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Unleash the Power of Personal Branding

Whether you know it or not, everything you do in business tells people about your own personal brand.

Juliet Pitman

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Brand power is something most businesspeople are aware of and try to harness. We spend big marketing budgets trying to build a product brand, increase brand value and maintain brand integrity. But what many people are not aware of is that they themselves are brands.

Your personal brand is perhaps more powerful than any product brand – it’s on show all the time and everything you do, from the way you dress to how you speak, reflects either positively or negatively on your brand.

Thinking about yourself as a brand is the first step to strengthening your personal brand value. You need to come up with a brand promise and brand values, in the same way you would do for your business. Your brand promise is based on the extrinsic and intrinsic qualities of your brand – how you dress, speak, present and represent yourself creates an expectation in, or brand promise to, the people you meet. So think about the extrinsic and intrinsic brand values you would most like people to associate with you and your business.

It runs deeper than mere appearances, but self-presentation is important. Hein Kaiser, National Account Director, Marcus Brewster Publicity JHB, points out: “Remember the adage that you are what you eat. The same rules apply to presentation. First impressions last, and humans are visual creatures.”

Kaiser points out that presentation is the frontline of any brand or business. So it’s important that presentation, be it of your person, your documentation or any collateral that is associated with your brand, falls in line with the intrinsic and extrinsic values that you have determined for your brand.

Building a personal brand is two-pronged. Approaching yourself as a brand and thinking about the values you want to encompass is only half the job done. The next step is to start delivering on the values that you have created for your brand. “Customers want to see that you live your message,” says Kaiser. The strength of your brand will be determined by how well you deliver on what your brand promises people.

Looking the part but not playing it can be more detrimental than you think. How many times have you heard people complain of someone who “talks the talk but doesn’t walk the walk”? It makes you appear untrustworthy and nothing can be more detrimental to your business than that. This is why it’s important that the things your brand promises are things you can actually deliver on. Don’t choose values for your brand that you don’t subscribe to – it will make living them out impossible. Keep it simple, and then live it.

Building a Personal Brand

Use these five tips to build and maintain your personal brand:

  1. Think of yourself as a brand – you are one, on show all the time!
  2. Create your own brand promise and brand values. Live them every day.
  3. The way you dress, speak, present and represent yourself are your brand promise deliverables. Be constantly aware of them.
  4. Presentation is the frontline of a brand: your person, your documentation or any collateral associated with you. A brand leader is consistent and dependable.
  5. Deliver on the values you have created for your brand. Under-promise and over-deliver.

Juliet Pitman is a features writer at Entrepreneur Magazine.

Branding

3 Mind Hacks For Overcoming Your Fear Of Marketing Yourself

Take it one step at a time. You get nowhere until you put yourself out there.

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When I first started my business, I was so uncomfortable about marketing myself and putting myself out there. For most of us, that’s not something we were raised to do or taught in school. Many of us are taught the opposite.

These days, I see many of my clients struggling with this same challenge. They aren’t sure what to say when asked, “What do you do?” Or they’re afraid to go out and market their product or services.

They’re afraid they don’t have enough experience, or are not an expert and people won’t want to hire them.

The only way to get experience is to get some business. And that requires marketing. So what can you do? The key is to get yourself in the right mindset. Here are three mind hacks to help you overcome your fear of marketing yourself:

1. You only have to be one or two steps ahead

If you are offering a service, you only have to be a step or two ahead of someone to be able to help. If you’re offering a product, you only need to know a little more about the product than they do to help them make an informed choice.

It’s also okay to tell people that you’re just starting out or to say you’ve reduced pricing for a limited time in order to build your new business and gather testimonials.

Keep reminding yourself that you don’t need to be at the finish line – whatever that may be for you. You only need to be a little ahead of the people you want to help. Everyone starts somewhere. As Lao Tzu said, “A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step.” Take that step.

Related: It’s Okay To Promote Yourself – In Fact, It’s Necessary. Here’s How To Do It Better

2. Get clear on your message

clear-marketing-message

When you have a clear message, and you know it inside and out, it can give you a much needed boost of confidence to get out there. That confidence has the added benefit of drawing people to you.

Obviously, your business evolves as you evolve. Your message might change with time, but it’s important you start out with one that is clear and consistent – something that gets you excited so others can feel your excitement and confidence.

Create a statement about what you do, and make sure it aligns with your values.

Distinguish yourself by including the following info:

  • The issue or complaint your ideal client is facing
  • How you can help them
  • The shift – the benefit or outcome of your product/service

Here’s an example. You know how some people are living a life others want for them, instead of doing what makes them feel good? I guide people on how to ask themselves powerful questions to figure out what they truly want, what fuels them, so that they can be the CEO of their life and business.

I could just say what I am – a coach. And so could you. But when you say it, people will just think of the last person they met who does something similar. A clear, consistent and exciting message makes you stand out.

3. Get your feet wet

“Do. Or do not. There is no try.” – Yoda.

These words may have been uttered by a fictional character, but their meaning is very real.

If you want to get into the mindset of doing something, do it! It’s okay if you’re uncomfortable initially. You’re doing something out of your comfort zone.

Welcome to entrepreneurship. As an entrepreneur, you will always be doing something out of your comfort zone. That’s what keeps your business moving to new levels. You are always trying, testing and trying again. It’s not about the failures or missteps. It’s about the doing.

Related: 5 Steps To Becoming A More Recognisable Brand

Go to networking events, go where your target clients hang out (online or offline), join a group or just start speaking to one person at a time about what you do. It truly does get easier and easier.

It’s the same when it comes to selling your product or services. Reach out to one person or one company at a time. You’ll start out with one client, then two. And with each client, your confidence builds.

Take it one step at a time. If you have a fear of speaking in public, go to Toastmasters to practice speaking and overcoming objectives. If you have a fear of contacting someone by email or phone, commit to just one a day, then five a day, then 10 a day. Take it step by step. It doesn’t have to be a big step, but it does have to be a real step.

Whatever fears come up, remember they’re normal. This is something totally new for you. It takes time to get comfortable with the uncomfortable. Those thoughts in your head that prevent you from moving forward, the ones that want to keep you safely in your comfort zone, you need to identify them and reprogram them with thoughts that will help you create the successful life and business you want.

This article was originally posted here on Entrepreneur.com.

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Branding

The Real Value Of Building A Brand

Young people today are likely to join or stay with a company, even if the pay is less, if they feel they belong and are part of the team.

Kyle Rolfe

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What is your company’s brand? That may sound like a strange question and the answer could range from thinking about your logo or colour scheme, or the values you frame and put on the wall in your reception area. But that is not what your brand is.

Let me ask you another question: what do customers and employees think when your company’s name is mentioned? Do they think you are a great bunch of people who go the extra mile to deliver on your promises, or do they think you’re a bunch of incompetents who always deliver late and below standard? Do employees think their company is money driven and couldn’t care about people?

What do these people feel when your company is mentioned or when they see your logo? Do they have positive feelings about the company and certain employees they deal with, or do they cringe and hope not to have to deal with you again?

The answers to those questions is your brand. It’s the ability to articulate and deliver on the promise your company makes to the market. It is the integrated result of the values the company leaders hold and the values they inculcate into their employees through their actions. It’s the quality and usefulness of your products or services, and how you deal with customers. And it’s how you promote and operate the company. All these things are your brand.

While the company’s executives are key to developing the brand and all it stands for, the brand promise is the who, what, where, when and how of all you do; the sum of all the company’s interactions with the market and internally with each other. Gartner indicates that companies that prioritise the customer experience generate 60% higher profits than their competitors.

Who you are and what you stand for is critical to companies in today’s market where trust is a rare commodity (86% of US and European customers says their trust in corporations has declined over the last five years). Your promise to the market and your ability to fulfil it again and again engenders that trust, which puts you at the top of the pile when it comes to competition.

Related: Are You A Commodity Or A Brand?

When it comes to your product or service, are you the first name that comes to mind because you are a trusted partner? Do your employees deliver on time and to or above the standard expected as far as is possible? Do your employees represent the company in a natural, proactive manner because they are invested in the company and its culture? Or do they do the minimum to get by and collect their pay at the end of the month?

There’s much talk about company culture in the media, but most of these articles miss the most important aspects of culture, buy-in and commitment. When your employees value the culture they are part of, when they feel they belong and are valued, it shows in their commitment to the company, each other and to their customers. Did you know that between 60% and 75%of customers will do business with a company again if it deals with a customer service issue fairly, even if the result is not in their favour?

In fact, young people today are likely to join or stay with a company, even if the pay is less, if they feel they belong and are part of the team.

Customers are the same. While everyone wants to pay the least possible for a product or service, your brand and the associated value (and positive feelings) customers associate with you means you don’t have to cut margins to the bone to get the job. Customers will pay a bit more (within reason) to ensure they get the full package – product, service, support etc.

So your brand, its value and standing in the minds of people includes the marketing and brand building you do, but the promise you make (sometimes unknowingly) to each customer and each employee is what is critical to success. That promise is made up of the products and services you have on offer, if you are meeting the real needs of the customer. It depends on your culture and how valued and appreciated your employees feel, which extends to how they value and treat your customers. And finally, all that impacts customer service, how you react when there is a problem and what you do to keep your promise and develop and maintain their trust in good times and bad.

Brand enthusiasts are welcome to follow Kyle Rolfe’s latest thoughts on brand building in South Africa and his analysis on relevant global trends and issues via Twitter @kylerolfeSA or on LinkedIn at linkedin.com/in/kyle-rolfe-brand-engineer.

Related: How Snapchat Can Expand Your Brand [Infographic]

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Branding

Why You Should Prioritise Brand Image

Just because you’re a start-up doesn’t mean you can ignore the importance — and power — of brand image. Here are four simple and cost-effective ways to get noticed in a competitive space.

Jennilee Peremore

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It’s surprising how many entrepreneurs pay very little attention to their brand image even though the image is the first thing that customers see.

For most start-ups, the focus is the quality of their product or service — as it should be.

However, awareness is critical during the start-up phase of a business. Awareness is made possible through marketing that focuses on the brand image of the company. During the start-phase, entrepreneurs often exclude the marketing function because they perceive it to be a luxury expense only enjoyed by medium and large enterprises.

The problem is that many entrepreneurs have a limited view of marketing and believe that it must include extravagant television, radio and print campaigns. This is especially true for companies that provide more scientific products or services; those operating in accounting, IT, engineering or similar practical fields. Owners in these fields are usually not familiar with the benefits of marketing or how to effectively critique and implement their marketing plan.

Related: These 6 Online Habits Are Common, But They’re Killing Your Brand’s Credibility

On the other side of the coin, marketing or public relations firms tend to neglect their brand image despite it being their core function. Often, marketing specialists are so focused on the work they are doing for their clients, they forget that how they market their own company is the billboard for what they can offer clients.

Here’s how to get started.

1. Imaging

logo

A good quality logo is the starting point for the marketing of any business. Entrepreneurs often tend to put the logo on the back burner.

Your first logo will not be your logo forever. Throughout the lifespan of a business, the logo will probably go through multiple amendments.

A good quality logo is worth investing in. It’s your business signature, and will be used across all marketing collateral. The logo should be visually appealing, versatile and memorable. The best logos are clear, simple, easily recognisable, and unique to the business.

Once the logo is developed, the other basic marketing collateral can be designed, including the e-signature, business card, letterhead, social media graphics with a cover photo and profile photo for all social media accounts, as well as website graphics. These are the only items required in the start-up phase to launch the business with a professional and cohesive look and feel across all public platforms.

Related: The Secret Ingredients to a Successful Branding Strategy

2. Social Media

social media

Social media is an opportunity for businesses to become part of their audience’s lives by engaging with them. Business owners know their company needs to be on social media, but simply having a profile and cover photo on multiple social media platforms is not effective.

There must be a social media plan that details the platforms that will be used, the objectives for each profile, the type of content that will be shared on each platform, and how often and when content will be shared.

Platforms

Business owners often make the mistake of being on every social media platform — this is not necessary. It’s important to select platforms that are used by the company’s target audience and which complement the company’s brand personality.

For example, there is probably not much benefit for an insurance company to be on Instagram, which targets a younger market, but it would make sense for a clothing company to be on Instagram as their product is visual and fashion is of interest to the youth market.

Objectives

Social media should help the company achieve one or more of its overall business objectives. For example, if the business goal is to reach a new audience, then the social media content must be of interest to this audience.

Content

Social media can be time-consuming, and once the platforms have been selected, companies will have to create tailored content for each platform and have a consistent weekly schedule. Business social media profiles that are rarely and inconsistently updated can do more harm to a brand than no profile. There are many free and affordable social media management tools that can help entrepreneurs easily manage their accounts.

3. Personal branding

Personal branding

When a new business is launched, trust will drive the business forward. With few or no employees in the start-up phase, the entire business is run by the founder and the founder automatically becomes the face of the business. The credibility of the business is therefore initially determined by the credibility of the founder. Many entrepreneurs grapple with the task of marketing themselves and focus solely on marketing the business.

Below are some cost-effective techniques that you can use to boost your personal brand:

Optimise personal social media accounts

Share your constructive opinion on your personal social media accounts. Some people find it difficult to publicly share their opinion, especially with the legal liability that comes with using social media. Courage and responsibility are required to publicly share thoughts and ideas. Both are sought-after characteristics of entrepreneurs.

Educate

Entrepreneurs can educate their target audience and peers by contributing to their industry as guest bloggers, speakers, vlogging, contributing to academic research and blogging on their company website. By sharing your unique insights, you can prove that you are knowledgeable about your products or services.

Seek organic word-of-mouth

All client projects must be treated like gold — word-of-mouth about a start-up’s work is invaluable. Be bold and ask for recommendations after the completion of a project.

Be selective

Ensure that the projects you say yes to complement your brand image, and be willing to say no to projects that don’t, despite the financial loss. There is power in the word no. Saying no can help to differentiate your company from your competitors.

Related: Boutique Branding Consultancy Morake Design House

4. Direct marketing

Direct marketing

Nothing can replace the value of face-to-face communication. List the companies you want to work with and where you have identified a need that your company can address. Contact them, set up a meeting and tell them about your business. Even if the companies visited don’t signup, awareness has been increased and it will help you to become comfortable marketing yourself and your business.

Pulling it all together

These are just a few of the cost-effective marketing tactics you can use to increase awareness about your business. When meticulously executed, these marketing basics can help a start-up enjoy growth and success.

Smart and free

The truth is that marketing does not need to be an expensive exercise. Here are four marketing basics that can be implemented by every entrepreneur to give their business a solid foundation from which to grow, and which require limited or no funding.

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