Personal Branding

Your personal brand is an important aspect to take some time to think about and discover, especially as you consider a career change, job move, or entrepreneurship. Refer to these simple areas below to begin defining your personal brand:

What’s unique about you?

Who you are will distinguish your personal brand. It’s simple, you are your brand! So this is an easy exercise. The key is to figure out how people see you, what are your passions, and what are you good at? Take a minute to discover who you are and things you’re most proud of. I suggest doing this exercise in a timeline format where you list as far back as you can remember significant events in your life.  What are the things that have defined you?  Take a look at the words you use, areas of consistency and things that make you proud. Pull out these themes that run through your life, keywords and areas that define you.  This is the start of determining your personal brand.

Who’s your target?

Who do you want to network and connect with? Whether you’re starting a new career, looking for a new job, or starting a business you need to understand who needs to know you.  Get some clarity around who you’re talking to, and with this clarity you can then begin to craft your message more clearly. Think about the age, gender, job title and location of the person you want to introduce yourself to. What are their hobbies, how do they spend their free time, what websites to they visit or TV shows they may watch? Also get clear around what kind of industries you want to work in, which companies and what value you can add.

Get started

Once you have a clear understanding who you are, your strengths, and weaknesses and you’ve defined your target you can begin crafting your personal branding message. How do you present yourself make sure you specify how you plan to help your target customer and what value you’ll bring? And, once you have your brand message, then determine how you plan to push it out in the marketplace. What kind of communications will you use and how often? Think about your strategy via social media, your website, and networking. Create a calendar and get out there and start marketing your brand!

For help with personal brand tactics and initiatives seek out West Loop Marketing – we help small businesses and entrepreneurs define their brand messaging and push it out into the marketplace to drive sales and repeat customers.

The Art of Being Proactive

What does it mean to be proactive? How do you best execute it without being pushy or overbearing? It’s an art, and something that’s so important in the success of any business or business person.  Don’t wait around for someone to ask for something. Whether its building a case for your promotion or building a case for your business plan and/or solutions.  Be proactive. Present your thinking and your findings and if done correctly, I can almost guarantee it will be greeted with joy and excitement.

Photo by draganajokmanovic/iStock / Getty Images

LISTEN

Listen to your client or boss, find out their needs – review their website, look at competitors. Understand the business needs. Most of the time your boss or client will have a clear understanding of their needs, they’re either just not sure how to get there or haven’t had the time to execute the solution themselves. Listen to the issues, what’s working, what’s not working.  How does the business convey their message – what’s their tone of voice? The key to also understanding a business is getting the lay of the competitive landscape. How does this business differentiate itself from others, etc…  Make sure you have a clear understanding of the business and their issues.  Arm yourself to be a problem solver.

BRAINSTORM

Start your work by brainstorming around what the business needs. What problem are you trying to solve? Is there documentation that already exists – then start with that documentation, don’t try to recreate the wheel if you don’t need to. And your thoughts and work will be much more well received if it’s building upon work that already is approved.  Use your brainstorming notes as part of your “pitch”- people appreciate to see your thinking process. It helps to tell the story.  And since no one necessarily may have asked you for the work you’re about to present, it helps to show you’re thinking.  And it disarms the conversation when it feels like it’s a brainstorm conversation. Move the conversation forward.

MAKE A RECOMMENDATION

Come to a conclusion. After you’ve listened, researched and brainstormed, make an attempt to make a recommendation.  It’s either a solution, a recommendation for work, or something that solidifies the work that you’ve done.  How do you think you can help?  What services can you provide? And how would you prioritize the work and the timeline around it?  There’s nothing more satisfying than coming to a conclusion on how you can help people. On what you can do to move you to a promotion. Open this up for discussion – are you on the right path, is this what’s needed? And most importantly when can you get started on this plan! Get agreement and move forward.

You Are Who You Think You Are

One skill I’ve learned over the years is to keep a positive attitude. I’m the first to admit that I lose my way sometimes but 9 out of 10 times I’m able to find the light and find my way back. I’ve seen way too many people wallow in their sorrows and feel bad for themselves. Not only making themselves miserable but the people around them miserable too. I knew that would never be me.

Life is hard, but does that mean you need to succumb to tough times? No! that’s when it’s time to get tough. I truly believe you can train your brain to be positive. Here are five small, but important tricks for maintaining a positive outlook.

  1. Turn a negative situation into a positive. So you just spent the last month interviewing for a great job – it’s something you want very bad, and it’s the perfect role for you. You’re down to final rounds of interviews and you get the call that they’re not choosing you. That’s a tough call to receive and sure, you’re feeling pretty bad about it, and give yourself that day and night to feel the sadness, but in the morning wake up and find that positive side of the experience. !) You received unbelievable interviewing experience- something that will make you more prepared for the next role you interview for; 2) You’ll find a better fit. You’ll find the right role where the employer wants you as much as you want them; 3) Use this as a learning experience, what are the things you can do better/different for the next round of interviews.

    Never let yourself stay down. Sure it’s a sad and tough situation to be turned down for a job you really wanted, especially if it’s happened multiple times. But gear up for a battle let this negative situation motivate and drive you to do better. Don’t let this beat you, you’re tougher than a simple rejection.
     
  2. Don’t sweat the small stuff. Have you seen the road-rager’s?  The people who lose their minds when someone mergers in front of them, or when the car in front of them is slower than they’d like. Are you one of these people? Sure, we’ve all been guilty of getting upset behind the wheel, but I’m talking about the people that lose their minds, can’t regain composure and become a different person behind the wheel. One word of advice for them “relax” – How much faster do you think you’re going to get somewhere –maybe you save about 30 seconds, but really you gain nothing except for high anxiety and high blood pressure.

    Stop sweating the small stuff and you’ll feel better for it in the end. You’ll feel calmer and more in control if you can just let the small things go. So what…let that person merge in front of you. It’s really no big deal in the long run. Work to keep your body in a calm place and you’ll make smarter decisions in the long run that keep you in a positive place.
     
  3. Visualize Success. No great athlete ever sees themselves losing. And I’ll even go one step further and say that most of the great athletes have big egos. I’m not suggesting you go and get yourself a big ego, but what I am suggesting is that you think good thoughts. If you think you’ll succeed, then you have a better chance of succeeding versus if you think you’ll fail. There’s no guarantee here, but visualize your success whether it’s losing weight, exercise or winning a race. Visualize getting up early for that workout and it will be easier for you to do it. Visualize your success and you’re on your way to achieving your goal.
     
  4. Be solution oriented, Sure, you’re going to run into problems and roadblocks. This is bound to happen. This is part of life – you’re not doomed and bad luck doesn’t follow you. Don’t “let” bad things happen to you, find a solution. Are you unhappy at work, or don’t get along with your boss? Well, what’s something that can help you be happier at work? What are things you can do to help you get along with your boss. No one is going to solve your problems for you, and you can’t expect someone to change for you. You can only control what’s in your power to control. Be solution oriented find a way in your control to create a better environment. Have you tried the same thing over and over again and it’s just not working – well come up with a different plan, try something different. Stop knocking your head against the wall with the same plan and go at it a different way.
     
  5. If at first you don’t succeed try, try again– this goes along with being solution oriented. I was searching for my next job and after 6 months of roadblocks and rejection I decided to sit down and come up with “Phase 2” – it was time for me to do something different – I needed to work harder, smarter and try some things that were on my list to do, but I hadn’t gotten to yet. This is when I decided to open up my own Marketing company “West Loop Marketing”. I joined a few networking groups like “Professional Women’s Club of Chicago (PWCC)” and “FemCity”. I also decided to amp up my networking – focusing on 3 networking activities a week. Not only did this motivate me to regain control, but I felt like I was doing something – I wasn’t sitting around and doing the same things over and over again, but I was taking control and making things happen.

You are who you think you are. Believe in yourself and good things will come, it may not come exactly when you want it to, but it will come your way. Never give up on yourself and know that life is not always going to be easy. It will be hard. Equip yourself with the tools you need to stay positive and you will always be a winner in my book!

 

Five Easy Steps to Define Your Small Business Brand Identity

What made you start your business? Hopefully it’s something you’re passionate about. But, did you know that 9 out of 10 businesses fail within 10 years. Let’s not find you in that statistic. An important part of your business success is creating a clear brand identity. What does your business stand for, who is your primary target audience, what’s your key messaging? Here are five easy steps to help you define your brand’s identity:

1)    Brand Positioning Statement:  Why should someone choose your service or product over a competitor. What’s the unique value that you provide?  The more unique the value the stronger your positioning statement will be. I suggest keeping this to 1-2 sentences. The more direct, clear and concise this statement, the more focused you’ll be with your brand.

2)    Value Proposition:  What do you offer? Your value proposition is your promise to your customer, what are the benefits your customer will receive from you?

3)    Your Brand Pillars: What are the most important attributes and areas of your business you want communicated? Ensure these pillars support your business’ positioning statement and value proposition. You may not be able to include every attribute of your company – this doesn’t mean you stop doing it. It just means it’s not a critical area for your business’ image.  Again, keep these pillars clear and concise and as a suggestion choose between 3-4 brand pillars.

4)    Target Market:  Who does your product or business serve? These are people who are likely to buy from you. The more descriptive you are here, the better. And be open to choose a primary and secondary target market. Attributes to consider are male or female, age, geo, spending habits, and general characteristics. Think of an actual average person that is your primary customer and start by describing that person.

5)    Personality and Voice:  Last area to consider is what is your company’s personality, tone and voice – this will all be helpful when creating your messaging. Is your business casual or formal, progressive or traditional, emotional or logical, etc…. these are just some ideas around what to think about when describing your brand’s voice.

Start on your own to define these five areas for your business’s brand identity or look to West Loop Marketing, LLC to help with this process. We have broad experience building brand strategies with a variety of small businesses. We’ll take you through a discovery process, learn key areas of your business and build a brand architecture with each of these above areas covered. After we finish this process you’ll be ready to start building your key messages.