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All Posts Tagged Tag: ‘branding’
Having an intention behind any action is crucial. Without intention, everything we do has no power or purpose. It’s like taking a road trip without any idea of where you want to go. It’s essentially living life and running a business without a plan. So often clients seek us out for personal branding assistance because they have no idea:
a) what a personal brand is,
b) how to develop their own,
c) why they need to develop a personal brand, and/or;
d) where to start to develop a personal brand.
The good news is these clients come to us with a notion of needing help in all or one of the above areas. The bad news is many such client business owners have been running their businesses without any personal brand development. Many have been doing so for many years. Even more large business clients have been doing so with a large employee base and huge clientele.
Without having a personal brand program in place, you are likely running your business on default brand mode. This lack of brand intention likely means:
-you have no idea how you are currently being perceived by other, including your target market;
- you have no idea how you want to be perceived by others, including your target market;
- you have no idea who is your target market;
- you have no idea what is your unique selling proposition nor how to position this uniqueness into a message that you can communicate well and consistently.
Sadly, all of the above can translate into confused marketing that lacks a clear message, wasted dollars and time on marketing, confusion about how you, as the owner, fit into the mix and why.
So if you are running a business, or considering opening up a business, please remember your personal and business brand are very important. While it seems really important to have a logo, a cool website and pens with your name on it, none of these items can come first. You must first develop your personal brand as a solid foundation for your business brand (logo, website details, tagline) to be built upon. Only then will your message and brand recognition be credible and outstanding for your customers and staff.
Women entreprenuers are sprouting up everywhere today and that’s a great thing! With the growth of multi-level marketing (MLM) companies such as NuSkin, Melaleuca, Silpada, SendOutCards, etc, it is getting easier for women (and men) to run a business out of their homes, on the side of anything else they are doing or in any other way they wish.
The problem for me happens when I see people having their hands in two or more of these businesses- and actively selling them all at the same time to the same people. Two things could start to happen if you are one of these people:
* Your personal brand message can get garbled: Are you selling skin-care, jewelry, clothing or hand-bags? If you are selling them all, do they somehow tie into your personal brand and represent who you are, your unique selling proposition and business goals? Do you have some passion around the combination of MLM lines you represent or did someone just do a really good job recruiting you and convincing you that their MLM was the best?
I need you to step back before you sign up for a lot of good money-making MLM businesses and evaluate if YOU:
a) believe in the product so you can sell it with passion and purpose,
b) can find a tie-in with the product and who you are/your personal brand,
c) have enough connections to have the reach to the MLM’s target market. In other words, do your circle of friends represent the accurate target market for the MLM you want to start selling?
* Your actual verbal message can get garbled: I recently saw someone who was has a business organizing things/people speak at an event. However, I really did not hear her speak to organization. Rather, what I heard (and maybe misunderstood, but that’s the problem) was her talk about her lotion/body care line she represents and her bag line she represents. Both body care and bags appeared to be MLM and neither really carried her message of why she has an organization business and what she could do for me to organize my life, closet, office, bills, etc.
Even if you don’t sell MLM, but are in professional services (doctors, lawyers, etc), you need to stop and consider the same two questions above. I see plenty of doctors and lawyers who are selling products and services that are not connected to their actual service and brand. I appreciate the economy has prompted even professionals to have to get creative with their multiple income channels, but at what cost?
For example, I know a lawyer who sells candles for “fun”. Are you planning on creating a romantic atmosphere in court for your clients? If you must sell candles, disconnect the concept from your legal practice and sell the candles on the weekend to moms in your neighborhood.
I also know of many dentists who sell/administer Botox out of their office. To them I ask: “Aren’t you diluting your specialty as a dentist by telling me I can come in and get Botox from you, too?”
I’ve also seen plenty of dermatologists really go off-base by offering tons of make-up lines and creams and gels, etc. Too much product sales in my opinion. I can go to Sephora and get the same stuff. And no, just because you are a dermatologist doesn’t mean the products are more credible to me -because all the products are overwhelming and so are you.
So if you are selling, or considering selling, one or more MLM product lines or adding a product or service to your professional degree’d offerings, please consider the two potential problems above. While having multiple income streams is smart, which ones really serve you well and complement your current profession and personal brand best?
In personal brand management, a big key to success is your ability to adapt to circumstances and change. If you aren’t flexible and dynamic, then there’s no room for you to grow, develop an effective and genuine personal brand and succeed.
Many industries are perceived as static and slow to change and grow. One in particular is the legal industry and lawyers. I work with plenty of fabulous lawyers and law firms up for the challenge of developing a personal brand that is dynamic and flexible. However, the legal industry as a whole is not viewed as such. For those of you who remember, think about the show, “Paper Chase”. Not sure that perception has changed over the decades since that show aired.
I was just at the American Bar Association (ABA) Law Practice Management (LPM) conference in Napa, California. We were working on developing a program for lawyers, when this topic came up again. As we work hard on bringing new concepts and trends to lawyers and working on helping younger lawyers see the need to be outgoing, dynamic and brand-oriented, we always keep in mind a few thing. Lawyers can be slower to change, more risk-averse and more security-oriented.
If you think about it, these generalized traits make sense. The law is about precedent and following what came before to get to a new place in the future. Legal educational institutions and firms have been around for centuries and take pride in having this longevity. I remember my international law professor had been teaching at my law school for something like 30 years by the time I took his class- and the running joke was that there hadn’t been many changes to the curriculum since he started at the law school.
However, with the longevity and prestige there is always the danger of stagnation. This stagnation comes from following precedent, becoming comfortable with “what has always work in the past” and a general fear of trying new things, growing or following new trends. Fear of the unknown is common and something I appreciate.
The way to grow and succeed, though, is via a shift in perspective. Appreciate your tried and true ways, but always keep your eyes and ears open for a new method and process. Your personal brand will thank you for it and so will your family and clientele.
When we work with clients on developing their natural talents as part of their personal brand, we see trends. Personal branding is about the emotional quotient you trigger to get clients/prospects in action to get to know you and work with you. The best emotion to trigger is joy. We ask clients what daily activities bring about that sense of joy for themselves. We ask for two reasons: 1) so that they can do the activity over and over again for their own benefit AND 2) by doing this activity and having joy/happiness, you develop a strong personal brand and attract people who want to be around you, be like you and do business with you.
One common trend in responding to this question is that most clients really find being with their pets (ie, walking their dog, playing with their pets) brings them joy and peace. You should see the look on their faces as they describe the activities they love to do with their pets- their faces light up and they relax and have a sense of ease and grace about them. Clients don’t often make the connection regarding what the joy they have with their pets has to do with their business and personal brand.
I also have a dog. The sense of innocence and love and joy my dog has when I come home is indescribable. Not only does she make my day, she resonates from a very genuine, pure and innocent state of being herself- no agenda, no plan of action, no thought for what’s to come. She is just being present to being with me and happy to see me.
So, what if you related to your clients and prospects from the same place you relate to your pets? Now, please don’t take me too literally. I obviously don’t mean to treat people like animals. But I do mean to view all clients and prospects as if they:
- have no agenda when they see you;
-are truly happy to see you, even if their actions don’t resonate this;
-have true intentions to be with you and give their best to you.
In return, relate to your clients like you do your pets, by:
- being completely present to them;
-not reading too much “meaning” into their words and actions;
-accepting them as they are- the good, the bad and the ugly. Just as you do with your pet.
I think the hardest part of our work with clients is on the topic of unique selling proposition. Clients have a very difficult time believing they are unique. Sadly, not many people ever really believe they are truly unique and can stand out and be memorable in the sea of sameness of their profession. Once we convince them they are unique the problem becomes how we communicate that uniqueness to our target market and how we sell that differentiation.
Most people tend to want to differentiate based on price. Price differentiation rarely works. People tend to buy a product or service based on price only when there is nothing else to help them make their buying decision- ie, there is no differentiating factor that grabs them emotionally. At that point, they settle for the cheapest. Is that what you want for your personal and business brand- to be settled on because you are the cheapest, but not necessarily the best? I hope not.
Here’s a good example of this price differentiation at work. I know of a regional CPA firm. One of their employees was telling me one day how the CPA firm keeps losing bids for services when they go into meeting to present their proposal. He said they often lower their prices to come in cheaper and get the business and guess what- they rarely do. This person was extremely frustrated and upset.
I explained to him that the prospects shopping for CPA firms were not looking at cheaper to be better. However the CPA firm was coming across in the proposal meetings was not an optimal personal brand. I told him that the CPA firm needed to find their unique-ness when they go into these proposal meetings and stop making it about price. By coming in so cheap, odds are the prospects are thinking the CPA firm is either: a) desperate or b) not very good at what they claim to do. None of which are good personal brand builders that lead to long lasting relationships with a strong referral base.
So ask yourself- do you really differentiate on your unique-ness or are you just following the crowd by saying something like, “we are prompt” or “we are reliable” or “we are knowledgeable”. All I have to say about the latter three statements is that every business better be prompt, reliable and knowledgeable….!