Sunday, March 23, 2008

Don't Just Brand Your Business, Brand Yourself

By Barbara Gabogrecan

This title means what it says... don't just brand your business, but brand yourself! 'You are your business' - especially in the Micro and HBB (Home Based Business) sector. It is very important for potential clients to trust you as well as your business. So put some energy into branding yourself, as well as your business.

Have a personal plan for branding yourself and keep it updated. Log your goals and put them to a time frame. Be specific. This type of action plan is very important if you really want to see results.

Promote yourself strongly. When someone asks 'what do you do' - have a verbal logo ready! This is an important part of branding yourself and your product; particularly if you are in the service industry.

To make a verbal logo, start with a negative e.g. define the problem; and conclude with a positive e.g. offer a solution; and point out your unique point of difference. An example of a good verbal logo is: "Most Micro and HBB operators struggle with marketing tactics to help their business grow. Together, with the operators, I develop practical, simple marketing strategies that are both affordable and effective."

How do you present yourself? You do not have to be a 'glamorous chick' or a 'handsome hunk or ham' - but you do need to have a visual signature as part of your personal brand.

The way you look can be repeated and recognised. Wear a hat and have become known for that (as has Molly Meldrum); wear some outrageous jewellery or a bow tie - dare to be different!

Your brand should play on your personality characteristics. One of these characteristics should be the ability to show your passion. If you really do believe in a certain behaviour or belief - that will show in everything you do.

Have a philosophy of 'what can I do for you?' rather than 'what's in it for me' and constantly think of how to put that into action. Others notice this and comment on it. It helps set you apart from competitors.

And just how important is it to be always thinking of others? Very important! Those hand-written notes, prompt email or phone follow ups, can set you aside from most, as it seems to be a forgotten art of etiquette by many. If networking is important to you (and I hope it is) these thoughtful acts will build and strengthen the relationships that you are trying to build.

Your brand needs to come to the fore when networking. Targeted networking can be much more successful than accidental networking. Make contact with those who are of interest to you and stay in touch with them.

Choose those that you can help and those that can help you. Remember the philosophy 'what can I do for you?' By helping others become successful, you will be building a network of positive, supportive people who will help you when you need and ask for it.

Strengthen your brand by recognising what you are good at, and then build on it. Don't waste time trying to improve on skills that you do not have... that will only hold you back from developing and growing the skills you do have. To be known as an expert in your field will strengthen your brand's position in the community.

Once you have positioned yourself as an expert, the media can do much to further promote you, as you become the person they will contact for comments.

Write articles, e-books and online newsletters. You will soon become well known within your niche. Undertake speaking engagements for community groups, council networking groups and any other business groups you can find.

Keep developing and distributing interesting media releases to enhance the 'word of mouth' promotion, by making it sizzle! You need to be HOT!

To help build your brand, choose a charity or association that you feel passionate about… the more you enjoy what you are doing, the stronger your brand will become. To enable you to put more time into developing your brand, make sure you have others to do some of the more menial tasks to keep your operation going, allowing you to concentrate on what you do best.

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Barbara Gabogrecan is a renowned artist and author and spends her time supporting the Micro and Home Based Business operators. A free e-book 'The Power of Targeted Networking'

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