It’s been over ten years since the father of branding Tom Peters, writing in Fast Company, told us that “regardless of age, regardless of position, regardless of the business we happen to be in, all of us need to understand the importance of branding. We are CEOs of our own companies: Me Inc. To be in business today, our most important job is to be head marketer for the brand called You.” Peters’ point was that whatever your area of expertise, you have to take steps to ensure that people think of you when they think of your field.
“You do that by creating a message and a strategy to promote your personal brand,” says Jenny Handley, who is an expert on building practical personal marketing and brand plans that create buzz for individuals – and their business.
What is a personal brand?
“A brand is a distinctive mark,” she says. “And more than that, it is the perception in the hearts and minds of the consumer. It is a relationship between a product or service and a person. A personal brand includes perceptions created by everything you do and say, and by what you do not do or say. It is a reflection of the real you, taking what is inside and communicating it to the outer world.”
Handley adds that a strong brand speaks for you when you are not there. Because of that, engineering a good personal brand is essential in today’s competitive world if you wish to be distinctive and make your mark. “From leader to learner, the aspirant to the arrived, employee to entrepreneur – we all need to market ourselves,” she says. “It is not the most intelligent or educated who become the most successful, but those who are accessible and make an effort to market themselves effectively.”
Why do you need one?
Handley notes that there are several good reasons for entrepreneurs to market themselves:
- To be perceived as a specialist rather than a generalist.
A specialist has greater status and earning power than a jack-of-all-trades. Further, a specialist gets clients and new business by referrals, or word-of-mouth advertising. “It’s more about focusing on your special talents than offering a one-stop-shop,” Handley explains. “This denotes quality rather than quantity.”
- To be considered first choice rather than most convenient or cheapest.
Handley equates this to the difference between a designer label and a no-name brand, the first being the one that is sought after as it is perceived to be of better quality.
- To have easier access to decision makers.
People who are well known find it much easier to get past gatekeepers.
- To attain the level or status where you are called upon for opinion, comment or endorsement.
This is when your brand has been elevated to a level where you are being invited to enhance other’s brands and help them to develop their own profiles. “This is the cheapest and most cost-effective marketing campaign you could ever embark on,” Handley notes. “It’s the equivalent of building brand equity.”
- To solicit the work you love, rather than having to accept any work that is offered to you.
“When you start out as a consultant or a small business owner, you may often be persuaded to take on any business,” she says. “By defining and refining your product offering, premium work will come your way.”
- To allow more work to come to you.
“When you have a higher and more visible working profile, work comes to you,” Handley says. “How wonderful to be asked if you would like to take on a client, with them having the thought that they are lucky enough to have you to service their business.”
- To get paid.
Handley says people who have visibility, credibility and good working relationships are given the respect they have earned. “They are in a better position of negotiation, and can receive higher remuneration, plus they will be paid on time out of respect alone…when a business has a cash flow problem the suppliers with the better, more valued long-term relationships are often paid first.”
No successful business is successful by accident; it has a plan. “Every ambitious individual also needs a plan,” Handley explains. It should reflect what goals are to be achieved, and what personal strengths can be leveraged to achieve them.
To kick off your personal brand strategy, Handley suggests creating a brief comprised of three questions: Where am I? Where do I want to go? What work do I want to attract? “Goal-setting is an important process,” she maintains. “It needs to be focused and realistic. For some people, short may mean three months; for others, three years. The same applies with medium- and long-term goals.”
Many entrepreneurs find it hard to believe that it’s possible to develop a personal brand without blowing the budget. Handley suggests that a personal budget is not only about money, but also the resources you have available to you.
She advises creating a balance sheet of “you”. “The first column will show your assets, the second your liabilities, the third perceptions (what people think of you), and the fourth your potential and areas for growth. You may want to add a fifth column called ‘loans’, listing what you can borrow in terms of skills, techniques and tactics, from those around or above you.”
One of the most vital aspects of developing your brand is to build credibility based on a worthwhile reputation – brand equity. Ideally, you should perform at such an optimum level that everyone you deal with becomes part of your marketing team, resulting in good word-of-mouth coverage. Giving excellent service and going the extra mile costs nothing.
To measure the effectiveness of your brand, you need to benchmark yourself against your competitors and perform research in your industry to determine what your reputation is. There are several means through which smart business owners can elevate their positioning in their industries.
“One way is to benefit from continuous learning and extending your broad-based skills,” Handley points out. “Small business owners especially deny themselves the chance to attend courses or further their studies, often because they feel they cannot afford the time away from the business. One solution is to send your staff on courses and ensure they report back on the experience to the entire team so that everyone benefits.”
Joining associations that are relevant to the work you do is also advisable. Membership of associations shows that you have met certain criteria and adhere to quality standards. Related to this is attendance at lectures, talks and networking functions, which will give you the opportunity to interact with many key people in your own and other industries.
“Make sure that you have a comprehensive understanding of your field,” Handley advises. “Read trade publications and newspaper headlines. Speed read and just take in the headlines if you are pressed for time. Listen to radio news bulletins and search the Internet constantly.”
Another important element of personal positioning is making your expertise available to others – even freely, if you can. Public speaking, writing, and addressing colleagues and students are all ways to elevate your position while you help to spread knowledge.
We live in a world that is characterised by constant change. As a result, the personal brand you build and consolidate will also have to change over time to keep it current. “Don’t rely on the fact that you were considered high-profile a decade ago,” Handley says. “Instead, make a concrete effort to maintain your credibility, visibility and flexibility. Move with the times.”
She advises taking stock of your brand offering once a quarter or at least every six months. “It’s not always a huge shift. Make some notes or implement some minor changes. It’s taking the time and trouble to reflect that will make you become more conscious of your personal marketing and your goals.
She also suggests getting clients involved in a re-brand by inviting them to give feedback and be part of the change.
When your brand goes bad
A reputation is not only hard-earned, it’s also largely out of your hands. Damage to your reputation can happen at any time, and for reasons that may not be of your own doing. That’s when careful management is required.
“Always be honest and transparent,” Handley cautions. “Good communication is key. Tell people personally if you have a crisis. Being positive and staying in contact with all stakeholders can help you to create good perceptions of your brand and improve its positioning.”
Handley adds that creating good brand alliances is essential, as you are judged by the company you keep. For example, know that your suppliers should be selected to enhance your brand. Business is, after all, a team sport. If you are connected to a company or individual that has tarnished your reputation, stand up and speak out.
“Always remember that to be your own brand champion requires you to be genuine, to be confident and to have self-belief,” she says.
Jenny Handley is a brand strategist, public speaker, author and owner of Jenny Handley Promotions, a brand management and PR company.
Contact: +27 21 686 0287, www.jennyhandleypromotions.co.za
21 Inspiring Quotes About Success, Persistence And What It Means To Be An Entrepreneur
Leaders of companies big and small share the mindset it takes to achieve your dreams in the face of all obstacles.
True, being an entrepreneur can be exhausting, lonely, frustrating and terrifying. But it’s worth every drop of blood, sweat and tears when you are pursuing your passion, turning your dream into a reality.
In an ongoing series called Real Entrepreneurs, we pick the brains of founders and leaders about what it is like to have every decision big and small rest on their shoulders and have compiled their thoughts on what it takes to succeed on the long, sometimes crazy journey of an entrepreneur.
The Mindset Strategy From The “Rock Star” Coach Can Turn Your Beliefs Into Results
William Badenhorst, a Director of Global Strengths shares his mindset secret to ongoing entrepreneurial success.
William Badenhorst, a Director of Global Strengths, is a coach to the coaches. His “Rock Star” attitude along with the deep driving desire to help others find their true selves formed the fabric of a highly interesting and entertaining interview.
The rolling thunder of his voice brought forth quote after quote, quip after quip and wisdom after wisdom. As a “peak performance coach” to professional athletes, celebrities, entrepreneurs and corporate career orientated individuals, William believes that knowing who you truly are as an individual is the catalyst for lasting growth and useful change in business and in life in general.
His intense eyes and energetic hand gestures emphasized one of his core beliefs and that is that we all are nothing but our very own beliefs.
“Everyone is focused on Results”
Everyone is always focusing on the outcome – the results they want. But what creates results? Let’s do some reverse engineering. In order to achieve RESULTS we need to take ACTION. And in order to take ACTION we need to make a DECISION. To make a DECISION, we need to think about it – THOUGHTS.
The interesting thing about humans is that we do not create our thoughts, we can only control them. So what does create your thoughts? Your BELIEFS creates your THOUGHTS. So ultimately your BELIEFS creates your RESULTS.
“You don’t attract what you want, you attract what you are.”
It is our very own limiting beliefs, such as for example that “I am not good enough” and “I am not deserving” and “I’m not worthy ” that creates barriers to our own success in entrepreneurial ventures and in our lives. In order to reach our limitless potential we must find and remove the self-created barriers that hold us back.
Although he loves the interaction and benefits of social media he is quick to point out that it also has created a fantasy of who and what we should be. He advises to not to adopt such fantasy as your desired reality but to instead be who you really are as an individual and goes on to quote the famous Greek philosopher Socrates:
“Know thyself, Be thyself and Love thyself”
You always end up falling back on your beliefs -whether they are empowering or disempowering. The challenge with that is that a large number of your beliefs are unconscious especially when you have not put in the work to find out what your belief system truly is.
Through his vast experience as a coach he realized that a large number of people veer away from self-awareness as they are afraid of being judged for whom they truly are.
The conversation naturally evolved into the exploration of the true meaning of the concept of faith and William’s mind grasped at a Quote from the apostle Paul:
“Faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen”
He went on to explain that faith is evidence of true-self which creates certainty which in turn is equal to confidence. Confidence brings a certain state where everything flows. He calls it “Peak State”. He further advises to search for evidence of who you really are and gain belief in yourself.
Advice to young entrepreneurs
William’s thoughts on self-development for entrepreneurs are to get a Coach. If you are already in business and don’t have a Coach – get one! Begin with taking extreme ownership and responsibility of everything in your life. And when you do that you win.
Stop blaming everything and everyone around you. Stop complaining about circumstances. You are in control and it is up to you to make it happen. There are no un-resourceful people, there are only un-resourceful states. Go where you are celebrated not tolerated and love yourself unconditionally. Remove the very unrealistic expectations of what and who you should be and authentically be yourself. Believe in yourself and go all in on YOU!
Become the best form of yourself because as an entrepreneur you are the business. Play to your strengths and manage your weaknesses. You do not need a title to lead, have massive self-belief and others will follow.
Have an attitude of constant learning:
“If you are the smartest person in the room, you are in the wrong room”
And then yet another quote rolled off his tongue that put me in a self-reflective mood:
“A person that shines from within does not need a spotlight”
William Badenhorst, the father, the coach, the entrepreneur and key note speaker left the author and the reader with a question of mesmerising depth:
“What if you woke up this morning with only the things that you were grateful for last night?”
Gratitude is everything!
How You Can Move From Your Potential To Your Purpose
“Value isn’t in opinion, it’s in perspective” – Wes Boshoff
Let’s face it, we all know that when wanting to achieve something different, you need to do something different. The challenge isn’t in wanting the different, it’s in doing the different!
Mark Twain said, “The two most important days of your life are the day you were born and the day you find out why”.
I love that because it highlights the importance of knowing that you have a purpose, and that you need to find it or design it, then live it, love it and look after it.
You have heard it said or said it yourself…”that person has huge potential, if only they would…”. It’s great to have potential but potential doesn’t equate to purpose. They are like elastics, just sitting there on the desk, and it’s not much good to anyone just sitting there. You see there is a gap between potential and purpose and that gap is called ‘The Stretch’.
For that elastic to move from potential to purpose it needs to be stretched, and only once its stretched and put round a bunch of pens does that elastic really move into its purpose. We are a lot like elastics, we need to be stretched to move from potential to purpose. The stretch isn’t always easy because we tend to get twisted out of shape when we need to do something different. However, the stretch is not designed to change who we are, just change how we are.
Here are a few ideas to help you in The Stretch.
Think about what you think about – it’s all in your perspective
Things are achieved or not achieved depending on how we think about them. Do you focus on the obstacles or the opportunities? It’s easy to see the obstacles, the key is to choose which one you going to focus on. Obstacles will always get in the way of opportunities if you let them. So, remain attentive to the possibilities that opportunity brings.
That means you need to position yourself in the way of opportunity, get in its way – make something happen, don’t just sit there! There’s a catch to this one though, opportunity never travels alone, it always comes with responsibility. Do you have the ability to respond to the opportunity? Are you taking responsibility, often we are given it, but we don’t really take it! You need to take and own the responsibility to maximise the opportunity!
Beware of distraction
‘Dis’ – a prefix meaning reversal, or the absence of action and traction refers to grip. When you get distracted you lose grip and that’s dangerous. Imagine driving, suddenly, you’ve lost traction, you are heading in the wrong direction, you may even end up going backwards.
Make sure you stick to what you need to do, create daily productive habits that will help you achieve in the long term. Grow your capacity and increase your footprint. Gain traction by repeating what works for you, that way your practice becomes repeatable and your brand becomes reputable. Don’t stop moving, its easier to change direction while you are still moving, than it is to start moving.
Things don’t always work out
Employ the “What’s Wrong – What’s Next?” philosophy. When things go wrong with people, products or plans, we can get caught up in drama. There’s no time for drama, simply define what went wrong and decide what needs to be done next to fix it. Once fixed, then deal with the doer of the wrong, but deal with them in the right way too…you still don’t need drama!
“Value isn’t in opinion, it’s in perspective” – Wes Boshoff
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