Case study: Katherine O’Brien

Katherine O'BrienCompany
Katherine O’Brien
Freelance content writer and editor who specializes in health, senior care and aging.

Through the brand identity consulting process, I developed the following for my client’s business:

  1. Brand platform consisting of: vision, mission, values, personality, target audience profile, differentiators, value proposition, promise and tagline.
  2. Communications and marketing plan which included annual business and communications objectives and recommended tactics for each communications objective in a step-by-step action plan.

Opportunity & approach
When I met Katherine she had an established freelance business doing editing and writing. She had steady work but was finding it challenging to gain more clients and an increase in work from existing clients. Her business was casting a wide net. The positioning of her services, content areas and clients was very general and did not create a clear picture for me of who she was as a person or professional writer.

My approach with Katherine was to key in on what set her apart from the hundreds of other excellent freelance writers she was competing against.  Just being a great writer is not enough in the competitive profession she’s in. She needed to specialize her business and be seen as an expert in something in order to stand out and earn more credibility and trust. We achieved this specialist positioning by marrying two things: what she’s the best at and what she’s most passionate about.

Through two in-person consulting sessions, I was able to help Katherine move away from the perceived safety of being a generalist and identify the traits and skills that she excelled at and most enjoying using. We also explored her passions. Katherine already had a blog that focussed on seniors and aging. It was fueled by personal experience so it meant something to her. The content she developed could help people, which was an important driver for Katherine. We explored the business potential of that topic and agreed that seniors and aging was a safe and smart area to focus.

Once we established Katherine’s positioning, we could then define her business goals and a simple prospecting strategy (something that was an unwieldy task before focusing her business’ identity) and the changes that needed to be made to her existing marketing materials in order to align her brand.  

Katherine embraced the Brand Platform and is rolling it out in stages. She updated her website and social media sites to re-position herself as a speciality writer and revised her bio to better tell ‘her story’, of her work and why she does it. With more seniors and aging clients under her belt, Katherine intends to phase out the ‘health’ descriptor and implement other recommendations I shared with her for her brand. Katherine also began to focus her prospecting on the main target client I recommended (because it has the most potential for repeat work) and has since gained new clients in this area. Katherine also earned a contract for her first e-book, which was a specific business goal she wanted to achieve.

From the client
“I have some knowledge about branding and communications planning, but I am not an expert. I don’t think I would have been able to come up with such good brand differentiators or as clear a mission statement as you did. Without a doubt I would not have come up with such a detailed branding plan or communications plan. I loved your idea of coming up with an editorial calendar and then trying to market articles or pieces based on that to different players. I would never have thought of that. I liked that you suggested developing a set of questions. It makes me more active, more in charge of my destiny, not just passively accepting gigs that don’t really fit me.”

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