This past weekend I attended (via simulcast) Andrea Lee‘s Lasting Lead Generation event.

It was three days of fabulous teaching, coaching and delivery of actionable content. And I gotta say, she really knows her stuff!

One of the first exercises she had us do was to think about a particular purchase we’d made where we were very happy to be buying. My purchase? My last visit to the local Farmers’ Market here in Portland. (See picture above? Yep, all those goodies came home with me.)

Then we had to think about WHY we were so happy about that purchase. For me, it was twofold: first, the experience — the sights, sounds, textures, flavors — and second, the knowing that I’d have delicious ingredients that would nurture me through out the week.

When I think about food and cooking — and eating! — I get warm fuzzies. I feel connected to people. To friends and family. I feel nurtured. Fed. And yes, loved.

Andrea then gave us all a little a-ha moment. She said, “Those feelings you’re feeling when you’re loving the buying the process? Those are the same emotions that you can’t help but elicit in your own clients.

That’s the “natural essence” of how your offer will connect to your right people. It’s who you are, and you can’t help but naturally create leads that way.

And you know, since I’m all about the Secret Sauce, I’d go even further and say that natural essence informs your branding — how you present yourself to the world, and how the world interprets who you are and what you stand for. But we don’t know for sure until we test (always testing!), right?

The Proof’s in the Pudding

You’ve seen those questions that are supposed to help you figure out what other people believe your strengths are? Yep, this is a variation on that. In this case, I wanted to test how well my branding efforts over the last two years have hit their mark. So this is what I did… I reached out to some well-trusted colleagues and clients and asked if they’d be willing to answer three short branding questions for me via email. (I did this in two Facebook groups so folks didn’t feel obligated to say yes.) I then sent each person (there were about 20 people in all) these questions:

1. What THREE words would you use to describe me?

2. What ONE EMOTION do you feel when you think about me/my brand?

3. What ONE QUALITY do you associate most with The Word Chef/me?

From there, I set about compiling the answers into a new document and then began to group them into “buckets.” I was looking to see if people used the same words, yes. But mostly there were synonyms I could group together. 

So for example, some people might use the word “knowledgeable” while others might say “smart” or “expert.” All of these words would go into the same bucket. Anytime I found a word or idea repeated more than once, I created a new bucket.

Then I set out to analyze the results. Which three buckets had the most responses? Those are the ones that would tell me about how my branding is working out there in the wilds. I wanted to see if those concepts and emotions were a match for what I’ve been putting out there. And for the most part, they definitely were.

Where I got sole responses that didn’t match anything else, I took a moment to think about my interactions with that person. Was there something that happened (or didn’t happen that should have) to create that impression?

But there were also a few surprises. And some I might work to capitalize on. For example, one person told me the emotion they most associate with me/my brand is the same emotion they experience when eating chocolate. I think I might work that into my marketing going forward! Free chocolate for new clients? Hmmmm…

I also shared this process with some folks connected to the Word Chef page on Facebook and one woman asked whether or not the answers would be the same if folks could answer anonymously.

An excellent question! We all know that people may respond differently if they know their name is attached to the answers.

In my case, I wanted to be sure that I was asking folks who were familiar with my brand. (After all, if this is the first time you’ve landed on my website, you may not have had sufficient time to build feelings or opinions about me and my brand.) But we don’t know until we test, do we?

So I created a questionnaire and asked folks to fill it out anonymously. Results are currently being tallied and will be shared with the folks who get our newsletter.