4 Questions to Consider Before Launching Your Personal Brand

Deciding to launch a personal brand into the marketplace can be an exciting moment and one that also comes with some anxiety and apprehension.

The urge to stay in the safe phase of researching (or conducting due diligence among your peers) is powerful and many never move out of the research phase to actually launching their personal brand.

Here are four questions to help you assess whether you are ready for your brand reveal:

What will your audience gain from interacting with your brand? What is your audience most concerned with day in and day out – fulfilling their own needs. Think of your day today and how many times what you wanted was the priority – from choosing your morning coffee to deciding what music to listen to as you walked, biked or drove to work. Put yourself in your audience’s shoes. Talk to your potential audience and follow influencers in your field to develop an understanding of what is and is not appealing to them.

How is your brand unique from what is already out in the market? You know you are on the right track when you sense a market need that no one else is filling in a way that is unique. And it’s rare when that happens. It can either be how you approach an issue or challenge, your expertise and knowledge or who you are as a person.

Why you and why now? Life does not exist in a vacuum. Trends develop in industries constantly and public sentiment is along for the ride – watch the news in your field, speak to experts and your potential audience. This will give you an indication of when entering into a market would be most timely with the most long-term benefits for your brand.

Are you relatable? Probably one of the more difficult questions to answer and one that will involve external assessment whether from a public relations professional or an informal focus group. What is being measured is your likeability factor, which directly correlates to expertise. If you are able to back up an approachable brand image with a deep knowledge of your industry and the issues within your industry, you will have a winning formula.

Launching a Marketing Campaign? Start With These 3 Steps

I recently had a conversation with a friend who runs an agency in the UK on the challenges of accurately identifying the right target market for campaigns. Whether the US, the UK or India, knowing your market today – not last year or three years ago – and what their needs are can make or break your campaign efforts.

It’s seems obvious but often times that involves some deep soul-searching with your senior leadership to determine what the challenge or opportunity is that you are trying to address. What your leadership or client’s leadership perceives may not be what the market perceives.

Here are a several tips to help you zero in on your market:

Go back to the drawing board. With your senior leadership team, determine what it is that you actually offer today whether a product or service. How has the market responded to that product/service? What shifts have occurred within your company and within the market that you may need to adjust for? What are competitors offering and what markets are they targeting?

Let the data speak. If your leadership thinks your market is the same as it was two or three years ago, you may want to conduct primary research to confirm those assumptions. Primary research includes focus groups, questionnaires, surveys and interviews. Do not be afraid to bring to the table those that may not always agree with the product or direction of your company.

Look towards the future. Identify where the opportunities for expansion are. Analyze your quantitative data on your product/service to see any patterns that are emerging and/or shifting. Work with in-house market researchers or hire a firm to help you delve into those trends further to determine future potential.

6 Tips for Managing a Crisis

Managing a crisis is never easy and requires very strong leadership to lead everyone to a safe harbor. It also requires a close-knit, respectful and fully aware crisis communications team.

Here are some quick tips for creating a crisis communications team that is technically well planned and is prepared for any breakdown in communication:

Create a crisis communications plan. You may already have a comprehensive plan for your organization; however, you will need a simple and straightforward plan for an actual crisis. Make sure you have both on hand and that they are up-to-date and accessible quickly.

Determine your team before a crisis hits. Preparation is key. Within your crisis communications plan, you should have outlined – and have executive agreement on – who among senior leadership will sit on the team and who will chair the team during an actual crisis.

Choose a leader who is ready and able to lead. Crises can become very difficult. Choose a leader who has the wherewithal to lead the team to the finish.

Keep your team to a maximum of 5 members. This is crucial. Research has proven that a team larger than 5 can become ineffective in a fast-moving crisis. Each member should represent one of your key operational divisions within your organization.

Practice. Run mock drills at least once a year with the team. These drills should be as real world as possible and preferably run by a crisis communications expert.

Monitor behaviors during the drill. Use the drills as a learning experience and review with the team their interactions and decisions made throughout the drill, highlighting areas that could be potentially harmful in an actual crisis.

Creating a Powerful Story

Whether you want to sell a product to a client or sell an ad campaign to your boss, storytelling is the single most powerful way to capture your audience’s attention and to make the not yet tangible real in the eyes of others.

So how do you do it and how do you do it well?

Break it down into simple parts. Remember those story books from your childhood? Why where they so appealing? They were simple. A photograph here, one or two sentences followed. To be effective, you must break your story down into digestible parts. Even if you think it is simple, go even further.

Believe in it yourself. You, the storyteller, need to believe in your story or no one else will. Be passionate about what you are portraying and keep your energy up even if it is the 20th time you are telling your story. Remember that, for your audience, it is the first time they are hearing the story.

The all-important protagonist. Every story has one. Your story needs one too. If it doesn’t have one, you can reference a member of the audience and interlace them into your story so that they become the protagonist.

Set the scene. Create visuals that help you tell the story but do not take away from you telling the story. They should enhance the story you are telling be it a few PowerPoint slides, photos or videos. Sometimes a single photo will do the job.

Know your audience. Do your research and try to put together what the motivators will be for the audience you are telling your story to. This will require that you tweak your story as you go to fit each audience. Don’t be afraid to alter the script.

Watch the body language in the room. As you engage in storytelling be very observant of the body language in the room. Is the audience leaning forward? Has their expression changed? Both are good signs. Leaning away or checking their phones every several seconds; not a good sign. But don’t give up. Adjust your efforts – including inserting them into the story by mentioning their first name – to see if you can engage them.

Practice. Create practice that works for you and makes you comfortable. I tend to mentally run through what I will present in broad themes beforehand. This gives me the flexibility to create as I walk the audience through the story live. If you are not comfortable with practicing and get nervous presenting, contact your local theater. Most offer acting for non-actors and can help you get comfortable as a storyteller.

Your CEO on Social

Recently, Weber Shandwick released their Socializing Your CEO report which audits the online presence of CEOs globally. The audit found that CEOs are starting to engage and feel comfortable on social media.

Your CEO can be a powerful addition to your social media strategy. The key is to integrate your executive’s social media presence within the overall brand’s social media strategy. By doing so, it will help prevent one from overpowering the other.

Even though your CEO might be an established brand within his industry offline, social media will potentially reach a much wider segment of your audience globally, therefore, you’ll need to start building your CEO’s credibility out of the gate.

One approach I have used is to create a dedicated CEO account on Twitter as the channel of choice for their voice. The dedicated account is used to express personal opinions, theories and expertise to lead and guide the social discussion within the brand’s issue area.

Crossover with the brand would occur with the sharing of content on the organization’s Facebook page and Twitter account during high visibility events, news or project/product launches.

To start engaging and leading the discussion from the dedicated account, consider the following tactics:

  • sharing organization research, news, updates and new projects;
  • speaking at a conference: share salient talking points, impressions, and highlights;
  • participating in a panel discussion: engage with other members pre and post panel, sharing thoughts and insights;
  • curating other research, news or statements from organizations in the same industry, and
  • starting the discussion by asking direct questions of other leaders/organizations on trending topic areas.

Ideally your approach will be a mix of the above. As you and your CEO get more comfortable, the more you can curate content and start to push discussion on issues or issue areas that may not have entered into the social conversation.

By pushing the envelope and being seen as an initiator and innovator of content and discussion, you will attract more followers and will increase your overall social media engagement over time.