Do first impressions really matter for your Network Marketing business? You bet it does! Especially today when there's more distributors (offline and online) then ever before, and thousands more joining everyday. That's why it's so vital you learn how to brand yourself so you can get noticed and stand out.
Think about when you meet someone for the first time. Usually within the first few moments you can determine if you're going to like this person and whether or not they're someone you could see yourself interacting with.
Your personal brand is no different. Your audience will instantly judge you, your blog and your products based on their initial impression of your brand.
They will develop emotional connections to your brand, either positive or negative, within the first few minutes or less.
And for many, once their minds are set, will never change these feelings and you just lost a potential customer or prospect.
This is why it’s critical that your brand represents a strong positive message, and that you take the time to determine what your audience is likely to respond to.
You want to build instant recognition but in a positive way. There’s no benefit to creating a highly recognized brand if the message associated with it isn’t directly benefiting you and more importantly your audience.
This is important for both online and offline business. And the easiest way to build a positive personal brand is to put as much effort on developing your image as you would on your product or service.
To create a positive first impression, you will need to first know what a brand actually is and the elements associated with it.
Your Brand is Not What You Think it is.
"Finally! Now your gonna get into colors and logos right?"
Not so fast! This is where many get confused with branding. They mistake color schemes, visuals and logos as the end all to branding.
In reality, these elements or brand artifacts, actually play a much smaller role than you think.
It's not surprising though as experts in the field can't seem to agree on a definitive definition of branding either.
So What is Branding Then?
The term "brand" or "branding" has become a common buzzword that gets thrown around every which way.
For example, people will use it as a synonym for "company" and use it in phrases like, "The highest rated brand in safety" or "The Top Rated Brand".
They'll use it like a verb as in, "We need to brand ourselves", or as a possessive pronoun like, "our brand" or "your brand".
It's no wonder that our understanding of brand is at best questionable. But I'd like to get to the heart of what a brand really is, especially in today's world.
A brand is a relationship between your business and your audience.
Yup, that's it. Everything else like your logo, or colors are just a small part of a much larger and significant meaning. The relationship.
Whether you know it or not, you have already begun branding yourself. Remember, a brand is the relationship between you and your audience.
Even if you don't have a blog or a social media profile, if you've interacted with even one person regarding your business, you've started creating your brand.
And the truth is, you don't have full control of your brand. Relationships are a two-way street.
Your brand is a shared experience between you and the people who choose to buy or engage with you.
You alone don't define your brand, but together with your audience, your brand becomes realized.
This is not to say you don't have any influence. How you choose to behave and express yourself within the relationship, will have a significant impact on how your brand is perceived.
[bctt tweet="A brand is a relationship between you and your audience." username="netwrkingartist"]
The Internet has Changed the Game.
Before the Internet, branding and marketing was a whole different animal.
This was an era when advertising agencies reigned supreme. Think of the show Mad Men. A time when marketing was basically a one-way message from company to consumer.
TV commercials, radio spots, billboards and magazine ad placements were the norm. These were marketing platforms most small businesses or individuals couldn't afford.
Today, the internet and social media has changed all that. It has completely leveled the playing field where small companies and individuals can now affordably have their voices heard. And in some cases, these voices can carry higher than company giants.
Also, the one-way marketing messages are now gone. The internet and social media has empowered consumers to communicate back with companies.
Back in the day if you had issues with a company, the only options you really had was to call their customer support, or gasp... write them a letter. Maybe they'd listen or maybe not.
Today consumers can share praise or grievances with companies they either like or had bad experiences with on a grand scale.
They can post on forums, blogs, social media or even on the company's own site. Now more than ever we're seeing companies actually responding to these complaints trying to remedy the issues.
The challenge with the internet age is, everyone's getting on. There are now a bazillion voices being heard, non-stop, all at the same time!
This has led to the overcrowding of the internet and has made it increasingly more difficult to be heard in their respected niches. Especially for small business, home-based business owners and solopreneurs.
So how do we stand out? Well, one of the only ways is to differentiate yourself from everyone else in your niche. To showcase the value and uniqueness you bring to the marketplace.
We've already established the importance of having a personal brand and that relationship building is the brand.
But there are still other aspects to branding that need to be addressed. Although not as important as building relationships, they still play an important role as you will soon see.
Time to Brainstorm.
Ok, this is the part where you're going to have to take some action steps because you will now need to come up with your story.
Every great brand begins with a story and only you can tell it. When people first meet, it's only natural to ask about each other.
To share something about themselves / ourselves, so we can find common ground for which to relate.
The secret to forming solid relationships with your audience starts with one thing. Again, it’s not your logo or pretty colorful palette.
The secret is your aspirations. It's having the clarity about what pain points and challenges you aspire to solve and how these aspirations will impact your audience.
If your story and aspirations match your audience's needs, you are inviting them to become passionate about you. And when that happens, they will become your raving fans!
I know I'm opening up a can of worms, but as an example, Apple (love em or hate em), is known to engage the aspirations to think different and be more creative.
That's why in the 'creative culture' (for the most part), designers, film/video editors and music producers are passionate about using Macs.
If your audience's feelings toward your brand is just, "meh, they're ok", you will struggle to grow your business.
To get them to be passionate about you and become raving fans, your story has to resonate with their emotions and match their own aspirations.
Tips for Creating Your Story.
- Be honest with your audience and allow them to see your aspirations.
- Be transparent and authentic. Let them know about the struggles you had and currently have.
- Don't try to make yourself out to be this perfect, polished, exaggerated version of who you really are. Have strong posture, but be human.
- Your story will create value when you’re able to share your aspirations in an authentic, real and relatable way. That’s how you'll get your audience to connect and engage.
- When you tell your story, put yourself in their shoes and understand their needs because chances are, you had those exact same needs not too long ago.
- Don't think of them as just dollar signs and someone to profit from by solving their needs.
Also, it's not enough to simply say “I always wanted to help people,” or “I've always wanted to have an online business." You won't connect with anyone saying that. Be specific.
Instead ask yourself questions like:
- What will I commit to in my business?
- Am I willing to find my audience's needs and commit to solving them?
- What positive change(s) in this niche am I committed to make?
Commitment means effort. And as every entrepreneur knows, effort is what leads to results, and results is what leads to your success.
[bctt tweet="Effort is what leads to results and results is what leads to your success." username="netwrkingartist"]
When your audience see these aspirations, they will line up around the corner to join your business or buy from you. And it’s these aspirations that have to be captured within your story.
More importantly, if your audience doesn't relate to your aspirations, they'll have no reason to care about you, or see what's in it for them.
Your audience has to see how they will fit in your story. If they feel they don't, they'll go somewhere else. But if they feel they do fit, there's your raving fans!
Your Brand's Mission Statement.
Another important step in developing a strong personal brand is to come up with your mission statement.
This is the statement that will lay out the purpose of your business.
Your mission statement will provide clarity and give you a sense of purpose. It will help guide you by defining who you are and WHY you do what you do.
This will also help you when writing your story.
When crafting your mission statement, you need to answer these questions:
- What do you do?
- Who are you serving?
- Why do you serve your audience?
- How will you serve your audience?
- What value will you be providing?
- The reason you chose your industry?
- Why did you start your business?
- What image of your business do you want to convey?
- Why should people do business with you?
- What do you want to be remembered for?
Your mission statement should have these characteristics:
- Short: Try to condense it into a short phrase so it's something easy you can quickly say to yourself. This comes in handy if you practice saying affirmations.
- Memorable: Make sure it's something that your audience will recognize. That it's your brand when they hear it.
- Inspiring: If your mission statement doesn't inspire you, do you think it will inspire your audience? Think of it this way. If you put your mission statement on a t-shirt, would your customers or team members be proud to wear it?
Match Your Brand With Your Mission Statement.
When your personal brand lives up to your mission statement, your audience will take notice.
- Your ideal prospects and customers will become attracted to you.
- They will be excited about what your brand is doing and spread the word.
- Your audience will buy your products and become repeat customers.
- This is the customer that will give you awesome testimonials and feedback.
- They will make great team members.
Samples of Mission Statements.
To help get the creative juices flowing, here are the mission statements from some famous brands. Hopefully these will inspire and give you ideas.
Oprah Winfrey, Founder of OWN, The Oprah Winfrey Network:
To be a teacher. And to be known for inspiring my students to be more than they thought they could be.
Sir Richard Branson, Founder of the Virgin Group:
To have fun in [My] journey through life and learn from [My] mistakes.
Steve Jobs, Co-Founder, Chairman, CEO of Apple Inc. (1980 mission statement):
To make a contribution to the world by making tools for the mind that advance humankind.
To organize the world's information and make it universally accessible and useful.
Notice how they're short and quick and only a sentence or two? It's much easier to remember and recognize this way.
How to Stand Out from the Noise.
As we said, finding how you are different and unique is critical for your "voice" to be heard above the Internet noise.
Let's put our thinking caps on and answer the following questions to find out just how different and unique you are.
- What does your personal brand stand for?
- Make a list of what makes your brand different from your competitors? Be specific. Don't just answer, "I provide value".
- What is your Unique Value Proposition? In simple terms, a unique value proposition is your statement of how your business will benefit your customer. It clearly defines what you will do for your ideal customer and how you’re better than your competitors.
- List what you're good at. Your vital skills.
- What can you do better than most people?
- What positive traits do people point out about you?
- i.e. You're a good listener.
- You're good with details.
- They say you're great at organizing, etc.
- How can you use these skills to solve your audience's problems?
- What is your brand's main message? (Use this formula for ideas)
- "I help people __________, so they can __________.
- Example: "I help people develop their personal brand, so they can stand out and attract their ideal customers."
So now that you've answered all the questions in this article, put it all together. Write your story and craft your mission statement. Focus on building a relationship with your audience.
When you complete the exercises, you will know without a doubt how your brand will be different and unique from your competitors.
You will also know what problems and pains points to solve and how you will stand out from the crowd.
For some reason, majority of business owners won't take the time to do these important exercises.
Is it because they feel they don't have a need for it? Or are just too lazy? Maybe they "think" they already know their brand and their audience?
Who knows. What I do know is by you doing this, you are telling, no, shouting to your audience that you are serious and are committed to your success. And in turn, serious and committed to their success!
With that alone you will separate yourself from the masses and shine like the star that you are!
In my next article, we'll go over how you will stand out even more by creating your unique brand identity and its look and feel. Yes, this is where we talk about logos and colors. : )
If you found value, please comment and share. Also feel free to share your mission statement in the comments to inspire others.
Latest posts by Michael Querubin (see all)
- Stand Out! A Guide to Creating a Unique Personal Brand Identity. - December 24, 2016
- How to Brand Yourself to Stand Out in an Overcrowded Market. - December 19, 2016
- What’s a Personal Brand and Why You Need One for Your Business. - December 12, 2016