Not only what are your Personal Brand Descriptors but do they drive you day to day?
When I ask people what their Personal Brand descriptors are I always, always, always get someone who says “Professional” or “Team Player” or “Multi Tasker”. Now clearly these attributes are incredibly important in a work environment but seriously, do you wake up and leap out of bed at 6am shouting “Yeay! I’m Professional”?
Really, does that drive you to challenge your self? To strive to be better? To stretch yourself? Are you proud when you meet someone new through business and the one take away they have from you is that you are “Professional”? Really?
Personal Brand Descriptors take a bit of effort. They must be authentic to you. They must be active, not passive. They should stretch you a bit. They need to be positive. Ideally they should be Emotional rather then Functional. They should be really obvious to people who meet you. They should come across at every touch point with your audiences; spoken, written, social media, video…
They are clear drivers for you every day. That’s why it’s so worth while taking the time to really work on them. Ask people who know you what words they would use to describe you. What elements of “You” do they value and why. What elements do they know are in there somewhere but they can see you keep under wraps.
Think about going to a Networking Event (Oh the Horrors!). I’m naturally quite a shy person so I abhor these events. So, without my Personal Brand Descriptors I go in to a conference and at the Networking break I’d firstly head straight to the loo for 5 minutes, then to the tea station, oh and then the iPhone calls – I look busy, unapproachable and in demand; but wont have to talk to anyone – then I head off wondering why I put myself through this because it was all a bit rubbish and I didn’t make any valuable contacts.
Now, consider I attend the “Horrors” of a networking evening armed with my own Personal Brand Descriptors; Curious, Engaging, Brave. I will go out of my way to embody these words because I know my brand and I know these are an integral part of this brand. It is not me actively going up to a stranger and asking “What encouraged you to attend tonight” it’s my brand (which I’m really proud of) because I’m being “Curious”, even if, initially, I need to force myself to do it. Then I find myself introducing someone I have just met at the tea station to someone I know through a sports club – because I am “Engaging” and I’m doing it all because despite myself I am “BRAVE”.
Don’t forget you tailor these Personal Brand Descriptors to your own authentic self so if you’re very quite and internal choose words that are authentically you but that stretch you a bit. “Listener”, “Interested” “Brave” (for a bit of Scary Spice!).
Know your story, know who you are, know your audience. Be passionate about it and let your descriptors drive you.
Social media has grown from a curiosity to an integral piece of corporate strategy in the space of only a few years. Nearly overnight, business owners have brought on whole teams of specialists to craft effective social media strategies and manage multiplying numbers of social media accounts. The truth is that you can build an efficient and valuable social media strategy by following a few Best Practices. Successful businesses start by identifying the social networks they need to be active on and the tactics they need to use on each network. A good strategy will discuss the type of content to be posted — including a discussion of “Voice” and “Tone.” Following the social activities of others is useful to come up with your own “style.” When you find a brand whose approach you like, spend some time studying what they do with their followers. Watch for several weeks and get a sense of the cadence of their social activities. Immersion will give you confidence for the next step — Implementation.
Here are some Best Practices as you put your plan into action:
Nobody has time to waste. Take a look at your strategy and review the reasons your business is implementing a social media marketing plan. What do you want out of social activities? Are you trying to drive people to your website, your blog, or your Facebook page? Focusing on your ultimate goal will guide your next steps: what you do (what channels you will use), when you do it (what schedule you will aim for), and what content you’ll share (blogs, ebooks, testimonials, webinars, tip sheets, etc.). This kind of analysis can head off social missteps (remember the United Airlines baggage handlers’ debacle?) and help you focus on what’s important and productive.
Social media is global now; it doesn’t sleep. Your social media management tool needs to allow you to easily schedule messages, unless you have employees who cover all the time zones in shifts! Even while you sleep in, say, Duluth, you will want to schedule messages to go out to your customers in Tokyo during their workday.
If you want to take scheduling to the next level, look for a tool like HootSuite that integrates with a Contact Relationship Manager like Nimble and offers the ability to schedule large batches of messages at once. This will be an incredibly useful timesaver when it comes to managing campaigns or contests that require heavy messaging around a certain period of time.
When it comes to interacting with your customers, those in different locations may have different needs, speak different languages, or follow different trends. You’re going to want to optimize your searches and filter them by language to help you curate relevant content for different demographics.
Through social media, businesses can keep their finger on the pulse of their industry. Setting up keyword search streams provides insight into what your customers think is trendy. This can be great intelligence to help you develop a marketing strategy that focuses on your customer’s lifestyles and personal preferences. There are lots of apps that will help with this; you can set up Google alerts for free and chose how often you want to be notified.
Keywords are useful for keeping track of competitors’ activities but they’re also useful for tracking brands that are complementary to yours. If your product or service is often purchased in conjunction with another product or service, keep an eye on the complementary product’s social media activity. Be ready to take advantage of promotions or recent sales — because these are potential leads ready to be converted.
It takes two, as they say, to tango, especially when it comes to being social. An effective social media campaign will benefit from collaboration. Set clear expectations and solicit employee buy-in. Can your employees help you with the management of your social presence? Are they enthusiastic about participating? Do you have a social media management tool that enables you to seamlessly collaborate with your team to ensure you execute an integrated social media management strategy? The answers to these questions can mean a greatly amplified social voice for your brand.
Gone are the days of social media purely being about “building buzz.” It is now a line item in budgets as business owners invest resources to turn social relationships into business opportunities. With a line item comes the need to demonstrate return on investment.
Set up a system for analyzing important metrics (such as click-through rates on shortened links, clicks by region, and top referrers). It’s also important to have access to Facebook Insights and Google Analytics. You’ll want to track your Twitter @mentions and watch trends as people follow you on Twitter. Are you on Google+ or LinkedIn? What metrics will tell you if you are succeeding? You might have to pull your statistics from several places, but the data is valuable and worth a bit of trouble.
Access in-depth granular metrics on the efficacy of your social media programs. This is important because you will understand which messages result in the highest number of conversions, which platform is providing the greatest return — even what time of day is most effective to drive traffic.
WHAT IT TAKES TO SUCCEED
Social media is here to stay, but it’s still in its formative stages, and a lot of brands are still just skimming the surface of its business potential. To maintain a competitive advantage, businesses need to stay alert and aware. Develop a strategy you are comfortable implementing, even if you start small.. Then stay focused. Don’t waste your time telling your followers where you’re eating lunch. Have a purpose, prioritize your tasks, and keep good metrics to track results. When you do these things, your social media efforts will result in increased revenue to your business.
Choosing a name for your e-business requires just as much time and effort as naming a brick-and-mortar store. Here’s how to get started.Q: I’m opening an online store and was wondering how important the name of an online business really is. Should the name reflect what the business sells, or is it better to come up with something catchy and easy to remember?A: What’s in a name? When it comes to your business, a lot more than you might think. Deciding on a name for an online business is no less important than deciding on a name for a brick-and-mortar business. In each case, coming up with the business name is one of the most important decisions you’ll ever make. The right business name can help you rise above the crowd, while the wrong business name can leave you trampled in the rush. With the economy in a slump and competition on the rise, now more than ever it is important that you put considerable thought into coming up with the perfect name for your business.Unfortunately, this is a task that is easier said than done. We live in an age when a business called “The Body Shop” might repair wrecked cars or sell bath products to teenagers, so before you send your letterhead to the printer, consider the following points to help you select the business name that’s right for you.The first thing you should do is determine if the name is already in use by someone else. You’d be surprised at how many entrepreneurs forget to research this point and open a business with a name that is already in use. If the name you choose is available, you should immediately reserve the name and apply for legal ownership.Another important thing to consider, especially for an online business, is the domain name for your business. The domain name is the Web site address (or URL) a customer will use to find you on the Web. Is the domain name for your business name available? If not, is there a domain similar to the business name you’re considering?You’ll undoubtedly discover that securing a suitable domain name is actually harder than choosing a business name. Most logical domain names are already reserved, but you might get lucky. Keep in mind that domain names should be short and descriptive. Whatever you do, don’t use a domain name that is a confusing amalgam of letters and numbers that’s hard to remember and even harder for your customer to type.One good way to approach the task of naming a business is to do so from your customers’ point of view. Your business name should clearly define your offering and communicate your message to customers. Put yourself in your customers’ shoes for a moment. If you were looking for a business that provides your product or service, what would you expect that business to be called? The name of your business can also spark subconscious reactions in customers that may drive them to you or drive them away.Finally, let’s talk about things to avoid. Experts agree that you should avoid using generic terms like enterprise, corporation, partners and unlimited as part of your everyday business name. These terms are fine for the legal business entity name, but are often too unclear for everyday use.Here’s to your success.
You have a great idea for a new business, you have a plan for how you’ll go about it, you may even have funding, customers and a web site design… Now you’re only stuck on one thing – choosing a name!We’ve spoken to entrepreneurs, marketers, strategists, branding experts and design gurus to get some structure on how to go about picking a name that will last, that you’ll still love in 10 years time and that will come to hold value in the mind of your customers.
1. How Do I Start?
Initially, begin by brainstorming a list of keywords that relate to your product/service, company or blog. Then hit the reference materials, look at dictionaries, thesaurus and online for more options around your chosen theme. Try to think of all different types of names, compound words like “Facebook”, blend together words like “RedStorm”, add affixes “coComment”, make up words like “Squidoo” or even phrases such as “StumbleUpon” or “GoToMeeting”Once you’ve got a healthy list, start cutting it all back. Begin by asking yourself:
2. Does It Mean Something?
Names can be classified on a continuum based on how they communicate to consumers. There’s a spectrum from descriptive names which speak directly to a product benefit or attribute, “Organic Supermarket” to empty vessel names, where it doesn’t mean anything about the product “RedHat Linux”.Descriptive names, such as “Murphy’s Ice Cream”, immediately convey information about what you do. They are simple, intuitive and help consumers easily identify the mission of your business.The downside? They can sound generic and boring, and the accompanying domain name is usually taken. They are also limiting in a fast-moving industry like technology, where what you do now might not be what you’ll be doing in a few years. Don’t forget, a name can be a prison… it can restrict what you offer and to whom you offer it as you move through the phases of development.
3. Or Does It Mean Nothing?
Empty Vessel Names can be completely made-up words (Kodak or Squidoo), words in another language “Hulu” which roughly translates both to “holder of precious things” and “interactive recording” in Mandarin), or those whose meaning is so obscure that people interpret it as an invented word “Google” (sparked from “googol,” the name for the number consisting of a one followed by a hundred zeros).Empty vessel names can be fun to say, can separate you from the crowd, and can be subtler than descriptive ones.But you may need to put in more money to get the word out initially. And a word to the wise: Check to see if the word means something in another language — you don’t want unintended meanings to make a mockery of your carefully crafted name.If neither descriptive nor empty vessel names appeal, try a suggestive name, which lies somewhere in between. Names like Apple which indirectly alludes to the simplistic and perfectionist values for which the brand would like to be known.
4. Will It Work Online?
Nothing kills a name faster than finding out someone else already has it, a competitor or even an totally unrelated business — and in the online hunt for domain names, it sometimes seems like every possible option is taken.More and more, search engine issues and domain availability are affecting the style of names businesses can launch with. Some people consciously try to create names with unique keywords so theirs will be the only result in targeted Google searches. Although it can be dangerous to go down this road as keyword incorporation can be viewed as spam by search engines.
5. Is It Sticky?
Amidst all the search engine and domain name drama, consider that names are memorable when they sound good. Names like “Bebo” and “Yahoo” are great sounding memorable names.You can also use poetic devices to ensure the names stick. Names based on rhymes (TopShop, HotSpot), repetition (Bebo,LaLa), and alliteration (FireFox,BlackBerry) tend to be memorable.For the advanced namers out there, try what’s called the “Part of Speech Test.” Look at whether potential names can be used in multiple parts of speech. These are stronger because people will use them in speech more often. LinkedIn, for instance, can be used as a noun “We connected on LinkedIn”, as an adjective “Did you look at her LinkedIn profile?”, and as a verb “I am going to LinkIn with him”. When a name passes the Part of Speech test, it becomes pervasive.
6. Is It Simple?
Any name should be easy to pronounce, easy to understand, easy to spell when you hear it, and easy to know the pronunciation when you see it written down. However, you can mitigate confusion by also holding domain names with likely misspellings and redirecting users to your correct site. Remember, although almost all single word domain names are gone, try to keep your name short as it has to appear in email addresses and on business cards as a www.Punctuation is trickier. Although adding hyphens to domain names or underscores to Twitter handles may allow you to get the name you wanted, people are likely to accidentally leave them out, especially when typing on mobile devices. You’re better off avoiding punctuation if you can.
7. Forget the Rules
If a name is really meaningful to you, it might work even if it doesn’t quite meet all the other criteria. So don’t be intimidated by the rules — just grab your thesaurus and get going. Check with friends, ask them to describe what type of business the name suggests, can they spell it? Pronounce it? And can they remember it a week later?
Remember social media networking takes time, the more involved in it you and your organisation become, the more time it will take. The more successful you become within the social media world, the more interactivity you encourage, the more successful you will become but it will take still more time. So, the key success factors for any strategy come into play with social media – know what you want, have a clear end goal and then find myriad ways to achieve it.
Begin with the End in Mind
Strategy isn’t the end goal – It’s the path you take to get to that end goal. So, first you need to think about setting some goals for your Social Media work. What do you want to achieve (end goal) by getting involved in social media. Remember, social media is highly measurable, but also include softer goals such as building a strong community, loyalty, trust and interactivity around your brand. Don’t measure your Social Media strategy solely in terms of percentages or ROI.So, let’s look at some basic goals you can achieve through Social Media:
• Increase customer base
• Generate leads
• Drive sales
• Build awareness
• Make money from your content
• Establish thought leadership
• Educate customers
• Reach new channels of customers
• Improve internal communication
Questions Before the Strategy
Before you go too far down any one path, you need to ask some basic questions:
• Are your key customer groups or influencer groups likely to be online?
• How are you going to add value through their online contact with you?
• How do you plan to engage them online through your new social media platform? Interactivity is key to repeat visits but it’s not all about selling.
• How well suited is your brand to the Social Media environment?
• Which Social Media platforms are you planning to include in your strategy? LinkedIn, Facebook, Blogging, Podcasting, Twitter etc
• What measures will you use to determine the success or failure of your strategy?
• How long are you going run with this new strategy before you call it a success or failure?
• Who has overall responsibility for each area? It’s critical that each message you send out to the market is aligned with your brand story and that you react to any feedback/comments/queries quickly.
• How will you incorporate this into people’s daily jobs getting them actively enthused?
• Are you ready to handle negativity? Platforms like blogs, podcasts and videos allow for external comments, not all of which will be good, and some company cultures aren’t ready to engage with those opinions.
Even looking at those few questions will tell you a lot about your business and whether or not Social Media is actually a good fit for you and your internal capabilities at this stage.
Where are you going? How are you going to get there? How do you know you’ve arrived? Simple?If you’re going to put a social media strategy into place, you need to know where you’re going (end goal), align and develop the paths you’re going to take (which platforms, who’s responsible, how to engage), measure the journey (what factors signify success or failure) and funnel all this back into the original strategy as you proceed, to make it more robust, better targeted and more effective as you move forward.
First Step to Social Media Success
Listen…!Seriously, before you start developing a Social Media strategy for your organisation – Listen…Listen to what’s going on in your market – who’s playing in Social Media?What are they saying? What platforms are they using? How are they bringing value to their communities? How are their brands represented and their stories told? What are they doing and how can you do it better?Also, have a listen to what the market is saying about you – even before you begin to court feedback through actively engaging in Social Media the market may be talking about you – you need to know what people are saying.
Have a look a couple of basic listening tools:
Google Reader and Google Alerts – set these up on your iGoogle home page so you can instantly see when someone mentions you. Don’t just set your alerts for your company name; use your own name, names of people on your team, directors, influencers, clients etc. Set up alerts for business areas where you are the leader, events that you run – anything that will relate to your organisation and will give you feedback on market reactions.
Technorati – Go to www.Technorati.com, search for your company (again using product, brand, personal names) in the search bar, and see what people are saying about you. Note the little orange RSS subscription button in the upper right. Copy that link location (Right click the link and say “Copy Link” or however your browser words that). Now, put that into Google Reader as one of your listening searches. Repeat this for your competitor’s name, brand, individuals, and some industry terms (make them succinct).
Google Blogsearch – Go to Google Blogsearch and do the same thing. Sure there will be some overlap, but it’s important to capture both. The subscription to searches link is on the left hand side about 1/3 down the page.
Try Summize – if you’re thinking about using social networks and social media, it’s likely that some of your customers are using Twitter. If so, go to Summize and put in your search terms there, too. Input as many searches as you need, copying the RSS feeds and putting them into Google Reader as above. Build a strong catalog of searches initially, you can prune the bad or ineffective ones after you have tried it for a while.
About You!What do you think? What else should we work into this “Starting a Social Media Strategy” piece to make it more useful to your needs?
Once you’ve decided you want a business mentor and understand the value of having one, how do you go about finding the right one? It all depends on how selective you want to be. A number of Web sites and organizations offer free mentoring. Some will offer a great deal of information about your potential mentors, while others simply match you with whoever is available. That doesn’t mean they’re any less qualified, of course.You can find a mentor in any number of ways:Many professional associations offer mentoring programs. If you are looking for a mentor in your industry, this is the first place to look.Next, explore your network: distant relatives, friends of the family, former bosses or professors, people you meet through professional associations or networking groups, or even online social networks.If you are a first-time entrepreneur, you are going to have a lot to learn from any mentor. You of course want to be compatible with them, but it doesn’t have to be a lifelong commitment. If you have already started your business, it is more important that you go ahead and get a mentor and get started, rather than spending a great deal of time searching right now. As your business takes shape, you can always move on to another mentor.On the other hand, if you’ve been down the entrepreneurial path before, you may have a much clearer vision of what you are trying to accomplish and how a mentor can help you get there.Here are some steps you can take to help you find the right mentor for you:
- Define a list of your top goals for the mentoring relationship
- Brainstorm a list of prospective mentors
- Research any available information about them or speak to people they have worked withSelect the top candidates who are aligned with your goals
- Contact the mentor and ask for a a meeting. You do not have to divulge at this time that you are interested in a longer-term relationship with them, just that you are interested in getting their input on what you are doing
- Prepare a short list of questions regarding their feedback on your current situationMeet with them. If they’re willing to take time away from their office, that’s best. (You pick up the tab!)
- Ask them about their history, current situation, and goals
- State your goals and ask your questions. Take notes!
- If you like their responses, you can test the waters with them regarding an ongoing relationship, e.g., “I really appreciate your input on this, and I’d greatly value it on an ongoing basis. Would you be willing to meet with me again next month to follow up on what we’ve discussed today?”
- The day after the meeting remember to thank the mentor for their time
- Review your notes and draw up a clear cut action list
- Take action on their suggestions
- Call or email to keep them up to date on the results of those actions and request a second appointment (assuming you’re still interested)
- Propose a mentoring relationship. Be sure to spell out your goals and expectations, as well as your commitment to them. A written agreement will show you are serious about the commitment and investment
Keep in mind that while a mentoring relationship generally lasts more than just one or two meetings, neither of you is locked in. You continue the relationship only if it continues to serve you both well.
A mentor will become not only your advisor, but your friend and confidante. That doesn’t happen instantly—building trust and personal interest takes time. You set the tone at the outset of the relationship by demonstrating your commitment to the process.
How can you best establish the base on which to build a solid mentoring relationship? Carol O’Kelly of Redstorm, a Marketing Strategy company based in Dublin, Ireland and a leading provider of business mentoring and coaching, says consistency and preparation are essential. “Frequency of contact is important in the relationship to keep the learning process moving forward. Each new discussion with the mentor should include updates from the mentee on items the mentor recommended in the previous meeting.” Carol stresses that the mentor needs to be involved in the big picture, not just the details. “Working together to set goals can be pivotal. Not only should the mentor/mentee talk about current specific issues, they should also focus on short and long term goals together with all the surrounding business noise.”
Come to every meeting prepared. Take time to review your discussion and to set action items. Before your next meeting, review those items and ensure you have actively moved your status forward. Bring the notes to the next meeting for discussion. O’Kelly, who has spent years working closely with entrepreneurs, stresses that there’s more to an effective mentoring relationship than organized meetings, and has some great advice on the interpersonal aspects of the mentoring relationship:
Take an interest in the person as a human being. Get to know them not just through mentoring activities, keep in touch during daily activities… this goes both ways – regular and informal communications are key to building this relationship. How did the work out go? Was the London weekend fun? I saw this and thought it’d make you laugh… etc. All very simple, all very effective at gaining a deeper understanding of the other persons click points – which leads to a deeper relationship and more valuable mentoring.
Don’t say, “I’d like to pick your brain.” My brain “has been picked dry” and I start feeling bored when I hear those words. I know the time I spend with that person is going to be nothing but an interrogation. Instead say, “I would really value your opinion.” It’s much gentler and I get the sense that it will be a more pleasant conversation rather than an interrogation with harsh lights shining down.
Don’t try to monopolize a lot of your mentor’s time at first. Connect in a way that’s quick and easy. Schedule meetings in advance. Email is great as I can deal with it immediately, or if I have a lot on I will get back to you when I have a minute but I don’t feel threatened and hassled. Don’t suddenly arrive at the door expecting to get a mentor’s time, you’d be surprised how often it happens.
Be clear about what you’re doing and what you need. There is so much “murky thinking” in the world. I’m amazed that people feel they have to write five pages to express one idea. That means you don’t really know what you’re talking about. Work on developing a clear elevator speech and mission statement. Think about one or two specific questions you need answered and think about your words and how to ask those questions clearly. Put questions and issues down on paper first, it’s a good trick to help you think through an issue you may be able to deal with yourself which gives you a feeling of achievement and frees up your mentor meeting for something you really need help on.
Listen, listen, listen to what they say. Don’t think about all the reasons why you can’t. That’s part of the reason why you’re not there yet. Say, “I’m dealing with yada, yada, yada – how would you suggest overcoming those obstacles? And then let your mind listen without the automatic “Can’t do it that way” response.
Thank the person for their time. Tell them what you’re going to do and then when you take action, be sure to let them know what you’re doing. Always, always, always tell them when you take an action step – keep them in the loop, without this any mentor is operating in the dark and you will not get any value from working with them.
Reciprocate once in awhile. If you see a great article that you think your mentor would enjoy – send it on with a quick note. If you have a trade or a skill and can offer to help him out in some way – offer it. Don’t say, “How can I help you?” Then they have to figure it out. Even if they never take you up on it, they will appreciate your offer.
Learn to make the link between cause and effect. Don’t put your mentor in a position where he/she has to figure it all out for you. You’re not a child. The job of a mentor is not to take you by the hand every step of the way. It’s to give you some guidance as you’re on your way. Your job is to make the link between what you are told and how you will apply it to your life. With mutual respect, demonstrated through action as well as attitude, your mentoring relationship can be mutually extremely rewarding.
If your company is on life support, don’t expect sympathy or gentle encouragement from George Cloutier, the CEO of American Management Services and author of Profits Aren’t Everything, They’re the Only Thing. The no-nonsense consultant advocates a severe, business-first philosophy that might shock small-business owners—and, possibly, revive their fortunes. In an interview with Kermit Pattison of the New York Times, he gives advice like this:Don’t use the recession as a catchall excuse for poor performance. “Why does your work dry up?” he asks. “Normally because you haven’t built a strong enough sales organization.”Micromanage your team. “Getting good people is 100 times more difficult than conventional wisdom says,” argues Cloutier. “The fact is, you’re going to deal with a lot of mediocre people, no matter how hard you try. You have got to have a system in place to check on how they’re doing.”Fire relatives who don’t perform at a level well above that of unrelated employees. “A member of the family, if they’re not carefully policed or indoctrinated by the principle of the business, tends to feel entitled,” he says. “That entitlement is terrible for morale and is terrible for the business.”Cloutier’s medicine isn’t pleasant—but it could be what your company needs to survive.Source: New York Times. Click here for the full story.