by Jennifer Riggins
We spend a lot of time talking about finding happiness at work. A very important thing. But you can’t really follow your passion if you are starving. One of the most important entrepreneurial skills is finding the right thing for you to do and then communicating it with proper branding.
That’s what branding expert Phil Pallen said at talk I attended at New Media Europe earlier this year. The point of his talk was the often forgotten obvious — you can’t just love what you do, you need to make money at it too. And one of the most important ways to do that is through positioning your brand, mainly online (since unless you’re a brick-and-mortar, that’s where you’re spending your time and where your target customers will find you.)
“Positioning your brand means finding something you love with something others need. Something you love on its own is something we call a hobby. Something that if you won the lottery tomorrow, what would you do to pass the time?”
But once you figured out what your brand is, how do you communicate that? We’re going to share Phil’s fast — but not necessarily easy — small business marketing tips today. Because we know you don’t have time for anything else, yet you certainly can’t afford to skip it.
How to figure out what exactly your brand is
“So often we’re focused on what we say to others, and so often it’s what others say about us.”
Like with all business prospecting, you shouldn’t do it alone and you shouldn’t do it just with your friends. Phil’s five-step plan to figuring out your brand is a mix of you and what others really think of what you do.
- Start by describing yourself in three words. Then ask others to describe you in three words. Most likely they will be different.
- What do you love to do?
- Name a few brands you look up to. Why? What’s special about their branding?
- Describe your ideal customer or client in as much detail as possible. (Always remembering that when you try to appeal to everyone, you appeal to no one.) Get obnoxiously specific so you have a very clear idea of who you’re speaking to. This will help you come across a lot more natural and very specific.
- State your brand in one sentence.
Then find someone who doesn’t know you and doesn’t care your business, and describe it to them in one minute. Have them try to compose that brand sentence for you. Either they are way off base — which means the way you’re describing it is — or they just might summarize your value better than you can.
How to communicate your brand — briefly
I hear it all the time in the tech space — “My X is built on Y language and it works with these types of machines…” Blah blah, but where are the benefits? If you ask Phil, your branding communication has to be focused on the benefits you offer others and it has to be really, really short.
“How do you communicate your brand in a paragraph? Just kidding! No one has an attention span that long — thank you Internet. What is your brand in a sentence?”
He offered the great Twitter profile recipe — which I definitely followed in updating my own twitter profile — that your Twitter bio can act like your brand sentence. So instead of filling it with hashtags or mentions, go ahead and make it a description.
Phil says your Twitter profile should be two sentences — what you do and what you can do for someone else, and then something memorable of your personality. His Twitter is a perfect example with: “Brand strategist for TV personalities, experts and businesses. If your baby is ugly, it’s my job to tell you.
How to communicate your brand on social media
But it’s not just about Twitter and certainly not just about your social media profiles, but how you communicate your brand regularly to these tiny attention spaces scrolling through tiny screens.
It can be small things like making sure you have one really good, flattering yet realistic, smiling photo (Not Avatar!) that has you in the right clothes for your industry that you use across all internal and external social media. I don’t always wear glasses in real life, but, working in the tech space, I always wear them speaking at and attending events. My cross-platform photo definitely sports spectacles.
After all, in Phil’s words, “The best online branding is when we recreate the in-person experience as closely as possible.”
For all of us time-starved entrepreneurs, Phil offered some sage advice for social media marketing.
I would add to this that any platform you’re on, even if you’re not going to be active on it, should have that same grinning pic, contact info of where people can get in touch (particularly if you won’t be checking that network), and that same consistent (but not necessarily verbatim) branding message.
Then commit to those three big platforms.
“Prioritize your platforms then give them purpose.”
And remember social media is not a tool for broadcasting and self-promotion, it’s a tool for conversation. If you aren’t going to engage, might as well not be present.
How do you rock the fast food world of online branding?
These are just a few ideas for drive-thru fast branding — we want your ideas too! So comment below your tips and what you’ve learned from this article. Go ahead, experiment and try to synthesize your brand and value proposition into a mere sentence. We dare ya!
Photo: Graeme Nicholl (Unsplash)