An 80 hour schedule in a 40 hour week – Entrepreneurs are busy people, often doing everything.
If you’re one, you know the demands growing your business makes on your time and professional energy. Brand Building seems like a ‘Nice to do’ rather than a business essential.
But here’s the thing – a strong Professional Brand has more than just a long term benefit, useful well into the distant future. In fact, it’s very much right here, right now, reaping quick results, provided you follow the 3 golden mantras of Brand Building.
Actively. Consciously. Consistently.
A smart entrepreneur not only invests their efforts in managing their reputation, but actually makes it a priority.
Not convinced yet?
Brand Matters: Which of these 10 powerful reasons for brand building apply to you?
The Human factor
People do business with people, no matter how big the company – it’s all about trust and likeability. That’s where having a professional brand – where you are associated with professional skills – matters. A digital brand, built on web and social, counts even more.
Your clients know, without you having to share it, that not only are you an award winning writer, but also about your volunteer drive to support the starving children in an African village, or that terrific lifestyle blog you put out.
Beyond Your Business
The biggest dilemma for Entrepreneurs is whether to promote their business or themselves. The challenging, yet truthful answer is – both. Concurrently. If your Brand is strong, it helps your business – to grow, expand, pivot. And vice versa. And it particularly helps if you start a different line of business.
So promote your business brand but don’t forget the face behind it!
Michelle Obama has continually leveraged her admittedly strong position – to build something much bigger. She has championed initiatives and worked with communities across the globe. The result – she has come to be seen a dynamic public speaker and vocal advocate on many issues – all of which will count hugely, post FLOTUS.
Another example of simultaneous brand building is Oprah. Her deliberate efforts on this front helped her launch her publishing interests once her TV career became a smash hit.
“I have more business than I can handle,” is a common refrain I’ve heard from so many Entrepreneurs.
But business sources dry up – clients, move on, drop off or simply don’t buy from you. So investing in future pipelines is sound sense.
Through your brand, not only are you building a client base, it’s also an effective way of attracting a great prospect list. Even if they don’t do business with you just yet, you will make their shortlist for the when-if.
Nothing succeeds like success – business is all about wins after all. The more visible you are, the better you look – more so now, when a prospect is likely to google you or ask you about your web and social links. If they didn’t that already.
Growth & Revenue
Yes, the bottom line is what counts. Sharing your vision, credentials and successes in a focused and sustained manner markets your business to stakeholders without it being a salesy marketing effort. If you have a new certification, strong testimonials, a blog post – call it out. With all things equal, the time and cost of deal conversion with a visibly stronger brand is lower, which translates to a better bottom-line.
Higher Recall value
Be the one they remember!
While a strong Brand is more than just visibility, it manifests best that way. Most clients will go with the name, face or mission statement that they recall best, especially if they associate you with good service and value.
Even though you may know about half a dozen make-up consultants, when the time comes to choose, you will probably pick the one you recall best. Of course, there are other factors that count, like value and credibility. Which can also be better conveyed through your brand activity.
You are attractive to potential partners who might want to collaborate with you for alliances, referrals or even endorsements. It’s amazing how many doors that can open. But again, everyone wants to work with the best. So the better Brand will always have more leverage.
Share, speak, blog – a side but potent effect of your brand presence is the chance to further consolidate your presence. In fact, legions of professionals go further and spin off their speaking engagements into books, podcasts and even a media presence.
Elizabeth Gilbert’s book Eat, Pray, Love paved the way for not only her other work – including what she did earlier – but also a strong social media following, and as a key speaker at women’s events and even on TED.
If you are become associated with a certain set of skills, over time you will be seen and treated as best of breed in your business category or segment.
When you share content – your own or curated through the web – it reinforces your position as an authority or subject matter expert in your field. Consequently, your business proposition carries a stronger element of believability.
Higher Perceived Value
Everyone wants to do business with a well known name. And a strong presence does exactly that – it convinces your stakeholders that you bring good value to the business relationship. And social proof is an effective way of not only garnering it, but also getting it across to your audience, without the relentless follow up that deal making needs.
Smart ways to build your Professional brand
A quick, actionable way would be to start systematically updating your web presence with awards, achievements and testimonials.
Develop a brand-mantra- a short, memorable statement that you repeatedly offer to generate brand recall. Debeers has used ‘A Diamond is Forever’.
Using an impactful tagline or slogan with your brand name.
Maroon Oak uses ‘Skills. Connects. Now’ along with a woman in the logo to showcase their focus on building a connected community of skilled women.
Be purposeful about what you share – every image, article, update should align with your ultimate brand vision or have a clear call to action associated with your brand.
Because persuasion in business is a cumulative effect.
In the end, the goal of your brand should be not what you tell your customers, but what they tell each other about you. So start building yours today – you’ll thank yourself!
Pooja Krishna is an Entrepreneur, Consultant and Mom. She has worked both in large corporates and managed startups over the last 20+ years. A co-founder of Maroon Oak, she’s also founded Win Thinks, a small business consulting company, and Trading Paces, which educates amateur and pro stock traders. She blogs and teaches workshops about Brand Strategy, Social Media & Future ready Career Solutions. She loves being a Classroom Mentor and teaching students across the U.S. about Job Skills and Entrepreneurship. Read her interview on Huffington Post.
A trivia buff and yoga & hula hoop enthusiast, Pooja loves spending time with her family playing board games and watching documentaries.