EFE’s Top 3 Tips to Grow Your Brand From the Werk-It Women’s Podcast Festival
By: Melissa Lent
December 7, 2018
Some people try to tell me magic doesn’t exist. But can you imagine traveling to a tucked away spot, away from the prying eyes of day-to-day life, surrounded by women, who are the most magical beings I’ve ever come across, gathering secrets and growing your own power? I lived it, at the Women’s Werk-It Podcast Festival, hosted by WNYC, and so now I can tell everyone they were wrong. I was fortunate enough to receive a ticket from the Werk-It organizers because of my internship at WNYC this summer. Thanks Denise and Jen!
As I walked through the airy barn-shaped building, pools of the afternoon light illuminated women on worn couches laughing and sipping coffee. Women sitting on rustic wooden picnic tables smiling, leaning in to hear each other better. And women on stage, pausing to connect with the eager eyes in the room. As I passed, they would smile at me. I felt safe and warm, empowered and inspired all at once.
The space was created by women, for women, to learn how to navigate marketing, budgeting, engagement, and most importantly, the story. The time from when the doors opened at 8am to when they closed at 5pm were booked solid. Seasoned professionals from the podcast and media industry taught people like me, who were frantically scribbling in their notebooks, what it takes to lead your own company and showcase your own voice.
And while I was sitting on the floor in the crowded room, breathing in their words like it was the last clean air on Earth, it wasn’t just for myself. Even though it was a podcast-oriented event, the lessons they gave could be extremely helpful to EFE as we try to build our brand. This year, EFE is transitioning from being under a college initiative to becoming its own entity, and now we have a greater range of possibility on how we present ourselves to the world. While that allows us opportunity for more creativity, this incubator period is also tricky to navigate, so I was grateful to attend this festival. Of course, I gained knowledge on how to land a sponsor and how to build a press kit, but the kind of advice I’m sharing here is more important. It’s about how to own your story.
One: Center your story
What is your focus? The talks at the podcast festival that touched on pitching helped me learn more about centralizing. I learned about loglines, proposals, and that you need to know your brand extremely well before you can showcase it to others. This is something that we’ve been trying to hone in at EFE all semester. Some people, like us, want to be involved in a loooot, because we’re excited about a variety of things. And that’s okay! But like we say at EFE, you can’t get “lost in the sauce”, or in over your head. You too should remember why you are doing this and what you want yourself and others to get out of it.
While building our company, we wanted to expand from not only a fashion show, but to a fashion show, a marketplace, AND an educational platform. When we were pitching to people, our story wasn’t exactly consistent. We realized we were focusing on different aspects of EFE that weren’t the most important bits. Our new team members were confused on what exactly we were trying to be. We were lost, completing tasks that didn’t have long-term benefits to our mission. So we had a realization to pivot our strategy and cultivate the strongest part of EFE, the show, and grow what we believed to be the heart of our mission, the educational platform. We still have a bit of the marketplace going on, but that’s not our main selling point.
And so when you pitch yourselves, to sponsors, to partners, to venues, or others, make sure that you are grounded in your story. Who are you? What is your role in the company? What is the main mission of the organization, that one sentence that encompasses the essence of your work? What is the unique angle to your story? Why should you be the one to tell it? Don’t try to overextend yourself. Building a brand takes time. Focus on what you do well until you gain more of a following and a stable identity, and then try to branch out.
Two: Use your authentic voice
In the workshop on how to land a sponsor, Megan Tan from the Millennial podcast said her first sponsor was interested in her because her words seemed genuine. At the end of her episodes, she has a spot that calls for sponsors to the show, and he said it wasn’t gimmicky, but real. At EFE, we strive to be real and transparent. We want you to know what we’re doing, what did or didn’t work for us, our highs and low, and how we’re becoming better. We know it’s easy to become self-conscious about the way you present yourself.
You might think you need to speak or act based on what you believe people’s expectations are, but it’s extremely tiring to behave a different way than how you actually do. Don’t feel forced to take on a persona that you believe will be popular, because if it takes off, it’ll feel ingenuine and tough to maintain. The audience or customers won’t know who you really are. It might make a little more time to not play into tropes or not take any offer except the ones that align with your brand, but slowly, people will get to know you, trust you, and remain loyal to you, because of your authenticity.
Three: Be confident
At a talk called “How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love My Voice”, Lauren Ober spoke about how women get self-conscious about the way they speak because of how their voices are interpreted in the media. They’re usually seen as inferior to those of males. And so a lot of women tend to use lower tones in their speaking, or feel substandard. You might feel the need to copy other brands, or think that your voice isn’t strong enough. Take strides to become confident in your own story. I remember we’ve gone to events, and said, “We’re a startup? Kind of?” But we realized the only way other people will start to believe we’re legitimate is if we treated ourselves as such.
At the Upcycle Social we participated in this year, people were impressed by the way we carried ourselves. We’re students, but we’re students with a burgeoning company. We owned our accomplishments and mission. Even if you’re just starting to build your brand, don’t downplay it. Maybe there’s a little bit of “fake it till you make it” in there, but that’s how most companies start off, until they’re in a more stable place. We don’t lie, but we also don’t shrink ourselves. Our work is important, and so is yours.
The Werk-It Women’s Podcast Festival was amazing because I got to learn industry tips, become inspired to create, but most importantly, I got to speak to wonderful, like-minded women. Everyone was there to learn and teach, grow themselves and help others grow. I realized that so many people in this world are trying to figure out how to grow a brand for the first time, just like EFE. We are not alone, and neither are you. Just know we at EFE are supporting you as you try to grow your brand! And we hope that as we start this long, beautiful journey, that you will support us too.