The first thing I need to say before I Share this Secret with you is that I am not a marketing consultant. I don’t have a marketing degree and I have never worked in marketing.
Now that we have that clarity lets talk about what I can share with you. As a business coach I work with some of the best and most Successful Entrepreneurs in Australia. I’ve watched them take their personal and company Brand to great heights. I have also seen them build very Successful Businesses through very clever and Strategic Marketing campaigns. It is that clever Strategic thinking I am about to share with you.
We are going to consider how you build your brand, how you get your buying customer to understand your product or service. Then the very simple ways that you can spread the word and attract business.
One of the first things I have a new coaching client do is to complete a SWOT analysis. This is not only of their business but of them personally. There are a number of reasons for this. From a brand development perspective, it is important to recognize that we each have a personal brand. Understanding this will enable you to separate yourself from your business when you need to and that is the secret to longevity. It will allow you to develop a succession plan, an exit strategy and give you the opportunity to develop a true legacy with your business.
Perhaps, like me initially, you are your business.
If you are in a service industry, you generate the business, do the work, perform the role of the bookkeeper and everything in between. Then the idea that there can be essentially two brands within your business will be unthinkable. But even in that scenario, if you start to outsource roles within your business and leverage off your knowledge and expertise you can start to develop scalable products which which have a separate identity. It is the only way you can manufacture goodwill value. Otherwise the business is just you and therefore without you it has no intrinsic value.
Still not convinced?
Let’s look at an example. Take the example of a sole practice Accountant, let’s call him Steve. Steve has a small accounting practice which consists of himself and one support person. He meets with the clients, performs the accounting work and generates the accounts. He is it. There is only one brand, “Brand Steve”. Not so however. Let’s imagine that Steve starts to produce some simple tip sheets. He develops an online presence where business people can start to get online tips on small business accounting. Steve then teams up with a local bookkeeper and runs some podcasts or webinars.
That online presence starts to gather Momentum and its own database outside of Steve’s clients. Suddenly Steve has two brands, Steve the Accountant and Online Steve. If he is clever about how he develops the online presence and starts to monetise it then he has a tangible asset which, over time, may very well become valuable quite independent of his brand. If Steve then creates clever strategic alliances, which I will talk about later in this chapter then his online brand can take on a whole independent identity. Now of course that online presence will also start to refer clients to Steve the Accountant which in turn adds value to his personal brand. The important thing here is that it gives Steve options for the future.
One of my very Successful Entrepreneur clients Michael Yardney has done exactly that. He has the Michael Yardney brand which is involved heavily in educating people around Wealth Creation through Property and together with his business partners he has very separate identities. Micaheal has been able to take the concept one step further and through partnerships. Michael has his own Personal Brand to create other businesses which use his personal brand to generate interest and Leads. It is very clever, it came about as a result of a lot of Strategic Thinking and hard work over a number of years, but it is achievable for anyone.
We know that the world is changing rapidly. What worked five years ago may no longer be relevant. Consumers are bombarded daily with a never-ending stream of messages all vying for their consumer dollar. So here are some simple steps you can take to get your brand ready to compete in that very competitive landscape.
1. Answer the question “Why”. Why are you in business? What is your central purpose? This is a time to Be Brutally honest with yourself. You may think that the most common answer would be “To make money” but in fact in my experience it isn’t. My clients see money as the bi product of what they do. It is the reward for being in business but by no means is it their reason or their “Why”.
You see, money comes and goes, and it is just a commodity. It is a nice commodity to have and life is a whole lot easier with than without it, but it won’t provide you with a central purpose. Maybe you are in business to help people, maybe it’s to change perceptions or maybe it is simple as that you want to achieve status or have a professional qualification. Hopefully you are in business because you love it and it is your passion. The clients I enjoy working with are those who run their business because it is their passion.
When I coached Katrina Christ, arguably Australia’s leading family portrait photographer I was always impressed with her commitment to her passion. The business therefore became an extension of that passion and so growth became relatively easy. As with all the secrets contained in this book though, a word of caution. Just because you have a passion does not guarantee success in turning that passion into a business. It is of course an amazing and often essential ingredient but even in our new disruptive, digital world nothing replaces commitment, drive, determination and strategic hard work.
Luck can play a part but as one of my longest serving clients says, it took him twenty years to be an overnight success.
2. Once you’ve answered as to why you are in business you need to use that answer to create the story. This is the “Who”. Who are you? By now you have clarity around why you run your business but what do you answer when someone asks what you do? A simple exercise I use with my clients is to say, if you met someone at a social function on the weekend and they asked what you did, how would you answer?
At first glance this seems like an easy straightforward question to answer. But what if I asked you to answer in a way which Compelled the questioner to want to know more, to engage with you in a longer Conversation all about you and your business or even better still to actually buy your product or services. And this is where the distinction between your passion and your story become Relevant. If someone asks you what you do, and answer is not compelling it is more than likely that they will never get to hear about how passionate you are. The answer to the “What” needs to be immediately compelling. It needs to be infused with your passion and it needs to beg the very next comment to be “Tell me More”.
I consider myself to be extremely fortunate. I love what I do, and I get to do what I love for a living. Clients pay me substantial sums of money to coach them which is my passion. I get to mix with Entrepreneurs and I constantly learn from my clients as well. What a Dream Job. But let me ask you this. If you met me socially and asked what I did for a living and I answered “Business Coach” would you stay around to ask another question?
It’s okay to be honest, I can’t hear you. You see if I answered that way, I would never get to tell you about my passion. How working with my clients and seeing people achieve their dreams and goals is what motivates me or how seeing my clients go through very real personal change which has an amazing positive impact on their business is what gets me out of bed every day. I wouldn’t get to tell you how speaking at industry events across Australia and internationally is a huge buzz for me or how having a client tell me that I have changed their life is enough of a reward that I would do it for no money at all.
I also wouldn’t get to tell you how being paid allows me to give back, to make a positive contribution to the business community, to mentor young business owners who simply couldn’t afford my fees. Also, to contribute to my Community and society at large in the hope that I can leave this world just a little better than it is now. Equally important is to leave a legacy for my grandchildren.
I wonder if you would get that chance when you are asked that question. That is why I encourage all my clients to develop and practice their story. So, they end up with a clear and compelling answer the “What” question. Remember I asked before how would you react if I told you I was a Business Coach? What if my answer the “What” question? That I am the unreasonable friend to some of Australia’s leading entrepreneurs? Would that make you ask more? So how will you answer? How will you infuse your answer with your passion? I recently met a jeweler who described himself as a pleaser of women, using diamonds! And what about my old friend Katrina Christ who describes her photography as capturing family memories? How compelling is that?
Take some time to think about your story. Practice it and fine tune it until you get that wow factor which compels someone to say, “That’s Interesting, Tell me More”.
3. Finally, once we have the What and Why answered we can focus on the How. This is about developing strategies to get your Brand out into the market place. I’m not going to talk about marketing and I’m certainly not going to tell you the secrets of social media. But I will encourage you to get an understanding of it. Social media is undoubtedly here to stay and will also undoubtedly change and develop rapidly. I recently attended a Roger Hamilton seminar where it was stated that there would be more developments in technology in the next five years than in the past twenty.
The industrial age is undoubtedly finished and there is a new world order particularly in online and social media presence. It is now a specialized field and one in which I also take advice from specialists. What I will talk about now however is tried and true strategies for getting your Brand, both the brand of your business and your personal Brand into the big wide world.
I encourage all my clients to spread the word of their Brand at every available opportunity. My very dear friend Kevin Turner one of the most influential people in Australian real estate media often says you never know who you are standing next to. So, whoever it may be, seize the opportunity to tell them who you are, what you do and why. If you have it confidently developed, then your enthusiasm will be infectious. In the next section I will talk more about establishing Strategic Alliances and how that can effectively develop your Brand Presence.
4. The fourth rule is simply to be Authentic. Even though the world is faster paced than ever before, the digital age has meant that consumers are far better educated than ever before. Researching you on the web is easy and if the story you tell, doesn’t match what people read about you on the web then you are wasting your time. Just as importantly though, having a business and therefore a brand that you can wholeheartedly support and one which represents your values and ideals is so much easier for you to believe in, to support and commit to and to make the sacrifices which we all must make as our business grows.
Being Authentic will Attract the Right People whether as consumers or as team members and it will also drive Loyalty to your Brand, something which is essential even today. If the Brand you have developed is not representative of the Goals and Purpose you have set for yourself then you have a lack of congruency and the operation of your business may ultimately become a burden. Take some time out to look at your brand and make sure you have met these rules. If you haven’t, change it now, set about creating a new story, the one which best reflects you.
Where to from here? Invest time into yourself and your business. Take a lesson from your new “Unreasonable Friend” (Me!) grad a coffee, something to make notes on and block yourself out from interruptions. Most importantly take a mirror, you want the Real Story to tell. If you would like to have a catch up book a call here.