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A strong personal brand is critical for the success of your business. Specifically, a personal brand that positions you as a leading expert within your marketplace will make it easier to attract and retain clients, and make it possible to charge premium rates and still win the business.

How do you go about creating such a powerful brand? It takes time, and it takes a strategic approach. Below are five steps you can take to build an effective personal brand.

1) Create a business card that sets you apart from the crowd. Your business goes a long way towards creating the first impression that people have of you – particularly in a setting that doesn’t allow for an extended conversation. It’s worth investing into the design and creation of a business card that stands out from the crowd. A great business card makes you memorable and often “hooks” your audience into wanting to know more about you.

2) Demonstrate your expertise by publishing a book. Our society holds authors in high esteem – we simply assume that they must know what they are talking about if they published a book. So take advantage – publish a book on your industry and watch your credibility soar. Writing and publishing a book may sound like an impossibly difficult task, but it’s not. Contact us today to learn more!

3) Get involved in community service. Another great way to raise your profile and do good at the same time is by getting involved in community service. Whether it’s supporting a local charity, assisting in a clean-up day in your town, or pursuing a larger scale cause like cancer research, getting involved in a cause is a great way to build relationships and to let people see what you’re passionate about.

4) Look for opportunities to speak. Speaking in public provides instant credibility. Most people are terrified by the idea of public speaking, and doing so earns instant credibility and respect. Look for opportunities to speak to networking groups, organizations, seminars, or anywhere else your target market gathers. Focus your speeches on providing valuable tips and information to your market.

5) Dress the part. Finally, it’s important to understand that your visual appearance plays an important role in defining your personal brand. Take some time to think about your appearance. For instance, if your brand is “Mr. High Powered Lawyer”, you may want to wear a well-tailored suit every day of the week. On the other hand, if you’re a laid-back, relaxed retirement planner, your wardrobe should be very different. Whatever your “look” may be, it’s important that you consistently dress the part. Over time, what you wear goes a long way towards shaping your perception, so take it seriously.

An effective personal brand is a powerful asset for any business. These five tips will help you get started in the right direction, but please contact us today if you’d like to learn more, or if you’d like some help along the way!

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We’ve written lately about how to get started on social media, but in case you’re not yet convinced that you need to get on social media, this blog entry is for you. As a business owner, social media platforms such as Facebook, LinkedIn, and Twitter give you the opportunity to reach a potentially huge audience for very little cost. Here are four reasons you can’t afford to wait to get involved:

1) Your competitors are on social media. Whether you are on social media or not, you can count on this: you have competition on social media. Businesses in all sorts of industries, from landscaping to law to financial planning, have increasingly turned to social media to market their business. If you’re not engaged, you are at a disadvantage to your competition.

2) Your customers are on social media. Businesses with a young target audience have used social media to great effect. But young people aren’t the only ones using social media today. Numerous studies have shown that individuals of all ages are active on social media – particularly on Facebook. Whether you’re marketing to teens or to retirees, rest assured that your customers are actively using social media!

3) Your website is much more engaging when you’re active on social media. For your website to be effective, it needs to be engaging. And one way to make it more engaging is to incorporate your social media presence. Simple feeds or “widgets” displaying your latest tweet, photos, or status updates are a great way to draw your audience into the conversation you’re having with your market.

4) Your search engine visibility is impacted by social media. Finally, social media profiles and activity are increasingly playing a role in search engine visibility. If you are regularly posting links to your website on social media, you’ve got a better chance of showing up in a prominent location for key search phrases. This, alone, is more than enough reason to get serious about social media!

Questions or comments? Do you need some help getting started on social media? Contact us today to learn more!

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For many people, Facebook is the platform that springs to mind when thinking about social media. Facebook is the dominant social media platform today, and many business owners have been able to leverage it in order to build their personal brand and grow their business.

But how, specifically, can you build your CelebrityExpert® brand using Facebook? Below are five key steps:

1) Design a well-branded business page. The visual appearance of your Facebook business page is very important, as in many cases it will be the first impression that potential customers have of your business. Use your logo and company colors, and ensure that the image you use as your “cover image” is professional, appealing, and well-branded. It’s also important that you think carefully about the written description you include. The content you use should convey your unique value and expertise to your clients in a clear and concise manner. If you need help with this process, let us know!

2) Post articles and blogs that you have written. Once your page has been built, regularly posting links to your blog entries and articles is a great way to build your brand and demonstrate your expertise. Writing content that is relevant to your audience is a great way of providing value to your market and it’s a great way to prove that you know what you are talking about. Hopefully, you are regularly writing blog entries and articles – and if so, leverage them by sharing them on Facebook!

3) Share relevant, valuable information for your audience. In addition to content that you have written, be on the lookout for valuable content from other sources. News articles that break down recent events in your industry, for example, are a great way to show that you’re on the cutting edge of developments in your market. In general, if you find content that will be helpful to your audience, posting it on Facebook further enhances your brand as a valuable resource.

4) Share photos and videos that reflect your celebrity status. A picture is worth a thousand words, and who knows how many words a video is worth! Take advantage of opportunities that make you “look like an expert.” For instance, if you’re delivering a speech, make sure to have someone on your team take a photo or a video. Sharing these types of media on Facebook will strength your CelebrityExpert® brand.

5) Engage your audience. Finally, don’t look at your marketing strategy on Facebook as a one-way conversation. Take the time to engage with your audience. Answer questions, thank them for sharing your content, and generally take an interest in what they’ve got to say. Facebook is a great platform for building relationships and earning trust, but it only happens if you’re willing to interact with your audience. So stay engaged!

Facebook is a powerful tool for building your personal brand and growing your business. If you’d like to learn more, contact us today!

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By now you have heard how important social media is for marketing purposes, and particularly for small businesses who don’t have the multi-million dollar budget to advertise through more traditional channels.

If you’re convinced that your business needs a social media presence but aren’t sure how to begin, here are four keys steps in the process. If you’d like some help along the way, please don’t hesitate to contact us!

1) Select the right platforms for your business. The “Big Three” social networks are Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn. Nearly as popular are networks like YouTube, Google+, Instagram, and Pinterest. Every business should have a presence on Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn. If you regularly produce video, YouTube is a must. And if you use images to promote your business, Instagram and Pinterest are invaluable. Finally, while Google+ doesn’t have the same level of popularity as some of the other networks, it’s affiliation with Google’s search engine means that it’s a good idea for most businesses to have a presence.

2) Brand your profile. Once you’ve identified your social networks, it’s important to properly brand your profile. Use your company colors whenever possible, and make sure your logo and tagline are clearly visible. Your social media profiles are often the first exposure a prospect has to your business, so it’s important to make the right first impression.

3) Link to your social media profiles from your website, email marketing campaigns, and so forth. Once your social profiles are up and running, make sure they’re seen! An important way to do this is by linking to them from your website, your email marketing campaigns, and wherever else you can. Some businesses will even include a link to their social media profiles on their business cards!

4) Stay active and engage with your audience. Finally, don’t create your profiles and then forget about them. This is a common scenario – but it’s almost better to have no social media presence at all than one which sits dormant. Post links to your blogs and articles, share links to breaking news, share funny or inspirational quotes, answer questions from your audience… be active!

Questions or comments? Contact us today if you’d like to learn mo

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Social media has become a significant element of many small businesses’ marketing strategy in recent years. Platforms like Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and YouTube in particular have proven very popular for businesses.

But if you’re still sitting on the sideline in regards to social media, today we’re going to give you six reasons to get involved.

1) Your customers are on social media. Social media is tremendously popular – in fact, if Facebook users represented a single country, that country would be the third largest in the world! If you market to consumers, they are on Facebook. If you market to businesses, you can find professionals on LinkedIn. Your customers are on social media – will you reach them?

2) Your competition is on social media. If the answer to the question we just asked is “no”, you can rest assured that your competition WILL be going after your customers. It’s extremely easy for a business to create a social media presence, and every day that you wait to do so puts you another day behind the competition.

3) Your website is outdated without social media. When a prospect visits your website these days, they are expecting to see links to your Facebook page, to your LinkedIn profile, to your YouTube videos, and so on. If they don’t see them, they’re going to wonder why you aren’t on social media. This sends the message that you are behind the times, and that is never a good message to send.

4) Your marketing budget goes further on social media. Unlike many forms of advertising, you can use social media to reach a huge audience without spending a time. Many business owners do choose to invest in paid advertisements, but even these paid campaigns can be run with a very low investment.

5) You can have fun on social media. Social media doesn’t have to be boring, and it doesn’t have to be “just one more thing” that you have to do. You can have fun with your social media presence. You can tell jokes, share stories, and interact with your audience. You can use social media to stay up to date with all of the latest industry trends… and the latest TV shows. You can have fun on social media and grow your business at the same time. What’s better than that?

6) You can have help on social media if you don’t have the time. Finally, if you’re simply too busy to get involved… you don’t have to! You can assign an employee to create and maintain your social media presence, or you can get some help from your kids. If you desire the expertise of a professional social media marketing agency, we can help. Whatever you choose, the bottom line is that you don’t have to do it all by yourself!

Social media is an incredible marketing tool for businesses. If you’re not engaged, it’s time to change that. Contact us today if you’d like some help with this process!

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The internet in general, and social media specifically, have revolutionized the way small businesses market themselves. Today, reaching an audience of thousands or even millions doesn’t require a six-figure marketing budget. With the right strategy and proper execution, even a small Mom-and-Pop shop can reach a large audience with their marketing message.

So it’s no surprise that businesses all across the country have turned to social media in order to bolster their marketing efforts. But as with most things in life, there is a learning curve, and many small businesses are forced to learn the hard way by making costly mistakes on social media. Today we’re going to identify four of these common mistakes to avoid:

1) Not branding your profiles. Social media platforms like Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and YouTube are very user-friendly. It’s not difficult to upload your business logo and additional collateral. Yet many business owners skip this step, and as a result end up with a generic social media presence which doesn’t enhance their brand or highlight their celebrity status.

2) Not staying consistently active. Creating a social media presence is only the beginning. Once you’re set up with a well-branded profile, it’s important to use it regularly! Many business owners are excited about social media in the beginning, but quickly get distracted by the day-to-day operations of their business. If you want to get results, you need to stay active.

3) Using your profiles purely for self-promotion. Social media is a place for engagement, not one way promotion. Interact with your audience. Answer questions. Provide advice. Post content that provides value to your followers. If all you’re doing is promoting yourself, your audience is quickly going to tune you out.

4) Going “out of character”. Finally, remember that everything you do online reflects your brand. Don’t go out of character –stay true to your CelebrityExpert® brand. Before you post anything, ask yourself, “is this appropriate for my audience and for the brand I am working to build?”

Social media is an incredible tool for business marketing – but it’s easy to make mistakes. Avoid these common errors, and contact us today if you’d like to learn more!  

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We’ve written about a variety of internet marketing tactics to help business owners build a powerful, credible CelebrityExpert® brand. Today, we’re going to examine one of them in greater depth—blog and article writing.

Many business owners are unsure of the idea when they first hear it. “I’m an accountant, not a writer!” is a response we hear often. In this article, we’re going to cover five specific reasons why writing blogs and articles is a valuable part of a successful online marketing strategy.

1) Search engines value new content. Every business owner wants their website to come up on the first page of Google for important search terms – and creating fresh, relevant content is a major factor in achieving top rankings. Blog entries and articles are a perfect tool for creating this content, and the search engine benefits alone make it more than worth your while!

2) Writing about your industry demonstrates your expert status. As we have discussed, consumers prefer to do business with an expert. They want to feel like they are working with the best. Writing knowledgeably about your area of practice is a great way to demonstrate this expertise.

3) Blogs and articles give your audience the opportunity to get to know you. One of the great challenges of marketing anything online is that you’re constantly fighting the skepticism and doubt of your audience. There have been so many scams perpetrated online that many people just won’t trust anything they find online. But writing blogs and articles is one way to break down this fear and inspire trust, as your writing gives your audience a chance to get to know you, your tone, and the way you think. It helps you become a “real person” in the mind of your audience, and it’s a great way to make a strong first impression.

4) Linking to your blogs and articles via social media is a great way to drive traffic. If your content provides value to your audience, sharing it on social media is a great way to bolster website traffic. When a social media follower sees the article and clicks on it, there’s a great chance that he or she will spend some time browsing your website after reading it – and that can often lead to new business!

5) Blogs and articles can often be repurposed into books, white papers, video scripts, and more. Finally, the content that you create for your blog and for your articles can be reused elsewhere. A series of blog entries may be converted into a book. A collection of articles could be converted into a special report or a white paper. This content can be used as part of a video script, or an email marketing campaign, or a direct mail campaign. The options are endless!

If you’d like to learn more about the advantages of content marketing, or if you’d like help getting started, please contact us today!

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As we kick off the New Year, it’s an opportune time for business owners to evaluate their branding and marketing efforts and look for opportunities to improve. And one of the best ways to do this, if you aren’t already, is to tap into the power of social media. Social media platforms offer business owners an effective and cost-efficient way to reach their target audience. In this blog entry, we’re going to cover the “big four” social media platforms and a few others. Are you taking advantage of each of them?

1) Facebook. Facebook, the world’s most-used social network, is a great way to connect with your target audience. In addition to posting links to your blogs, articles, and other informational content, you can use it to share photos and video that may be of interest to your audience. If you don’t yet have a Facebook business page for your business, it’s time to get started. Contact us if you’d like some help with the process!

2) Twitter. While Twitter isn’t as visually oriented as Facebook, it’s a great platform to share links to your blogs and articles, as well as breaking news and other information that matters to your audience. For instance, as a tax accountant, you could use Twitter to share breaking news and analysis regarding changes to the tax code.

3) LinkedIn. Every business owner and professional needs a LinkedIn profile. The platform creates an opportunity to network and gain exposure without leaving your office. It’s a great way to hire employees, to create partnerships with other professionals, and to market your business to other business owners.

4) YouTube. Video is an effective way to reach your target audience and help them to feel comfortable with you and your business. YouTube allows you to reach a huge audience- and to share your videos on your website and on other social networks as well.

5) Instagram, Pinterest, and others. There are literally hundreds of social media networks in existence, but not all of them are a good fit for every business. If you’d like to learn more about the variety of social networks that exist, and how you can leverage them to build your brand and grow your business, please contact us today! 

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As we look forward towards the New Year, it’s an opportune time to reflect on the state of your business, and of your personal brand in particular. Today, we’re going to identify four key questions which are designed to get to the core of who you are and what you stand for—and to help you get back on track if necessary.

So take a few moments to think through each of these questions and answer them honestly.

1) What are your core values? Forget the specifics of your products and services for a moment. What are the key values that you stand for, or want to stand for? Examples could include customer service, honesty, and integrity. But many successful businesses also have a deeper purpose that drives them. Starbucks, for instance, doesn’t just want to sell coffee - they have made it a goal to create a place for community interaction and engagement. Why are you in business? What do you stand for? Don’t move on from this question until you’ve got an answer!

2) What are the primary benefits of your products and services? What do your customers get out of doing business with you? What do you provide that helps them get through the day more easily, or helps them sleep better at night, or helps them run their business more profitably? While you’re marketing, it is important to focus on these benefits as opposed to the specifications and details that go into your products or services. So make sure you’ve identified your key benefits. And if you’re having trouble articulating them, ask a handful of your loyal customers what they appreciate most about your business.

3) What makes you different from your competition? To put it simply … why should someone choose you instead of a competitor? Is it your years of experience, your unique approach, or the superior level of service you provide? These points of differentiation should be prominently featured in your personal branding efforts, so take the time to clearly identify them if you haven’t already.

4) Who is your target market? Who are your ideal customers? Where are they located geographically? What is their age range? Do you focus primarily on men, women, or does gender not matter? What languages do they speak? What is their income level? The list of questions could go on, but you get the point. You may be thinking “I already know who my customers are!” But going through the exercise of defining your market may provide new insight, and will certainly help you keep your branding and marketing efforts focused in the right place. So spend a few moments during this holiday season creating a profile of your target market – and use it to guide your marketing strategy in 2014!

Your answers to these questions should play a large role in defining your personal brand. Your brand should be grounded in your core values. It should emphasize your key benefits and what differentiates you from your competitors. And it should be crafted to resonate with your target market. If you’d like to learn more about this subject, or if you’d like help enhancing your branding and marketing efforts in the New Year, please contact us today!

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The holiday season is here, and the New Year is right around the corner. That makes this an ideal time to pause and reflect on the state of your business as 2013 winds down and the New Year begins. We’d like to encourage you to take a few moments over the next weeks to evaluate the state of your personal brand. Have you built a brand that establishes you as the unquestioned CelebrityExpert® in your market? Does your brand give you the ability to lock out the competition and build a loyal clientele?

If your brand isn’t where you’d like it to be, here’s the good news: 2014 offers you the opportunity to start fresh and build the powerful personal brand your business needs. Here are four ways you can get started with this process:

1) Get consistently active on social media. Do you have a presence on LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube? If so, that’s a great first step. But if you aren’t active on these networks, you’re losing out. Commit to regularly engaging with your social media audience in 2014!

2) Start writing. Writing is an incredible tool for creating your personal brand. You can start with blog entries (like this one!) and articles. To take your credibility to the next level and enhance your CelebrityExpert® status, the next step is writing a book. (If you’re not sure where to begin, we can help!)

3) Leverage the power of video. Are you using video on your website and on social media? If not, you are losing out on a great medium for connecting with your audience and building credibility. The good news is that today’s technology makes it easy to shoot high quality video. So get serious about it in 2014!

4) Pursue speaking opportunities. Whether it’s a networking event, a seminar, or an industry function… speaking about your area of expertise is a powerful branding strategy. Start looking for opportunities that may arise in 2014!

We want 2014 to be the best year yet for you and for your business – and your personal brand has a vital role to play in creating the growth you’re looking for. Contact us today to learn more!

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For a personal brand to be effective, it must be defined. It must be focused. If your brand is vague or poorly defined, you’ll wind up confusing your market… or worse, you’ll end up being ignored altogether.

What does it mean to define your brand? Here’s a simple definition: if your brand is well defined, your market knows who you are, and they know what you’re good at. They know your strengths, they understand the value you provide, and they know what situations you can help them out with.

A well defined brand allows you to be the leading expert in your particular niche, whatever that may be. And it allows you to stay on the minds of your prospects and customers, so that they’ll think of you when they need your help.

A poorly defined brand, on the other hand, means that you’re going to have to work a lot harder to win the business. You’ll often have to “chase down” new clients, and you won’t be able to charge premium rates because you aren’t perceived as an expert.

Where are you in this process? Is your brand clearly defined? Below are three signs that it may NOT be as clearly defined as it should be:

1) You often receive referrals that don’t line up with your services. It’s great to receive referrals from other professionals. But if you receive a significant number of referrals for services that aren’t what you specialize in, that’s a sign that your market doesn’t recognize your specialties.

2) Family and friends don’t know what you do. Do your family members and friends understand what you do? Could they explain it to someone easily? If they can’t, chances are that the rest of your market can’t, either. Let’s say you’re a real estate attorney. If your friends could tell people that “he helps realtors and brokers close on homes”, that’s great. On the other hand, if all they can say is that “he’s a lawyer”, your brand needs to be better defined.

3) Customers and prospects don’t know where your expertise lies. If your brand is well-defined, the majority of your new customers will know exactly what you do and how you can help. On the other hand, if most of your new customers seem confused about who you are and how you can help, your brand needs to be sharpened and focused.

How are you doing in this area? If the honest answer is “not so good” and these three points apply to you… don’t worry! It’s never too late to get to work on your personal brand. But before you begin, it’s important that you are willing to stop trying to be everything to everyone. Some business owners are reluctant to focus their brand because they don’t want to turn away business. But the result of this approach is that they’re seen as a “jack of all trades” and not an expert. Stay tuned for future blog entries and articles on this subject!

In the meantime, please feel free to get in touch with any of the Agents at our Agency if you’d like to learn more.  

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In this blog post we are going to focus on the basics. We are going to discuss why personal branding is so effective, and we’re going to cover several key concepts which will keep you focused as you work to create your CelebrityExpert® brand.

1) People buy people. First and foremost, it is important to understand that people buy people. When given the option, consumers prefer to do business with individuals that they know, like, and trust. For that reason, an important focus when creating a personal brand is ensuring that it resonates with your target market in order to achieve these results.

2) Consumers prefer to do business with an expert. Imagine for a moment that you’ve just moved to a new city and your child has a toothache. You need to get her to a dentist. There are a number of possibilities, but one of them is a well-respected author and speaker in addition to his clinical work. All other factors being equal, you’d want to take your child to the respected expert – right? You don’t want to trust your child to anyone but the best! The same is true of your customers. They want to do business with an expert. If you can create a personal brand that positions YOU as that expert, your business will benefit tremendously.

3) You won’t be remembered unless you’re memorable. Most of the time, when you meet someone, they’re not going to have an immediate need of your services. But when the need arises, months or years down the road, the question is… will YOU be the name that pops to mind? An effective personal brand is a memorable personal brand. This is why lead capture is so important as well - don't leave it to chance for them to remember you. Instead you should capture the information of your prospects and constantly deliver valuable content to build trust, and ultimately become their "friend in the business."

4) Personal branding is about highlighting your strengths, not becoming someone you’re not. It’s easy to get carried away while working on your personal brand. But always remember, the market is very good at spotting a “fake.” People know when a business or an individual is trying to mislead them. So don’t create a brand that isn’t really you—instead, your goal should be to create a CelebrtiyExpert® brand that leverages your unique strengths and abilities.

If you’d like to learn more about personal branding, or if you need some assistance along the way, we can help. Give us a call today to learn more!

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Social media has exploded in popularity- and has completely revolutionized the world of personal branding.  Thanks to platforms like Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, YouTube, and so forth, anyone with an internet connection has the ability to reach an audience that is virtually unlimited.

Of course, one side effect is that these days, it seems like almost everyone is doing it! So the million-dollar question is… how can you avoid getting lost in the crowd as you develop your CelebrityExpert® status using social media? We’ve got a few ideas…

1)     Prioritize relationships, not sales.  If you spend even a few moments logged in to your favorite social media platform, chances are good that you will come across someone trying to sell you something.  As a business owner, it can be tempting to use social media this way—but it’s a poor strategy.  People use Facebook and Twitter to build relationships, not because they are looking to be sold something.  Make relationships your focus.  Spend more time interacting with your audience than you do promoting yourself.  When you have an opportunity to answer a question, do so.  If you’re not engaging with your audience, you’re going to be ignored!   

2)     Break down the news that matters to your audience.  Twitter in particular is a great source of breaking news.  Whether it’s politics, economics, pop culture, or anything else – you can bet that as soon as the news breaks, there will be thousands of people linking to various articles on the subject.  Posting a link to a breaking news story will not help you stand out—but insightful analysis will.  Let’s say you’re an investment advisor and a new law impacting tax rates for capital gains was just introduced in Congress.  Rather than just linking to the story, offer some analysis.  Your tweet will stand out from the thousands of others, because you won’t simply be stating what happened, you’ll be telling your audience what it means to them.

3)     Tell your story – don’t be stale and formulaic.  Most business owners are very cautious about what they post on social media.  This makes sense, because a thoughtless post or tweet could lead to all sorts of problems.  But the result of this cautious approach is often a social media presence completely lacking in originality, personality and substance.  If you’re going to stand out, you need to be interesting and thought provoking.  Post jokes, or commentary on pop culture, or predictions for upcoming sports events.  Be creative.  Find a way to express yourself and your personality—or there is no way you can expect to stand out from the crowd.

Social media is a great tool for business owners seeking to build a strong and engaging personal brand. But as more and more business owners get involved, it has become harder than ever to stand out. These tips will help, but please feel free to contact us today if you would like to learn more!

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We speak about personal branding a whole lot, as you can imagine. And one of our favorite parts about speaking is having the opportunity to talk to business owners before and afterwards. We are often asked great questions, and one that we hear from time to time goes like this:

“I love everything you said about personal branding and I know that my business needs it. But… I’m just not a people person. I could never get in front of a large crowd. I can barely handle a networking event. So what do I do?”

Here’s the good news: You don’t have to be an extrovert to build a powerful personal brand! Today, we are going to cover several ways that you can create an engaging and impressive brand without getting up to speak to an audience, and without attempting to charm a whole room full of networking professionals.

1) Publish Blogs and Articles. Writing blogs and articles discussing your market and your area of expertise demonstrates that you know what you’re talking about. And you can do it in the peace and quiet of your office or your home! Focus on writing content that provides answers to your market’s common questions, and that provides value to your readers.

2) Write a Book. In our culture, we associate authorship with expertise. If you write a book, you’ve achieved an instant credibility boost. And yes, before you dismiss this idea… we can guarantee that you DO have a book in you! Let us know if you’d like to discuss this further.

3) Focus on Relationships. People are important – but you don’t have to take them on in large numbers! Focus your “networking” efforts on getting to know key professionals in a one-on-one setting. One strong relationship is much more valuable than 10 surface-level relationships anyway.

4) Practice What You Preach. Finally, live out your brand. Let your market see that you’re honest and genuine. Over time, if you stay true to your values and consistently do what you say you’re going to do, your brand and your reputation will grow on its own.

Yes, sometimes personal branding can be easier if you’re extroverted and willing to talk to anyone, anytime. But you don’t have to be an extrovert to succeed! Hopefully this blog entry provided some helpful tips… but please contact us today if you want to know more!

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This post was originally featured on FastCompany.com.  The original blog, written by Nick Nanton and JW Dicks can be found here: Kim Kardashian And The Power Of A Celebrity Brand

Kim Kardashian, according to CelebNetWorth.com, gets paid about $20,000 to tweet out a product endorsement on her Twitter account. She earns from $50,000 to $100,000 for one appearance at clubs, parties, and other events. For some international events, she’s been paid a cool million. It’s a lot cheaper if you come just to see her--she supposedly charged guests from $1,000 to $2,500 to attend her 30th birthday party in 2010.

In 2012, according to Forbes Magazine, she earned a total of $18 million from product lines, personal appearances, her TV series, and everything else the Kardashian empire has its hands in.

As everyone knows, celebrities like Kardashian, Justine Timberlake, Heidi Klum, andeven the Olsen twins from the old Full House sitcom can generate income from all sorts of side ventures--just by attaching the power of their celebrity brands to them. Because they’ve created names that their audiences know and respond to, they can use that name to generate consistent and meaningful revenue--even when they seem to be famous just for being famous! In other words, the celebrity brand is what drives their success, not their talent.

You might think that in the business world, the rules are different. But are they? Maybe you’re not a reality TV star, a supermodel, or a hot musical act that might show up onSaturday Night Live, but you can still establish a name for yourself that can create some very profitable results.

Let’s go deeper into this idea.

What do the celebrities we named a couple paragraphs ago have in common? One thing--they had a very visible presence in the public eye. Timberlake and the Olsen twins started as child stars on TV shows. Heidi Klum has been a top model for over 20 years. And Kim Kardashian . . . well, most of us know how she first attracted so much attention.

Now, we’re not claiming a lawyer, a dentist, or a financial planner, to name a few of the types of clients we handle, will ever reach Kardashian-istic (yes, we know that’s not a real word) heights. What can happen, however, is that through the same kind of concentrated exposure, any entrepreneur, professional, or business owner can develop their own powerful personal brands that pay off in a multiplicity of ways, such as:

  • Increased fees for services: Obviously, the more you’re recognized in your field and known in your community, the more people will pay for access to your expertise.
  • More clients and customers: Your celebrity brand will draw more people to your door for your products and/or services, simply because they know your name and that gives you more credibility.
  • Paid media appearances: As an established expert, you’ll be in demand as a speaker and possibly even on for-pay panels. You can also hold webinars and in-person seminars and charge top dollar.
  • Recognition in your field: The more of a leadership position you assume in your industry, the more others who are in the same business will look to you for your advice and guidance. Many of our clients generate a lot of extra revenue by coaching others who do what they do.
  • Entree to exclusive circles: Successful people love to get together with other successful people and compare notes--or even create a formal mastermind group, as defined by Napoleon Hill in his groundbreaking book, Think and Grow Rich, to assist with each other’s entrepreneurial efforts. The more powerful your celebrity brand is, the more access you’ll have to these high-level summits.

While the celebrity brand concept remains the same whether you’re an Olsen twin or a tax attorney, the game does have to be played a little differently in the business world. While living crazy lives does nothing but awesome things for the Kardashians, negative attention in the business world isn’t really what you’re after. So before you decide to set fire to a hotel room or take an Anthony Weiner-style selfie, remember that you need to associate three important elements--trust, credibility, and expertise--with your celebrity brand.

At our agency, we make that happen for our clients by placing them in best-selling books; high-production branded films; interview shows that are broadcast on CBS, NBC, ABC, and FOX affiliates as well as other cable news outlets; and in prestigious print outlets such as the Wall Street Journal, Forbes Magazine, and USA Today. In all those venues, they not only gain the right kind of exposure, but they’re also able to prove their expertise in a way that’s benefit-oriented for the reader or viewer.

The bottom line is that when you make yourself as visible as possible and, at the same time, build a powerful brand story, you create a celebrity brand that packs a punch that would leave Rocky Balboa reeling. So, yes, in some ways, we’re recommending that you should actually emulate Kim Kardashian--but you still might want to think twice about getting into a relationship with Kanye West.

JW Dicks (@jwdicks) and Nick Nanton (@nicknanton) are best-selling authors who consult for small- and medium-size businesses on how to build their business through personality-driven marketing, personal-brand positioning, guaranteed media, and mining hidden business assets. They offer free articles, white papers, and case studies at celebritybrandingagency.com.

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Many of you are familiar with Dr. Ivan Misner, the founder of the worldwide networking organization BNI. I had the privilege of co-authoring a book with Dr. Misner a few years ago, and had the opportunity to learn more about him and his philosophies. One of his cornerstone tenants is that “Givers Gain” – in other words, investing into others is the best way to pursue your own interests, as well.

And while Dr. Misner’s philosophy is focused primarily on business networking, I’ve seen over the years that investing into others is an incredible way to grow your own business in general. Below are four reasons that this is the case.

1) “Proving” that you care builds real relationships. It is one thing to pay lip service and tell people that you care. It’s quite another to roll up your sleeves and prove it. Whether you’re working with a local non-profit organization or helping a fellow business owner polish his strategy, dedicating your own time and expertise makes a real impression. And you can bet that the person or organization you help will be looking for an opportunity to return the favor.

2) Helping others is a great way to demonstrate your own abilities. You are good at what you do, right? That’s why you started a business of your own. But how can you prove your talents to the rest of the world, particularly if you don’t yet have a long list of clients? Donating your time and abilities to individuals and organizations that need help is a great way to “show off” your abilities. Do a great job and you can bet others will take note – and think of you when they need your services!

3) You never know what inspiration you’ll get from new experiences. It is amazing how many ‘light bulbs” can go off when you put yourself in an unfamiliar situation. Working with others offers you the opportunity to view challenges and opportunities from a brand new perspective, and you never know where the next valuable insight will come from. That doesn’t mean you have to say “yes” to every opportunity that arises, but make it a point to get involved in projects that take you outside of your everyday routine.

4) We’re all in it together. Finally, remember that business is not a zero-sum game. It’s in your best interest to have your business surrounded by thriving individuals, families, and businesses. So the work that you do in your community can pay real dividends for your business—although admittedly it doesn’t happen overnight. Look for opportunities to invest into your community at large as well as your fellow business owners and professionals. Sooner or later, your efforts are going to pay off.

Investing into others is the right thing to do, but it’s also good business. And it’s one reason I’m so proud of our clients for donating the royalties of their book purchases towards Entrepreneurs International, a foundation we created that works to raise money and awareness for charitable causes.

So the next time that the opportunity arises for you to make a difference in the life of someone else, remember that helping out is a win-win proposition!

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One of the most important lessons I’ve learned is very simple: celebrities are regular people, just like you and I. They have special talents and abilities, just like you do. They just know how to promote their expertise, and today we are going to talk about how you can too.

Why is this important?

As we have discussed in previous blogs and articles, your business can benefit tremendously if you create a powerful CelebrityExpert® brand. Becoming the “expert” in your market leads to more customers, better retention rates, and ultimately more money in your pocket.

So the fact that celebrities are people just like you… means that you have what it takes to create a CelebrityExpert® brand of your own.

Celebrity status isn’t something you’re born with (ok, unless you’re born to British royalty), it’s something you develop. And below are three ways you can develop your celebrity status:

1) Network like a celebrity. One thing virtually every celebrity has in common is a long list of contacts in key places. As the saying goes, it isn’t what you know, it’s who you know. Make it a priority to build relationships with important players in your marketplace. You may be amazed at the doors that open up to you.

2) Speak like a celebrity. Speaking in public creates a powerful perception of expertise. Most people are terrified of speaking in public, and if you’re wiling do to so, you’ve created instant credibility. Even if it’s as simple as speaking to a networking group or a business function from time to time, public speaking is a key element to creating a CelebrityExpert® brand.

3) Write like a celebrity. Writing about a subject, any subject, implies expertise. Writing a book on your industry, aimed at your target market, is one of the most powerful steps you can take when it comes to building your brand. And while it may sound like an overwhelming project, trust me when I tell you that writing a book isn’t as difficult as you might think. And I guarantee that you’ve got a book in you, even if it is hard for you to picture right now. Write a book and cement your CelebrityExpert® status within your marketplace!

If you’d like to learn more about how YOU can become a celebrity within your marketplace, please get in touch with me or any of the Agents at our Agency today!

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Building a CelebrityExpert® brand is a process. And to achieve this goal, we help our clients to leverage a variety of media tools, from video productions to cutting-edge websites and everything in between. But as I tell clients, building a powerful personal brand isn’t just about large-scale media strategies. Just as important are the “little things” that a business owner must get right in order to build an authentic brand.

Below are four of these “little things” that play a big role in creating a powerful CelebrityExpert® brand.

1) Sharpen your elevator speech. When you have 20-30 seconds to tell someone about your business… what are you going to say? A well-crafted elevator speech is critical in order to intrigue your audience and help them quickly grasp your unique skills and abilities. Take some time to practice your elevator speech – and ask for feedback from friends, family, and colleagues.

2) Dress the part. It’s a simple principle, but something many people overlook… you have to dress the part! If your brand is “Mr. High Powered Lawyer”, your suit needs to match that image. Just as an actor in a movie is always dressed for his or her role, you should always be “in character” for the brand you are building.

3) Invest in an appropriate business card. It’s easy to find cheap business cards, but is that really the first impression you want to make? If you don’t already have one, invest into a business card that projects the credibility and the expertise you are seeking to develop. You never want to be embarrassed to hand out your card!

4) Adopt a “celebrity mindset.”Finally, begin thinking of yourself as a CelebrityExpert®. Carry yourself appropriately, and you will be amazed at how differently your audience begins to perceive you. This doesn’t mean that you should be cocky – but you should be confident in yourself and your expertise.

Questions or comments? Get in touch with me, or any of the Agents in our Agency, if you’d like to learn more!

 

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The internet is an incredible tool for small businesses. We have worked closely with dozens of business owners who have used the internet to leverage their personal brand and their expertise in order to create a powerful CelebrityExpert® brand.

And the good news is that today’s technology makes it easier than ever for a business to create an internet presence. But, while it may be easy to “get up and running”, there’s still a lot of work that goes into creating an appealing and engaging personal brand. Today, we’re going to look at five key components of a powerful online presence. How are you doing with each of these?

1) Create a branded, engaging website. It’s not enough for a business website today to simply contain a list of information and perhaps a phone number. An effective website must be engaging and compelling. That means understanding your target market enough to “hook” them – and it means creating a site that reflects your expertise and the brand you are creating.

2) Remember that it all comes back to providing value. “Value” is the magic word. If your website, your blogs, your articles, and your social media presence don’t provide value to your audience, they will be ignored. Use these platforms to share breaking news, analyze recent developments, and provide practical tips to your audience.

3) Leverage email marketing. Social media is one great way to engage your audience – but it only works when they’re online and using social media themselves. Email marketing, on the other hand, gives you the opportunity to consistently interact with your customers and your market as long as they are checking their email inbox. (And these days, who isn’t??) Remember to focus on providing value in order to keep your readers engaged.

4) Give away “freebies” in order to build your list. Your email marketing campaigns are a great way to stay top-of-mind with your customers and to keep your market aware of what you are offering. But if you don’t have any email addresses to send to, what does it matter? One of the most effective ways to build a targeted email list is by offering free content, such as e-books, special reports, video seminars, and so forth. Simply require that the user give you their email address in order to access the content. Promote these freebies on your website and through social media, and you will see your email list start to grow steadily.

5) Use pictures and video to tell your story. You know the saying – a picture is worth 1,000 words. And a video is even more powerful. The simple truth is that pictures and video are far more engaging than pages and pages of text. So embrace it! Create a video introducing yourself and welcoming people to your site. Share pictures and video of your team at work. Post pictures of your latest products. Take advantage of visual media to keep your audience engaged.

Questions or comments? Feel free to get in touch with me or any of the Agents at our Agency to learn more!

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This post was originally featured on FastCompany.com.  The original blog, written by Nick Nanton and JW Dicks can be found here: Is Your Personal Brand Lost In Translation? How To Clearly Communicate Your Value

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“The small grass is feel ashamed to smile, please don’t bother it.”

“Please use the escalator on your behind.”

“Take the Initiative for Bringing Invalidity Pregnant Parks.”

No, we’re not making the above phrases up. These are actual public signs posted in foreign countries, where English is definitely not the first language. Now, the reader can almost get the idea of what they were aiming at – but not quite. That’s because the authors of those signs have some of the right words – but definitely not all of them.

Result? A lot of blog sites that compile these kinds of signs because they’re funny to those of us who understand proper English. But these kinds of “lost in translation” examples also illustrate a huge point that’s important to everyone who wants to effectively communicate their personal brand: You may think you’re talking the language of your potential customers or clients, but, in reality, you may not be making your point any more clearly than the handicapped bathroom sign that reads, “Deformed Man Toilet.”

That’s because, as an authority in your field, you have a certain expertise that most of your audience does not. That’s great, because that expertise is the basis of your business and brand; you’re selling a knowledge base that your customers lack. But that advantage also sets up a challenge, in that those customers may have difficulty understanding what you’re trying to convey. Just because you know what you’re talking about doesn’t mean they do.

The most common causes of miscommunication in conveying your brand are:

  • Providing inadequate information, so that your audience reaches their own conclusions, rather than the one you intended. For example, if you fail to let people know why you have credibility in your area, they may not fully believe your messaging.
  • Misinterpretation, where you word things in such a way that the audience gets the wrong idea. A good example of this is when you over-explain something and people think it’s too complicated for them to deal with. 
  • Cultural differences, as seen in the first two paragraphs of this blog! If your brand extends beyond the borders of your country, you can easily make the wrong impression - and have no idea why!

The good news is that you can solve these potential problems before they happen – by making sure your communication is efficient and effective. Here are a few ways your personal branding efforts can bridge the gap between what you know and what your potential customer doesn’t:

  • Consider the best way to convey your information

Is it better to do a series of internet videos to communicate your personal brand? Or are a series of books better suited to your purpose? Decide what medium allows you to most clearly articulate your personal brand – as well as gives you the best shot at reaching your specific niche.

  • Use the simplest, clearest language to communicate.

Jargon is a great shortcut to “talk shop” when you’re commiserating with fellow professionals – but it’s the worst possible way to talk to your leads. The more complex your language is, the more likely you’re liable to leave your audiences confused – so use plain and simple wording whenever possible.

  • Go from A to Z.

Structure can be all-important when you’re talking to an audience. The old three-point rule of “tell ‘em what you’re going to tell ‘em, tell ‘em, tell ‘em what you told ‘em” is actually some ancient wisdom from Aristotle himself. Don’t jump around with information; instead, put it in a clear and understandable order that people can easily follow.

  • Tailor your presentation to the audience you’re talking to.

If you’re communicating with a very specific niche, make sure you speak their language.  If it’s a group of soccer moms, be practical and  down to earth, if it’s a C-level seminar, be polished and informative. And, if you’re in another country, make sure you know the rules of the game there. Remember, it’s all about them, not all about you.

There’s no doubt miscommunication can be costly; just ask the state of New Jersey, because it cost them $200 million a few years ago. Communication should always be a decisive advantage to your personal brand, not a detriment – so make sure your message is coming through loud and clear!

 

 

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We have talked a whole lot about personal branding in these articles and on our blog. We have talked about branding strategy. We have talked about practical steps for creating a powerful brand. We have even looked at “hits and misses” from celebrities and public figures in order to gain insight into what to do, and what NOT to do, when it comes to branding.

Today, we are going to take a different approach and highlight several practical benefits of a strong brand. As we have discussed, an effective personal brand positions a business owner as a credible expert and a celebrity within his or her market – a CelebrityExpert®. And below are five benefits that you can expect from such a brand. A strong personal brand will lead to…

1) More demand from consumers. As I’ve written before, when given the choice, people prefer to do business with a recognized expert. Imagine you’ve just moved to a new town and one of your children begins experiencing severe tooth pain. You have to find a new dentist, and quickly. If there are a number of options but one of them is a recognized expert, a published author, and frequently appears on TV… isn’t he or she going to be your first choice? All other things being equal, I know I’m going to choose that dentist 100% of the time… aren’t you?

2) The ability to charge higher prices. Higher demand and greater credibility gives you the ability to charge more money and still win the business. We just examined the appeal of a strong celebrity brand, and it’s natural that consumers are willing to pay more in order to work with a recognized expert. This improves your profit margin and the overall financial health of your business!

3) Increased customer loyalty. In addition to bringing in new business, a CelebrityExpert® brand makes it easier to retain your current clientele. It’s a comforting feeling to know that you are dealing with the “best” – whether you’re a dentist, a lawyer, an accountant, a landscaper, a realtor, and so forth. As long as you continue to provide great service, your customers are going to be more loyal than ever.

4) More referrals from professionals. When professionals need to refer their client to someone else with a different area of expertise, credibility is a primary concern. The last thing the professional can afford to do is refer a client to a business that isn’t credible. A strong personal brand makes it easy for professionals to feel great about sending business your way.

5) Less direct competition. Finally, a strong, focused brand makes it very difficult for the competition. Even if they offer products or services that are very similar to yours, without the CelebrityExpert® brand, they are at a significant disadvantage.

As you can see, personal branding isn’t just a trend or a “box” that must be checked off—a powerful brand can be a game changer for a business. If you’d like to learn more, get in touch with me or any of the Agents at our Agency today!

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If you have been reading this blog regularly, you know how valuable it is to build a brand that establishes you as a CelebrityExpert® within your market. Developing your Celebrity status will help you bring in more business, allow you to charge higher rates, and make it easier to retain clients and customers. We’ve spent a great deal of time discussing strategies to develop such a personal brand, and today we’re going to cover five simple tactics that you can put in place to help you enhance your Celebrity status.

1) Make the right impression with a strong business card. Your business card plays an important role in formulating the first impression that you create. So it’s important that your card positions you in the right light. That doesn’t necessarily mean a card that is flashy or dramatic—but your business card should represent the brand you’re building.

2) Demonstrate your knowledge via social media. Social media platforms like LinkedIn, Twitter, and Facebook give you the opportunity to demonstrate your expertise to the world. Share articles that are relevant to your audience. Provide insight and analysis of breaking news concerning your market. This approach provides value to your audience while reinforcing your expertise at the same time.

3) Use your email signature to build your brand. Many of you send hundreds of emails each week. So why not brand this interaction, each and every time? You can do this with your email signature, which should summarize your points of differentiation while reinforcing your brand. Include a logo as well, if possible.

4) Dress the part. If you’re branding yourself as a high-powered lawyer, showing up in a badly worn suit that hasn’t been dry-cleaned in a month won’t work. Similarly, if your brand is a personable, friendly, laid-back retirement advisor, the flashy suit doesn’t fit. Dress appropriately for the brand you are developing!

5) Donate your expertise. Finally, one of the best ways to demonstrate your expertise and reinforce your brand is to find causes or charities to get involved in. This gives you the opportunity to utilize your abilities while working for a great cause at the same time. One way many of our clients have done this is by embracing the Entrepreneurs International Foundation, and I couldn’t be any prouder or more grateful!

Questions or comments? Please contact me or any of the Agents at our Agency to learn more!

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If you have been reading this blog regularly, you know how valuable it is to build a brand that establishes you as a CelebrityExpert® within your market. Developing your Celebrity status will help you bring in more business, allow you to charge higher rates, and make it easier to retain clients and customers. We’ve spent a great deal of time discussing strategies to develop such a personal brand, and today we’re going to cover five simple tactics that you can put in place to help you enhance your Celebrity status.

1) Make the right impression with a strong business card. Your business card plays an important role in formulating the first impression that you create. So it’s important that your card positions you in the right light. That doesn’t necessarily mean a card that is flashy or dramatic—but your business card should represent the brand you’re building.

2) Demonstrate your knowledge via social media. Social media platforms like LinkedIn, Twitter, and Facebook give you the opportunity to demonstrate your expertise to the world. Share articles that are relevant to your audience. Provide insight and analysis of breaking news concerning your market. This approach provides value to your audience while reinforcing your expertise at the same time.

3) Use your email signature to build your brand. Many of you send hundreds of emails each week. So why not brand this interaction, each and every time? You can do this with your email signature, which should summarize your points of differentiation while reinforcing your brand. Include a logo as well, if possible.

4) Dress the part. If you’re branding yourself as a high-powered lawyer, showing up in a badly worn suit that hasn’t been dry-cleaned in a month won’t work. Similarly, if your brand is a personable, friendly, laid-back retirement advisor, the flashy suit doesn’t fit. Dress appropriately for the brand you are developing!

5) Donate your expertise. Finally, one of the best ways to demonstrate your expertise and reinforce your brand is to find causes or charities to get involved in. This gives you the opportunity to utilize your abilities while working for a great cause at the same time. One way many of our clients have done this is by embracing the Entrepreneurs International Foundation, and I couldn’t be any prouder or more grateful!
Questions or comments? Please contact me or any of the Agents at our Agency to learn more!

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Every one of us makes mistakes. This is certainly true in the world of business. As hard as we try to do right by our customers, things go wrong from time to time. Sometimes it is a relatively small thing—like a defective product or a shipping delay. Sometimes it is a much bigger deal – an employee makes an inappropriate statement that is picked up by the press, or an error while filing taxes turns into an embarrassing public affair.

These events impact the brand of the business and the individual in question—and unfortunately, not in a good way. So how should you respond when something goes wrong? Below are five principles to keep in mind as you seek to maintain a strong, appealing brand even when things aren’t going well.

1) Acknowledge the problem. Burying your head in the sand won’t work. If you’ve made a mistake, address it. As they say, the first step to overcoming a problem is admitting that you are facing the problem to begin with. Don’t make the matter worse by pretending that “all is well” when it isn’t.

2) Apologize if necessary. Once you have acknowledged that there is a problem, apologize to whoever was adversely impacted. It may be a single customer. It may be your employees. It may be your customer base. Heck, it could even be your town in the event of a catastrophic event like a chemical spill. Bottom line… if you’re at fault, come clean and apologize.

3) Identify what went wrong and make corrections. Make sure that this failure or mistake is not wasted. In other words, learn something from it so that you don’t repeat your mistake. It might be re-training your employees, it might mean a new marketing campaign, or it might be changing your entire business model. Take whatever action is necessary to avoid repeating your errors. Depending on the situation, it’s usually a good idea to let whomever was adversely affected know that you’re taking steps to avoid a repeat.

4) Change the conversation. Once you’ve acknowledged the problem, apologized, and taken steps to avoid a repeat… it’s time to move on! Allowing the conversation to dwell on the mistakes made in the past will only weaken your brand. So look for an opportunity to change the subject. Offer a great new promotion. Launch a new location. Write a book. Shoot a video. The options are endless—find an exciting way to change the subject and get your audience re-focused on the positive elements of your brand.

5) Continue to focus on relationships. I have said many times that “people buy people” and that investing in relationships is a critical marketing strategy. This is especially true when it comes to crisis management. If you’ve built strong relationships with your customers, employees, vendors, and your community, you can afford to weather tough times. The strength of these relationships means that it will be much easier for these people to “forgive and forget.” So continue to invest in strong relationships!

Nobody is perfect— we all make mistakes. How you respond to mistakes can determine the fate of your brand and ultimately your business. If you’d like to learn more, please get in touch with me or any of the Agents at our Agency today!

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This post was originally featured on FastCompany.com.  The original blog, written by Nick Nanton and JW Dicks can be found here: Every Entrepreneur's Biggest Mistake (And How To Avoid It!)

In 2006, Salemi Industries thought they had a surefire moneymaking product. It was something totally new that (a) had an obvious need and (b) could be sold worldwide. Anthony Ferranti, the man behind the innovative product, had noticed that with the widespread usage of cell phones in public areas, callers needed a private place to have their conversations--and to not disturb others in, say, a restaurant. So he decided to create a solution.

That solution was his invention of what he called “The Cell Zone”, a large plastic pod that he saw as the modern equivalent of the phone booth. You could step into The Cell Zone and have a perfectly private talk without being bothered and without bothering anyone else. The early signs were good--The Cell Zone proved to be a sensation at that year’s Restaurant Show, where eatery owners expressed enormous enthusiasm for the product.

Now guess how many Cell Zones the company ended up selling? You might have an idea since you’ve probably never heard of it or seen one. The company ended up selling less than 300, and losing close to $650,000 in the process. Turned out restaurants didn’t care for the price ($3,500) and they didn’t want to give up the square footage to accommodate the privacy pods.

The moral of this particular story? You can have what you think is an awesome product with the greatest potential in the world--and still fall flat on your face. And here’s why: because, before you put everything into perfecting whatever it is you want to offer, you never tried to actually sell it.

Recently, the Harvard Business Review published an article in which they surveyed 120 entrepreneurs from all around the world to ask them what their biggest mistake had been with a product or service launch. The number one answer of more than half of these business leaders? They didn’t try to sell it early enough. To quote one of those entrepreneurs, “Don’t make anything until you sell it. Get people really interested in buying it before you invest too much time and effort.”

The fact is that few things really “sell themselves”--especially if they’re new to the marketplace. According to Booz & Company, 66% of new products fail within two years, and, according to the Doblin Group, an astonishing 96% of all innovations fail to deliver any return on a company’s investment.

Here are a few tips on how to presell your launch, so you can know whether it’s worth moving forward, or whether you need to either change it up or drop it altogether:

Beware of the Bubble!

Another regret expressed by many of the entrepreneurs surveyed by the Harvard Business Review was that they let themselves be swayed by initial sales to friends and family. These kinds of people obviously want to support you and, if the investment isn’t too big, will happily buy your product. You can also end up depending too much on your staff or co-workers’ enthusiasm for something new you want to bring to market. Again, they want to believe in what you’re doing and often won’t give you a truthful impression of what’s waiting for you in the cold, unforgiving marketplace. So don’t rely on the opinions of those in your “bubble”--survey others who don’t really have a reason to prop up your new product with manufactured praise.

Co-Create With Your Potential Customers

Today, more than ever, buyers want to feel involved with what they purchase and use--and they want to know that the seller is listening to what they have to say. That’s why increasingly the concept of co-creation, involving consumers in the actual development of a product or service, is becoming a dominant business approach. Francis Gouillart, author of The Power of Co-Creation: Build It With Them to Boost Growth, Productivity, and Profits, says a great deal of today’s R&D is being done through social media. "Social media has liberated social forces...What used to be a fairly isolated political process has become a form of business," says Gouillart.

Try Out Your Sales “Story”

We’ve written frequently about the concept of StorySelling--and, as a matter of fact, we have a whole book on the subject coming out this summer. That’s why we believe it’s crucial to see if you have a powerful enough story to tell about your new product or service--one that will convert a prospect into a buyer. For example, we will frequently discuss with a few key clients a new service we’re thinking about providing, to make sure people like them would actually want to pay for the value it would bring to their business. And they are able to do the same thing, because we provide them with a platform to share new ideas through different channels of media--print, television, radio, blogs, and books--which enables them to gauge reaction and see what sparks excitement.

Of course, some products just aren’t destined to be successes--celery-flavored Jellois one that comes to mind! But if you take the time and put as much effort into your selling as you do into your product development, you’ll have the advantage of knowing whether your new offering can really take off from the launching pad!

 

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Creating a strong first impression is important when it comes to creating a strong personal brand. The first impression you give sticks in the mind of the people you meet—for better or for worse. And one of the most important things you can do to create a powerful first impression is to project confidence.

But this is often easier said than done. I have worked with plenty of business owners who struggled to project confidence—even though they were very successful and highly intelligent individuals. Here’s a secret: you don’t have to actually be confident to project confidence. And oddly enough, training yourself to project confidence even when you don’t feel it will often help you become more confident. (You’ve heard the expression “fake it ‘til you make it.”)

As somebody who often speaks in front of large audiences and interacts with world-class entertainers and business leaders, I’ve had to develop my sense of confidence as well. And to help you make the same journey, I’d like to share three tips to help you project confidence so that you can make a stronger first impression and create a more powerful personal brand:

1) Turn off your “internal critic.” We all have our own personal internal critic… he (or she) lives in our head. The internal critic is quick to point out flaws and criticize plans. “They won’t take you seriously.” “They’ll think you’re an idiot.” “YOU could never pull that off.” The amazing thing is that the people you interact with are rarely (if ever) as critical of you as you are of yourself. So stop being your own worst critic.

2) Recognize your own expertise. You’re great at what you do. If you weren’t, you wouldn’t be running a successful business. Take some time to think about what you’ve accomplished and what you’ve learned. Embrace the reality that you are great at what you do, and that others can benefit from your perspective. Of course, there’s a line between confidence and cockiness that you definitely don’t want to cross. Stay humble! You can be secure in your own abilities without being a show-off.

3) Use body language. Finally, use body language to convey confidence whether you feel it or not. Start with a strong handshake. Speak slowly and clearly. Look your conversation partners in the eye. Sit up straight, keep your shoulders straight. This is all review—but it’s easy to forget, and it’s important!

Confidence is key to creating a great first impression and to building a strong personal brand. If you’re not as confident as you should be, I hope that you’ll find these tips to be helpful. And remember, if you have to… fake it ‘til you make it!

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Many of the business owners that I work with are low-key and don’t love the spotlight. And most of them don’t like the idea of creating controversy.

But sometimes, as I tell them, generating a bit of controversy can be exactly what your brand needs. Now, I’m not talking about just any type of controversy. I’m talking about going against the grain—providing value to your customers in ways that your competitors aren’t.

Think about the way Apple revolutionized the mp3 player market in the early 2000’s, and the then again the smart phone market a few years later. Customers loved Apple products, but their competitors certainly didn’t. Steve Jobs wasn’t afraid to shake up his market and put real pressure on the competition. The result speaks for itself.

You may not be an international corporation, but the point still stands. You shouldn’t be afraid to shake up your market and generate some controversy—whether it’s through an aggressive marketing campaign, a new approach to the services you provide, or by introducing a brand-new business model.

But it is true that the wrong kind of controversy can have negative consequences on your brand and your business. So keep these four points in mind:

1) Don’t be disrespectful. It is one thing to be bold and clear while promoting your products and services, and while contrasting them against the competition. It’s another thing entirely to disrespect and bad-mouth the competition in your market. While this approach may generate attention and even perhaps lead to a short-term spike in sales, it’s a bad long-term strategy. Treat your competitors with the respect that you would like to be treated with.

2) Make sure you have done your homework. If you are preparing to “shake up” your market with a new product, a new service, a new marketing campaign, or whatever… ask yourself this question: “why hasn’t anyone else done it this way?” It may be that nobody else has ever thought of the idea. But there may be other reasons – such as legal liability or other unforeseen consequences. If you’re going to take a bold step, you’re going to attract attention, so make sure you have “dotted your i’s and crossed your t’s.

3) Be prepared for the backlash. The better your innovation, the less your competitors are going to like it. So be prepared. I’ve had clients that have introduced incredible new services to their marketplace, and immediately had their competition gang up against them in an effort to defend the status quo. Don’t let this surprise you.

4) Never lose focus on providing value. This is the key. Controversy for controversy’s sake isn’t a winning strategy. But if the innovation you are introducing increases the value of your products or services to your marketplace, you’re going in the right direction. Run every decision through the filter of “does this increase the value we can offer to our customers?”

At the end of the day, your job as a business owner is to provide a superior experience to your customers and your marketplace. And if you have to shake things up in order to get your message out, don’t back down. Be bold, be clear, and get the word out. Feel free to get in touch with me or with any of the Agents at the Agency if you’d like to learn more!

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I talk to a lot of business owners every year. Between speeches, seminars, conferences, and similar events, I am blessed to have the opportunity to get to know business owners from all over the country in a wide variety of industries.

And over time, I have come to identify a number of common “themes” that business owners often use during our conversations.

One of the most common is something like this… “Nick, I really like what you have to say about personal branding – I just don’t have the time.” So today, I’m going to cover several steps you can take to strengthen your personal brand without spending much time at it.

1) When you meet with a client, tell a story. The best way to communicate your personal brand is through a story. This is true no matter what channel you are using – social media, TV, a book, whatever. If you can tell a story that reflects your expertise and reinforces your brand, it will stick in the mind of your audience much more effectively than simply rattling off a list of accomplishments. The next time you’re meeting with a client, try to work in a story!

2) Upgrade your email signature. Many of you send hundreds of emails per week. Your email signature is an opportunity to broadcast your brand repeatedly. At the least, make sure it includes a brief summary of what you do. Consider including your logo and other branding as well.

3) Tweet something personal – a joke, a recap of your latest adventure, an inspiring quote, or even an article you found helpful. Many business owners are intimidated by Twitter and social media in general. They often feel that it simply demands too much time. But if you can make a habit of creating a short post once or twice each week, it will help you “get the word out” to your audience. If even this sounds like too much, you can also delegate to your team.

Obviously, this short list is only a starting point. The truth is that you can create a powerful brand without spending a huge amount of time each week—and I hope these suggestions will help get your wheels turning. If you’d like to learn more, please get in touch with me or with any of the Agents at our Agency!

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This post was originally featured on FastCompany.com.  The original blog, written by Nick Nanton and JW Dicks can be found here: The Critic, The Mouseketeer, And The Iron Lady: Three Giants In Personal Branding

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Recently, the world mourned the passing of three very different and unique personalities--Margaret ThatcherAnnette Funicello, and Roger Ebert. Each member of this high-powered trio left a mark on those who loved and admired them. They also enjoyed fame for the vast majority of their lifetimes, and all three were even the subjects of movies (Meryl Streep won an Oscar last year for her portrayal of Thatcher inThe Iron Lady, Funicello had a highly rated TV movie produced about her life, and Ebert is the subject of the documentary Life Itself, which is yet to be finished).

But beyond that, you wouldn’t think they had much in common. These were not three people you would expect to see in the same room, let alone the same sentence. Think about their widely diverse careers:

These three each had a personal brand that the years never diminished. We think it’s instructional to look at why these three names endured--and will continue to endure--when so many others have faded into obscurity.

  • Authenticity

We’ve written often about how authenticity is probably the most important trait for a personal brand to have, and these three had it in spades. Of all the criticisms that might be launched at them, “phony” is one that would never make the cut. They were invariably true to themselves, no matter how fashions, trends, or politics changed.

When that level of authenticity is firmly in place, a public figure will always continue to pick up followers rather than lose them. All of us encounter so many less-than-genuine people who, depending on what situation they find themselves in, present an array of different faces, that it’s a breath of fresh air to encounter those who stick to their guns.

  • Consistency

Along with that authenticity came consistency. Annette was always very respectful of Walt Disney, the man who discovered her, to the point where she refused to wear skimpy bathing suits in her beach movies because he disapproved of them. Similarly, Roger Ebert championed underdog movies as well as causes he believed in, and rarely backed down from a fight. And when it came to Thatcher, anyone nicknamed “The Iron Lady” isn’t likely to bend with the wind!

When you’re consistent with your words and actions, you never disappoint those who already admire you and you end up earning the respect of the rest. Inconsistency, in contrast, creates a blurry personal brand that people have difficulty getting excited about.

  • Courage

Now, courage isn’t usually a trait we ascribe to a personal brand, but these three people in particular definitely make us think twice about that omission. We were being a little coy earlier when we said these three had nothing in common besides their fame. The fact is that all three battled long-term debilitating diseases; Thatcher withAlzheimer’s, Ebert with cancer, and Funicello for over 20 years with multiple sclerosis. The courage displayed in those battles made us admire these people even more and feel more bonded to them as well.

How someone deals with tragedy can define that person more than how they deal with triumph. In the case of these three, particularly Ebert and Funicello who were able to deal with their afflictions more publicly, their stature actually grew as a result of the health difficulties they found themselves having to deal with. Their struggles were inspirational, not only to those who shared these diseases, but to those of us who just couldn’t help admiring how they faced their fates with openness and a positive attitude.

Now, underpinning all three attributes we just described was one more invaluable asset--strength. Every successful personal brand has it, as did these three. They not only set the mark for how to create an enduring personal brand, but also on how to live a life.

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This post was originally featured on FastCompany.com.  The original blog, written by Nick Nanton and JW Dicks can be found here: The Kanye And Kim Kardashian Lesson In Personal Branding: Combining Audiences For Impact

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Hip-hop star Kanye West may be a musical genius--but he’s definitely not one of the most liked celebrities around. He’s infamous for interrupting Taylor Swift’s acceptance speech at the MTV Video Music Awards in 2009, as well as other public displays of bad behavior. When even the president of the United States goes out of his way to call you a jackass, you know you might have an image problem.

Keeping all that in mind, you might think Kanye’s days as a mainstream celebrity are over. And yet, who do you continually see in online gossip headlines, as well as entertainment TV shows? Kanye West. And why? Because, of course, he’s dating Kim Kardashian.

To say Kanye and Kim have different followings is to understate the obvious. The former has a pack of fervent music fans, the latter has a huge reality TV base. If one were to be cynical, one would say they only got together to grow their respective audiences--by tapping into each other’s celebrity status to burnish their own. (Not that there’s anything wrong with that!)

Actually, it’s a time-honored tactic in show business to team up to increase the popularity of both parties. Think about two of 2012’s biggest hits, The Avengers and The Expendables 2. Both realized a lot more box office profits simply because a whole lot of popular heroes were together for the first time ever and their fans came together in movie theaters as well.

And, by the way, it happens in politics too. Recently, ultra-liberal Democrat Cory Bookerteamed up with ultra-conservative Republican Bill Frist to make national appearances for the cause of anti-obesity. Whether these two are both seeking to raise their profiles or are genuinely concerned about this issue (or, most likely, both), it’s clear they got together to make the biggest impact possible--by combining their very separate audiences to dramatic effect.

This works for business branding purposes as well. When you partner up with the right person--someone who has their own strong following and/or unique talents--the combination usually packs more power than each individual has on his or her own. Even more importantly, you also get access to that person’s specific audience.

For example, we’re honored to be able to work on book and TV projects with such marketing and business heavyweights as Brian TracyDan Kennedy and Jack Canfield. But it’s good business for all concerned, because these greats get renewed exposure to our network in a whole new context--and our network, naturally, feels privileged to work with these legendary figures.

So think about who you can partner up with on a new project or business that could bring your product or service to a whole new audience--namely, somebody else’s. And keep in mind the following guidelines, suggested by Entrepreneur magazine, when you start searching for the right someone to join forces with:

1. Do they share your values?
If you and/or your business represent certain values, you don’t want to work with someone who doesn’t have the same affinity with those values--or, worse, openly contradicts them. You not only risk angering your base, you also risk undermining your whole business! The only exception to this rule is when, like Frist and Booker, you come together to support a cause bigger than the both of you.

2. Do they complement you and your business?
You don’t want to work with someone who does the exact same thing as you; you want to work with someone who has skills and assets that complement yours. Otherwise, that person could steal your thunder and your business. When you work with people that bring something new to the party, however, they make you look like you’re bringing added value to your customers.

3. Do they help you do your business better?
Sometimes a partner can actually fill in a critical hole in your business, such as improve your delivery system or offer a useful product extension of what you already provide. This isn’t an absolute necessity when it comes to choosing who you work with--but it is a definite plus to be on the lookout for.

4. Will both of you benefit?
When a partnership is unbalanced in this department, things have the potential to turn ugly. Resentments build quickly over one person feeling like they’re getting merely breadcrumbs, while the other is gorging on a loaf and a half. Both of you should know, going in, how this joint venture is going to do good things for each party--otherwise, you’re most likely headed for an unpleasant ending.

Celebrity Branding almost always benefits when more than one celebrity is involved. When you pick the right partner, you increase your credibility, your fan base and your star power. But there is one catch--and that’s that two negatives do not make a positive.

For example, while Kanye and Kim may have made a big media splash when they hooked up, they may have also inadvertently increased their number of individual haters. Why? Becausethey both have huge negative ‘Q’ Scores (the measurement of celebrity likeability), leading some news commentators to speculate as to whether they may actually have created the most toxic couple of all time!

So double up--not down--and double your success in the process. All it takes is the right partner to expand your market base and your influence.

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We’ve discussed a number of tactics and platforms that business owners can use successfully to create and strengthen their personal brand. From appearing on TV to writing a book to leveraging social media, there are a wide variety of options for business owners and professionals looking to increase their visibility and their credibility. Today, we’re going to talk about a specific platform that is growing in popularity and in effectiveness: video.

Well branded, well produced video content is very effective when it comes to personal branding. Below are four specific reasons why this is the case.

1) Video allows you to establish a “personal” connection with your audience. While there’s nothing like shaking hands and looking someone directly in the face in order to establish a relationship, video is the next best thing. Unlike reading a book or interacting on social media, video gives the viewer the opportunity to watch your facial expressions, listen to your voice, and pick up on your body language. As a business owner, video gives you the opportunity to “connect” with your audience quickly and effectively.

2) Video allows you to clearly demonstrate your expertise. In addition to establishing a relationship, video also offers the opportunity for you to speak authoritatively on your area of expertise. It gives you the opportunity to answer common questions and concerns that your target market may have. It offers a platform for you to provide insight and analysis on issues of interest to your audience. The net result is that your audience walks with helpful information relating to their needs—and with the perception of yourself as a CelebrityExpert® firmly planted in their mind.

3) Video allows you to establish your credibility and position within the marketplace. Forget for a moment what you say or do in the video. Forget the substance. Just by appearing in a well produced video and by looking the part of an industry expert, you’ve already sent a powerful message. You’ve established yourself as a leading expert in your field. Combine first-class production and an impressive appearance with substantive content that showcases your expertise and you’re guaranteed to make a powerful impression on your audience. The key, of course, is that you need to invest the time and resources to create a video that looks highly professional. You’re a CelebrityExpert®-- and your video needs to reinforce that brand!

4) Video allows you to reach a larger audience. Finally, video allows you to reach and engage a large audience. On leading social media sites like Facebook and Twitter, video has proven to be one of the most effective means for engaging followers and fans. Simply by posting your video on these sites and other social sites such as LinkedIn, you can reach and engage a huge audience—increasing your exposure while also boosting your credibility and developing your brand.

Video is a tremendously effective tool for creating and strengthening your personal brand… and your CelebrityExpert® status. If you’d like to learn more, or if you’d like help getting started with your video strategy, please get in touch with me or any of the agents at our agency today!

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The legendary motivational speaker Zig Ziglar used to say that “You can have everything in life you want, if you will just help other people get what they want.”

He was right—but you wouldn’t know that by the way much of our culture operates today, especially in business. Businesses and professionals often seem to approach those around them with a “what can I get out of this” mentality.

What does this have to do with personal branding?

Personal branding is all about defining and communicating your personality, your abilities, and your strengths. Establishing yourself as talented, intelligent, experienced, and so on is very important. But I’d like to challenge you to add something else to the brand you are creating: brand yourself as a giver. As someone who looks for opportunities to help others get what they want. If Zig Ziglar was right (and I believe that he was), this will ensure your own success as well.

Practically, here are several ways to become a “giver” and build your brand at the same time.

Connect people. Sometimes, all it takes is a brief introduction to solve two problems at once – An employer or individual looking for an employee or a partner, and another individual looking for an opportunity. Look for opportunities to connect people- they’ll appreciate it!

Lend a hand to a good cause. Look for an opportunity to contribute to a local cause or charity. It doesn’t have to be financial – donate your time to a good cause, and encourage your staff to do the same. Investing back into the community is the right thing to do, and it also improves your visibility. Many of our clients have led the way on this issue—all of the authors that we help publish have agreed to donate their royalties to Entrepreneurs International, and we were proud to be a part of a “Mission for Good” trip to benefit an orphanage in Mexico along with several clients.

Speak at local schools. Speaking at a school or a college is a great way to encourage and equip students while building your own brand at the same time. It’s also very rewarding – speaking at the University of Florida (my alma mater) is one of my absolute favorite things to do.

Looking for opportunities to give, rather than to get, may seem counterintuitive—especially in business. But it’s the right thing to do, it’s good for your personal brand, and it’s good for your business!

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As I’ve written before, one of the most important elements to creating a strong personal brand is learning to tell a compelling story. Storytelling is what brings your brand to life, and instead of being “just another business owner”, all of a sudden you become compelling to your audience.

This is a secret that virtually every successful brand has embraced. Nike doesn’t just sell shoes and shirts—they turn their customers into winners. Coca-cola isn’t just a drink—it’s an attitude, fun-loving and community oriented. Steve Jobs wasn’t just a brilliant engineer—he came to stand for innovation, vision, and of course black turtlenecks.

The ability of a brand to grow beyond just the products and services they sell is a major determining factor into the success or failure of that brand. This is true of global organizations and small businesses alike. And it’s true for you.

As I explain this point to clients and friends, the most common response is something like “but Nick… I don’t have a story to tell. I’m just a realtor.” (Or an investment advisor, or a CPA, or a dentist, etc.)

And my response is always “yes you DO have a story to tell. We just have to find it.”

Today, we’re going to discuss how to find (or create) that story. Below are several ideas.

1) Always highlight the benefits of what you do, not the features. Chances are, the actual products and services you sell aren’t that exciting. If that is what you focus on, it’s hard to create a compelling story. Instead, focus on the benefits. You’re not a stockbroker, you’re building a brighter financial future. My business doesn’t just do PR and marketing… we create celebrities. See the difference?

2) Highlight your impact on the community. Another great way to tell a compelling story is to show your audience what you’re doing to help the community. Launching an initiative to support local schools, or something similar, makes it easy for your audience to “buy in” to the story you’re telling.

3) Work your personality into your brand. Even if your business isn’t unique, you still can be. There are lots of wealthy real estate investors, but Donald Trump’s outlandish personality has put him in an entirely different category. Look for ways to incorporate your personality into your brand—along with your hobbies and your passions.

4) Set an ambitious goal. Sometimes, publically setting an ambitious goal can be very effective in terms of creating an appealing story. For instance, you could state that your goal is to sell a specific number of products this year, or have your product featured in a major magazine. Even better, you could combine this goal with a community initiative so that you’re working towards a great cause.

The key to creating an appealing and effective personality brand is to find the right story to tell. And I promise you, you DO have a story to tell. If you’d like some help identifying and communicating that story, please get in touch with me or any of the Agents at our Agency today!

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The business world has been buzzing since the announcement of a major merger between US Airways and American Airlines earlier this month. As a frequent flyer, I can testify that this story got my attention too!

Obviously, a merger of this scale is enormously complex. And one of the many factors that must be carefully managed is the customer experience that will be provided. This is no small challenge when you’re dealing with businesses of this size—particularly in an industry where customer service is often suspect.

A recent article on Forbes.com previews these challenges and offers some suggested areas of focus for the airlines. I think that many of these principles could be applied to your business, as well. Take a look:

Setting and then keeping new public performance benchmarks. The new airline could establish targets — on-time, satisfaction — and launch new ways to not only narrate its efforts but new incentives for its operations to meet them.

Committing to customer benefits. Do you understand the rules for what an airline does when weather cancels your flight? American could specify the principles for how it treats (and charges) its passengers and thereby change the industry. What differentiates its loyalty programs? What isn’t an extra charge?

Creating communities for real participation. The new airline could forsake Facebook pages and other silly social media marketing stunts, and involve its passengers in real communities to test systems, programs, processes, etc. Make us all co-operators.

Fixing employee relations first and always. American, like any airline, is in the service business, and the biggest (if not only) variable in its delivery are its employees. Making sure they were happy and impassioned would differentiate the brand. Make the commitment to them, and then tell us, too.

Guaranteeing what will never change. Financial circumstances are always changing and can be used to legitimize many corporate behaviors. Which ones will the new American never forsake (leadership on safety is one, of course)? Again, declare them.

I would summarize these ideas as follows:

  1. Set and meet high standards.
  2. Communicate clearly with your customers—and keep your promises.
  3. Engage customers and build community.
  4. Invest into employees so that they in turn invest into customers.
  5. Commit to the core of the brand—i.e., what makes you unique.

In addition to being good advice for airlines, these ideas would benefit most of our businesses as well. At the end of the day, every business owner wants what US Airways and American Airlines want: to build a brand that stands for excellence and an exceptional customer experience. Keep these principles in mind and you’ll be well on your way!

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by Nick Nanton

This month, I’d like to share some profitable wisdom from a guy who definitely has a lot of it to spare.

I had heard of Greg Crabtree and his book, Simple Numbers, Straight Talk, Big Profits: 4 Keys to Unlock Your Business Potential, for a few months before I actually talked to him.  Verne Harnish, who wrote the bestseller, Mastering the Rockefeller Habits, said, “It’s one of the top ten books of the year, you’ve got to get it.”  Then my partner Jack also told me I HAD to read it – and to make sure I did, he dropped a copy on my desk!

Well, I picked up that copy and I’m glad I did – there’s a reason it has a 5 Star review average on Amazon.  Greg has consulted with us on our accounting and finances and we’ve loved the results.  Recently, on one of our Platinum Coaching calls, I had the opportunity to talk with Greg about how any business can drill down on the numbers to really make profits soar.

Although Greg’s background is as an accountant, he feels his profession has really done businesses a disservice by not providing the numbers they need to make the right financial decisions.  Over the years, the entrepreneurs he worked with in his hometown of Huntsville, Alabama, challenged him to provide simple, understandable data they could act on.  That, in turn, caused him to develop some simple ways to help companies and entrepreneurs make the best financial moves for their future.

One of the biggest challenges for a small or medium-sized business is cash flow.  Greg, however, says it’s not usually a cash flow problem they have, it’s a profitability problem.  If you can get up to realizing a 10 to 15% profitability, you have a good chance of eliminating that cash flow problem if you deal correctly with what Greg calls “the Four Forces of Cash Flow.”

Force #1 - Taxes:  Nobody likes to hear it, but the first thing you should do is set your tax payments aside so you don’t have trouble down the line.  Greg says, “The number one key performance indicator of true wealth creation is how big of a check you write to the IRS.”  Of course, there are things you can do to minimize your taxes, but, in general, those methods usually involve using money to buy tax credits or put in some other kind of investment.  That means the money is locked up and you can’t use it – and, of course, that leads to more cash flow problems.  Plus, in general, you’ll have to pay those taxes later – and, most likely, taxes are going to go up, not down.

Force #32– Line of Credit:  The second thing you need to consider is getting off whatever lines of credit you’re using.  To Greg, lines of credit are like crack cocaine to entrepreneurs!  The only exception is if you’re using that line of credit to fund profitable growth, instead of covering losses. Also, if you’re in a business that requires you to buy and use heavy equipment, obviously a line of credit is probably going to be a necessity.

Force #3 – Core Capital: 

Your next step, and the best possible scenario for your business moving forward, is to create a core capital cash balance from your after-tax profits that allows you to have two months of operating expenses and cash in your business.  That’s what being a fully capitalized business is all about and it can become a magnet of opportunity.  You’re not struggling week-to-week - instead, you’re building from a debt-free foundation.

Force #4 - Distribution:    

Most of you reading this are most likely an S corporation or an LLC – so, once you’ve taken care of taxes, once you’re off any lines of credit, and once you have your two months of expenses socked away, you can then distribute your profits to all shareholders and take it out of the company – or, of course, you can reinvest it in your business with an eye towards some aggressive growth.  Either way, you can be sure all your obligations are taken care of, and you can move forward as you want.

Greg believes understanding your profit model is the most important thing any entrepreneur or business can do.  In his words, “You’ve got to learn how to self-develop your capital. A way to do that is you make sure you have profits in the business after you paid the taxes - and remember that the cash flow cycle requires about 10% profitability for about three years.  We see people be diligent and disciplined for those three years and maintain their 10% profitability – and that, in turn, creates a foundation that most of their businesses can build on forever.”

You can find out more about Greg and his awesome advice at the website for his book, www.SeeingBeyondNumbers.com.  See for yourself – his numbers definitely add up!

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This post was originally featured on FastCompany.com.  The original blog, written by Nick Nanton and JW Dicks can be found here: Taking Direction From Disney's Customer-Care Philosophy

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Last month, we held our first Celebrity Expert Marketing Academy. And, because our Dicks + Nanton Agency is located in Orlando, we knew we didn’t have to travel far to give our clients the best (and most productive) experience possible. We just took them all over to our neighbor’s place, which has plenty of room.

And we’re not kidding when we say that. It covers over 30,000 acres and includes four theme parks, two water parks, 24 themed resorts, two spas and fitness centers, and five golf courses.

Our neighbor, of course, is Disney World, the world’s most visited entertainment resort. And, no, we didn’t go there to ride the flying elephants at the Dumbo ride (we have plenty of time to do that on our own). Instead, we went with our clients to learn some of the special secrets that have made Disney the incredible success it’s been for over 80 years. Fortunately, the corporation has set up The Disney Institute to enable all of us not wearing mouse ears to get some inside business tips.

Many of those tips focus on providing the customer with the best experience possible. The fact is that Disney’s customer service is the gold standard for every business--because their management understands that if you don’t treat your paying patrons as you should, you’re going in the wrong direction.

So let’s talk about how to go in the right direction--with the help of a very special compass.

Walt Disney evidently loved compasses. You’ll find what’s called the “Compass Rose” in front of the walking area in front of and in back of Sleeping Beauty Castle at Disneyland. Not only that, but it was Compass East Corporation that began buying land in the Orlando area in the mid-1960s. That company was a cover for the Disney organization, which was snatching up property left and right for what would become Disney World; they hid their name from the transactions because, of course, sellers would have demanded more than the fair market price if they had known who was really after the transaction.

The compass, to this day, figures prominently in the Disney philosophy of customer service. For instance, we learned about the four points of The Disney Compass when it comes to how to treat a customer (an area of study Disney calls Guestology). We’d like to share these four profitable and productive directions with you here:

N - Needs
W - Wants
S - Stereotypes
E – Emotions

Let’s take these in turn and see how they impact your relationships with your clients or customers.

When we discuss a customer’s needs, we’re talking about the basics. If a person goes to the doctor, they might “need” medicine to get well. If someone goes to a CPA, they might “need” someone to do their taxes. It’s about meeting the minimum requirements of your business, whatever they might be.

Wants allow you the opportunity to kick it up a notch or two. For example, the person going to the CPA may also “want” new strategies to save on their taxes. When you provide that extra optional level of service, you differentiate yourself and give people more reason to come back to you, as well as refer you to other people.

Stereotypes require you to overcome negative impressions a customer might have of you or your business. For example, a stereotype of doctors might be that they only care about money and don’t care how long they make you cool your heels in the waiting area. If you are an MD, you can overcome that stereotype by attempting to minimize a patient’s waiting time and maximizing the one-on-one consultation time with you.

Finally, it’s common knowledge that emotions are often more powerful than logic when it comes to buying decisions. That’s why it’s always important to tap into what makes your customers or clients feel good about buying from you and focus on that in your delivery and fulfillment systems.

The Disney Institute is full of simple concepts like the above that enable you to bring a clear, yet sophisticated approach to doing business in the best possible way. We love to deliver those kinds of concepts to our clients (as well as ourselves, because we find they work like gangbusters), and we’re happy to share this one with you here.

With that in mind, we’ll leave you with seven more big ideas from seven rather small guys that will enable you to serve your clientele at the highest level possible.

1. Be Happy…make eye contact and smile!

2. Be like Sneezy…greet and welcome each and every client. Spread the spirit of Hospitality…it’s contagious!

3. Don’t be Bashful…seek out client contact.

4. Be like Doc…provide immediate service recovery.

5. Don’t be Grumpy…always display appropriate body language at all times.

6. Be like Sleepy…create dreams and preserve the magical client experience.

7. Don’t be Dopey…thank each and every customer!

Keep those seven principles in mind and you’re sure to dwarf the competition.

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We talk about personal branding strategies regularly in this space. But every once in a while, it’s a good idea to remind ourselves why we’re working so hard to build a strong brand. The payoff, if you will.  Below are some of the primary benefits of a powerful personal brand:

  • Instant credibility.  If you’re an accountant, for instance, the last thing you want to do every time you come in contact with a potential client is have to convince them of your expertise.  If you’ve built your personal brand right, you’ll be seen as an expert before you even meet.  Your website, your staff, your marketing materials… everything works together to position you as the expert in your area of practice—so by the time you meet a client in person, your expert status is unquestioned.  This is also important when it comes to referrals—other professionals don’t want to refer their clients to anyone but the best.  A strong personal brand makes it clear that you are the go-to expert.
  • Stand out in the mind of clients and referral sources.  A strong personal brand creates a memorable persona and helps you stand out in the minds of your audience.  Whether it’s your intensity, your sense of humor, even the décor of your office—a strong personal brand stands out in the mind of everyone who encounters it.  Such top-of-mind awareness is invaluable—it will result in more referrals and highly loyal clients.
  • Command a premium price.   If your car breaks down, you’re willing to pay a premium to have a highly qualified mechanic take a look at it.  You’ll pay more for entrepreneurial advice from an established expert like Dan Kennedy than you will for advice from your father-in-law.  That’s just a reality.  Your personal brand creates a perception of yourself as an expert, and it puts you in position to command a premium price.

At the end of the day, a strong personal brand will result in more leads, more business, and the ability to charge premium rates. It’s one of the best investments you can make. If you’d like to learn more, or if you need some help getting started, please get in touch with me or any of the Agents at our Agency today!

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This post was originally featured on FastCompany.com.  The original blog, written by Nick Nanton and JW Dicks can be found here: Lance Armstrong, Branding Catastrophes, And What Not To Do

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For years, cyclist champion Lance Armstrong denied using performance-enhancing drugs to aid him in his record-setting string of Tour de France titles. He stonewalled critics, threatened whistleblowers, and repeatedly denied all doping charges.

Until this week.

Armstrong threw himself at the mercy of the official court of public opinion this week--that would be Oprah Winfrey’s show – and finally admitted to doing what he’s been denying for over a decade.

Is Armstrong doing too little too late?

It’s probably too soon to tell. Armstrong, of course, has done a lot of good throughLivestrong, his cancer survivors’ charity. But unnecessary damage has been done to what was once an amazing success story simply by being unwilling to acknowledge simple facts. Armstrong’s heated denials of the drugs he is now finally acknowledging taking has resulted in behavior that some judge as being worse than the actual doping itself.

The point is you can only hold off brutal reality for so long, and the longer you try, the more you put your brand story at risk. Your authenticity begins to suffer and the public begins to lose trust in what you stand for. Since the Watergate scandal all the way back in 1974, the truth of the mantra, “It’s not the crime, it’s the cover-up,” has just loomed larger and larger, especially in this area of social media transparency, where every lie gets magnified to a gargantuan scale.

So, what’s a personal or corporate brand to do when it’s confronted with an unpleasant situation that’s not about to go away on its own?

Last year, a client of ours faced his own dilemma along these lines. Tracy Myers, owner of theFrank Myers AutoMaxx dealership in the Winston-Salem area of North Carolina, found his business under attack from the FTC (Federal Trade Commission) for a single phrase he had used in some YouTube videos promoting his business. They claimed the phrase was deceptive; he claimed it was just the dealership’s policy, but, nonetheless, pulled the offending videos down.

He was shocked a few months later to find out that the government agency was publicly accusing him of deceptive advertising, even though he had done everything required by the agency to comply with their requests.

Tracy didn’t take this lying down--nor was he about to let the negative news play out and harm his business. He immediately took to his social media outlets and began telling his side of the story, and quickly got a smattering of positive support from his followers. That motivated him to go back to YouTube and post his own videos explaining what had happened with the FTC and why it was unfair.

Virtually all the comments he got on the video were positive. Not only that, but some of the car dealer’s supporters got together and took their own photo holding up “Free Uncle Frank!” (Uncle Frank being the car lot’s mascot) signs, which they posted on Facebook. Tracy was also lauded for how he dealt with a potentially difficult business situation.

The truth is you can turn around a negative and find substantial support in the process. Here are three tips we believe can help improve almost any difficult situation when it comes to your personal or professional brand:

1. Get out in front of the story.

Tracy Myers didn’t wait when the FTC action hit. He immediately put out his side of the story (one of the distinct advantages social media has to offer all of us) before bad publicity could snowball. In contrast, Armstrong saw a problem he would inevitably have to confront grow to monstrous proportions before he did act. If he hadn’t been so afraid to deal with the issues, he might have found ways to mitigate the damage along the way.

2. Be as honest and transparent as possible.

Do any of us remember that late night favorite David Letterman was once embroiled in a huge sex scandal? It all went away pretty quickly--because, when it broke, Letterman at once took to the airwaves on his show to admit his culpability in a forthcoming and serious way (so forthcoming that the audience actually laughed, because they didn’t think he could possibly be serious). The incident did little to no damage to his career, simply because he handled it as honestly as possible, even though he was guilty.

3. Make the media your own.

There’s no point in playing someone else’s game, especially when, today more than ever, you can take the ball and run with it as far as you want. That’s exactly what Tracy Myers did when he used YouTube, Twitter, Facebook, and every other online outlet he could to get his message out. The worst you can do is put yourself in a reactive position to what someone else is saying about you; it’s better to be proactive and control how your message is delivered and presented to your public. Armstrong limiting his exposure to a single Oprah interview was actually the smartest way to do a “confession.”

Everyone faces personal and professional challenges that threaten their personal brand at some point--it’s part of being a human being. It’s how you handle those challenges that really determine what the ultimate impact will be.

When Armstrong finally decided to go on Oprah, it was at a point where he really had no choice if he ever wanted a shot at public redemption. It would have been smart to act sooner and more decisively.

As David Letterman demonstrated, we are much more forgiving of those who come clean at the first sign of trouble; it’s much harder to support someone who’s accused of playing with matches and won’t admit it until the house has burnt down. Admit quickly and self-correct (if necessary) immediately. Every second you don’t take action is another second you’ve lost to repair your reputation.

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As you’ve heard me say before, a powerful personal brand allows a business owner to differentiate himself and his business from the competition. It allows him or her to charge a premium price and still attract a steady stream of new business. Properly leveraged through direct marketing, a powerful personal brand can completely revolutionize any business. I have personally seen it happen time and time again.

But building a personal brand is not as simple as pushing a button. A powerful personal brand takes time and commitment to construct— but that commitment pays off handsomely as the brand begins to grow.

Like many other forms of marketing, for a personal branding campaign to be successful, it must feature consistent effort. You can’t simply wake up one morning, decide to spend three hours working on your personal brand, and then forget about it for another two months. That approach will lead to frustration, and little in the way of results.

Instead, personal branding must become a habit—part of your everyday routine and system. 

Yes, you’re busy. I get it. The demands of running your business are non-stop—the last thing you are looking for is more work. But you find time to brush your teeth twice a day, right? You take the time to straighten your tie before heading out the door. Where do you find the time and the energy? You don’t have to “find” the time—you just do it, because it’s a habit. And that’s what personal branding needs to become. A habit. This could mean a couple of minutes on Twitter after lunch each weekday, it could mean taking the time to personally call your customers to check in with them, or it could mean attending a networking function every week.  (Note: if this is too much for you, get your team involved! Find a social media savvy member of your team and place him or her in charge of your social media presence. Just make sure that you set clear expectations and hold him/her accountable!)

Personal branding isn’t about flashes of brilliance. It’s about being yourself, consistently, and engaging with the world around you. You’ll see limited results from your networking efforts if you only make it to a function three times per year. This applies to social media as well—one Facebook post or Tweet each month is much less effective than getting involved more frequently, because the point is to build a connection with your audience. And you can’t do that without consistent interaction. That’s why it’s critical that you are active regularly. You don’t have to feel inspired—you just have to be there, and be yourself.

Effective branding requires consistent activity. But you aren’t going to be able to be active consistently unless you establish a habit. It could be first thing in the morning, it could be the last thing you do before you leave the office, it could be after lunch, it could be between meetings—but whenever it is, find time to dedicate to your personal brand and start building the habit! If you’d like to learn more, or if you need some guidance as you get started, feel free to get in touch with me or any of the Agents at our Agency today!

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Personal branding requires work. Personal branding can be very profitable. But there’s nothing that says it can’t also be fun.

In fact, the truth is that personal branding is more effective when you’re having fun. Personal branding is all about you – your personality, your strengths and weaknesses, your passions. For that reason, approaching it as simply another item on your to-do list won’t work. As 2013 kicks off, I encourage you to make personal branding a fun endeavor. Below are a few ways you can do this:

1) Be yourself. Many business owners make the mistake of building a serious, all-business personal brand. And while the core of your brand has to be your expertise within your market, a boring brand is simply not going to be memorable. So spice it up. Showcase your sense of humor. Share some opinions that may surprise people. Don’t hesitate to include your family and personal life into your public brand. You will connect with your customers and potential customers most effectively when they feel that you are a “real” person just like them—so stop being so uptight all the time!

2) Join associations and organizations that you genuinely enjoy. Networking is a big part of personal branding—after all, your brand needs an audience. But too many people force themselves to attend conventions and trade shows that they truly have no interest in. Do not go down that road. Instead, seek out organizations that you will truly enjoy—related to your industry, or not! If you like acting, join a theatre club that meets every week. Or find a club for fellow hobby enthusiasts. Make friends, be yourself, build your brand—and you will be surprised by how many valuable connections you create. And you will have fun in the process!

3) Support causes that you believe in. Supporting the community is a great way to gain exposure for you and your business—while helping out a good cause at the same time. Rather than supporting specific causes because you always have, or because you feel a duty to, seek out causes that you are passionate about. This could include local schools, community outreach—just about anything. By supporting an effort you truly believe in, you’ll be getting your brand out there while doing something you can truly feel good about.

Today’s consumers are savvy. They know when they’re looking at something genuine, and they know when they’re not. If you’re not truly committed to your branding efforts, they’re not going to ring true. That’s why it’s so important to stay true to yourself and to have some fun with the process. Give your audience a chance to get to know the real you—what makes you different, what makes you great at what you do. Make personal branding fun, and you’re going to be more successful at it. If you’d like to learn more, feel free to get in touch with me or with any of the Agents at our Agency!

 

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As we’ve discussed previously, one of the key elements to a powerful personal brand is focus. Effective brands, personal or corporate, are focused on a particular niche and a particular set of characteristics that separate the business from others in their market. McDonalds is very successful at what they do—namely, selling affordable burgers and fries that taste the same no matter which location you visit. Meanwhile, just about every city in the USA has at least one local, high-end steakhouse. They’re not cheap, they’re not fast—but they are classy, distinctive, and known for delicious entrees.

Two very different restaurants with a very different focus—and both have found success.

The question is… what is your focus?

Who is your target market? What are the characteristics of your ideal customer?

How does your brand appeal to these customers? (Common answers might include “an emphasis on customer service” or “years of experience” or “a unique product that no one else can offer.”)

Now that you’ve got an idea of the focus of your brand, let’s take a few moments to evaluate it critically. Answer each of these questions as honestly as you can:

Does your brand resonate with your target market? In other words, is it appealing? Times change, and a brand that was attractive ten years ago could easily be obsolete today. (How many of us still use AOL as our internet provider?)

Does your brand set you apart from others in your market? The whole point of a strong personal brand is that it differentiates you from your competition. When successful, this gives you the ability to virtually “lock out” competitors because they simply can’t provide what you can. But the marketplace is fast-moving—so honestly evaluate whether your brand is still unique.

Does your brand focus on the value you provide to your customers? Ultimately, your brand should answer the question “why should I do business with you?” McDonalds offers fast, affordable burgers—consistent time after time. Apple offers cutting edge technology and a “cool” factor. Nike makes their customers feel like world-class athletes. What value does your brand provide?

The beginning of the New Year is a perfect opportunity to evaluate the state of your brand. Take some time to ponder these questions… and ask yourself if perhaps your brand needs a new focus for 2013.

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This post was originally featured on FastCompany.com.  The original blog, written by Nick Nanton and JW Dicks can be found here: Chris Christie, Honey Boo Boo, And The Top 10 Celebrity Branding Success Stories Of 2012

 

As another year comes to a close, everyone is posting all kinds of 2012 Top Ten Lists. Don't believe us? Well, if you happen to have a few minutes during the holiday rush, here are 55 of them, courtesy of Time magazine.

Frankly, we can't resist the temptation to offer one of our own--focusing on our own specialty, of course. Without further ado, here is our 2012 Top Ten List Celebrity Branding Success Stories, celebrating those notables who best exemplified a specific and crucial facet of building a successful personal brand.

10. Honey Boo Boo

There's no question that TLC reality superstar Honey Boo Boo captured the nation's heart this year--and we think that's because this little girl and her family exemplified the personal branding quality of authenticity--if not the qualities of good nutrition (check out their "sketti" recipe and then contemplate their cholesterol counts!). Honey and her homies were always themselves, no matter what the situation--and that includes their pet pig, Glitzy! It wasn't for everybody, but it was for a huge number of TV viewers.

9. Chris Christie

Many conservatives lost their mind when New Jersey Governor Chris Christie was showngiving some love to President Obama a week before the Presidential election, but actually, Christie was giving himself a co-branding advantage. Co-branding is when two unlikely brands combine forces (think of James Bond and Heineken teaming up in Skyfall) to broaden their bases and gain more exposure. In Christie's case, his bipartisan effort with Obama after Hurricane Sandy sparked a 19-point rise in his approval rating, bringing it to record-breaking heights.

8. James Bond

Speaking of James Bond, no matter what he's drinking these days, 007 has proven himself to be one celebrity brand that never quits. As a matter of fact, his latest screen adventure is his most popular ever, and that's quite an accomplishment after a half century of movie heroics. Why is he still so successful? Because the producers haven't been afraid to move him forward with some solid brand evolutionThe film successfully captures 2012 sensibilities, even though Bond originated during The Cold War in the 1950s. When a brand stands still, it gets left in the past. When a brand stays contemporary, it can continue to connect.

7. Lana Del Rey

Singer Lana Del Rey first burst onto the scene in 2011 as a YouTube sensation, and her uniquemusical style caused people to either love her or hate her. She appeared visibly uncomfortableduring a musical performance on NBC's Saturday Night Live last year, which made more music aficionados question her professionalism and authenticity. However, she didn't let any of this backlash stop her--and her new album has actually gotten her some respect. By showing integrity when it came to her core brand, she overcame the hate and established herself as a comer.

6. The Obama Campaign

Last month, Obama won a bigger victory than expected--many attributed the high turnout in his favor to his campaign's savvy use of social media45% of registered voters said they were motivated to vote by Facebook, Twitter and the like, indicating the increased importance of using these social sites to promote any celebrity brand.

5. Gabby Douglas

Gabby Douglas became a superstar at the London Summer Olympics with her record-breaking gymnastic feats. Sometimes a celebrity brand is sparked simply by an incredible display of high performance; whether you break world records or sales records, your audience is bound to take notice.

4. The Avengers

This Marvel-ous superhero movie became the biggest hit of 2012, but that success was actually several years in the making. The Iron ManHulkCaptain America, and Thor movies first introduced the team members in their own hit films, plus each teased the forthcoming Avengers film with appearances by group ringleader Nick Fury (played by Samuel L. Jackson). This is a shining example of how a solid brand strategy can multiply brand success.

3. Kony 2012

In early March, if you were even a casual user of social media, you couldn't get away from the viral video Kony 2012, as millions of people around the globe were sharing it. A poll suggested that over half of American young adults had heard of the video within days of its release. The video, which promoted the cause of the San Diego-based organization Invisible Children, demonstrated just what effective storytelling is capable of--which is why we consider it themost powerful personal branding tool (and which is also why we're writing a book about it!).

2. Jeremy Lin

In February of 2012, "Linsanity" hit the Big Apple--when Jeremy Lin, a player who was about to be cut by the New York Knicks, suddenly became the team's star player, with a series of awesome games in which he made the difference between a win and a loss. When you can successfully engineer that kind of unexpected shock and awe demonstration, you surprise your competition, delight your intended audience, and instantly create a memorable celebrity brand.

1. The Mayans

How can a culture that hit its peak more than a thousand years ago grab tons of publicity all year long? Easy: just predict the end of the world (or not). Yes, if you want to really draw an awesome amount of attention to your celebrity brand, simply make an apocalyptic prediction. There, of course, is only one problem with this approach: Every single doom-and-gloom forecast, so far anyway, has been wrong (and here's another Top 10 list to prove it). And let's face it--even if you do get lucky and hit it right, you're not really going to have a lot of time to enjoy your newfound fame. Better to stick with the branding ideas in the previous nine entries!

Have a happy and prosperous holiday season--and here's hoping your personal brand yields some excellent dividends in 2013!

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In a recent article, I highlighted five New Year’s resolutions to help you take your brand to the next level in 2013. As promised, here are five more:

6) Make your customers feel like insiders. If you can make your customers feel like “VIPs”, they’re going to be much more loyal to your business and your brand. Let customers get a glimpse “behind the scenes” from time to time. Sharing pictures of your team in action on social media is one great way to do this.

7) Provide value to your social media followers. Let’s be honest, most of us aren’t in position to “break” news in today’s fast-paced media environment. But you can provide analysis and other valuable information to your online audience. If you’re a tax accountant, for instance, you could explain the implications of a new law that is being debated by congress. This type of valuable insight will make your audience pay attention!

8 ) Interact with your social media audience. Too many business owners view social media as a one-way street. It’s not. If you are using social media merely to promote yourself, you’re not going to build an audience. Spend more time replying to status updates and tweets than you do creating your own.

9) Make sure your website reflects your brand well. In many cases, your website serves as the “face” of your business. Take the opportunity to communicate your brand. This means using pictures and video if possible—and it means creating content that reinforces your brand and your points of differentiation. If you’d like to learn more about creating a personal brand-centered website, let me know!

10) Look for speaking opportunities. Think about the last time you attended a seminar that featured a speaker.  Without even thinking about it, you granted the speaker “expert” status in your mind, didn’t you?  We naturally assume that someone qualified to address a large group on a specific topic knows what they are talking about—which is why making a speech is such a good idea.  When you speak on a topic, you become an expert in that subject—and that’s what personal branding is all about!

Feel free to get in touch with me or any of the other agents at the agency if you’d like help in this area. I hope that 2013 will be the best year yet for your brand and your business!

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The New Year is right around the corner, and this is the time of year where many of us think about what we’d like to accomplish in the next 12 months. Right now, 2013 is a blank slate, full of possibilities. For both yourself and your business, you have the opportunity to set ambitious goals and achieve incredible success. Today, I’d like to offer ten New Year’s resolutions designed to help you take your personal brand to the next level in 2013. I will cover the first five here, and the next five in an upcoming blog entry.

  1. Refine your elevator speech. When given 30-60 seconds to talk about yourself and your business, do you know what to say? Do you have a speech prepared that effectively communicates your brand and your points of differentiation? You never know when this will come in handy, so be prepared!
  2. Live your brand. Personal branding only works if you truly commit to it.  Every interaction you have with your market—whether it’s a face-to-face conversation, a radio commercial, a website, or a speech—should be consistent with your personal brand.  By itself, your personal brand has limited value… but when you tie it in to every aspect of your business and your relationships, it can take your marketing efforts to the next level. Be particularly careful to “live” your brand while you are working with clients and customers—the impression that you create goes a long way to determine their perception of you and your business!
  3. Smile! This may sound elementary, but the truth is that happy, positive people are more fun to be around, and therefore more memorable. Do your best to maintain a cheerful attitude when you’re around others—it really does make a difference.
  4. Focus on relationships as you use social media. Twitter and Facebook are full of individuals and companies that are trying to establish their brand and sell their products by ramming them down their audience’s throat. It’s free marketing, the theory goes, so why not aggressively self-promote and sell? The problem with that line of thought is that most people don’t log on to Facebook or Twitter looking to be sold something. Your customers use Facebook and Twitter to build relationships, both personal and professional. The key to establishing your brand on these sites is to build relationships.
  5. Don’t be afraid to grow. Change is scary. But it’s inevitable for a healthy business, and for a healthy personal brand.  Your business can’t afford to stand still—you should always be searching for opportunities to innovate and improve. Don’t be afraid to stretch and grow in 2013!

Stay tuned for five more New Year’s resolutions in an upcoming blog entry. Best wishes to you, your family, and your business in the New Year!

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What is the most effective way to corner the market and lock out your competition?  Simple: you need to become a CelebrityExpert®.  You need to develop a compelling, engaging personal brand that positions you as the leading expert within your market.  You need to be the first name that pops into any potential customers mind when he or she needs your services or products.

And… to stand out amidst your competition, you need to go against the flow. 

This makes logical sense, right?  If you want to become the industry expert in your area, ahead of all your competition, why would you want to sound and look just like everyone else?  Today we are going to take a look at various strategies for differentiating yourself and your business from the competition—while establishing yourself as the leading expert in your market.

Break the Mold

How many businesses, even today, put serious effort into engaging their market via social media and compelling web sites?  While some businesses are gradually starting to come around, the reality is that most small businesses have been slow to adopt social media and web marketing as part of their overall marketing strategy.

Of course, it is not enough to simply create a Facebook page and a Twitter profile and then sit back and wait for the phone to ring.  To build a truly powerful presence, you need to do social media differently than your competitors.  Keep these three principles in mind:

1) Focus on relationships. Twitter and Facebook are full of individuals and companies that are trying to establish their brand and sell their products by ramming them down their audience’s throat. It’s free marketing, the theory goes, so why not aggressively self-promote and sell? The problem with that line of thought is that most people don’t log on to Facebook or Twitter looking to be sold something. Your customers use Facebook and Twitter to build relationships, both personal and professional. The key to establishing your brand on these sites is to build relationships. Spend more time replying to status updates and tweets than you do creating your own.

2) Don’t be boring. Too many Twitter and Facebook profiles are completely devoid of originality, personality and substance. If you’re going to stand out, you need to be interesting and thought provoking. Post jokes, or commentary on pop culture, or predictions for upcoming NFL games. Tweet using only haiku form for a couple of days. Be creative. Find a way to express yourself, your personality, and the personality of your business.  Before you know it, you’ll realize that followers and friends are looking forward to your next tweet or status update.  Not only does this mean more exposure for your business, but it also means a stronger bond between you and your clients.

3) Break down the news. Twitter and Facebook are great sources of breaking news. As soon as anything of even minor importance happens, you can bet there will be thousands of posts announcing it and linking to news stories. Posting a link to a breaking news story will not help you stand out—but insightful analysis will. Imagine you’re a CPA for a moment, and a new tax bill has just been signed into law. Don’t just share the news, explain what it means for business owners and taxpayers! Your tweet will stand out from the thousands of others, because you won’t simply be stating what happened, you’ll be telling your audience what it means to them.  By breaking down recent developments that matter to your customers, you provide value to your social media followers—and you establish yourself as the clear expert in your market!

Social media can be a great way to differentiate your business from the competition—but you have to find a way to stand out.  Be creative, don’t hesitate to think outside the box, and keep these three strategies in mind as you build your social media presence.

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You’ve probably heard talk about the importance of “customer experience” when it comes to growing your business. But have you ever wondered why it’s so important? Below are three reasons that it pays to create a brand and a business that is known for providing a stellar customer experience.

1)     Your business becomes immune to price undercutting.  Once your customers have experienced the unparalleled experience your business provides, it will be very hard to persuade them to go anywhere else.  Do you own an iPad, or do you know someone who does?  Ask them how likely they are to purchase a different tablet in the future, simply because it is priced more cheaply.  If you surveyed 100 users, you would be hard pressed to find more than one or two who would consider switching.  Why?  Because the iPad is an exceptional product and provides great value to its users.  Back to your business: the reality is that, from time to time, you will have to deal with competitors undercutting your prices.  But by building a brand centered around your unique and exceptional value, you render yourself immune to your competitor’s strategy. 

2)     Your business builds a loyal following.  If you attract new business simply by offering low prices, you can expect them to be loyal customers—until they can find lower rates elsewhere.  On the other hand, by marketing the unique value provided by your business, you will attract customers that appreciate the value you provide.  They won’t leave you in the blink of an eye—because the value you provide can’t be easily duplicated by your competition.  Sure, low prices are a great way to bring in new business.  But they’ll leave you just as rapidly as they found you.  Providing value enables you to build a loyal following—and to keep them for the long term.

3)     Your customers spread the word via word-of-mouth advertising.  Providing a great customer experience will lead directly to the most effective form of advertising known to mankind—authentic word-of-mouth advertising.  When your customer has a great experience, human nature means that he or she is very likely to tell a friend or a family member.  Over time, your business will build a reputation for quality care and service—and you can count on bringing in new customers who are eager to experience your business for themselves.

Customer experience matters—and it’s important that providing an exceptional experience becomes an integral part of your brand. It will pay dividends!

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Why is personal branding worthwhile? There are many reasons, but today we’re going to focus on one of them: Developing a dominant personal brand will allow you to stop competing on price. You won’t have to charge rock-bottom rates in order to bring in new business, and you won’t have to worry about customers bolting for a competitor the moment they find a lower price.

Here are several ways to accomplish this with your personal brand:

  1. Use your personal brand to highlight your experience and qualifications. Your customers want to know that they are in good hands. If you can position yourself as experienced and well-qualified, you allow them to simply relax and trust that you’ll get the job done right. That sense of confidence is exceptionally valuable—and most customers are willing to pay a premium for it.
  2. Use your personal brand to emphasize your expert status. Media exposure is key—whether that means writing a book, publishing articles in nationally circulated magazines, or appearing on local TV. Many business owners laugh at this idea when we discuss it for the first time—their common response is “what in the world would I have to talk/write about?” But every business owner has a story to tell, and you are no exception! Emphasizing your expertise makes it easy to charge higher rates… because it’s a given that working with an expert means paying a premium rate.
  3. Use your personal brand to communicate what makes you different. A well-defined personal brand makes it easy for your market to understand what makes you different from everyone else out there. At the Celebrity Branding Agency, we are passionate about the music and entertainment industry, and it shows—whether it’s on social media, through our website, or in face-to-face conversation. As a result, our clients know that we have the ability to leverage the same tools that are available to A-list celebrities. Take the time to define your most valuable points of differentiation, whether it’s your education, a revolutionary new product, or a commitment to exceptional customer service—and work to incorporate them into your personal brand.

Your clients prefer to do business with experts whenever they can. Think about it—when your child is sick and you have to choose a doctor, which would you prefer—one who is generic and non-descript, or a recognized expert in his field? Of course you’ll choose the expert. The same goes when you’re choosing an accountant to prepare your taxes, a real estate agent to help you sell your home, or even a mechanic to work on your car.

If you can develop a personal brand that communicates your qualifications, your expert status, and the attributes that set you apart from the competition, it will be very easy for your market to understand the value that you provide. And at that point, your target customers won’t blink at your price tag—because the value you provide more than justifies it.

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As you begin to build a strong personal brand, it is important to leverage it fully in order to grow your business. Whether it is networking, direct marketing, or meeting with a prospect face-to-face, make sure to incorporate the celebrity brand that you have created!

For instance:

Incorporate your personal brand into speeches and public events. Whether you’re speaking to a large audience or you’re networking with two fellow business owners, don’t be afraid to tie your brand into conversation.  Tell stories.  Talk about your hobbies.  Let your audience get to know you, personally—not just in your professional capacity.  By interweaving your brand into your conversation, you can simultaneously impress your audience with your knowledge of your industry and create a strong personal appeal.

Use direct marketing—but make sure your brand always shines through. Many small business owners don’t realize how effectively personal branding can be tied in to a direct marketing campaign.  Whether it’s your website or a direct mail campaign, branding yourself as the CelebrityExpert® in your market while presenting a strong call to action is powerful.  Don’t just market the services you provide—market yourself through your brand.  Your customers want to know that they are in good hands—so always present yourself as THE expert in your market.

Live your brand. Personal branding only works if you truly commit to it.  Every interaction you have with your market—whether it’s a face-to-face conversation, a radio commercial, a website, or a speech—should be consistent with your personal brand.  By itself, your personal brand has limited value… but when you tie it in to every aspect of your business and your relationships, it can take your marketing efforts to the next level. Be particularly careful that to “live” your brand while you are working with clients and customers—the impression that you create goes a long way to determine their perception of you and your business!

You’ve been working hard to create a powerful personal brand—so take advantage of it. Look for opportunities to leverage it on a daily basis. These suggestions will help you get started, but be sure to use your own creativity as well!

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This post was originally featured on FastCompany.com.  The original blog, written by Nick Nanton and JW Dicks can be found here: The Twinkie Template For Building An Eternal Brand

In the last couple of weeks, have you ever heard so much about Twinkies? I mean, since you were six years old?

In case you missed our recent national panic attack, America collectively gasped when it was announced that the Hostess snack food company was going out of business due to a labor dispute and, as a result, its flagship product, Twinkies, would soon disappear from store shelves.

The Twinkie feeding frenzy quickly began. Shoppers stormed stores to hoard the packaged treats, and escalating bids for Twinkies and Twinkie-related products were soon helping eBay sellers realize some pretty delicious profits. Twinkies even became a political football (were they the victim of Obamacare or vulture capitalism?) and, closer to home, grandpa got pretty angry about the potential loss of his beloved munchie.

What’s funny about all this sudden Twinkie worship is that Twinkies have weathered their share of branding storms over the years. There was the urban legend that Twinkies are made of so many ingredients that aren’t real food that they remain edible forever (not true--they have a shelf life of about 25 days). There was the infamous “Twinkie defense,” employed unsuccessfully in 1979 by the man who shot the San Francisco mayor (as well as city supervisor Harvey Milk), who claimed that too much junk food caused him to turn homicidal. And, of course, Twinkies have been the butt of jokes in shows like Family Guy and movies such as Wall-E. Any brand faces challenges--particularly one that’s been around for more than 80 years. If a brand is carefully built, however, it can be strong enough to sustain almost any bad press.

So--how can you make sure your personal brand is up to the Twinkie standard? Here are a few tips, courtesy of The Disney Institute, that lead to long-lasting success.

1. The Emotional Connection

The strongest way you can bond your audience to your brand is through emotion, and the best way to create that emotional component is through storytelling. We’ve written about the power of storytelling before, because it’s an integral part of our approach on behalf of our clients. When you frame your brand’s story in the right way, you reach people on a very deep level.

Twinkies, by the way, are fortunate in the fact that most of us have already crafted our own Twinkie brand story in our heads. Because they’ve been around so long, we all grew up with them; they were an integral part of many a childhood lunch. That’s why the thought of them not being around anymore elicited so much panic.

2. Employees as an Emotional Engine

Disney calls its theme park employees their “cast members,” and they all receive careful instructions on how they should present themselves to Disney guests. To quote the Disney institute, “Brand loyalty…is seen as a reciprocal relationship, beginning with us. Each cast member, regardless of rank, understands that we must be loyal to our customers to receive loyalty in return.”

Similarly, the people who work for you, or even vendors who interact with the general public on your behalf, should act as ambassadors of your “brand story” with points of difference in their presentations that set you apart from the competition. Beyond that, your products should be packaged and labeled in a manner that also extends your brand story.

3. Build Repeat Business

If your brand doesn’t prompt people to come back to you for more, how in the world will it have any longevity? That means you must make sure your brand truly connects with your target audience and that you continue to expand its appeal beyond its original buyers. Also, as Disney makes clear, you need to be your toughest critic. If you’re not honest enough to confront your brand’s weaknesses and find ways to continually improve your delivery, you’re not giving folks the motivation to keep buying from you.

Twinkies may not, in reality, last forever…but their brand just might, and so can yours. We should all aim to build a brand with the lasting value of America’s favorite snack--but maybe with a little more nutritional value.

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Personal branding isn’t something that is ever “done”, as I’ve written before. Building an effective brand is a journey. It’s an ongoing process. It requires consistency and it requires that you create and adhere to a plan.

But while the goal is to consistently strengthen one’s personal brand over time, the reverse is also possible. Below are six common branding mistakes that will sabotage your efforts to build a powerful personal brand. Are you committing any of them?

1) Poor focus. You can’t be everything to everyone. Your personal brand should be focused around a few key qualities—your unique skillset, your sarcastic sense of humor, or your years of experience, for instance. Trying to “do too much” ends up diluting your brand, and you end up not standing for anything. Identify the most important traits or attributes to highlight, and focus your efforts on them.

2) Being Mr. (or Mrs.) Negative. Nobody wants to be around negativity. So no matter what the specifics of your brand may be, stay away from negativity. Don’t complain on social media. Don’t start a phone call by complaining about the weather or your local sports team. Stay positive and upbeat as much as possible, and your brand will be that much more appealing.

3) Misunderstanding your audience. Do you understand your audience? I mean… really understand them. Do you know their hopes and their dreams? Do you know the fears that keep them up at night? It’s critical that you understand your audience in a very comprehensive way so that you can tailor your brand accordingly.

4) Expecting instant results. You can’t build a powerful brand overnight. Unfortunately, many business owners grow discouraged if they don’t see instant results—and as a result pull the plug on what could otherwise be a very successful initiative. Understand that building a personal brand is a long-term project, not something you accomplish overnight.

5) Putting it off. Branding requires consistent work on your part (or on the part of your staff). Updating social media, blogging, networking… it all takes time. And because most business owners are extremely busy, in many cases they end up putting off their branding efforts as they don’t seem as immediately important. Unfortunately, this mindset leads to weak or ineffective branding efforts. If you’re serious about your personal brand, commit to it!

6) Not telling the truth. The worst thing you can do when it comes to building a powerful brand is to make promises you can’t keep. Don’t make outlandish claims or crazy promises just to close a deal. While these tactics may be helpful in the short run, in time it will come back to haunt you. Be honest and upfront as you create your brand… that way you can be sure it is built on a solid foundation that won’t crumble over time.

Personal branding can be extremely profitable for business owners. We’ve talked extensively in this space about the process of creating an effective brand. But if you’re committing any of these mistakes, you’re making the job much harder for yourself! Feel free to get in touch with me or any of the other agents at the agency if you’d like to learn more.

 

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Social media sites like Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn can be great channels by which to connect with your target market. The explosive growth these platforms have experienced in recent years gives you the opportunity to reach a potentially huge audience in a branded, consistent, and cost-effective way.

That, in a nutshell, is why so many business owners are excited about social media.

But this growth presents challenges as well. Most obviously, as more and more businesses jump in to the fray, it can be very hard to be seen and heard. And as you know, it doesn’t matter how great your social media content is, if nobody sees it! So today, we are going to cover five ways to engage a larger audience via social media.

1) Interact. Too many business owners view social media as a one-way street. It’s not. If you are using social media merely to promote yourself, you’re not going to build an audience. Take the time to interact with others and build real relationships—it’s time well spent!

2) Share pictures. You’ve heard it said that a picture is worth a thousand words. On social media, a picture may be worth ten thousand words. So use them!

3) Break news. If you’re in position to break news that impacts your industry, do so! There’s plenty of regurgitated content flying around on Twitter and other social media sites… but if you can break news, you’re going to build a following.

4) Provide value. Let’s be honest, most of us aren’t in position to “break” news. But you can provide analysis and other valuable information to your audience. If you’re a tax accountant, for instance, you could explain the implications of a new law that is being debated by congress. This type of valuable insight will make your audience pay attention!

5) Get personal. It’s important that your following on social media views you as a “real” person, not an impersonal business focused only on self promotion. Tell jokes. Talk about your favorite TV shows. Don’t be afraid to relax and have fun!

One final note: if this sounds like a lot of work… it is. Social media requires time on a regular basis. But the good news is that you don’t have to do it by yourself… you can delegate it to a member of your team. Just be sure that you create a plan and define your expectations so that they stay on track.

Questions or comments? Feel free to contact me, or any of the agents at our agency to learn more!

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Our agency is called the Celebrity Branding Agency, as most of you know. And we didn’t choose that name at random. While you may not realize it, virtually every celebrity in Hollywood has at least one thing in common: they (or their advisors and agents!) are highly skilled at marketing, and branding in particular. Sure, there is luck involved in becoming an A-lister, not to mention talent and genetics. But for every Hollywood celebrity, there are hundreds of people who are every bit as talented… but never achieve success on the same scale. So today, we are going to take a look at the marketing strategies and techniques that celebrities use to build their career… and see if we can apply those same strategies to your business.

1) Figure out what sets you apart. There is no such thing as a “generic” celebrity—they all have a unique skill, trait, or physical ability. Think Justin Bieber’s hair, Lady Gaga’s wardrobe, or Usher’s ability to dance. As a business owner, it’s up to you to identify what makes your business different from everyone else. It could be your years of experience and unique perspective. It could be the customer experience you provide.

2) “Dress for the job you want, not the one you have.” No celebrity waits until they are famous to start dressing and acting the part. Hollywood doesn’t work that way, and neither does the world of business. If you expect to become a market leader, you need to act like one—starting right now!

3) Leverage the media. If there’s one thing that Hollywood celebrities know how to do, it is to leverage the power of the media. Whether it is appearing on late night talk shows to promote themselves or a venture, dominating the tabloids, or giving interviews on the red carpet, A-list celebrities understand the “star power” that the media provides. We help our clients to do the same. How can you leverage the power of the media to promote your business and build your brand?

4) Embrace a cause or a charity. Celebrities routinely endorse or partner with causes and charities—everything from animal rights to cancer research. And while this usually reflects a sincere passion, it’s also an excellent opportunity for celebrities to build goodwill and generate exposure for themselves. How can you partner with a cause in your market in order to build your brand?

5) Never forget that it is your fans who ultimately make you famous. At the end of the day, it’s the fans that make celebrities who they are. Without millions of fans lining up to buy his albums and purchase concert tickets, Justin Bieber would be just another anonymous, albeit very talented, young adult. As a business owner, the same is true of your customers. Never, ever forget that your customers are responsible for your success… and treat them accordingly!

You may not realize it, but business owners can learn a whole lot about marketing and branding by paying attention to Hollywood! How can you apply these lessons to your business?   

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We talk a lot about personal branding on this blog, and most of the strategies focus on long-term strategy, planning, and solutions. Today we’re going to change it up a bit and highlight five branding techniques that you can use to start building a more powerful brand immediately:

1) Practice your handshake and introduction. Obviously as a professional you know how to shake hands and introduce yourself. But give this process some thought, and ask yourself “am I projecting the best possible first impression?” If not, what needs to change? Work on it and put it into practice immediately—the first impression really does count.

2) Refine your elevator speech. When given 30-60 seconds to talk about yourself and your business, do you know what to say? Do you have a speech prepared that effectively communicate your brand and your points of differentiation? You never know when this will come in handy, so be prepared!

3) “Live out” your brand. Does your personality reflect the brand you are working to build? It should—or you’ll be contradicting yourself and sabotaging your brand. Work to ensure that you embody your brand in every day interactions, just as you do when you’re appearing on TV or interacting with your audience via social media.

4) Add a branded element to your email signature. If you’re like many business owners, you often send dozens of emails per day. Each of those emails is a chance to reinforce your brand—simply by branding your signature. Whether it’s a logo, a favorite quote, or a picture of yourself, find a way to take advantage of the opportunity!

5) Smile! This may sound elementary, but the truth is that happy, positive people are more fun to be around, and therefore more memorable. Do your best to maintain a cheerful attitude when you’re around others—it really does make a difference.

Personal branding doesn’t have to be complicated! Each of these strategies will make a real difference – so put them into practice today!

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We are in the heat of election season now—not like you could have missed it!

It seems like you can’t go five minutes without hearing or seeing an advertisement for President Obama or for Mitt Romney, his challenger. (If you’re completely tired of them and just want the election to be over with already, I can promise you that you’re not alone!)

As you probably know, political elections largely come down to marketing and branding. “Likeability” is an important component of every election—and in fact, many experts believe that the President’s edge in the likeability category is largely responsible for his narrow lead in the polls.

At the end of the day, “likeability” largely comes down to personal branding—so we’re going to take a few moments to look at the efforts both Romney and Obama are making to build their personal brands. How can you apply these lessons to your business?

Pursuing photo ops. If you had a dollar for every time a presidential candidate was “caught” kissing a baby, you’d be very, very wealthy. And it’s no accident. Politicians are acutely aware of the power of photographs to communicate their brand, and they work tirelessly to ensure that they are photographed in as many flattering settings as possible.

Dressing appropriately. Political candidates want to appear to be normal people just like you and I—and they dress accordingly when they’re out campaigning. Mitt Romney in particular seems to be determined to shed the idea that he is somehow “different” from voters due to his wealth and his high-level business success. He can frequently be seen in a dress shirt, with no tie, and with his sleeves rolled up.

Talking about the same things their audience is talking about. Both Romney and Obama made a point of commenting on the “replacement referee” controversy that angered NFL fans through the first four weeks of the season. It’s entirely possible that both candidates did feel passionately about the issue, but it’s also clear that the controversy represented an opportunity to demonstrate that they are “normal” people too.

Interacting with voters and donors. If you pay attention, you’ll notice that politicians put a great deal of energy into every single handshake they make at a campaign event. They want each individual that they interact with to feel valued and appreciated. And they do this by focusing on each interaction, even if it only last for a couple of seconds.

Staying on message. One of the most important elements when it comes to building a personal brand is consistently staying “on message.” They want to hammer the same themes home time after time, and the more they can keep their message consistent, the more sincere and genuine they seem.

You may not be running for office, but you are competing for business. And each of the strategies that are currently being utilized by politicians across the nation can be adapted to work for you. Don’t hesitate to get in touch with us if you’d like to learn more! 

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Branding is a very common element of a marketing campaign, and has been for many years. We all recognize the power of international brands like Nike, Coca-Cola, and Apple. Personal branding, on the other hand, is a little bit less well-understood. Rather than focusing on a business, personal branding seeks to help an individual build a powerful brand. Think Donald Trump or Oprah. That brand can stand for anything, though for most business owners credibility and expertise are significant components.

From time to time, I am asked why personal branding is so valuable—why a business owner should focus on their personal brand instead of simply their company brand. Below are three important answers to this question:

People buy people. When it comes to choosing a business to purchase from, consumers have consistently demonstrated that they prefer to do business with others that they know and trust. Where a company can sometimes seem “faceless” or anonymous, an individual has no such problem. While billion-dollar brands can establish credibility for the business, it is much harder for a small to mid-sized company to achieve this type of credibility without an emphasis on personal branding.

People are more memorable than companies. In addition to establishing credibility, creating “memorability” is a critical function of an effective brand. Simply put, you want potential customers to think of you when they need your products or services—not your competitors. And it’s easier for an individual to create this type of memorability than it is for a business itself.

People can become experts, companies very rarely accomplish this. One of the most important goals we have for each of our clients is to turn them into experts within their market. There are many ways we do this—from publishing books to appearing on NBC, CBS, ABC and FOX affiliates across the country. While it is relatively easy to turn an individual into an expert, it is much more difficult to create a company brand that conveys this message. In fact, most businesses that have successfully branded themselves as experts within a market usually accomplished this by first establishing individuals within the business as leading experts.

Now don’t misunderstand—building a corporate brand is important as well. But when it comes to getting the most “bang for your buck” as a small or mid-sized business, it’s impossible to beat the power of personal branding!

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If you’ve been paying attention to my blog entries and articles, you know how valuable a strong personal brand can be. A powerful brand differentiates you from the competition in your market, allowing you to win more business. And a well-constructed brand positions you as the expert in your marketplace, giving you the opportunity to charge premium rates and still land new clients. I’ll tell you this as well: every business owner is capable of building a strong personal brand.

So if a strong personal brand is incredibly valuable and accessible to every business owner, why aren’t more business owners succeeding in the world of personal branding?

The short answer is simple: they aren’t doing what it takes. Like anything else, building a strong personal brand requires commitment. And while many business owners are fired up and ready to go at the outset of a branding campaign, after a few weeks or months the enthusiasm begins to fade.

I don’t want to see you go down this road. As I often tell my clients, it is important that you set yourself up to succeed at personal branding. Below are five ways you can do this:

1. Create a system. Personal branding generally requires work on a consistent basic. Whether it’s posting on Facebook or Twitter, publishing blog entries and articles, working on a book, or something else entirely… it takes time. And without a system, these tasks inevitably fall by the wayside. So create a system- i.e., spend 15 minutes on social media right after your morning meeting, or work on your book every Tuesday after dinner. This leads us to the next point…

2. Delegate when appropriate. Let’s face it: many of you are too busy to spend the necessary time on your branding efforts. That’s okay—many of these tasks can be delegated to team members. However, it’s important that you clearly define the specific tasks each team member is responsible for, so that nothing gets “lost in the shuffle.”

3. Understand that consistency over time is the only way to get results. Building a powerful brand requires consistency—and it doesn’t happen overnight. Don’t expect “overnight success”, because it won’t happen and you’ll end up discouraged. Commit to branding for the long haul and I can promise you that you’ll see results!

4. Identify specific, measurable goals – both short and long term. It’s important that you work towards tangible goals—like surpassing 5,000 Twitter followers, publishing a best-seller, or reaching the first page of Google for important keyphrases. Remember that the best goals are specific, measurable, and tied to a deadline. Evaluate your progress on a regular basis and make adjustments as needed.

 Personal branding can revolutionize your business—and make you a whole bunch of money in the process. But it’s not going to happen if you put yourself in position to fail. Keep these four principles in mind and set yourself up for personal branding success!

 

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