‘What is a brand’ is still the most misunderstood and misused concept in the small business arena.
In previous blogs I have at length discussed the fact that it is not a logo, name or packaging, but the total sum of perceptions that your customers and prospects have about your business or organization.
It is what they think and feel about you and those emotions and thoughts are the result of your target audience experiences with your company.
But there is an even simpler way to look at the concept of brand, the way that the world of business looked at it before the word became a way for ad agencies to not only examine competitive strategies in their bid to sell to the mass market in the 1950s but also a way to mystify the advertising process and hence become the guardians of the ‘brand’.
So what did business people say before the word brand entered the everyday vocabulary of business media?
Here’s the way three great mean described:
“It takes many good deeds to build a good reputation and only one bad one to lose it”
“It takes 20 years to build a reputation and 5 min to ruin it. If you think about that you do things differently.”
“A brand for a company is like a reputation for a person. You earn reputation by trying to do hard things well.
-Jeff Bezos, founder of Amazon.com
So what is a brand?
Simple – it’s your reputation. So brand building is actually all about building and protecting your reputation. Although I hate the somewhat old fashioned and hence manipulative sounding title of the book that at one stage outsold the Bible, the message in it is sincere and well meaning and one that has not been adopted anywhere near enough. I’m talking about a book that gives us all the most basic and amazing principles of persuasion, reputation building and managing people -“How to Win Friends and Influence People”
The next 4 blogs will summarize the 4 chapters of Dale Carnegie’s must read book to effective communication and illustrate the way they directly relate to the AIDA (Attention | Interest | Desire | Action) model of advertising.
It is then no surprise that CPA Australia estimates that one in three new small businesses in Australia fail in their first year of operation, two out of four by the end of the second year, and three out of four by the fifth year. Just approximately 8% of small businesses succeed beyond five years. These statistics are similar across many of the western economies.
Marketing communications are an ongoing process, similar to designing and building a house.
It is then important to maintain and build the value of your marketing properties and prevent this value being depreciated through neglect of infrastructure or promotional activity by competitors.
Firstly the structure must be designed correctly, beginning with the foundations that will support any future building.
Unfortunately, many businesses do the equivalent of trying to put a roof on a house with no foundations or walls by asking marketers to jump straight into execution and promotion. And many marketing suppliers oblige them!
By demanding that marketing people produce a Website, Advertisement, Brochure, etc. before the business has answers to strategic questions and clear plans for long term communication, inevitably always ends up wasting time and money.
To get the best return on the marketing investment, time needs to be dedicated to answer the questions that assist in building a solid foundation for the marketing of the business. By starting at the bottom and working up, the business building process will be shorter, less painful and more profitable.
Success on Linked In and in fact in all Social Media channels relies on the principle of leveraging and building your reputation with your existing professional (and personal) connections as well as building new connections that will also hold you in high regard. Yet many Linked In users fail to do this effectively and damage their reputations because they forget the simple rules of engagement when it comes to interacting with their existing and prospective audience online.
This blog entry was prompted by two Linked In invitations in as many weeks, from individuals that indicated they were friends and gave no specific reason as to why they wanted to connect with me and used standard “templated” invites. In fact, having searched my electronic databases as well as my “super computer” called the human brain, I could not remember how or where I MAY have met these two people. These two invites were great examples of what not to do on Linked In. This doesn’t mean that these individuals can’t add value to my network or I to theirs. It does mean that I will wait to accept their invitation until such time that they can illustrate the value in connecting with them. I am confident and hopeful they can do so after reading this.
Below are 5 great articles by Linked In “power users” that discuss the strategies of building your professional network on Linked In as well as the specific do’s and don’ts of Linked In Invitations.
I define Power Users as those that use Linked In to develop and grow their network (and consequently personal brand & business) in a strategic manner – they have objectives, systems and processes. They are thought leaders who have a deep understanding of the medium and the technology and use it to their fullest advantage. This is personal branding.
Here is my long held view and summary of the below articles:
1. DO NOT write anything that you wouldn’t otherwise say in person, on the telephone or in an email. You wouldn’t call up anyone, regardless of your relationship to him or her and utter the standard Linked In template words “join my network” as your opening remark! Then why do so many people do so in the medium of Linked In?
2. Remember that everyone listens to radio W.I.I.F.M – What’s In It For Me? Have a compelling reason for connecting / sending an invitation (in marketing terms – your offer and call to action) or use one or multiple principles of persuasion. As you read the below you will see that appealing to one’s ego in the form of flattery works as well!
Prevalent attitude to accepting and refusing Linked In invitations as well as some great tips on social media networking etiquette:
The official Linked In view and procedure on “how and who to connect to” can be found here:
Perception is Reality. Make sure perceptions of who you are positive and profitable!