Today, I received an extremely flattering message which read:
"I'm studying to become an image consultant focused on personal branding. I'd love to have a professional work with me before I dive into the industry.. or at the minimum, actually meet someone with experience in the field."
My first instinct was to chuckle a bit and think to myself, "Wouldn't we all love that", and, " Ha, Me a professional?" That implies a level of monetary success that I am no where near.
However, upon reflection I do actually have a bit of experience. It's no surprise that I've found many artisian professionals seem to get right around where I'm at-- to then begin selling "How-To" E-books and programs.
Why does it happen? Because this stage is the one where you have invested all of your time and money into your business, you've learned all the basic principles on how people become successful, all the steps that need to be taken, and ask yourself, "Am I willing to go for it?".
Many, seem to look at the data of how their products are doing and are hit with a bitter resounding conclusion.Their stuff doesn't sell.
Something in their process isn't working.
So, as opposed to going back to the drawing board for new products, they write out everything that they've learned and make a new business out of selling that.
And hey, no shame in your game-- you do you. I personally *fingers crossed* want to do something that involves utilizing my creativity in a more hands on method than writing a book that instructs others. At the very least I want a one on one to create a true action plan. Call me a control freak. But when I put my name to something I want to make sure it's done right.
So what do I do when helping people build their brands?
Here are a few tips and tricks for building a brand.
1. You need to have a brand to build it.
I know, I know, DUH. But you'd be surprised how many people starting their own business don't have a set company name, formed a legal entity, made a logo design, or really any part of a business plan at all. You need one set company name and design elements to create brand continuity. Which leads us to:
2. Have Your Brand? Create a Brand Message.
You need to have a concept of what you want your brand's message to be. How do you want your customers or clients to feel when they interact with your website? With your social media platforms? With you?
How you'll design your accounts should all work together towards that message. Here is where things start getting interesting. You'll start looking at colors and fonts not only for their aesthetic but in how they're perceived.
3. What makes your Brand special?
This one's a tricky one, especially for those of us *cough* me *cough* who have a wide range of skills that they're good at and genuinely enjoy doing. I'm currently working on a house renovation (interior design), creating wedding signage for a neighbor (custom wedding creations), planning my own wedding (wedding planning) and helping a few people build their own brands (consulting) while building up my custom wedding creations business. While you can understand I may be doing all these things (and doing them well is vital), it should be apparent that I don't advertise all these things via my brand on my website. Why not? Because in order to get business you have to show that you are an expert in your field. People have a hard time believing one person is an expert in multiple fields. So you need to narrow down your offerings until it fits a certain market. And then you need to narrow it down again so that it appeals to a certain niche. And then one more time (for the folks in the back) until your brand appeals to a certain ideal customer. Let's call her Susan (yes, my ideal client is an engaged female aged 24-55). You'll find your brands strength lies in it's exclusivity of appealing to a specific niche market and then becoming THE hot ticket in that one area. Which leads us to:
4. Build Your Brand's Trust
This is where, like it or not (and I decidedly do not) the world no longer operates on a solidly face to face basis. After your initial contact, potential clients will almost always Google you. And if nothing comes up, chances are they'll move on. Speaking of Google:
5. Make A Google Site
They add instant credibility by having your own website and it's completely free. Even if you can't afford the $2-20 a month website, there is absolutely NO reason that your business shouldn't have a minimum of a Google business site and a professional Facebook page.
6. If you dont have a professional Facebook page, are you even a business?
Make a Facebook profile. Seriously. While you're at it, I advise Alignable. It's a newer platform that allows professionals to find one another for business partnerships. Beyond my website my social platforms include Facebook, Google, Alignable and LinkedIn (all businesses should have these) as well as Instagram, Pinterest, and Twitter for my creations and blogging.
7. Keep on Building that Audience
That trust matters. Having an online presence which you consistently update shows clients a little bit about you and your work. It creates a funnel through which you'll get (or not get) sales. It's through your brand's presence that you'll clearly establish your brands message. It's important to note that it's better to be well established through consistent postings on a few sites than be everywhere but maintaining none of your profiles. The golden rule of posting to your online platforms is 80-20. As in 80% of your content appeals to your ideal customer while 20% markets yourself. People get bored when they feel they're looking at a neverending ad. Which is a bummer when you're spending all your time working on stuff to sell, and yes, it is a tremendous amount of work, but that funnel is a real thing as you're building your brand.
8. Now Grow Your Audience
That real funnel we were talking about? You want every possible client likely to purchase to be in it. If you have 10,000 followers, but only 2 are likely to buy from you it's not going to work out well. It's a hard truth, so buck up buttercup. Some ways to successfully get new people into your funnel?
9. Make A Call To Action
If you want people to enter your funnel you have to give them a door. A newsletter, a blog subscription, a Facebook follower. Put a subscribe now button on your blog, a shop now button on your website. You can get these new followers through both online and in person promotions. Make an email signup list and treat it like your baby. If someone isn't ready to buy, signing up for your email subscription is the second best thing. That way you have a continuous point of contact, and when they grow to trust your brand more they'll have the opportunity to buy as opposed to thinking of "that girl they met with that stuff that one time."
10. When things get tough, remember to Reevaluate not to Quit.
As I type this, it is currently my fourth blog post. Hardly a novel. Barely a pamphlet worth of trust. My items (stay tuned for my next post) are not photographed the best, nor are they adequately described if I really look at it. Why? Because I hate SEO and making online listings kind of makes me want to die. So what do I do? I'm looking more in depth into craft shows. I'm starting to reevaluate my funnel and see where my holes are. I need to create more consistent posts, with a broader range than "look at this product!". I need to photograph better, write stronger. And I'll get there. You will too.