting with them.

Adria: Then, the third step is to do a little bit of an audit. I like to talk about being clear instead of clever because a lot of times, we get very clever with our language, when really we just need to be clear. So if you’re at a networking event and you’re talking about what you do, then the most powerful thing that you can do is use super plain language that maybe a seven year old would understand. Like stuff that you don’t need to get complicated. Like what is it that you do? What is it that you do in a way that will connect to your people, but also the super just saying what it is and not getting stuck and having to make it be really smart or pretty or all that stuff.

Adria: So those are three pieces.

Rachel: I’m glad you say that.

Adria: Go ahead.

Rachel: No, I love that because I was thinking about how many of us will go out, we’ll get copywriters, because we may feel like we’re struggling with messaging. We’re struggling with words. We just may not be that eloquent and well spoken. And I feel like sometimes, and I’m raising my hand. You can’t see me. You’ll get a copywriter and it will resonate with you what they deliver, but it doesn’t mean it resonates with the people that you’re talking to. So in the context of this elevator pitch, I in the past have pulled out phrases out of what my copywriters had done for me. And I’ve used them.

Rachel: So I’ve targeted and done exactly what you just said about the canned responses. Then, they were trying to be too quippy and too creative and they just totally flew over their heads. Then you’re just kind of standing there and everyone is staring at each other and ice plops in your drink and everyone’s looking around for the next hors d’oeuvres to come by. You don’t … it just becomes awkward at that moment. This whole focus that you talk about simplistic is so freeing at the same time. Because for me personally, it’s you want to be the big ball. You want to be the big hustler that everyone’s looking at. So you automatically think, “Oh. They must have these big, fun, quippy lines.” They might, but most of their lines are really simple in order to be able to connect. Simple is freeing.

Adria: Yes. Ah, simplicity. Really, you’re a real person. The person, or people you’re talking to are real people. In the end, what connects to them is conversational language, is clear, is not super clever and also what it is that’s already in their head that they’re already thinking about and worrying about and struggling with, connecting to that is your gold.

Rachel: Mm-hmm (affirmative). If you don’t even know what your audience is thinking, feeling, struggling with, ask them. I think my caution here is, don’t go ask your mom. Don’t ask your best friend unless those are your ideal person. But ask those that you’re wanting to serve, that you’re wanting to connect with. Your mom is going to tell you everything’s great. Your best friend may give little criticisms, but still tell you you’re great. You really need somebody to look at your stuff and say, that doesn’t connect with me. Or, there’s no way your audience will buy that, or this sounds canned or that just sounds inauthentic.

Rachel: So for me, that has been one big thing of having individuals in my life and on my team that can push back and go, “Well Rachel, I know you’re happy about that tag line, but it doesn’t mean anything to me.” And having that open door and honesty is the only way that you’re going to be able to shape and change your messaging in addition to what you guys can learn in the challenge in September. I’m going to join to do that. Can you leave the audience, those listening who are now like, “Oh crap, I’ve got to get my messaging together.” Can you leave them with one last tip of something they could go do now to get the wheels turning of how they maybe can clean up their messaging a bit while they wait for your challenge to start?

Adria: So one thing I would say just to start with is, to do a little audit of what you’ve been saying right now and see if there is any cleverness about it that’s unnecessary, if there’s any flowery or ambiguous words and if there’s any jargon that is specific to your industry that if you’re honest with yourself, only another person who does the same stuff as you would get.

Rachel: Makes sense. As a lawyer, I fall into this. This is something I really have to work at because I’ll use legal terms and people are looking at me going uh huh, uh huh. And in my mind I’m thinking, but this is your solution. This is what you need to know. And they’re like, no idea what you’re talking about.

Adria: The hard side is you can be super talented, but the thing that matters the most is, is how you’re communicating about what you do and whether it’s landing for people.

Rachel: Yeah. It’s interesting because that is so incredibly true. Where were you over a decade ago when I started all of this? I could be way beyond where I’m at because I was struggling myself the whole time. Well, thank you so much for this. I appreciate you coming on. Again guys, this is going to be episode 66. So rachelbrenke.com/epi66. Don’t forget that the message clarity challenge is going to be coming up at the end of September 2018. And if you missed that, or if you just need a little bit more help, there’s also the three month VIP messaging package you guys can dig into. We’re going to link it all on the podcast page. Please feel free to reach out if you guys have any questions on this episode. We both would love to connect with you. Thank you for coming on today. I appreciate it.

Adria: Thank you.

Featured Guest & Resources

Adria DeCorte, M.S., is a Message Clarity Coach, helping women coaches uncover the marketing message that lights them up and communicates the value in their work so they can serve more people, scale their business, and start a movement. A TEDx speaker and former architect turned plant ecologist, she’s shared her own voice on over 30 podcasts, radio, and video shows. She is the creator of the group program Get Clear, Get Clients, host of the Unforgettable Podcast, and her expert advice has been featured on the Huffington Post and the Fox Morning News Las Vegas. On weekends, she can be found hiking around her hometown Las Vegas with her fur-child Lexi the doberman.


You can find Adria online here:
The Unforgettable Podcast

Hi, I’m Rachel Brenke

Rachel Brenke

As a mom, team USA athlete and cancer-survivor, I want a real life while I have a real business.  This is why my resources don’t promote hustle-culture, rather tough-love and no-holds-barred tips to achieving both.  In addition to this website, I have a top-ranked business podcast, been featured in places like Forbes and work 1:1 with so many of you.

Enough about me though. I am proud of you for pursuing entrepreneurship. It is rewarding and amazing.  Keep at it!

Now enrolling: RealBiz Accelerator[GET INFO]
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