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Archive for July, 2012

An opposing position

Olivier Blanchard (The BrandBuilder Blog) wrote an interesting article saying that building a personal brand is a waste of time (R.I.P Personal Branding).  I believe Mr. Blanchard is wrong.

We already have a brand.  You may know it as reputation. But a rose by any other name…..

And as distasteful as it may be to say we’re building a brand, the fact is that we are.  William Arruda makes the point that when we think of Volvo, we think safety.  And they have the reputation to back it up.

When you think of Nike, you think of quality running shoes.  They also have the reputation to back it up.

The same is true of people.

I have a friend who is an ace purchasing agent.  When he negotiates, he’s a hard but reasonable negotiator.  If you win his business, he demands you keep to your agreement.  He wants his supplies when he wants his supplies and he has no trouble calling you out if you fail to live up to your end of the bargain.

He also has no problem ending the relationship if you screw up too many times.  He serves his company well.  He’s hard, but fair

When it was announced that his plant was being shut down he was immediately approached by one of the suppliers who had been on the receiving end of his bargaining skills (and his wrath from time to time).

He didn’t have to market himself.  He didn’t have to put out dozens or hundreds of resumes.  He didn’t have to job hunt.  His reputation, his brand, proceeded him and he took the new job.  How many of us can say the same?

To be fair, Mr Blanchard makes some very worthwhile points in his article.

He makes the point that you must hone your craft; that you have to do something to provide value.  That your work must speak for itself and that building a reputation is of the utmost importance.  And that you need to be  you – not a fake – just you.

These all help your reputation and, yes, it does build your personal brand.

I disagree with the overall premise of the article, but nevertheless, a good article worth reading.

Four Principles of Career Distinction – William Arruda

Speaking – Better advertising can’t be bought

I’m back after a very long June. Between vacation, the loss of my father-in-law and hurting my back (all in 10 days) and the subsequent recovery period I’m ready to go back to work.

Today I’d like to talk about my third tenet of branding – becoming top of mind. Up to now we’ve covered how you treat others and expertise. I consider public speaking the next step on the journey.

In my first post I gave you the benefits of public speaking; credibility, presence, and leadership (see earlier post).

Speaking is a form of advertising.

It’s advertising because you want to become top of mind when your prospects think of your product or service.

How important is that?

Last year advertisers spent a whopping 102 billion on advertising (emarketer.com, Jan 19, 2012) trying to get you to buy products and services and to keep their products and services in the your forefront.

While most of this is national advertising  the key thing to remember is that it works.  You, however,  can achieve the same aim without spending a penny, and with only so much as the time it takes to develop your presentation and spend the time giving it.

You don’t need to be national.  You need to become the big fish in a smaller pond. You get that when you speak.

Need an example?

You’re in life insurance. You decide to develop a small 15-30 minute presentation on the value of life insurance and the different types of policies people should be considering. Not every policy, but whole life, term, variable etc and their relative advantages and disadvantages.

You offer these free presentations to the Rotary, Kiwanis, and Lions clubs in the area. Questions: How many times do you think you’ll have to give these presentations before you become known as the life insurance expert? And do you think you’ll get to talk to the folks after the presentation to answer questions about their specific situation? Maybe get an appointment or two?

How about you real estate agents, bankers, stockbrokers, appraisers, engineers, etc?  What news, advice or information can you offer to people that will benefit them and raise their awareness?

And let’s not forget about you guys and gals in the trades!  If you’re an electrician, carpenter, plumber or contractors can you not find venues to speak or places to teach basic skills? Lowes, Home Depot, Ace Hardware? Not to mention the venues mentioned above.

Be creative and offer your audiences value and they’ll reward you by remembering who you are the next time they need your solution.

Everyone agrees that word of mouth advertising is the best and cheapest form of advertising.  I consider public speaking to be the second best (and cheapest)  form of advertising there is and the best and cheapest (the accountant in me just won’t let this go) form of direct marketing there is.

So stop putting it off – get out there and offer to speak.  Create some buzz for yourself so the next time your customer needs you or your product they’ll remember who YOU are.

See you in the spotlight!

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