We thought it was the perfect time to re-post an article from last January. This is for everyone who wonders which comes first: the brand vs. the marketing (kind of like the chicken or the egg)...
DON'T FORGET YOUR CLOTHES THIS YEAR!
The New Year has begun. Resolutions have been made. You’re ready to hit the ground running. But are you, really? Is your brand and position defined? If not, it’s like leaving the house each day without clothing. And while some would argue that this would certainly gain attention, I don’t believe it’s the kind of attention you had in mind when you set out to become #1 in your market.
A common misconception is that if you are recognized, you are well branded. Almost a year ago I had a conversation with a Realtor about personal branding. She said, “I feel like I’m already well branded in my market. When I walk into a restaurant, they know that I’m Susan, the Realtor.” I replied, “That’s a great start, Susan. But what happens when Realtors David & Sara are in the restaurant, too? What sets you apart from them?” At that point, the light bulb came on and she realized that she wasn’t truly positioned or branded. She was seen as just another Realtor. I told her that great branding is when others are able to finish the sentence, “There’s Susan, the Realtor who (fill in the blank)” with what she truly wants to be known for in her market.
Another misconception is that you should begin marketing before your brand is defined. For instance, I’ve spoken with numerous business owners, entreprenuers and Realtors who say they plan to finish their website, conduct a photo shoot, create their collateral materials or even launch a social media marketing campaign, then they will think about branding and positioning. But how do you know what types of photos to take? What will you put on your website to differentiate yourself from others? What will your business cards, brochures and even your social media platforms say that will encourage prospects to connect with you first? And finally, why on earth would you waste all the time and money on these very important marketing elements before you establish your brand?
In order to develop an iron clad position and brand, here are some questions you should be asking yourself BEFORE you begin ANY kind of marketing.
What is my ultimate goal? Take a strong look at what you want in terms of both professional and personal achievement. What makes you most fulfilled? Where would you like to be financially? Define your path of intended growth.
Who is my ideal customer? Trust me when I say that you don’t want just any customer. You want a customer who appreciates your expertise and dedication, will take repeat advantage of your services and will recommend you enthusiastically to others. Define this person in detail so you have a clear understanding of who you’ll be marketing to and what your message should be.
What is my point of differentiation? This is the most critical of all. It’s not about what makes you ‘better’. It’s what makes you different. Better is subjective. Different is inarguable.
What am I willing to be known for that is authentic to me and significant to my ideal customer? Find a position that you’re willing to put forth every day. We call this ‘breathing your brand’. It must also be a position that is meaningful to your ideal customer. We’re trying to create an image that makes your ideal customer immediately connect with you and feel as though they simply shouldn’t be working with anyone else.
A well-defined brand will help you stand out among your competitors. It will serve as a magnet for your ideal customer. And if promoted consistently and passionately—and lived authentically—it will make you instantly recognizable among your community in an unforgettable way. And finally, a solid brand can give you the confidence you’ve likely never experienced at the same level. There’s such power in walking out the door every morning knowing who you are, what makes you unique, who you will be helping today and exactly how you’ll be helping them. And when all of your marketing materials are consistently branded with the same image and messaging, there is undeniable pride as well.
So before you dive into marketing in this New Year, don’t go out the door without your branding clothes. You wouldn’t want to portray the wrong perception, now, would you?