Publicity and Thought Leadership

branding strategy for branding expertsAs I sit typing this month’s newsletter article, I remind myself that all my subscribers are experts in what they do. You may not acknowledge this fact, but frankly it’s true. Life gives us experiences. Entrepreneurs take those experiences and turn them into businesses. It is this knowledge base, and the ability to exploit it that makes you an expert that people want to learn from. In my weekly tips, it never ceases to amaze me that some of the simplest tips get me some fantastic feedback. What I thought to be a throw-away, was actually an ah-ha moment for some. I have come to learn to not underestimate what may be important.

I have found (thankfully) in all my efforts to promote myself, that garnering publicity is one of the rewards to those efforts. When launching my strategy several years ago, publicity was NOT one of my goals – getting great leads was. To my surprise and delight, becoming a source for journalists became another way to get my information out there. When contacted for a story, I’ve found journalists to be engaging and thoughtful people. They recognize that we are helping each other. They put you at ease which of course is their job. It is up to you to not get too comfortable and say something off-brand that does you no good. But I am usually called upon for my opinion on a brand issue that is in the world view at the moment. ie: CNN calling to ask me if I felt that Rupert Murdock’s company News Corp can come back from such a brand fiasco? Or Canadian News calling to know if KFC’s changing their slogan from “Finger Licking Good” to “So Good” was a smart brand move or whether Blockbuster’s sale to a media company was a good move for the purchaser from a brand value perspective.
So far it’s always about a current event.

This is just a few of the publicity opportunities I have enjoyed. I should also share that I came within hours of a story with Nightline, but I was in the air when they needed their clip and thus was unaware until landing and checking email. But now I am on their radar. You may be asking yourself, who did Ed know to get action like this? The straight answer is “no one.”
The journalists found me through my blogging efforts or a Goggle search. All of my online activities play a combined role in making a search easier to find me. To make that point stronger – I am not involved in any real SEO activities, all my results have been from on-line marketing and social networking which involves blogging, linkedin and basic use of Facebook and Twitter. I also subscribe to a free service called HARO (Help A Reporter Out). This is a great resource that has journalists putting their need for an expert on a particular topic and having YOU the expert respond. There is no fee to pay. I have successfully garnered more publicity this way.

The overall benefit of publicity is of course awareness of Ed Roach of The Branding Experts. Every bit of exposure adds to my expert profile which in turn helps a potential lead build a comfort level in working with me. It plays into my brand of delivering valuable information very nicely. It is a great compliment to all my other efforts on and off-line to grow my influence.
As they say, “It’s not who you know, BUT who knows you.”

A Personal Branding Backfire

Personal brandingHow often do you get the opportunity to make a strikingly positive impression on people only to quash it with a bout of selfishness? An acquaintance of mine recently had the unfortunate circumstance of having their home burn to the ground resulting in the loss of everything. You can imagine their shock and sense off loss.

This person had on their schedule a booked and paid for networking workshop. In their state of affairs they contacted the organizer and requested a refund since they were in no state at this present time to focus on the event. The facilitator of the networking workshop made a poor choice.

Instead of sympathizing with their situation and taking the high road, they complained that the bank may now charge them fees to refund. They resisted making this person’s plight easier. They made it obvious that the money they would be losing was more important than that person’s loss. How small of them. Their brand diminished in a major way with that approach.

That told me that their brand wasn’t about helping it was about the money. Instead of jumping to help this person and suck up any financial inconvenience it may have cost them which would have caused this person to brag to no end how considerate they were being -they chose the opposite. This facilitator has done real damage to their brand. Any good will is now lost with one statement.

The gauling thing that added insult to injury is that this person ended the conversation with their feeling sorry for the person’s loss and if there was anything that they could do – just ask. Sad thing is they missed an opportunity and didn’t get it.

It’s not often our brands get an opportunity to really show the kind of stuff we are made from. Every day I try my best to over deliver for my clients. I don’t charge for every blessed thing. Over delivering is part of what my brand stands for. Our brands must stand proud in good times and in bad. Seizing opportunities when they present themselves is key to growth. My analysis of the situation outlined above is that the facilitator was in a hard place financially and only saw money leaving instead of opportunity coming. They didn’t really believe their own brand values which were probably determined in good times. This person had a helpful brand prior, now has a selfish brand. That few dollars lost to bank fees will now cost them thousands in future business.

10 Inexpensive & Easy to Follow Tips for Trade Show Success

Trade shows are often times a necessity for many industries, but can be a daunting task to plan and implement. The upside to doing a trade show is that it is the most cost effective approach to market to a huge crowd. There are many social media and viral efforts for marketing, but trades shows are the only face-to-face marketing today. If you market wisely, trade shows can bring hundreds of motivated potential customers to you. Unfortunately, many exhibitors don’t make the most of their trade show participation because they don’t adhere to these simple rules:

Consult an exhibit or display expert

Believe it or not, there are some cost effective services that assist exhibitors in creating a relatively inexpensive display while increasing marketing potential and getting the message to people passing by. Reputable exhibit firms offer free design consultation and will create the right display while staying within your targeted budget. Don’t spend too much on design. Trim the fat to save money. Sometimes less is more.

Study the Floor Plan

You don’t have to make use of the premium spaces. They are typically at the entrance, expensive and unavailable. Choose areas that can be just as effective. Areas near restrooms, business centers, or food and beverages make awesome locations and are easier on the pockets.

See the Light.

Lighting is very important. Most venues offer booths with electricity. Pay the extra fees for a well-lit display to draw more attention.

Spit Out the Gum!

Train your staff on booth etiquette. Attendees are priority and should be approached and treated in a professional manner. Have the trade show giveaways ready in hand to distribute once a potential customer approaches the exhibit. No gum chewing, eating, sitting, relaxing or personal conversations at the booth. Most of all, NO Texting!

Get Leads & Follow Up

Take advantage of the tracking system that trade shows often have. If they don’t have one, create a system to capture leads. Offer free products through a sweepstakes. Get potential customers to enter to win the product or service you’re offering, by filling out cards with their contact information. Then follow up!

Invest in Great Marketing Materials.

They say pictures are worth a thousand words. Make use of great graphics to get your point across and put it on durable materials. One large image targeted to how your business can help the customer can say a thousand words. It can cost less, but say a lot more.

Dress for Success

Everyone recognizes a clean and professional look. A small investment in logoed apparel for your team can create a nice uniform company image. Printed or embroidered polo shirts, t-shirts or aprons etc. create a polished look.

Roll Out the Carpet

Rent or buy carpet with comfortable padding. Trade show venues usually get rid of carpet remnants after a huge show. This would be a good time to negotiate good carpet to secure for upcoming trade shows.

10 Things I Hate About Branding

ONE:
Frankly it takes a lot of work to stay on top of my brand. If only I could just push a button like the Staples “Easy Button” ( which I have on my desk). I hate that I can’t!

TWO:
I hate having to remind businesses that their brand is more than their logo. I have every design shop and ad specialty shop to blame for the mis-information I guess. (I could be painting with big a brush too)

THREE:
I hate companies who don’t realize that branding is a top down initiative. Without the captain on board, who’s piloting the brand?

FOUR:
Just too many great books to read. I’m stuck on historical fiction right now and so slipping in books on branding is a tight fit – I hate that.

FIVE:
I hate those who confuse their brand message with their slogan. There is a difference. I guess since they are both important, I should be happy that they have anything.

SIX:
I hate followers. Why do some businesses still feel they must follow the leader in their category? A commenter to one of my articles recently lamented their displeasure at businesses who copy the leader’s image almost to the letter. Sheesh!

SEVEN:
I also hate people online who make the simple complicated in an attempt to screw a few dollars out of your pocket, only to reveal the obvious. If you see something online you want to get into, email the author – I’m sure they’ll help you.

EIGHT:
I love it when someone says, “Hey, you’re the branding guy!” I hate that it took so long.

NINE:
Sometimes I hate that consistency is worth so much to your brand. I get the itch like many of us to change things up a bit. BUT, my better judgement knows that that would diminish what I have achieved so far.

TEN:
Sometimes I hate focus groups when judging brand image. By their nature they look to criticize regardless if it is even necessary. Sometimes you just have to go with your gut. Was your brand built on consensus or instinct?

Thanks for letting me vent a small bit, I hate keeping it bottled up inside.

Branding Your Kids – the next BIG thing?

I’ve got these good friends of mine who live in Kentucky. It has been a pretty traumatic summer waiting for college season to arrive. You see, they just sent their only child off to his first year of University. They are so very proud of him. He didn’t have any scholarships, well-placed contacts, or remarkable grades – he achieved his first real goal in life thanks in some part to branding.

His folks are colleagues of mine in the branding world. When the family gathered around the supper table, and prepared themselves to go through the groups of university brochures and browse the impressive websites, it wasn’t lost on them that they would also have to pitch their son to the universities. He would have to be branded. It would be an enlightening experience for him, and an assurance to them (the parents) that he put his best effort into getting accepted into his school of choice.

His resume wasn’t your typical binder containing exactly what would be requested but a more visual and intuitive presentation. His brand was polished, and it showed. Here are some of their branding highlights:

• His brand values were defined much like any great brand.They explained his commitment to these values and how they compliment the school and their value systems.

• His brand personality was visually presented using a “vision board.” This board contained words, pictures, colors, anything that portrayed his ‘personality’. His colors were used consistently through the presentation.

• His differentiator was his passion for the school. He chose them. His life goals matched their scholastic mandate.

• His visual image (or logo if you will) was designed to strike an emotion with the reader, who would no doubt judge their son on first impressions, not unlike the business world. Photos were designed to display his pleasant disposition and vigor of youth. He was a classic example of “their ideal student.”

• To further cement a favorable impression his personal interests and social skills were detailed to help establish a good profile.

• Aligning all his best attributes, their son refined his brand and enjoyed a boost in confidence. He realized a positive benefit with the genuine opportunities in defining his brand, aligning all his best attributes.

• He gathered favorable testimonials to his good character and included them to attest to his brand.

These were the main ingredients in their recipe to brand their offspring. Essentially branding your college student is another form of personal branding. The visual topper to this was a large branding board that visually showed everything about “his brand.” One glance at this board and you see his brand instantly. Since a picture is more powerful than the written word, this huge effort made it’s desired impression … he was accepted into his first school of choice. His confidence in himself helped him land on the student paper the first day on campus with a photo assignment. His passion you see is photo journalism.

His brand succeeded and gave him a powerful advantage. It’s his job now to make it better every day to help in his quest for glory.

Dork Your Brand!

You’ve got your cool little business, you’ve had some degree of success and you’ve done it all on your own. The only bar you’re interested in raising is the pub down the street. Who needs all those consultants and brand gurus when you can keep your hard-earned beer money and find the cheapest student or cousin to spin your magic.

Well I’m here to make your day and save you tons ‘o dough by giving you ten ways to “DORK YOUR BRAND!”

1) Don’t even think about being consistent with your image. The trick here is to have one logo on your stationary, another variation on your signs and when you do a trade show, something homemade would be outstanding.

2) Brand values – frankly that’s for pansies. Just do what it takes to get the business. View those people you have to walk on to succeed as mere stepping stones. Don’t concern yourself with your reputation.

3) Find the perfect opportunity to blend in with what your competition is doing. If they are doing great then they must be on to something. “More of the same,” I always say to Dorks. You don’t want to risk standing out, you might be discovered for who you really are. There’s probably more money running with the pack anyway.

4) Did you know that you can get a logo designed online for free? That’s right, no need to worry about demographics, first impressions, market share or what ever. Image is for movie stars, your running a bizness. The less things cost – more for you, right?

5) Don’t ask – don’t tell. You’re only looking for trouble asking your stake holders what they think.

6) Are you going to one of them trade shows. Stay away from a professional presentation and get yourself one of those free folding tables and dress it up with blue skirting like all the other dorks. We’re blending in again, that’s the ticket. (Now you’re catching on).

7) And while you’re at the show, and you want to catch a stare or two, don’t waste your cash on relevant materials promoting a unique message – get yourself a booth bunny! Hey sex sells and even if hurts your brand – what’s the harm in a little fun.

8.)Keep dropping your price until you are the lowest price in your bizness. Don’t let nobody beat you.

9) Don’t bother trying to forge relationships with customers. Let’s face it, you’ve probably got enough friends, and besides they’d probably expect you to pick up the tab.

10) When the phone rings, it’s not important how your staff answers it – just be glad it’s ringing. There’s no point wasting friendly on some Nancy just looking for the cheapest deal.

Well that’s the branding game in a nut shell. One thing I can guarantee you is, if you decide to “Dork Your Brand”, you will make one business person very happy…

…that person is your leading competitor.

This article was inspired by SBB commenter Steve, over at Pinnacle Displays, and Nichpreneur Michelle for encouraging us.

THE introvert’s guide to selling

Not everyone throws on their spidey outfit and relishes leaping into the fray of the business sales arena. As a matter of fact a great deal of people sell because it is just part of what they do. If they could get the sales some other way, they’d probably jump at it. In the mean time all of the reluctant sales people out there, have to do they best they can with the few sale skills they have.

For the past few months I’ve been in touch with several reluctant sales people from around the world, and we’ve been sharing tips and techniques that has made selling a little bit easier. None of these contacts are Anthony Robbins clones or Dale Carnegie wannabe’s, BUT the one thing they did have in common was that they are introverts in an extroverts world. They’re tired of the books on sales that assume you love to put yourself out there.

So guess what? I’ve taken this valuable conversation and put them together in a little eBook that I am giving away for the asking. It was a pleasure putting together this information because of the insight it gave me. This is my first offering in the eBook realm. I call the effort, “The Reluctant Salesperson: An Introvert’s Guide to Selling.”

If you see fit to add this eBook to your reading, I’d love it, if you’d drop back here and let me know what you think. One thing about blogging that I find immensely gratifying is the breadth of opinion – all of it with the goal of helping all of us improve how we do business.

…for all the reluctant sales people who may be too shy to drop by my site and pick up a copy, I don’t mind if you get a friend to do it for you.

All the best.

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