Archive for the ‘Blogroll’ Category
Thursday, May 16th, 2013
When it comes to building a strong personal brand, it is crucial that you start by understanding your market. You have heard the saying that “beauty is in the eye of the beholder”… and in this case, it is your target market that serve as the “beholder.” It is your job to figure out what they are looking for so that you can create an appealing brand.
A classic example is Donald Trump. He has created a brash, loud, sarcastic brand that plays very well in New York (and on TV!). But if he were a real estate developer in the South instead of cosmopolitan NYC, his brand may not be so effective.
Below are three questions to ask yourself as you evaluate your personal brand:
1) What traits are most important to your market? What are your customers looking for? It is vital that you answer this question. Are they looking for confidence and experience? Are they looking for energy and youthfulness? Insight? Hard work? Low prices? If you don’t know what your audience is looking for, you’re flying blind. Answer these questions and begin creating your brand in a way that will resonate with your target market.
2) What are your competitors doing well… and what are they doing that you can improve on? Evaluating the successes of your competition is a great way to understand what works and what doesn’t in your market. But don’t just try to imitate the competition—look for ways to elevate your brand and differentiate yourself from the rest of the market.
3) What are the most common hopes and the most common fears in the mind of your target customers? What keeps your customers awake at night? What do they imagine in their wildest dreams? Understanding their hopes and fears gives you the ability to create a brand which addresses their fears while appealing to their hopes. For instance, most retirees fear out-living their money—and as a result, many retirement advisors emphasize their ability to create stable, consistent income.
It’s important that your personal brand reflect your true self. But it’s just as important that your brand appeals to your target audience. Does yours?
Tuesday, April 16th, 2013
One of the challenges when it comes to personal branding is achieving memorability. Or in other words, making sure that your brand is remembered! This is a critically important topic and can make a huge impact in the overall profitability of a business. It’s a simple concept—a memorable brand means that, when a prospective client needs your help, your brand jumps to the top of their mind. If your brand isn’t very memorable, they’re just not going to think of you.
So how can you make your personal brand more memorable? Here’s one answer: by telling stories. Stories that subtly reinforce your abilities and your points of differentiation are very effective. You can tell these stories in many different ways—at a lunch meeting, in a blog post, on social media, in a book, etc. Here are a couple of examples to get your wheels turning.
1) Tell a success story. How have your products and services made a difference in the lives of your client? Find a specific story and tell it! For example, “I had a client who used to struggle with XYZ… but now he is able to XYZ…” Obviously the variables represent the problems your clients face and the results they get from your services. Make your stories specific so that your audience can relate!
2) Tell a story about a lesson you learned the hard way. Consumers like to feel like they’re working with an expert. To reinforce your expertise, talk about some of the lessons that you have learned “the hard way” over the years. These stories are often amusing and ultimately make the point that you’ve “been there, done that” and can be trusted to handle just about anything.
3) Tell a “horror” story. Can you think of an example of a client who didn’t heed your advice and ended up regretting it? These stories can be a great way to subtly remind your audience of why they should do business with you. But remember to make it specific and educational as well—otherwise it can feel like you’re just giving a sales pitch.
In today’s world, we are constantly bombarded with information from every direction. Cell phones, blogs, cable TV, email, the list goes on and on. One of the biggest challenges for many business owners is simply to cut through all of the noise and create a memorable brand. Telling stories is a great way to accomplish this. Contact me today if you’d like to learn more!
Friday, March 22nd, 2013
You have heard me say it over and over again – “people buy people.” Consumers want to do business with people that they know, like, and trust. And they’re usually willing to pay a premium to do so. Of those three traits I just listed, the hardest to inspire is generally trust. In today’s world, business owners and consumers have to be cynical—because there are just so many scam artists out there.
So today, we’re going to take a few moments to discuss the process of establishing trust. Below are four specific tactics you can use:
1) Be yourself. Authenticity is important. People can usually “smell” a phony from a mile away. That’s why it’s so important that you stay true to yourself. As you’re building your personal brand, don’t try to become someone you’re not. Don’t feel that you have to fit into a certain mold to succeed. Be yourself!
2) Under promise, over deliver. The surest way to lose the trust of your market is to disappoint them. So do everything in your power to avoid disappointment! The principle of “under promise, over deliver” is very valuable here- it basically means that you’re understating your products or services so that your customers are pleasantly surprised when they receive them. This philosophy allows you to beat deadlines instead of missing them—a sure way to inspire confidence and trust.
3) “Live” your brand. This is another way of telling you to practice what you preach! For instance, I spend a great deal of time in this space discussing the value of publishing books and appearing on TV. If you wanted to learn more about me and discovered that I had not, in fact, published a book or appeared on TV myself, you’d be right to question me. Live your brand… don’t just preach it.
4) Don’t compromise your principles. This is less about branding and more about personal integrity—though integrity is an important part of your brand. Don’t compromise. Do what you know is right. Be true to the principles you believe in. At the end of the day, if customers and colleagues can depend on you to be honest, straightforward, and principled—you’re going to do just fine. Your integrity is everything, so don’t compromise it!
Wednesday, January 23rd, 2013
The Super Bowl is rapidly approaching, and for millions of Americans, the excitement is as much about the commercials as it is for the game itself. And who can blame them—the Super Bowl has become legendary for the creative and often hilarious ads that premiere between breaks in the game action. And granted, as a small business you’re probably not planning to shell out millions for a 30 second spot… but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t pay attention. Because the truth is, there is a lot to be learned about personal branding from the Super Bowl Commercials. Below is a short list:
1) A good Super Bowl commercial (and a good personal brand) is memorable. More than anything else, it seems that the goal most Super Bowl ad producers have is to be the most talked-about ad the next day. Advertisers go to incredible lengths to be memorable- whether that means being humorous, poignant, or shocking. As a business owner, you should do the same with your brand. If it’s not memorable, it’s going to be forgotten. It really is that simple.
2) A good Super Bowl commercial (and a good personal brand) is relevant. It’s not enough that an ad is memorable—it must also be relevant. From time to time, we see brilliant Super Bowl ads that we can’t stop talking about… but we also can’t recall what the heck they are even advertising. That’s a disastrous outcome for an advertiser. As you’re creating your personal brand, remember that it must be relevant to what it is that you and your business provide.
3) A good Super Bowl commercial (and a good personal brand) is created with the target market in mind. Super Bowl advertisers know exactly who they are appealing to with each ad—whether it’s moms in their thirties, males under 25, or seniors. Their ads are created to appeal to that target market. Similarly, your brand must be created with your target market in mind. If you’re a retirement planner, for instance, your brand had better be appealing to seniors.
This year, when you gather around the TV with family and friends to watch the big game, pay special attention to the commercials. Ask yourself… is each ad memorable? Is it relevant to the brand it’s promoting? Does it speak to its target market? And then, think about how you can apply these concepts to your own brand. I’d love to hear what you think!
Thursday, January 10th, 2013
One of the challenges of personal branding is staying focused. As we’ve talked about in the past, an effective brand is focused on a small number of traits or qualities. When you think Lexus, you think “high quality, reliable cars.” If Lexus began offering a model at $12K, their brand would be destroyed. Imagine the impact on Apple’s brand if they began selling low quality laptops for $500. Or imagine if Subway began selling greasy hamburgers. In each of these cases, a strong, focused brand would be weakened by trying to do too much. The key to a strong brand is focus… and that goes for your personal brand as well. As you establish your personal branding habit, it is critical that you stay true to your brand!
As you build your branding habit, it is important to start by reviewing the traits and qualities that your brand consists of. These may include your personality, your passions, your unique products or services, or anything else that makes you different. Create a list of the key components to your personal brand—and then you can focus on driving them home consistently. The key here is focus. Each interaction that you have with a customer or prospect is an opportunity to broadcast your personal brand—and that means you have many, many opportunities on a daily basis to stray from the core of your brand. Do your best to avoid sending mixed messages—if your brand is upbeat and friendly, it’s important that you live out that brand when you meet with customers, prospects, and others in your market. Stay true to your brand in each and every interaction with the outside world.
The key to establishing your personal brand is consistency. Determine what you want your brand to stand for and resist the temptation to stray from these attributes. Focus on the core of your brand and drive it home… over and over and over. In time, you’ll have a personal brand that truly represents your business and places you in a separate category from all the competitors in your market.
Friday, December 28th, 2012
I’ve heard many business owners say things like “I don’t have a brand!”
But everyone has a personal brand… whether they realize it or not. Your brand is simply the collection of thoughts and ideas that others associate with you.
So today, let’s take a few moments and run a test… so that you can identify your personal brand.
Create a short questionnaire and share it with customers and colleagues. Ask the following: (if you’re not comfortable asking them, do your best to answer them honestly from their perspective.)
1) Describe my personality in three words.
2) What are my most valuable skills?
3) When you hear my name, what single word comes to mind first?
4) What makes me different from everyone else?
5) Describe my attitude in one word.
Once you’ve tabulated your results, you’ll have a great idea of your personal brand. Do make sure you have a decent sample size— I would recommend 20 completed questionnaires.
Are you happy with your brand? Great—now you need to leverage it for the best possible results. If your brand needs work, don’t worry, it’s never too late to create a strong personal brand!
So how do you determine what your brand should be? The question to ask yourself is “what do I want to be known for?” When potential clients are exposed to your brand for the first time, what do you want them to see? Maybe you want to be known as friendly, trustworthy, and dependable. Maybe you want to be known as an elite professional, successful and sophisticated. Your personality plays an essential role in defining your brand—do you have a great sense of humor? Or maybe you’re proud of your laser-like focus. By now you should see a theme emerging. You should be able to identify the primary attributes that you want to be known for. That’s the core of your brand. Branding can be more than just your professional life, however. Are you a family man? Actively involved in your community? A devoted spouse? These elements of your personal life play an important part in defining your brand. Take this information, think hard about what you want to be known for, and distill it down to a handful of words. That’s the personal brand you need to create!
Thursday, November 29th, 2012
There is a misconception out there that in order to build an effective personal brand, a business owner must be an extrovert. From time to time, I’m approached by an individual who sincerely believes that the right personal branding strategy could turn his or her business around, but simply “doesn’t have the right personality for it.”
The truth is that every business owner has the opportunity to leverage their personal brand in order to build their business… whether or not they’re a classic extrovert.
While certain elements of a branding strategy, such as public speaking, may be easier for someone who loves being in front of an audience, there are many parts of the branding process that actually favor more introverted individuals.
For instance, introverts often tend to be better listeners than extroverts, though this is obviously a generalization. Those listening skills can be invaluable when it comes to person-to-person networking. There is a shortage of great listeners in the world, and a business owner who has the ability to truly listen to customers, colleagues, and other professionals has a significant advantage.
Dynamic personalities like Donald Trump or Oprah are often cited as individuals who are particularly skilled at personal branding—and the fact that they both have “larger than life” personas scares many business owners when they think about branding. But the truth is that for every Donald Trump, there is a Bill Gates—quiet, humble, and incredibly well respected by peers and competitors alike.
The key is to understand this: personal branding doesn’t mean turning you into something that you aren’t. Personal branding is the process of leveraging your personality and your strengths to create a memorable and valuable brand. If you’re extroverted, great—you can work with that! And the same is true if you’re naturally introverted.
Every business owner is unique—we all have strengths and we all have weaknesses. A good personal branding strategy doesn’t try to turn you into something you aren’t… a good branding strategy leverages your strengths and defines your personality. And that’s true whether you’re an extrovert… or not!
Tuesday, October 16th, 2012
Personal branding is always the focus of these blog entries, and we’ve talked in depth about a wide variety of different approaches to the process of personal branding. But as I’ve said before, there’s one strategy that stands above most others in terms of creating a powerful brand, and that strategy is publishing a book. Many business owners are intimidated by the process because it sounds like an impossible amount of work—but it’s not! In fact, publishing a book may be one of the best investments you ever make. Below are five reasons why.
1) Instant credibility. Once you’ve published your book you’re no longer just an “ordinary Joe”… you’re an expert. Adding the words “published author” to your biography makes a huge difference in your perceived credibility.
2) A new channel to connect with your target market. Assuming you’ve written a book that provides value to your target market, you’ve opened up an entirely new channel by which to attract new business. Potential customers will discover your book on Amazon, hear about it from their friends, or come across it in a bookstore. If they like what they see, many times they’ll pick up the phone and give you a call.
3) Media exposure. Publishing your book opens up many opportunities for media exposure—from sending out press releases, to publishing excerpts in the newspaper, to appearing on TV promoting the book. Each of these opportunities represents a chance to connect with your target audience and further increase your credibility.
4) A big step toward CelebrityExpert® status. Our goal at the Celebrity Branding Agency is to help our clients become recognized experts within their industry and their market. And while there are many elements that go into this process, writing a book is arguably the most important step to achieve this goal.
5) Speaking opportunities. Once you’ve written a book, you’ve achieved expert credibility. And that credibility often means requests to speak to organizations, associations, and other industry groups. These speaking gigs in turn translate into further increased credibility and often new business.
If you’d like to learn more about the process of writing and publishing a book, please feel free to get in touch with us today!
Tuesday, October 2nd, 2012
The NFL season kicked off in early September—but it didn’t take long for fan excitement to give way to frustration and anger. The cause was the labor dispute that took place between the league and its referees. The sides could not agree on compensation and other factors, and as a result the NFL’s referees were “locked out” of the games. Instead, replacement referees officiated the games. And unfortunately, there were a multitude of bad calls which received national attention—and even cost at least one team a victory.
The public outcry was loud enough that it ultimately prompted the league and the referees to resolve their dispute—but the damage had already been done. Many analysts believe that the errors committed by the replacement referees caused severe damage to the credibility of the NFL—or at least the credibility of the results of the first three week’s worth of games.
What can your business learn from this situation?
1) Avoid compromising your products and services at all costs. The league apparently believed that its product wouldn’t suffer—but they were quickly proven wrong. As a business owner, the integrity and the quality of your products and services must always be a top priority.
2) Acknowledge mistakes. To the credit of the NFL, league commissioner Roger Goodell issued an apology to fans and made it clear that the league regretted what happened. This apology may have done little to make fans of teams who had been victimized feel better—but it did send the message to the general public that the league understood public frustration and was working towards resolution.
3) Fix the problem and move on. When the situation reached its breaking point in late September, the league took action. They reached an agreement with their referees and brought them in immediately. Since then, the league has focused on the future, steering conversation and media attention back to the players and the games. You can bet that they will do their best to avoid broaching the subject at any point in the future.
It’s highly unlikely that any of us will ever offer a product or service that is as popular as the NFL—but we can apply these lessons to our own businesses just the same. Please get in touch with me today if you’d like to learn more!
Monday, September 10th, 2012
As you know, the exploding popularity of social media platforms such as Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn has provided a valuable personal branding opportunity for business owners. Ten years ago, reaching an audience as vast as today’s social media members would have been quite costly. Today, business owners can connect with a potentially unlimited audience without any fees whatsoever.
Of course, access to social media doesn’t help you if you aren’t sure what to do with it. Today, we’re going to focus on LinkedIn—the dominant social network for professionals and business owners. While Facebook and Twitter are better platforms for reaching consumers, if you are marketing to businesses, you can’t beat LinkedIn. Below are four tips to help you utilize the platform more effectively.
1) Fill out your profile completely. Many business owners don’t take the time to fill out their profile completely—and as a result they miss the opportunity to “tell their story” to viewers of their profile. In addition to filling out your summary section with your biography, include past positions and other information that boosts your credibility.
2) Seek recommendations. Recommendations from others are LinkedIn gold. Anyone can write up a great biography for themselves—but recommendations from colleagues, customers, and friends carry great weight. If you don’t yet have any, just ask! Many off your connections will not only be glad to help out… they’ll be honored that you asked!
3) Participate in industry groups. LinkedIn features discussion groups for just about any topic you can imagine—and they’re sure to have one for your industry. If you’re a CPA, for instance, look for groups that feature discussion of tax policy or other relevant topics. By participating in these discussions, you are reinforcing your own qualifications as an expert on the subject.
4) Post content. If you’re regularly writing blog entries and articles (which you should be!), consider sharing them on LinkedIn just as you do on Twitter or Facebook. It exposes your audience to your ideas and subtly reminds them of your status as an industry expert.
LinkedIn is a great place for business owners to build their personal brand and market themselves to other business owners and professionals. Make sure you are taking full advantage!