Please tell me your brand is not doing this?!

Part of the goal of your brand whether we are talking about your brand or your businesses’ brand is to stand out.  Agreed?!  You want to be heard above the noise, you want your customers to see you and select you above the others out there.  This means distinguishing yourself, being unique in ways that make you stand out.

Dress different than your industry's line of work default brandDefault Brand

So why would anyone want to be like the default brand?  The default brand is a term I first heard of from branding guru David Tyreman who wrote a book “World Famous: How to Give Your Business a Kick-Ass Brand Identity.”  A default brand is how most people in that industry act and even possibly look.

Let me give you an example, when I say the word plumber, what comes to mind?

Does the picture of jeans drooping down in a less than flattering look on their backside when they are working under a sink come to mind?  What comes to mind when you hear the word accountant?  Or dentist?  Or dietitian?  Or realtor? Or nurse? Picture your industry, what images come to mind, what behaviors, what actions?  Do you emulate these pretty much?  I am crossing my fingers that your answer is a solid “no.”

The more you look and act like everyone else who does what you do the more invisible you become. It’s like dressing in camouflage and then wondering why no one can see you.

Going Too Far

A common concern is how do I know if I am going too far with how I am standing out? Good question.  The answer is you are too far if the actions, the outfit, or  behaviors are not authentic, they are not YOU.  People will see through fakeness.  Don’t do things just for the sake of standing out.  Your actions and dress are meant to inspire others to do business with you.

What if a plumber showed up with a sport coat and then when he went to work took it off to show a pair of jeans with a collared shirt that was smartly tucked in and everything covered no matter how far under the sink he worked?  That would make them memorable.  They also would need to interact in an inspiring way and get your problem fixed to truly brand themselves memorable.

Your Line of Work

How can you be yourself and standout in actions?  For your clothes, if everyone in your line of work looks similar, than there is a default brand look.   No need to go out and get a new wardrobe.   The goal is not to stand out on the street to everyone – purple hair, or too short skirt.  The goal is to ask yourself “Are you invisible in your line of work?”  Even if you are great at what you do, which I know you are, that is not enough to stand out.  You need to act and possibly dress differently than those in your line of work to stand out.

Thinking Your Own Brand

Part of my own brand is gratitude.  To stand out in my line of work,  I took an opportunity to advertise my business and instead  thanked several people that were inspirational in my career, people that I am thankful to have helped me and inspired me along my career path.  The thank you did not include anything promotional.  It was a thank you card that was seen by thousands of my target audience.  Did I get new business from the action?  Yes.  Was it memorable in the minds of my ideal target market?  Yes.

What actions in line with your brand can you take to stand out?  If dress is part of the default brand in your line of work, how can you change things up and still be you?

Please share your ideas and anything you have done to stand out while being authentically you.

Best Online Weapon Exposed!

I love spy shows.  James Bond movies are thoroughly entertaining with all their gadgets and adrenaline pumping scenes.

The goal of James Bond movies is to catch the bad guys while using an array of fun and surprising gadgets with the occasional display of gun powder.

James Bond is British Intelligence's secret weapon, email is online secret weaponIf we are talking about a business that is online, the goal is to create relationships.  You may be saying, no, the goal is to sell a product or service.  Agreed, but better than this is cultivating a relationship.

Building Know-Like-Trust

Before successful selling of a product or service can occur you have to build  know-like-trust.  And then after selling, you still want know-like-trust.  Most online gurus will tell you that the truly successful businesses do not aim for one sale but for multiple sales from a customer.  Some times this is referred to as a lifetime customer.

How can you build know-like-trust before and after the sale online?  Sounds like it involves a lot of time and money.  Yes, there is time involved but not as much as you may be envisioning and money, none beyond the website.

Secret Weapon

The secret weapon for British Intelligence is James Bond in the Bond movies.  He captures the bad guy every time in the so far 23 movies.

The best way to capture know-like-trust of your online audience is through email.  You may be thinking, it can’t be that simple.  Pretty much yes.

The big picture is you attract people to sign-up for your email list by thinking like them and offering something that can’t refuse – a report or video  or recorded webinar that shows them how to get results on a problem they have been struggling with.  You send them an email with a link to your offering but this is only the beginning.  You immediately start to send them an email with no promotion, but reaching out to them on a personal level, offering to help.  Then a couple days later you share a bit about yourself that shows your humanness – some call if vulnerability.  Nothing long or detailed but has your voice, your brand in it.  Along the way you also share some other valuable tips and resources that help them more with their struggles.

After two weeks of this process of personal, short and branded emails you then introduce your offer for your product or service if they want to solve more of their stuggles.  For the prior two weeks you have built up know-like-trust so you can guess their answer – in most cases yes.  The conversion rate into a sale with this process is 60% and more.  The term for this online relationship building process is email relationship marketing.

Business Model

There is no mind game involved, it is old fashioned helping, helping, helping and then asking for a favor in the form of a sale.  Sound familiar?  Yes, this is also called the NPR (National Public Radio) model where they offer free, high qualify radio programming and then a couple times a year run pledge drives to cover the costs of the broadcasts.  Die-hard listeners are happy at this point to contribute monetarily as they received a huge amount of benefit from the free programming.

Remember, before and after the sale.  So after the sale you continue to connect with them with personal, branded and valuable emails.  The focus on relationships building and strengthening in this model is critical.  Does this work?  Is it worth the time?  Here are some businesses that are extremely successful with this model: Copyblogger, Guest Blogging with Jon Morrow, Johnny B. Truant, Mari Smith, Firepole Marketing

Here is a really tough question for you? Which of the Bond movies was your favorite? Mine – For Your Eyes Only with Roger Moore as James Bond.

Toot Your Horn – Really, it is okay!

I grew up as many of you may have, in a conservative home where manners and etiquette were strongly encouraged.  One of those unwritten rules was outside the family, don’t toot your horn.  The culture then regarded telling others of your own accomplishments as bragging, being self-centered.

Times Have Changed

If you are going to serve, you must let others know about your successesToday, I still consider myself a conservative person, however, I do toot my horn.  I also encourage my clients to toot their horns regularly.

This has nothing to do with bragging or self-promotion but about sharing with the world so two key things can take place.

Proof of What You Offer

Clients and prospective clients and customers need to be assured beyond a doubt you can deliver and are great at what you do.  One way is for them to see evidence throughout the online world of your accomplishments.  So when you save your employer or a client $$ – put it out there.  Or if you just got asked to speak at a conference, include it in your next email send out as an email update.

You want pieces of evidence out there online and indexed in Google giving solid proof that you are outstanding at your work.  Share with the world how you are making a difference in the lives of others.

Every meaningful impression you put out there adds more “credits” that build toward the creation of a trusting relationship with prospective customers and employers.

Opportunity for Others to Help

The second reason to toot your horn is some of the hardest people to help be successful are those hard working people that come from a background like I described, where saying anything with a hint of their awesomeness was at one time looked down upon.

Helping others is a wonderful gift to give to others.  Let others help you by tooting your horn.  Your supporters, followers, fans, subscribers want to support you, help you reach others.  One of the easiest ways to do this is for those in your community to share your accomplishments and get the word out to others. Don’t take this golden opportunity away from them.

Adding a Splash of Brand

Add power to your brand by adding a splash of brand attribute to your success sharing.

If one of your brand attributes is being results-driven, then share results you achieve in your work:

  • number of homes sold last month
  • drop in cholesterol numbers in a client
  • number of participants enrolled in next class

If one of your brand attributes is creativity, be sure to share any creative ideas/solutions you worked on for customers:

  • creative home financing so a client could get his dream home
  • creative menu adjustment to allow client that travels 3 weeks a month to follow gluten-free living
  • creative business event to mark over 500 clients served

If one of your brand attributes is compassion, be sure to share your successes with a compassionate tone:

  • helped first time buyer plan our new home purchase for next year
  • found solutions where the kids could get involved and help out mom at dinner time
  • helped client with a hard first year double his bookings for next six months

If gratitude is one of your brand attributes, then share your accomplishments with a spirit of thankfulness:

  • very thankful for the 6 new clients booked this week
  • honored to be asked to speak at the next national conference
  • thankful to be working with such a forwarding-thinking small business on new product development in frozen food items

Time to Toot Your Horn

What can you share now that you accomplished this past week?  I want to hear. Here are some ideas to get you started.

  • Gave exceptional service to a client
  • Reached out to a new type of customer
  • Demonstrated your expertise on an important topic
  • Pitched an article to a new publication
  • Relocated your office
  • Expanded to serve a new market
  • Offered a new product or service
  • Launched a new or redesigned web site
  • Were mentioned in another site’s blog post or article
  • Expressed a unique opinion on a topical subject
  • Were asked or selected to speak at a major conference
  • Completed a survey or study
  • Have an article, white paper, or book published
  • Received mention in the news
  • Landed an interview on radio, TV, or a live chat
  • Achieved first year of business

Feel free to share here or on Facebook your accomplishments.  Toot your horn.

Would you rather ask someone for a date cold turkey or based on a friend’s referral?

I am going to revert back to dating days for a moment, kind of scary.  Were you ever with a bunch of your friends and a brave soul, a Work on what is right in front of you - your fans and customers/clientsstranger,  walked up and asked you or your friend out?  What normally happened?  What if they said they “were awesome” and you should give them a chance?  Very bold!  Most likely they would get a cold or hot drink in their lap.

Now, what if your friend tells you the guy is a great guy and you both would be a great couple?  What then?  Would you get the nerves up and ask him out?

I am not sure I would have been brave enough to ask him out right then, but I would be open to him approaching me and maybe later I would get the courage up to ask him out.

Seeing Past What Is Right In Front of You

My point is in your business you may be seeing right past what is in front of you – what you already have.  Do you have at least 5 Facebook likes on your page?  Have you sent them a personal thank you?  For your email list, it doesn’t matter how many you have, instead, honor the followers you do have.  Are you sending them valuable resources regularly?  Getting feedback on what their struggles are? Nurture what you have, the number you have is not important. This attention to the relationship is what converts them into future customers.

It is easy to get carried away with all the hype in the online media and focus on getting more and more traffic, higher numbers.  However, don’t forget about your existing customers/clients and fans.  When is the last time you checked in with past customers?  Call 3 today and ask how they are doing.  Just check-in, no selling.

Follow-Up

Follow-up on leads that you have, even if they aren’t yet customers, follow-up is critical.  For many successful businesses their number one tactic for gaining new customers is follow-up.  Follow-up for warm leads, past clients and referrals.  Keep a list of them in an easy to refer to format and track your check-ins.

Remember the example at the start with the guy asking someone out for a date cold turkey or after a friend recommends them – if someone refers you your chances of getting ‘in’ go way up.  Don’t waste this no-cost tactic that works.

Recognize what you are sitting on right now.  Start-ups fail because they forget about their customers and are focused heavily on growth. Wow those that already know you some.  They easily will be your next customer, repeat customer or refer others to you.

Who can you WOW today?

Bring Your Helpful Nature Out to Gain Clients

I have no doubt you are in your chosen professional area because you want to help others.

Before prospects will call you up to book an appointment or add to cart one of your products, they need to trust and like you. One of the easiest ways to gain this trust is share one or more valuable resources. The key here is to focus valuable around your target audience.

 

Pink Spoon

The resource is sometimes called a pink spoon – named after the pink spoon Baskin Robbins uses to give out tasters with. Once someone gets a taste, exactly, they want more!! You get the idea.

Mother Helping Daughter so she can be Successful at BakingRight now I am narrowing down many resources I want to create for you shortly. I have to be careful to not just offer something I am excited about, but instead, offer something that I have passion for AND will help you in some way. I have to get into your shoes and ask myself what are you struggling with? Is there anything I can do to help you sleep more soundly at night?

Go through these same steps for your audience, your ideal client. Get inside their lives and find out their struggles. What can you offer that can even a little bit resolve a major struggle they are having?  How can you HELP your clients be SUCCESSFUL?

 

Value to Customer is Key

Another critical element is whatever you give away needs to go beyond offering tips or be interesting, it needs to help.

It isn’t a replacement for you, but it gives your audience a glimpse of how you work, thus they begin to like, respect and trust you. Often, people will understand more clearly how you can fully help them and pick up the phone. Some may not immediately pick up the phone after reading/viewing your resource, but they will store you in a good place in their mind and when they need help in your area of expertise, they will remember — they will ask for your help.

 

Your Turn

Now, take some time to think about the most pressing problem(s) your ideal clients are faced with. Get into their shoes. Write some notes about what steps they need to take to solve these problems. Set a date for coming up with a ebook, screencast showing them steps for something, webinar, podcast… to share with your audience to gain trust, to gain clients.

When you’re in it to help people and are constantly providing value that speaks to your target market, it won’t be long before you have a waiting list of ideal clients.

What? I’m emotional!?! Why this is a good thing :-)

If someone says I am emotional, under normal circumstances I might take offense.  In this case, emotional is good.

Humans’ 3 Brains

umans 3 Brains - To Be Remembered Focus on the Emotional BrainDid you know humans have 3 brains?  I am fascinated by this.  First there is the reptilian brain that has been with humans since the beginning of time – millions of years ago. This is the fight or flight brain that gets some of us known for a fiery temper.

The second brain is the limbic brain and is known as your emotional brain, and it is what makes you feel the way you feel when exposed to strong stimulus (positive or negative). This is a key brain for retention of memories.  We have a higher chance of retaining emotional memories than memories that target our third brain, the neuocortex or rational brain.

This rational brain researchers believe only developed in the last 150,000 years and is responsible for making decisions based on cold logic, reason, and data.  It allows humans to plan for the future, think about the big picture, delay gratification and weigh facts and situations logically before moving forward.

When you communicate with others either in-person or in writing, the temptation is to be descriptive and mention your features and benefits.  There is nothing wrong with this, except the chances of being remembered are really not that good.

Speak to the Emotional Brain

If you want someone to recall your conversation or your website blog post you need to devote some time talking to their limbic or emotional brain.  Best way is being positive yourself.  Go into any and every interaction or connection with a positive mindset.  I know there are times when this is tough, but the more often you can pause and take a mindset check, the more likely you will leave a positive trail behind you.

During your interaction on paper (writing a post) or in-person have empathy for the problems or events going on in your client/customer’s life.  No need to be drawn in to any negativity, but acknowledge the hardship and get out into a sunshiney place as soon as you can.

My short cut to switch to positive topics is to ask a positive focused question like “What would a great day today look like?” or “If you had unlimited resources today, what would you do?”

Stories are great too.  Positive emotions arise when the story ends on a positive note: pride, overcoming troubled water, ending up in a better place than started out — a happy ending.

Positive Emotion Tactics for Connecting

Here are some easy to implement tactics to get your positive juices going and increase your chances of a connection that is remembered.

Smile – even if you have to fake it.  Smiling elicits involuntary reactions for others to smile in response – try it out on some unsuspecting subjects.

Changing your body language can make a difference. Lifting your head and shoulders helps lift off any temporary discouragement  you caught from a fellow worker.

If you have any anxiety, breathing in slowly and deeply will help relax you.  Then have a positive memory to visualize or focus on.   Actors use this technique to help them genuinely feel the emotions of the characters that they are portraying. You need it to bring back a positive emotional feeling.

Positive Emotional Ending

So, take a moment to imagine today being a fabulous day, a day to remember!  What would it look like?  Close your eyes and imagine for a moment.

Now open your eyes, and you should have positive emotions running up and down your spine.  I am betting you will now remember this blog post.  🙂

Strengthen Your Client Referral Plan with These 5 Pieces

Won’t it be nice to attract ideal clients with little work?  This is possible through a strong referral foundation.  There are some easy things you can start doing now to build up your referral program.  See which one of these 5 you can work on to bring in more business.

Attracting Ideal Clients thru Strong Referral Program1.  Current Clients Know I Want More Business – sounds so simple yet truthfully overlooked.  Let your clients know that you are always looking for people to serve like them.  Research finds you have to tell people what action you want from them, don’t assume they know.

2.  Clients Know What I Offer – if you offer an array of services be sure your clients know your full menu of services. Build in time with them and present it as you are looking for people to help and use your passion and talents to serve.

3.  Five Centers of Influence – you want strong relationships with at least 5 influencers who are currently sending you referrals.  If you need help here ask your clients who they talked to to make their decision or who they read posts of before making their decision?  Happy clients want to help you, tell them what you are doing and they will want to help.  Make sure you have a process to ask every new client where they were referred to you.

4.  Call or Thank the Referral – a personal thank you goes a long way in this culture of high speed next, next, next.  Set aside time monthly or weekly to reach out to your referrals and thank them and any that are strong referral centers consider some incentive either formal or informal.

5.  Give a Taste – it is key that prospective clients who have been referred to you can try you out or go small at first.  Some professionals offer a free phone call or refundable first class.  Others offer an extensive report detailing how they work and why they work with some supportive statistics.

Do you have other referral program elements have worked for you?

Facebook Pinning – Easy Way to Build Brand & Engagement

Whew!  Facebook changes can be overwhelming – for me they are.  My head has been spinning with all the gurus offering advice and webinars these past two weeks leading up to the changes.

Pinning on Facebook

One easy practice that can help in engagement and building your brand is to pin important stories/updates to the top of your Facebook page.  This means you push to the front of your timeline any updates you pin.  The Facebook update will then be among the first a new visitors sees on your page.

The idea behind pinning is there are probably a couple stand out Facebook updates to your timeline that people enjoy commenting on.  These are good ones to lead people into your page.  Additionally, these should be updates you shared that reveal an important piece of your brand.

Your intent with Facebook is to attract people into your business that are your ideal target market so being authentic and branded is key on Facebook.  Secondly, Facebook is about an opportunity for others to get to know you better and like you.  This know-like factor is critical in today’s world of relationships.

How To Pin

Pinning in Facebook to Increase Engagement and Powerfully Brand YourselfTry out pinning now on your Facebook page.  Find an update that you want to move to the top that is YOU – powerfully brands you. Hover in the top right-hand area of the update and a pencil icon will appear.  Click on the pencil icon and a drop down menu will appear same as the one to the left.

Select the option “Pin to Top” and the update will be reordered to the top of your timeline.  Pinning relocates an update to the top and for 7 days. After that, it’ll return to the date it was posted on the Page’s timeline.

Make It Habit to Pin Weekly

A good practice is once every week go through and pin your top status updates so you have a purposefully selected update greeting new visitors to your page.

Many professionals give careful thought to what this entry update will be and find a picture to go with it that speaks to their brand powerfully.

If you had an opportunity to speak to every new visitor that views your page, what would you say?  What would you want them to read or view about you?

 

CONFIDENTIAL: Secret Equation for a Powerful Personal Brand

POWERFUL PERSONAL BRAND

Do you know what it takes to pull together a unstoppable personal brand?  Do you have all the pieces?  The personal brand top secret formula has 6 raw materials that wehn combined together are so powerful you will need to get an answering service for all the calls that will come in after you mix them together.

What are you missing? Even one missing piece weakens the formula.  The good news is nothing costs a lot of money, what they do require are focus and consistency.

Confidential equation for powerful personal brandSecret Equation

Visibility + Uniqueness + Trust + Marketplace Value + Emotional Connection + Like =

Leave a Crater Behind Kind of Super Powered Personal Brand

 

Six Raw Materials

1.  Visibility – this is your network of prospective customers and influencers.  They must know you exist and know what your personal brand brilliance is.  See post on brilliance statement for more on that.

2. Strengths/Uniqueness  – What are you the “go-to” person for?  What do you do way better than anyone else?  It is so natural for you, you may not even realize you possess these super powers.  You must identify at least one thing and no more than three.   I guarantee you possess one or more inner powers but they may go unnoticed to your untrained eye.  Ask your friends and family for ideas, often you have blinders to your strengths because they come so easy to you. There are assessments too to help with this (I use Reach360 assessment).

 3. Trust  – this is also called credibility.  You must include in personal brand communication that conveys yourself being  authentic, genuine and believable.  This can be done through showcasing results, impacts you have achieved, case studies, pink spoons (small tasters of your work), portfolio and praises from past clients.  Also, depending on your specialization a description and visuals of your credentials and awards help with trust. Credentials alone is not enough to build strong trust with prospective customers, but combined with any of the other suggestions becomes much a powerful trust ingredient.

4.  Marketplace Value – Your brilliance must be focused on an area that your target market values.  The biggest blunder people make is to focus in an area the market needs but the market does not perceive they need.  Don’t try this.  Your uniqueness must tie to a bleeding need your market has or bringing a joy into their life they value very highly. You can offer extra benefits that go beyond what your market expects, but your primary focus on your service must be on something your market can relate to immediately and will be immediately interested in.

 5.  Emotionally Connected – Do people in your network feel connected to you or your service?  You must interact either in person or online in a relevant and conversational manner.

 6.  Like – People in your network must “like” you.  We are not talking about liking you like a best friend. What I mean here is people in your network ‘lik’ you enough to accept an offer to go out for lunch.  It means you are approachable.  This is why pictures on my website were taken in jeans and not dressy clothes.  I wanted to come across approachable.  There is a time and place for the power suit photos, but in today’s world on connecting with your audience and building community, being both approachable combined with credibility is key and not solely one is better.

Where Do You Focus?

Start working on the area that is easiest for you to strengthen.  Then knock down the next easiest and so on.  By the time you get to the one you are lacking the most in, it will be much easier to take on and who knows, it may even be easy at that point.

Share what raw ingredient  you are going to start working on?

You Are a Brand – My Teenage Daughter Learned this Reality

You’ve heard the saying, if you don’t brand yourself, someone else will.  This last week my teenage daughter is learning the real consequences of this reality.

Teen being a TeenI received feedback from a source recently that my daughter may be involved in a behavior that every parent hopes their own child stays away from.  Her and I talked and thankfully the rumors were untrue.  What I tried to impress on her was even if the statements were untruths they were building a reputation, a perception in minds of some people that was untrue of her.

Downside of Perception Being Reality

It is tough being a teenager and figuring out who you are and who you want to be with the pressure to conform at times.  Thankfully we have caught in time my teenager’s mismatch between how she is perceived by some people and the reality of who she is.  However, without stepping in, perception can down the road become reality with the opportunities it brings or the opportunities that pass you over and the imprinting in people’s minds that occurs.

The perception you build is other people’s reality for who is attracted to you and what opportunities come to you.  What perception are you building?  Do you know how you are perceived? Are there untruths or half-truths?

Perceptions are what attracts new clients and opportunities.  Is your perception attracting the opportunities you want to build on or scaring them away?

Assessing Your Perception

There are different ways to assess your perception – one is ask honest friends you have directly how you come across and what they believe your gifts and strengths are.  You may be surprised at their response.

If you want to dig more into your perception I recommend taking a third party brand assessment.  I have used with clients one very powerful one called Reach 360.  It is administered by a third party where you enter in emails for friends, family, coworkers, clients, bosses, mentors and anyone that has has enough contact to have formed an impression from interacting with you.  They are allowed to rank you on several personal brand and leadership factors and even do a projective exercise for those right brain people that allows them to name a kitchen appliance, breakfast cereal or car that fits you and why.  The point of the exercise is to see what is coming strongly across to those you work with and in your personal life since you want your brand to be authentic – the same in personal and professional lives.  It gives you a benchmark of what your perception is so you can continue to powerfully exude it,  tweak it,  or change it entirely as my teenager will be doing.

Who you attract and what opportunities you attract into both your personal and professional lives depends on the perception you imprint on others.  Do you with confidence know what your perception is?  Take steps now to get a read on it, you may find with some simple tweaks on what your perception is you start attracting what you have been working so hard for many years to bring into your life.