Archive for the ‘Branding’ Category
Successfully selling yourself requires hard work, focus and remembering; Great work is not cheap. Cheap work is not great.
Like most business owner’s, my revenue is sustained by clients who say yes. It’s imperative that I consistently convince people to choose me over someone else. I know pretty well what it means to go into a meeting and have to sell yourself. To thrive in any type of business, you must know how to market yourself in the right way. Self-marketing doesn’t have to be a dreaded process if your marketing is designed to promote who you really are.
When you are establishing long-term lucrative businesses relationships you have to be able to state your value so that clients who initially say yes, will say yes over and over again. Here are three ways to help make your process of stating your value and selling yourself.
1. Be the “best” version of you
Remember, you don’t have a second chance to make a first impression. Who you are as a person could be very different from who you are as a brand. When you’re meeting with potential clients for the first time it’s important to make yourself as appealing as possible. Ninety percent of all communication is non-verbal. Your posture and your facial expressions play a huge part in how you are received. Be sure to make eye contact and remain engaged and enthusiastic throughout the meeting. Selling yourself is a lot like being a rock star. You may be one person in private but a completely different person on stage. If that’s the case, develop an alter ego that if confident, straight forward and willing to stand strong for what you deserve. Have a positive attitude, trust yourself to be a winner and always remind yourself of your strengths and accomplishments.
2. Come out of hiding
It’s not just enough to start your business. New businesses are started everyday and there’s way too much competition for you to chain yourself to the desk. You need to network, communicate, and engage with people on a regular basis. Don’t be afraid to step out of your comfort zone. Attend workshops, conferences and events that are outside your field. Recently, I attended a tech startup event. I have a general interest in tech because I use it everyday, but at the event I was able to connect with entrepreneurs and professionals who happened to need accounting services. Take the time to build a rapport with people from all industries. It’s good to build friendship that could eventually lead to business relationships or referrals. Build professional contacts, engage regularly with industry peers and never be afraid to expand your comfort zone.
3. Be a cut above the rest
Don’t be boring or unoriginal. Take the time and do the work. Get to know your potential client’s business. Visit their website; notice how they market themselves, and what they see as their primary goals. Understand what they do, and be able to present examples different ways that you can help them. Don’t waste time talking about the types of services you provide, make your value proposition about the company. Talk about what you can do specifically for their company. Most importantly share your story. There may be many other people offering the same service or products that you do, but not for the same reason. At some point during your meeting, give the potential client an impression of who you are by telling them why you do what you’re doing. Your personal story will establish what your values are, what you’re passionate about, and what sets you apart from everyone else.
At the end of every meeting, establish a path to move forward. Perhaps set up a second meeting at this point, or agree to communicate further via email. A prompt follow-up tells potential clients that you’re invested in them. It sends a message that you’re interested in their business and helping to make them more successful. To that any smart business person would say yes.
Customers have changed over the past few years, and your branding and marketing message needs to change with them. Today’s weakened and uncertain economy has caused customers to educate themselves before making decisions. Universal marketing messages from the past no longer suffice. Customers don’t trust what you say, they trust what they see. The power of the Web and global communications now provides unlimited information sharing, which has increased the level of expectations the public has for businesses and how a business communicates with the customer.
Often when you hear about transparency branding, you hear how leaders need to be more transparent with their ideas and decision-making, but I believe that it goes even further, with true transparency branding the customer doesn’t see the company they see themselves. When customers need of a service or product they’re look for what they feel best represents who they are. First, customers want to know that their need will be filled or problem will be solved. Second, customers have to feel a connection that translates into trust that produces a committment.
A brand must use consumer participation to shape the fundamentals of what it offers people. It’s the game of relevance, and brand and consumer must be on the same side. – Tracey Follows, VCCP
What is important in ‘transparency’ branding
Before any customer will trust your brand you have to trust it first. How must passion or belief you have in what you’re doing will translate to the customer as your someone who will get the job done. By nature people trust what they’re familiar with. The more your brand resembles th customer, the better chance you have they will trust that your product/service is a perfect fit.
How can you use transparency to build trust
- Share what your goals are for the customer. This shows the customers that the two of you think alike.
- Discuss how will reach these goals. Be open with the customer about your skills and work ethic. Customers who feel your work ethic resembles their own are more likely to have long-term relationships.
- Share who you are working with or have worked with in the past. If your current or past customers are familiar to your potential customers they will feel more comfortable to commit.
- Package your services/product to fit into your customer’s lifestyle. Get to know what your target customer is currently using. How well a service/product works keeps a customer coming back. How well it fits into their lifestyle creates the initial committment.
- Put it in writing. Have a good product/service agreement or contract that the customers understands and agrees with. Spells out what you will do and what happens if you don’t. The customer feels comfortable when they see you are prepared to back up your words with action.
Mirror image –
If customers does not see themself in the brand, then it’s unfamiliar and an emotional connection is never made. To emotionally connect with customers a brand must be able to disclose what it is about the company that mirrors the customer. Once the customer sees themselves they are emotionally connected, and usually followed by the decision to commit.
How can the customer see themselves in your brand
- Use adjectives. The same words that would be used to describe your ideal customer should be used to describe your brand. i.e. if your customer is fast paced and extravagant, you wouldn’t market your product/service as
- Mingle with your customers. People are comfortable associating themselves with brands that are already in their circle. Let your customers see you out attending the same community and business functions that they do.
- Know the trends of your customers. Just because your brand appeals to the customer today doesn’t mean it will tomorrow. Be aware of what trends your ideal customer is moving toward. Customers need to know you’re innovating and growing as fast as they are.
Transparency branding is only the first step. In addition, your product/service must solve a problem and add value to the customer’s life or business. However, if the customer doesn’t emotionally connect with your brand you will never even have the opportunity to prove that what you have to offer is the perfect fit.
“The greatest enemy of a good plan, is the dream of a perfect plan”
One of the most important things you will do as an entrepreneur is create the culture for your business. Seems like a simple task at first thought, but are you sure you’re getting it right for you? It’s vital that you hit the ground running and get it right the first time. So what is the key to creating business culture? The key principles to creating business culture go far beyond your mission statement or the financial goals you have.
As an entrepreneur you are your brand, and your brand is the eye of your culture. Culture is what priorities and values you personally carry within you. The goal of your businesses culture is to put those priorities and values into motion for others to see and experience. To create business growth, your culture must be effective and to be effective you must cause a positive improvement to people’s lives. Your culture ultimately will be the catalyst for your business reputation and growth.
Key principles to think of when creating your business culture:
#1. Be the example
By letting what’s inside of you show on a daily basis you will convey to your team, customers and business associates what you stand for. Be sure that what you say is a mirror image of what you do. You are the soul of your business culture. What you say and do is what your business culture will ultimately become.
#2. Build the ‘Right’ team
Make sure you know the difference between who is good and who the best is. Your business culture will be sustained by your loyal good workers, but your culture will thrive and grow because of team members who are the ‘best’ at what they do. Create a diverse culture of employees who focus on the company’s day-to-day, and employees who focus on the company’s future.
#3. Stay innovative
Don’t settle for doing a good job, strive to the best job. You and your team should constantly be coming up with new competitive ways to work. Ongoing training is a must for you and your team. Have monthly workshops and attend conferences to stay away from mediocrity. Revise your business services often to stay ahead of the curve .
#4. Be visibly motivating
The public will buy into things that are positive and uplifting. Stay motivated about your business and the services you offer. This creates an invigorating culture that becomes a magnet to the public. Be sure to keep your team enthusiastic. Try having team building events on a regular basis that not only involve your employees, but the public as well.
#5. Keep an open dialog
Create vehicles for your team to express new ideas, what they like about their job and what they don’t like. Make a point to have regular group meetings, as well as one-on-one meetings where employees can speak freely. How your team engages with you and each other will make a huge difference in the culture that will be presented to the public. A team that is able to express itself freely reward the company with hard work and loyalty.
Creating a value centered business culture is simple, but most entrepreneurs fail to execute these simple key principles. Doing the right things well, every time, requires consistent discipline and the integration of your personal brand into the very heartbeat of your business everyday.
A great brand taps into emotions. Emotions drive most, if not all, of our decisions. A brand reaches out with a powerful connecting experience. It’s an emotional connecting point that transcends the product. ~ Scott Bedbury/Nike, Starbucks
Making the public aware of your company is the most important component to building your brand. Once you have identified your target customer you’re ready to put yourself out there for the world to see. When you think of your ideal customer who comes to mind? If your ideal customer is women and men, then you have to ask who is my brand talking to? If your brand only speaks to women, you’re thinking too small. When targeting a specific market be sure your branding is not excluding an entire group from working with you.
Many women entrepreneurs lose out on revenue due to the mixed signal of their branding. Men don’t ‘see’ or ‘hear’ your marketing simply because you aren’t talking to them. As a female entrepreneur your branding strategies naturally lean towards your feminine side. However, the influence of your brand should not be underrated. Don’t let your gender trick you out of potential male customers who are confused by your brand. Your ability to reach a broad audience and continually reinforce that choosing your company was the right decision, will ultimately determine your businesses success
Marketing to men 101:
Men tend to make decisions more quickly than women. Men are not browsers. Men shop with a motto “Get what I want and move on.” Men tend to dislike ensembles and look for a single perfect fit that supplies specific results.
- Keep your brand message quick & to the point
- Describe your services in short sentences using key words
- Speak with urgency in your marketing to appeal to a man’s “Right Now” mind
Men have a black & white awareness to things. It’s either this or that.Women have an “it depends” type of awareness and are interested in the variation of a service.
- Offer your services in packages & individually.
- Clearly state what makes you better than others (what results will he get)
- Give clear instructions on what actions to take (click here, buy now etc.)
Your marketing will not be very effective if you do not have a strong brand. If your brand only speaks to a small portion of potential customers, your marketing will also be less profitable. Take the time to listen and understand what your male customers are looking for. Look for ways to embrace men so that they are genuinely interested in working with you. If your company offers services that both women and men can use, your brand must be neutral enough to appeal to both. You cannot market to men the same way you market to women.Men and women are different biologically, psychologically and socially.
Your brand is created out of customer contact and the experience your customers have of you – Stelios Haji-Ioannou
Neutralize your brand:
Remember a business card is designed as a way for potential customers to follow-up with someone about a service that person is interested in. Your business card should represent your business, not you. Do not use colors or pictures that say I’m a woman. A standard card with your business name and information will do just fine. Be careful to choose neutral colors that represent your business, and that men won’t have a complex about carrying.
Company Name, Slogan & Logo:
Choose a name & slogan that best represents what your services are without speaking to a specific gender. Again, you may want to consult with professionals who can help keep your brand neutral. Choose a logo that will visually clarify your business, not you. Hire someone to create a logo for you. This way there will be no personal influence.
Pay close attention to your About page. Yes, you still need to include all the basics, but a few simple tricks can make your About page a more neutral read that attracts both women and men to our company. Focus on your businesses services and how it will benefit them. Provide a snapshot of your work history and experience, but limit personal information such as hobbies, personal likes or things that highlight your gender. Again, keep the overall appearance interesting enough to catch your visiter’s attention, but neutral enough to keep potential male customers interested in working with you.
Branding is the meat of your marketing plan. It is what will make your business stand apart from competitors. To be successful it is important that you find ways to speak to all of your potential clients. Be consistent with your message, and it will not be “you” but “the company” your males customers see.