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What Do You Want Your Summit to be Known For? with Ashlee Sang
Bonus Episode28th January 2022 • Virtual Summit Success • Jenn
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In this bonus episode, we're taking a break from Sell With a Summit: Speaker Edition snippets to talk about how to use your brand messaging to make summit decisions easier! Hosting a summit or even speaking at a summit can require a lot of decisions, right? Ashlee's sharing her strategies for creating brand messaging guidelines that will help you make those decisions with a lot less heartache (and headache).

Get Ashlee's workbook at ashleesang.com/standout

Connect with Ashlee on Instagram @ashleesangconsulting and on LinkedIn

Mentioned in this episode:

Evergreen Summit Audio Training

If you're ready to host a summit or have already hosted one and want to get more out of the months of work you put into your summit, jump over to evergreensummits.com. I put together a free audio training that you can take on the go in your regular podcast player!

Evergreen Summit Audio Training

Transcripts

Jenn:

Welcome to Virtual Summit Success.

Jenn:

I'm Jenn, founder of Virtual Summit Search, and you're in the right place

Jenn:

if you want to make the most of your virtual summit experience, whether

Jenn:

you're a host or virtual summit speaker.

Jenn:

Let's get going with your next step to virtual summit success.

Jenn:

So I am super excited to have Ashlee on with me today, and we're going

Jenn:

to be talking about brand messaging and how it ties in with summits.

Jenn:

But before we jump into all of that, I'll go ahead and let you

Jenn:

introduce yourself to everybody!

Ashlee:

My name is Ashlee Sang.

Ashlee:

I run Ashlee Sang Consulting and I do brand strategy and related

Ashlee:

consulting for visionary founders.

Ashlee:

So really helping people nail down who they are as a brand and as

Ashlee:

a founder and what they want to stand for in order to stand out.

Ashlee:

And so for me, it's all about getting consistent and aligned visibility in a way

Ashlee:

that feels good and actually connects with the people that you're trying to reach.

Jenn:

I love that.

Jenn:

And standing out is definitely something that I know the listener is looking for.

Jenn:

And before we get too far into stuff, I know that a lot of folks have different

Jenn:

definitions of brand messaging and all that, so if you could give us your

Jenn:

definition of what that actually means?

Ashlee:

Yeah.

Ashlee:

So for me, brand messaging is the foundation of everything.

Ashlee:

Even before your visual brand - which is maybe what most people jump into - or

Ashlee:

sort of hand-in-hand with your digital branding, your brand messaging really

Ashlee:

establishes who are you as a brand?

Ashlee:

So these are things like your mission.

Ashlee:

Why does your business even exist?

Ashlee:

Things like your audience - this is a key component of your brand messaging,

Ashlee:

because you could have the best product or service or summit in the

Ashlee:

world and it doesn't serve any purpose if it's not serving people, right?

Ashlee:

So that your audience is a really, really key part of brand messaging strategy.

Ashlee:

And then another key part that I really focus on are your brand values.

Ashlee:

For me, when you stand up for your values, this is how you stand out.

Ashlee:

And it's because there are 600 million summits or copywriters or chiropractors

Ashlee:

or whatever else out under the sun.

Ashlee:

So what sets you apart besides the specific people you want to serve.

Ashlee:

It is those values.

Ashlee:

It's what you stand for that really is going to resonate and is

Ashlee:

really going to make you show up consistently in a unique way, too.

Ashlee:

There are many other components of a brand messaging strategy, but basically

Ashlee:

at the end of the day, it's just putting a stake in the ground and saying, "this

Ashlee:

is who we are as the brand and this is what we want to be recognized for."

Ashlee:

So again, in the same way that a logo is recognizable, the way you

Ashlee:

sound and the way you talk about your brand should also be recognizable.

Jenn:

I love that because especially for summits, it is you

Jenn:

putting your stake in the ground.

Jenn:

It's how you build your authority in your industry, so if you don't have

Jenn:

your brand messaging down, nothing else is really going to fall into place.

Jenn:

So I'm really excited to be talking about this today.

Jenn:

Are there any big mistakes that you see, like, your audience and your clients

Jenn:

making when they're brand messaging that we should avoid, especially

Jenn:

as it would pertain to summits?

Ashlee:

Yeah.

Ashlee:

So a common one is wanting to be all the things to all the people, right?

Ashlee:

We just want to serve!

Ashlee:

So many of us are helpers, especially event organizers,

Ashlee:

especially service providers.

Ashlee:

We know that we want to serve people and that's why we started

Ashlee:

this thing that we created.

Ashlee:

Niching is so, so scary, but so necessary because it's what makes you memorable.

Ashlee:

If you meet someone and they say, "I run a business summit,"

Ashlee:

that's not very 'sticky,' right?

Ashlee:

There are many, many business summits.

Ashlee:

What about your business summit are you going to be hitting on?

Ashlee:

Or who exactly is this the perfect fit for?

Ashlee:

Is this for women who just quit their job and they are turning their side

Ashlee:

hustle into a full-time thing and they don't even know where to start

Ashlee:

and et cetera, et cetera, et cetera.

Ashlee:

That's a lot stickier.

Ashlee:

Because then if I meet someone who's in that boat, I will instantly think

Ashlee:

of you and your business or your event.

Ashlee:

Same thing with wanting to just offer too much.

Ashlee:

Again, your brand can absolutely evolve.

Ashlee:

It can absolutely include other things down the road, but what

Ashlee:

do you want to be known for?

Ashlee:

What is that core thing to that core group of people that is

Ashlee:

going to carry you through?

Ashlee:

And then how can you expand from there?

Ashlee:

That's where the fun comes, but it's really establishing that baseline

Ashlee:

that is super important and so many people are afraid of being boxed in.

Ashlee:

I work with visionaries.

Ashlee:

I work with people who have so many ideas and they have this really

Ashlee:

big picture of the impact that they want to have in the world.

Ashlee:

And so they just want to do all the things and they don't want to be

Ashlee:

boxed and they're multi-passionate, but that's a big mistake in not

Ashlee:

really deciding, "alright, what's the core thing I want to be known for?"

Ashlee:

Or sometimes it's just a question of getting outside perspective

Ashlee:

of how to incorporate all of those multi-passionate facets of

Ashlee:

yourself as a founder or a brand.

Ashlee:

Sometimes it's just a question of finding the common thread.

Ashlee:

You can include all of them, for sure.

Ashlee:

You can serve people who want to DIY and who want high-ticket services as long

Ashlee:

as that common thread, that mission, those values is well-established.

Ashlee:

So really it's a question of clarity.

Ashlee:

That's the big issue and often the fix is some sort of outside perspective.

Jenn:

I definitely love getting outside perspective.

Jenn:

I know I bounce my summit ideas off of other people all the time, because I'm too

Jenn:

far in my own lane and sometimes I don't realize that what I think is going to

Jenn:

work isn't going to actually be something that resonates with other people.

Jenn:

So glad you brought that up because that is something I always recommend

Jenn:

for folks when they're picking their summit theme: get an outside perspective.

Jenn:

Go and ask your audience, ask other people in your industry and just check it.

Jenn:

Check it against yourself because what we think is going to work

Jenn:

doesn't always end up working.

Jenn:

And niching down is really key too, 'cause like when I did Sell With a

Summit:

Speaker Edition, I was really excited, 'cause I could go to folks

Summit:

like Jessica Rasdall, who's the Public Speaking Strategist and say, "Hey, I am

Summit:

doing a summit that is for your specific audience, and I have this topic you've

Summit:

talked about stuff around it before, but you haven't necessarily gotten

Summit:

to talk about this specific thing."

Summit:

And then she ended up doing a podcast episode on that same topic

Summit:

afterwards, so you can actually help other people too by niching down more.

Summit:

And it makes it really easy for them to say yes.

Summit:

But another thing that I see folks doing - especially with summits - is

Summit:

getting the shiny object syndrome.

Summit:

And we want to do all the different things, whether it's new technology

Summit:

or going too broad with our summit theme or whatever it happens to be.

Summit:

So in your professional opinion, how can having impactful brand

Summit:

messaging help us to avoid that shiny object syndrome in our summits?

Ashlee:

That is super common, right?

Ashlee:

Entrepreneurs, we just want to iterate, we just want to do all the things.

Ashlee:

So that is why having a strong foundation through brand messaging is so important

Ashlee:

because then if you have a very clear idea of what your mission is, if you

Ashlee:

have very clear idea of your values and your audience, those are filters.

Ashlee:

Those are the lenses that you can use - whether you have outside perspective or

Ashlee:

not - you can go back to this living, breathing document that you create - or

Ashlee:

we create together, or however it comes to manifest - and you can put

Ashlee:

this new thing through that filter.

Ashlee:

So for example, maybe you've never focused on accessibility in the past in terms

Ashlee:

of subtitles, if it's a virtual summit or any other sort of accessibility.

Ashlee:

How do you know if that's a shiny object syndrome symptom or not.

Ashlee:

Well, if your audience has mentioned in the past that they suffer from some sort

Ashlee:

of disability and haven't been able to fully enjoy your content or your summit

Ashlee:

in the past, well then, ifyour goal is to serve them, that is absolutely something

Ashlee:

you should focus on and implement.

Ashlee:

Or if they say just how important accessibility in general is to them,

Ashlee:

even if that's not a core value to your business or hadn't been in the past, maybe

Ashlee:

that's something that you pivot toward.

Ashlee:

Maybe that is something that you test out and determine, all right, this is

Ashlee:

actually worth the time, the resources, the learning that this is going to take.

Ashlee:

Whereas, something like having some sort of VIP Lux offering

Ashlee:

to go along with your summit.

Ashlee:

You've seen other people do it.

Ashlee:

It's been successful, it's a huge revenue booster, but the people you serve aren't

Ashlee:

really into fancy stuff, or your core value is all about delivering the basics

Ashlee:

in the most approachable way possible.

Ashlee:

Well, then that is absolutely a shiny object that you should reroute from.

Ashlee:

So having these filters through your brand messaging guide is a really useful

Ashlee:

way to have quick yes's or quick no's.

Ashlee:

And sometimes it's not quite as simple as that, but often it really is.

Ashlee:

Does this bring me towards my mission or not?

Ashlee:

And then go from there.

Jenn:

Love that.

Jenn:

Having those filters really helps keep you in the right lane instead

Jenn:

of going off and veering into a fork in the road or something like that.

Jenn:

So what are some ways that we can go and set up those filters when it comes to our

Jenn:

brand messaging so that we can make those quick and easy decisions for our summits?

Ashlee:

So for me it really is those three cores: your mission as a business

Ashlee:

and/or a founder, especially if for some reason you're a solopreneur

Ashlee:

service provider and this is your first summit or something like that.

Ashlee:

But really your mission, that is the big picture.

Ashlee:

Your values.

Ashlee:

Again, if it doesn't feel right to you and it doesn't feel right

Ashlee:

to the brand that you are trying to create, then it's not right, or

Ashlee:

it's a not-right-now sort of thing.

Ashlee:

Again, you would need that feedback from your audience or you would need

Ashlee:

some sort of testing environment where, "alright, I want to take a

Ashlee:

leap of faith on this because I have some sort of instinct about this, but

Ashlee:

currently, no, this does not serve me, this is not what I'm working toward."

Ashlee:

And then the third factor, besides mission and values, is that audience.

Ashlee:

It's, "do they need this?

Ashlee:

Do they want this?

Ashlee:

Have they asked for this?

Ashlee:

How are they going to react to this?

Ashlee:

How is this going to make them feel?"

Ashlee:

All of that, because again, your brand exists to serve them.

Ashlee:

So really just taking a look, asking yourself very simple questions like,

Ashlee:

"does this align with my mission?

Ashlee:

Is this an alignment with one of my values?

Ashlee:

How would my audience feel about that?"

Ashlee:

Those are really quick and easy ways to get that feedback.

Ashlee:

And then, again, if you're still on the fence or something's telling you,

Ashlee:

I don't know, then that's when you seek out the outside perspective, because

Ashlee:

our businesses are our babies in most cases and we live and breathe it.

Ashlee:

We live inside our head and our heart every single day, so sometimes it really

Ashlee:

is a question of getting a business bestie or if you're in a mastermind or some

Ashlee:

sort of random business community, or any sort of way that you can get feedback.

Ashlee:

Sometimes that is the lens you need.

Ashlee:

And then them answering one way or the other, or them posing

Ashlee:

more questions to you will then bring you back to your values.

Ashlee:

You might not realize it when you're just asking yourself, but when someone states

Ashlee:

their opinion or ask more questions, that might be enough to tip you over the edge.

Ashlee:

"Oh yeah!

Ashlee:

Why would I prioritize this?

Ashlee:

I have so many other priorities," or, "yeah, that's what I was trying

Ashlee:

to convey to myself, but I just was too stuck in my head to do so."

Jenn:

That's a really good thing to think about is getting someone to

Jenn:

ask you questions, because I know for me, I was going to do a totally

Jenn:

different summit for my last one, and I kept having people ask me questions

Jenn:

about a totally different topic.

Jenn:

And so that got me to pivot what I was going to be doing the

Jenn:

summit theme on and change it up pretty much entirely, honestly.

Jenn:

And it ended up being a great pivot.

Jenn:

And so, yeah, I think if folks don't have other people to bounce

Jenn:

things off of, go find somebody, 'cause it's totally worth it.

Jenn:

But you also mentioned , "does this feel right?"

Jenn:

So how much, in your experience, once someone has set up their brand messaging,

Jenn:

I guess, and like, has that basis, has that foundation and knows what it is...

Jenn:

should they be referring back to that?

Jenn:

Or how much do they trust their gut when it comes to making those decisions?

Ashlee:

So I think it's an and sort of situation, not an either/or.

Ashlee:

The thing with the brand messaging strategy - at least the way I do

Ashlee:

it - is that it really comes from the founder's head and heart.

Ashlee:

They come up with everything.

Ashlee:

They come up with all the core messages, they come up with all the values.

Ashlee:

I'm just the one that's distilling it.

Ashlee:

I'm just the one that's connecting the dots, bridging that gap from what is

Ashlee:

inside their head and heart to something that is actually able to be comprehended

Ashlee:

by someone who is outside themselves.

Ashlee:

So the brand messaging guide should already feel like

Ashlee:

an extension of yourself.

Ashlee:

It shouldn't feel forced in any way.

Ashlee:

And if any part does, then that part needs revision.

Ashlee:

So already that should be your gut check that that baseline already feels good.

Ashlee:

And then in terms of intuition, I think that's super important - and it's so

Ashlee:

easy to disregard because we see so much noise on the internet and even in books

Ashlee:

or however else we consume content.

Ashlee:

Sometimes it makes us question our own gut decision, but our gut got us this far and

Ashlee:

our gut will continue to push us forward.

Ashlee:

So I think it's absolutely important to listen to your gut and experiment and know

Ashlee:

that, "well, this might not work out."

Ashlee:

That doesn't mean anything good or bad.

Ashlee:

Every opportunity is definitely a lesson at the very least, but really

Ashlee:

listening to your intuition, getting that outside perspective when you need

Ashlee:

it or even just, again, to confirm or deny what your gut already said.

Ashlee:

Because even if they say something opposite and your gut says, "no, no,

Ashlee:

I think I'm right," then that's great!

Ashlee:

Listen to your gut probably more than anyone else.

Ashlee:

And then it really works in tandem with that brand messaging guide because

Ashlee:

that guide should already feel good.

Ashlee:

I didn't mention those that your brand will evolve.

Ashlee:

So it's not meant to be a stagnant guide or strategy or process.

Ashlee:

It is meant to grow with you, grow with your audience.

Ashlee:

And we learn things every day, right?

Ashlee:

We morph our audience every day or every quarter or every year or however often.

Ashlee:

So it is important to revisit things like our core audience

Ashlee:

persona - who is our ideal client?

Ashlee:

It could be very, very different today than it was a year ago.

Ashlee:

In my case, that's absolutely true.

Ashlee:

So really it's about constantly being in contact with ourselves and with

Ashlee:

the brand that we want to be building.

Ashlee:

So it's not like a "yes, checked this off the list!"

Ashlee:

It is ongoing, just as building any other facet of your business is ongoing.

Jenn:

Yeah, and I actually had a client recently who she was trying to figure

Jenn:

out how to structure some of the stuff in her summit and one of the things she

Jenn:

kept hearing was do a Facebook group, do a Facebook group, and she was really

Jenn:

hesitant to do that, but she decided to listen because that was what the

Jenn:

pros said and she got into the summit and there was like, no engagement.

Jenn:

And she told me afterwards, "I knew this was going to happen.

Jenn:

My audience doesn't like Facebook any more than I do, but everybody said I

Jenn:

should do it and now I'm wishing I hadn't done it, that I'd done something else."

Jenn:

And that's a great example of trusting your gut and your brand messaging

Jenn:

and knowing your business and your audience and all that kind of stuff.

Jenn:

So that is really a good guideline for folks to think about when they're

Jenn:

making these decisions based on their brand messaging for their summit.

Jenn:

So for a little bit more of a concrete example, anyway, say if a summit host

Jenn:

was trying to decide on their summit theme - so the overall topic that their

Jenn:

summit'sgoing to be about - or if a summit speaker is trying to decide

Jenn:

what their signature topic will be, how would you say that brand messaging is

Jenn:

going to play a role in that and how can it help inform those decisions?

Ashlee:

Yeah.

Ashlee:

So again, it's about that alignment and consistency.

Ashlee:

So it would be misaligned and out of left field if you're constantly

Ashlee:

talking about audience building and lead generation, and then you do

Ashlee:

a conference on knitting, right?

Ashlee:

That doesn't make sense.

Ashlee:

Your audience is going to be confused.

Ashlee:

You're not going to have any infrastructure in

Ashlee:

place to bridge that gap.

Ashlee:

So I could see it going two ways, either in expansion of the core

Ashlee:

thing that you want to be known, for that mission, or again, those core

Ashlee:

messages that you always hit on.

Ashlee:

It should be an expansion of that.

Ashlee:

So maybe do some sort of mind mapping around, "all right, well, I always

Ashlee:

talk about community building.

Ashlee:

How could this translate into a summit?

Ashlee:

What sort of different directions or questions are people going to have?

Ashlee:

Or how could I expand, just blow up this topic of community building?"

Ashlee:

Or the other way to do it would be that sort of niching way.

Ashlee:

So if you generally talk about three things: community building,

Ashlee:

lead generation and social media marketing or something like that.

Ashlee:

Well, really hone in on one.

Ashlee:

Get extremely granular.

Ashlee:

Bring in experts about every single technical facet of one of those things.

Ashlee:

So it's really, for me a question of expansion or deep dive, but it's

Ashlee:

really coming back to that core, that problem that you solve, the

Ashlee:

thing you want to be known for, the thing your audience needs and wants.

Ashlee:

And then also, honestly, events are a huge time suck, energy suck.

Ashlee:

They take so much effort.

Ashlee:

So it should be aligned with your business goals too.

Ashlee:

There is no point in running a summit if it's not going to

Ashlee:

serve your brand in some way.

Ashlee:

So how does this lead into your core offer or this new thing that you want

Ashlee:

to launch and this is the precursor.

Ashlee:

Or how is this going to deepen your relationship with your existing audience

Ashlee:

or reach new people in new ways so that you can serve them in sort of your normal

Ashlee:

way outside the summit, because events are not for the faint of heart by any means.

Ashlee:

So it really, really needs to be aligned with your business goals

Ashlee:

but then also just aligned with that brand that you've already spent

Ashlee:

so much time and effort to create.

Jenn:

Yeah.

Jenn:

And I love that you touched on deepening the relationship with the existing

Jenn:

audience, 'cause that's something that I talk to my clients about all the time

Jenn:

is there's different goals for summits.

Jenn:

Yeah, it may be list growth for a certain summit, but for another one,

Jenn:

it may be that you want to take your existing audience and funnel them

Jenn:

into a bigger product that you know is going to make a bigger impact on them.

Jenn:

So that is another great thing to think about when it comes to your mission

Jenn:

and your brand messaging is how is it going to build into them even further?

Jenn:

So I love all the stuff we've gotten to cover today.

Jenn:

I think it's going to be super helpful for my summit hosts out there.

Jenn:

And if there was one big takeaway that you want them to get from this

Jenn:

conversation, what would it be?

Ashlee:

Yeah, I think it would be to take that bird's eye view.

Ashlee:

Take a step back and really think about what do I want to be known for.

Ashlee:

That is the question at the end of the day.

Ashlee:

That is what your brand is, because as much as you can say what you do and who

Ashlee:

you are, it's really all about perception.

Ashlee:

So the entire strategy behind brand messaging, visual branding, any kind

Ashlee:

of creating a brand facet is how will this be perceived by the people I

Ashlee:

want to serve and how can I make that as close to my vision as possible?

Ashlee:

So really just take that step back, ask yourself some questions,

Ashlee:

get that outside perspective if you need it and go from there.

Jenn:

What do you want to be known for?

Jenn:

And go think about that as we wrap this up.

Jenn:

Thank you so much for being here, Ashlee and sharing all of this.

Jenn:

So before we wrap up, where can everybody find you if they want to learn more

Jenn:

about brand messaging and what you do?

Ashlee:

Yeah, thanks so much.

Ashlee:

So if you want to get the ball rolling, I do have a free workbook all around

Ashlee:

establishing your brand messaging strategy and also a consistency checklist,

Ashlee:

because the strategy alone is not enough.

Ashlee:

Do not let it die in your inbox or your archive files.

Ashlee:

So it's really all about that strategy and then that implementation.

Ashlee:

So that is available at ashleesang.com/standout, because I

Ashlee:

really want you to be able to stand up for your values in order to stand out.

Ashlee:

And then besides that, I mean, catch me on social.

Ashlee:

We can chat!

Ashlee:

I'm most active on Instagram @ashleesangconsulting and

Ashlee:

on LinkedIn at Ashlee Sang.

Ashlee:

And it's Ashlee with two E's and Sang like sang a song,

Jenn:

Perfect.

Jenn:

We will have all the links for that in the show notes as well.

Jenn:

So thank you again for coming on Virtual Summit Success today, and I'm excited

Jenn:

for everybody to go out and nail down their brand messaging and figure out

Jenn:

what they want to become known for!

Ashlee:

Yeah.

Ashlee:

Thanks so much.

Jenn:

Thanks for listening to Virtual Summit Success.

Jenn:

Don't forget to leave a review and let others know your biggest

Jenn:

takeaways from this episode.

Jenn:

Every review helps others find us, and the more successful virtual

Jenn:

summits there are, the more tips we'll have to share with you.

Jenn:

For show notes, links, and other resources, go to virtualsummitsuccess.live