Who Do You Think You Are?

confusedAs we head into the new year, do you have a clear understanding of your own personal brand? Are you aware of what the perception on the street is of you? Does your personal brand reflect consistently with your business brand? All good questions if you’re looking to go into the new year on a high note. Look around your circle of influence. Like myself I’m sure you’re witness to individuals who don’t have the slightest idea who they are. They call themselves specialists who list a flurry of services they try to deliver on – but excel in very little. I’ve been asked to coach a number of individuals to develop a brand for them. But, I can’t help them if they don’t know who they are. As I tell them, “it’s not up to me to tell you what you should be. I can help if you know who you are but are floundering in how to present yourself in a way that resonates with your target audience.

The problem stems from a lack of confidence. They suspect (but haven’t committed to the concept) that they are experts. They lack the confidence to express it in a tangible way. They question what the perception might be. Will their audience ridicule them for what they think is a lack of excellence. They throw up barriers to move forward. Having a lack of confidence is a scary place to be. Not only does it hinder who your are but also aids in failing to charge a fair dollar for your deliverables.

Lack of confidence is a psychological barrier, but one, that if you can breach, will deliver immense rewards. Those of us with confidence find it hard to understand why someone would be so hard on themselves, when the rewards are so encouraging. When I work with people and companies, I’m using the strategy that they focus on the money-maker. Most have a tendency to want to list everything they do, to show their scope of services. Lists are dangerous in that customers believe that since you’re listing services, if you fail to list something then you don’t do it. Ouch! My take is by focusing on your strongest service to get the door open, once in you have the opportunity to sell what else you do. It’s easier to build confidence if you focus on your strong point. Every time this happens, clients clearly have more fun and are excited by their brands (personal and business) again.

Understanding who you are can only make your brands more powerful, resonating in a big way. Not everyone is cut out for this bold a strategy and wish to remain with what keeps them safe and risk-free. Where has a safe harbour ever gotten anyone? Leaders are folks who embrace excitement and a challenge. Identifying who you are and acting on that in a direct way, changes the script you’re currently playing to. That in itself will generate enough confidence to hurdle the challenges you face.

So moving into a brand new year – who are you?

Have You Been Using Twitter The Wrong Way?

I have been using Twitter for a while now but never knew about this. Awesome tip from Gary Vaynerchuk.

Workplace Leadership: Dealing with Different Employee Personalities

A one-size-fits-all leadership style will only go so far when it comes to dealing with employees. The more people you have on your staff, the more likely you are to encounter different personality types. Fortunately, you don’t have to develop a split personality to work with different types of people. An awareness of various personalities and how to work with and guide them will help you develop a workplace environment that’s positive and productive. The following tips and insights can help you lead your employees in a way that instills trust, loyalty, confidence and good workplace morale.

Personalities

Dealing with Different Employee Personality Styles

  • The Introvert. Quiet, shy people are often mistaken for employees who have little to offer at meetings or during projects. But when introverts are given an opportunity to communicate in ways that are more comfortable, you’ll generally find they have a lot to contribute. Introverts are more private, which means they prefer forms of communication that don’t require speaking in front of the entire staff. Provide written communication options, as well as email and one-on-one communication to tap into the knowledge and expertise of your introverts.
  • The Competitor. The competitive employee is always striving to do better than others or even his or her own personal accomplishments. This employee loves conquests, as well as access to management and executives. Tap into this personality by making this individual part of your goal-achieving team. Sales, account management and other competitive departments are a good location for this employee.
  • The Believer. Every team needs a cheerleader, and your believer is the person who will be on-board for every new project, goal and mission. Be careful in how you use your believer personalities. They’re effective for encouraging the pragmatists, but need to refuel their optimism by spending equal amounts of time with other believers.
  • The Pragmatist. The pragmatic employee isn’t necessarily a negative person, but he or she is more likely to be skeptical and hesitant when it comes to something new. This individual prefers to research all the possible pitfalls before deciding on the benefits of something. They’re also more likely to question things and people, which can be worked in your favor.
  • The Work-Life Balance Seeker. More people are seeking work-life balance than ever before. This personality type is likely to be as ambitious and gifted as your competitors and believers, but they are also highly efficient and use their efficiency to attain balance between work and life. The work-life balance seeker makes a good manager, particularly when working with people he or she likes.
  • The Toiler. Toilers view work as a means to an end, such as spending more time with family or going on vacation. Even though this individual is not likely to become a star executive, they are necessary to the ongoing functions of the business. Work with this individual to promote efficiency, and your toiler will get things done.

Bringing the Whole Team Together

A range of employee personalities can be overwhelming to deal with, but when you consider the variety existing in your team, you’ll find there are many ways to bring them together. Cohesiveness is vital to a team environment and, many times, different personalities complement one another to make a well-balanced team. As the leader, it’s your job to encourage the best parts of each personality to come out in full force, while tempering the personality aspects that the team needs less of.

The leadership sets the tone, which means you have the power to bring everyone together or allow personality differences to create an insurmountable gap. With consistent effort and genuine interest on your part, you can achieve the former. Start by learning about the personality types that exist in your workplace, and then consider each of them as you plan each day, week, meeting and goal.

5 Steps For An Outstanding Presentation

Besides being a great presentation, I love how short and sweet this is on its own. Short is good.

I think #2 is not always possible but good to attempt to do when you can and #4 is probably my biggest challenge.

What is your takeaway from this presentation?

The Power of Anecdotal Differentiation

What sounds better during a sales pitch:

1. We help businesses improve their bottom line.
2. We helped XYZ company increase revenue by 19%.

Quantifiable_TestimonialsObviously number 2 is the clear choice, and the reason is because it includes quantifiable data that validates the value the company claims, which helps differentiate the company and its offerings. This type of anecdotal differentiation comes in many flavors, regardless of the type of organization you run, e.g.:

A. Tree removal company – We helped ABC park district remove 26 trees so it could finish its new park on time.

B. Law firm – AAA Law Firm saved BBB company $457,000 in erroneous liability claims.

C. Technology company – Our ABC product increased staff productivity by 26% within the first three months following installation.

D. Ice cream shop – Eight out of every 10 of our customers surveyed state they would gladly refer a friend or family member to our shop because of the taste, variety of flavors and cost of our ice cream.

E. Insurance company – Following Hurrican Sandy, we helped 45,000 people in the Northeast rebuild their homes will full replacement value payouts.

F. Tire company – We helped John Smith and his family save $145 (versus the competition) on their set of new tires for their minivan.

G. Web development firm – ABC Web Development gave RRR Recreation Company a professional-looking online presence in just three days.

Regardless of the type of business your work for or run, and irrespective of the size or industry, you have the ability to dig into your performance and pull out such anecdotal evidence of the value of your products/services. In the worlds of sales and marketing there really is no more valuable data that this. Having worked for over 15 years in both B2B and B2C marketing environment and for sales teams, I can atest to this fact. Whenever we were able to uncover such testimonials for the sales team, they were estatic, to say the least.

Ways to Secure Anecdotal Performance Data

Quantifiable testimonials and return on investment (ROI) data such as this is worth its weight in gold and it can unfortantely be a little challenging to get your hands on at times. There are, however, many proven approaches to securing this invaluable data. Here are a few of those methods:

1. “We want to showcase your success” – Contact your most successful customers and tell them you are so proud of their success with your products/services that you want to highlight them in your outbound communications. Many clients will simply say “okay” because of the free, positive publicity you are offering.

2. Offer an incentive for helping – Offer your most successful customers a free month of service or 15 percent off their next purchase or six months of complimentary support, e.g. in exchange for giving you a quantifiable testimonial. This method has proven the most successful for me in the past.

3. Put a clause in your contract (primarily for B2B) – Put a clause in your sales contract that states the company will serve as a testimonial for your business once they have ROI to demonstrate. Many times the client won’t even notice it in the contract or if they do may simply disregard it at the time of purchase.

Branding and differentiation today can sometimes come down to inches – meaning a few dollars here and a few dollars there in terms of selecting you over a competitor. You need to do everything you can to stand out from the competition, and there are few better ways than with anecdotal evidence. Take the time to amass a number of these types of anecdotes – whether simple quantifiable bullet points like above or embedded into full-blow case studies. Case studies put the substance and color around the metric to help bring its full value to life.

Either way, anecdotal evidence will go a very long way toward distinguishing you and your offerings from the next guy, and that is what successful business is all about – offering something people want and demonstrating its value with real, quantifiable data from past customers.

Is Your Brand Image Up To The Challenges To Come?

pimp

Your brand image is the face of your brand. It is the first thing your target audience sees when first introduced to you. What do you suppose goes through their mind when they see your brand image? Are the colors and imagery resonating by correctly representing your brand values and personality? How about consistency, are you showing one message?

At the first introduction everything is riding on your brand image. If a business’s image is amateur, then they are doing immediate damage to sales goals. Their efforts to save money and get an image on the cheap, only shows their lack of understanding as to how the buying public formulates buying decisions. Their perceptions are the reality in the world of a brand. If a business looks like a small player, a person will have a more difficult time building a belief that the business can deliver for them. These perceptions and reactions happen in seconds. Building trust is huge in the sales cycle and so any distraction from that effort is critical.

Your brand image should also differentiate your company. Choose colors that not only represent your personality, fit psychologically but also are different than competing companies. Every aspect of your brand must be compelling to a prospect. Your brand image mustn’t be simply window dressing either. You have to walk the walk. There are so many things you have to remember in order to succeed, your image should be the wonderful wrapping to a tremendous gift inside.

Take this opportunity to look objectively at your brand image. Ask friends and customers for their opinions in a short survey. Use the results to address any deficiencies and make your job a little bit easier.

Great or Safe – You Can’t Be Both!

MOUSETRAPI’ve seen several cases lately where graphic designers will gather opinions on Facebook regarding logos they’re designing. I can’t help but think that reflects badly on their brand. The client is retaining them based on their professionalism in the field. I feel letting Facebook friends chose their best says plainly that these designers don’t have the confidence to know what is the best solution. A logo speaks to the face of a brand. It’s not a work of art but a communication vehicle. These designers are doing their clients a disservice.

I believe that a designer who is charge of helping to develop brand images must do so based on the brand and its promise to its marketplace. There are plenty of examples of individuals who believe it’s not a good idea to ask the public for their input. Steve Jobs of Apple was one of these. He absolutely believed he knew what people wanted. Henry Ford had a great quote: “If I had asked them what they wanted they would have said faster horses.” I’ve always said to my clients, “I don’t give you what you like, I give you what you need.”

More times than not crowd sourcing delivers mediocrity. The general public are more likely to choose safe over ground breaking. When you engage the efforts of a professional you put yourself in their hands. If you don’t entirely trust them, then you chose the wrong person. Put your brand into the hands of someone who can really make a difference. The last thing you want is to be is safe. Safe doesn’t stand out from the crowd. If you’re a graphic designer reading this and you enjoy crowd sourcing to make your decisions, maybe it’s time you reconsider your occupation. When you’re designing an image your client is the brand that hired you,not the public. They are there to be inspired by the truly great ones.

We should all strive to one of those.

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