Author: Sarah Labrot Lientz
You can contact Sarah at firstname.lastname@example.org
As the story goes, Horton is an elephant whose extra-large ears give him super acute hearing to hear a talking speck of dust. He is the only one able to hear the Whos that live on what is not actually a speck of dust, but a microscopic planet, home to Whoville.
Compassionate Horton insists he is going to protect the Whos and carries the speck around on a dandelion. This draws opposition from others because they don’t believe there is anyone on the speck. Therefore, the Whos are in danger. Horton must convince the entire town to yell in unison to make themselves known to others outside.
Dr. Seuss’s premise for the book “Horton Hears a Who” was the importance of the individual. His theme “A person’s a person, no matter how small” echoes throughout the story.
Underneath all those loveable inspirational quotes, Dr. Seuss gave us substance.
Carol says you have to define the “Who” in who you are before you and others can talk about the “What” in what you do.
“In public relations, we help entities find their voice in a crowded marketplace,” said Carol. “We do this by helping define who you are, it’s your difference. Every action we take should convey and reinforce that position in the marketplace.”
So we asked Carol to give us tips that anyone can use to help them define their Whoness.
I’m going to go out on a limb and say that individuals, especially professionals, can use a method we use to define the identity of businesses and organizations to their advantage as well.
Stick with me as I draw this correlation, so you can understand how this applies to an individual.
You came into this world a baby. In your mother’s womb, you were genetically mapped out to look like you do. You were born blond. You were named John Coctostan, son of Mary and Larry Coctostan. That was your position in this world.
But say there are two of you, twins – born at the same time, live at the same house, look the same, and go by the same name because your parents want to drive themselves crazy. What’s the only thing that makes you different from the other John?
Your experiences. Your experiences make you different. Remember when you fell off your bike to get that scar over your left brow? Or you had a different teacher in Kindergarten that molded you in some way, or made a different best friend that you still have to this day?
In branding exercises and messaging workshops, we draw from businesses’ experiences to help define the “Who.” In marketing and communications, we call this brand identity, I call it personality. You are who you are, and your experiences have helped define you – it is your difference.
For larger businesses, the process requires research, competitive landscape analysis, collecting outside perspectives and more. But for you, an individual, professional or small business owner, try this.
Write a Positioning Statement that defines you. Use it as much as you can, even if you recite it to yourself in the shower. This process will improve your positioning with external audiences, but also your internal confidence.
Here is the formula.
To: target audience
Brand is: frame of reference
That: user benefit/point of difference
Because: support/reason(s) why
Here is my professional formula (using me as an example).
To: businesses, organizations and professionals
Carol Wirth: is a communications professional
That: helps convey the stories (of businesses, organizations and professionals)
Because: to engage their audiences online
Here is how I got there. You can ask yourself these key questions.
Who am I? I am Carol Wirth.
What do I do? I am a communications professional with nearly 20 years of experience in P.R.
(Hmm. The “20 years” makes me sound old, not necessarily the position I want to convey in this era. I’m going to park that somewhere else.)
Who is my target audience? Small businesses and professionals.
(I also work with non-profits and other organizations, as well as Fortune 500 companies, but how to squeeze that in?)
What benefit do I bring my audience/what is different about my offering? I help businesses, organizations and professionals convey their stories.
(I call myself a “communications” professional because my experience and counsel extends into many areas, however, I specialize in P.R. So what is the value of P.R.? To me, P.R. is about pulling out the stories of businesses, organizations and professionals, and making those relevant to the public, so their audience is receptive to the information.)
Why should this matter to my target audience? To engage their audiences online.
(I choose the word “engage” because to me it’s about building relationships with people, and “market” feels like you’re talking at, not with, people. Interacting with people is what makes P.R. enjoyable for me.
And should I use the word “online” versus “digital”? I am going to go with “online” for now because I’m most concerned with helping businesses and professionals reach online users. The word “digital” is associated with “marketing,” and again that feels like you’re talking at, not with.)
You have to be ruthless in this process to keep it tight.
Now, here is my bigger challenge: applying the formula to me the individual.
Carol Wirth: is a mother to two boys, wife and best friend to one, and support to some, maybe someday many
That: desires to be a good person and raise good people every day
Because: so I can make a valuable, if not incremental, contribution to this world
I am a mother to two boys, wife and best friend to one, and support to some, maybe someday many. I desire to be a good person and raise good people every day, so that I can make a valuable, if not incremental, contribution to this world. (it needs work and will be re-worked at another stage in life.)
Now, go find your Whoness…
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At Glimsity, in our regular work day we talk to a lot of people, collect useful nuggets of information, gather insight and identify trends locally. Lil is an acronym for Local inside look (Lil). At , we want to share the good stuff with you. It’s everything that doesn’t fit into our short videos.