I started a global marketing and branding firm 17 years ago and believe branding is very important because if you do not brand yourself then the market will brand you instead. The single most important ingredient to creating a great brand is authenticity and ˙here are a few tips from my experience to help establish an authentic brand:
- Be original. What makes you unique or special?
- Be creative. How do you want people to think & feel after interacting with you vs. your competition?
- Be honest. Let your brand be known for speaking the truth, and you become the trusted advocate and go-to source.
- Be relevant. Brands aren’t created in a vacuum.
- Be consistent. Develop a cohesive message, and live it every day.
- Be passionate. Everyone loves to work with people who are passionate about what they do; it makes life much more fun and interesting.
There are lots of tools businesses can use to promote themselves and although social media and online marketing are very popular I still like e-mail marketing which is a very effective way to build a relationship with customers. I am a big fan of e-mail and it does not need to be complicated to start using e-mail marketing to reach your target audience. To get started follow these simple steps:
*Collect all your contacts in one place. You can use a fancy CRM system if you have one or an Excel spreadsheet if you prefer. Just compile the list so ALL of your contacts are handy, include people you know from every part of your life, current clients, prospective ones, neighbors, friends, your hairdresser, parents of your kids’ friends, everyone. Marketing is about building relationships, people want to work with people they like, trust and know so using e-mail marketing is one way to build long term relationships.
*Start contacting people on your list regularly. Make it part of your daily routine to reach out and connect to build the relationships you have and strengthen them through ongoing communication. Your goal is to build the relationship not to sell them anything, be a welcomed addition to their day offering them information, an article, introduction, quote, something of value. Be known as a source of useful info, advice, etc. Be seen as a giver with a generous spirit and they will welcome seeing your name in their inbox.
*There are e-mail marketing products and services like Constant Contact, Emma or you can create your own template and do it yourself if you prefer, the important thing is to do it on a consistent basis and be known for providing value every time. Just commit to a system that works for you and get started. People who know you, like you and trust you will be more likely to refer business to you so make it easy for them to remember you. E-mail marketing is a great way to do that!
*Once you start e-mail marketing you can easily repurpose the content to get the same info out to different audiences without a lot of extra work by turning the same content into a newsletter, blog post, podcast, tweet, status update, syndicate to other sites, share on social media, etc. People need to be exposed to information several times before it has an impact that is why advertisers try to surround you with their messages. By getting your message out in a variety of media outlets in various forms might seem repetitive to you but your audience will not notice it or might miss it altogether so the repetition is important. Your audience can be distracted, be multi-tasking, not focused, etc. so you have to break through that clutter to get through to them.
It takes time to build relationships and earn people’s trust. It does not need to be time consuming or expensive though you can just do a little bit every day. Be known as a consistently strong source of useful material so that you own the space in people’s brains for a specific piece of real estate. Amazon started by being known as “the world’s biggest book seller” but once they earned customers’ trust there they were able to expand into other categories like music, grocery items, clothes and now every category you can imagine. I try to brand my company as a one stop shop for all things marketing communications so that when organizations need marketing help they think of me first. E-mail marketing is a great way for me to reinforce that message and as I share what I know the effects can be exponential. Perception is reality in marketing and as you keep popping up in various places as your content is shared your reputation and brand will grow.
It does not matter which platform you choose just pick one that is authentic to you. It should look and sound like you and the brand you have built. Whether yours is polished or more informal, chatty or academic, humorous or snarky, it is a way for your personality to come through. Everyone is not going to like you or hire you but for the ones who would be a great fit for you make sure they feel and keep a connection and give them a reason to remember you so that when they need your help they think of you first.
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