Let me alleviate some pressure for you. Please don’t stress or worry if you don’t stay on schedule perfectly for this challenge, branding be true to yourself is important because it is your brand and needs authenticity.
Welcome to Day 1 of the 30 Day Branding Challenge!
I don’t care if it takes you 30 days or 42 days to get through. In fact, I am not going to post day 2 until Friday. This a is a long branding challenge today. There is a lot to think about.
Time management isn’t the purpose of this, is it? So if you want to take 2 days for one task, DO that! Being your own boss means YOU make the rules, not me. So read the posts and comment in the blog posts and go at your own pace.
Also, as we go through the tasks – if there’s something like video marketing, and you have no webcam or video capabilities, please “alter” the challenge to fit your needs.
That means you could double up on another task for now, instead of charging money for some video tool when the bills are due. I don’t want anyone putting themselves in financial strain over this.
Branding be true to yourself.
Why have a brand at all? You might be earning money already with no brand in place, so why not just scale up on how many websites you have and how many articles you post online?
A brand helps you effortlessly create more income because you generate a loyal base of customers who do your advertising for you.
For example, I can go to any live event in London, and someone will say that’s Catherine Ford, either as an Internet marketer in my own right or as Sarah Staar’s Sales Manager.
One of the branding books I read stated that your goal is to create a rabid fan base. That means they’d go Honey Badger in your defense, and I have that. It means they talk about you to their friends and family – who have no clue who you are (I have that, too).
And if you process everything regarding dollars and cents, then it also means whenever you promote something to them – a product or service – they often buy without even knowing what it is – because YOU promoted it. (I’m blessed enough to have that as well).
What Branding Journey Are You On?
There are four scenarios of branding that I can see:
The Headless Chicken Branding Method
Those who are building a brand from scratch with no direction.
You have to decide what it is you want to be a brand for – a niche, a product, a strategy, a service or whatever.
Some of you are brand new to Internet marketing – soaking up information and have no clue what you want to pursue. This course isn’t about helping you find a niche. That’s a course all its own.
What I CAN say to you about that dilemma is, do something you don’t mind working on day after day. It needs to be something where, as far as branding goes, you can share YOUR story.
You want to be able to talk about things you feel or love about this niche. For me, for example, I wanted to teach other marketers who
a.) didn’t have all the steps to get going online and
b.) hated feeling inadequate – because I went through that myself!
Know what does NOT resonate with you. I found a little “forex” niche I knew could be a moneymaker. But talking about trading, every day was too dull for words. So weed out boring, annoying or uncomfortable topics for yourself.
It doesn’t have to be something you’re already an expert in – let’s remove that insecurity right now.
Branding yourself to be true to yourself is important.
You have a blank piece of paper before you – what do you want to create your brand to be?
The good news for you is, you’re at foundation level in this challenge, so you don’t have to backtrack from mistakes you made earlier. You get a clean slate right away.
I do always suggest that you pursue services to others first, then your own products, then affiliate marketing and ads (in that order).
Creating a brand as an Affiliate
Those who are trying to figure out how to brand a business when they’re affiliates.
I have tons of affiliate sites. I primarily promote tangible items, but across a wide range of niches – like toys for kids, exercise equipment for health enthusiasts, diabetic foot care etcetera etc.
It took me a while to work out how to brand myself as an affiliate
Being an affiliate still enables you to brand yourself and many people don’t realize that. If I wanted to do nothing BUT affiliate marketing, in the IM niche, for example, then I would make my entire online presence about reviewing IM products.I have a review site here
My Internet Marketing Brand
I am rebranding that to make all the reviews of products I have used and what happens when I use them. Did those products make me money? Because if they didn’t how will you fare as a newbie marketer.
Even though they were harsh, I sold a lot of products and had people asking me to tear their products apart.
With tangibles, you could be the consumer’s advocate for online purchases. You could have individual sites you brand, like a brand where you STOP Moms and Dads from buying trendy toys just because companies are pushing them and HELP parents buy the perfect toy for their child instead.
For something like this, you’d have to relate to parents – tell your story about how you bought the Lalaloopsy doll because your kid screamed “I want one!” with the commercials and then when you got it, they wouldn’t play with it because it was too hard and lost parts.
Or, you could have one mass site where you were the “go to gift guide guru” and have categories where you let people read reviews – real, raw review stuff – and make a buying decision there.
The reinvention Branding Model
Those who are trying to reinvent themselves away from what they were, and into something new.
Maybe you’ve been online awhile and never considered branding, so you’re about to now try to herd all of your “stuff” into one brand.
You might be all over the board – you have products in IM, you promote Amazon tangibles, and you have a video YouTube channel where you are personal and show your cooking tips for fun.
To a degree, I’m reinventing myself – I’m a combination of reinventing and the next one – reinforcing. I sure don’t want to be the Ghostwriter to the Gurus anymore because I quit ghostwriting.
I hear some people saying I’m the PLR go to person, but I don’t want to be pigeon-holed into that, either. I only do PLR less than half my time in business.
So if you discover after this 30 days that you found a new direction to brand yourself with, go for it! Online, everything’s flexible and fluid, and you control your destination. BUT, also realize that many marketers flit around, and their brand never takes off because they keep changing, and it has no time to develop roots.
The Final Branding Phase – Reinforcement
Those who are reinforcing the brand they have already been building from something small into something huge.
Maybe you’ve had a little bit of success, and you want to scale it up big time. But you’re scared to put yourself out there as THE best.
For me, I already have a little momentum going for what I have planned with my long-term branding, but I haven’t ever really pushed it out there.
These people need to start being unafraid to brag about themselves. The only thing wrong with bragging about yourself is your purpose for doing it. Bragging to make people jealous isn’t branding.
Bragging because you’re excited, or you want to motivate others is self-promotion – and that’s a GOOD thing!
WHO Are YOU?
It’s time to figure out who you want your brand to be – notice I didn’t say “what” you want it to be – because people don’t form relationships with things – they forge them with real people.
I think most of what I have learned about branding – sucks.
All the specific SEO rules, the keyword density, the “you must hard sell to someone seven times before they buy” nonsense … what a crock!
That was just someone who got caught off the cuff saying it takes seven times. Although years later he admitted this fraud, it has still gone into urban myth.
I never use a keyword guideline for my blog and yet I rank high whenever I review a product, or a person, for example.
When I write articles or blog posts – I don’t check to see how often I used a keyword. Ever.
How many times have you had an emotional “buying” response to a 3rd person Ezine article that told you the table of contents of the latest Internet Marketing product being sold online, what it costs, and where to get it?
Now compare that to someone who gives you a real review, pointing out things they like and dislike about the product creator’s ethics, how they actually implemented the concept – and showed you results.
You’re not going to buy the product because it says it will make you a certain amount of money. You’re going to buy it because someone you TRUST said that while it wasn’t perfect, it did help them and they tell you exactly how.
I just relay my message in the best way that’s my own style. So first I want to help you figure out who you are because not everyone knows how to go from wanting to be personal online to actually project that.
Write down 5-10 words that describe you and how you want your audience to instantly think of your brand.
I’ll go first:
- Consummate professional
- PLR Provider
Do Adjectives have a Place?
Now, what if you’re shy? Would shy be a good word to put on that list? It could – depending on how you want to brand yourself!
You could teach shy guys how to get dates. Or help shy people learn to give speeches. So when you first brainstorm, don’t knock off any adjectives.
Even if you chose the word “ugly,” you might be able to parlay that into a brand, too. Substitute ugly for shy in the dating niche and you have a whole audience waiting for you.
Again, the rich JERK did this with much success. He turned a negative word into a lucrative brand that people loved because it was different.
Groups of Adjectives
Group those words now – into similar categories. So I might have:
Be Honest With Yourself
The first words in the above list are kind of harsh but I like that element about me. I think it weeds out the kind of thin-skinned people I do NOT want following me. And it attracts those who prefer realness to having someone paint rainbows and unicorns for them. I am a strong woman, I don’t cave in and don’t expect my followers to do so either.
That’s an important thing for you to do – being real with your list of words. You don’t want to create a “people pleaser” list. Your goal is to have the freedom to be YOU. So for me, I don’t want anyone who can’t handle my bluntness following me – because then I get bogged down in whines and grumpiness.
The second column for me offers insight into what it is that I do. And the third is what I HOPE my audience (like you guys) really sees because it’s what I feel I am all about. I truly care and want to hold your hand through the tough times to help you succeed.
Remember that this is a list of what you feel at your core. So if you’re an affiliate, for example – you need to be more than just top keywords and profit volume.
What makes you want to promote certain things? What’s your reason, other than just money because that’s a given? If you don’t have one – find one. Because it’s not “giving” to just promote anything for a quick buck. It’s transparent and nobody will flock to that.
Personal Versus Product Branding
There are personal brands (like me branding my name online) and product brands for the actual name of an item.
But there’s still a piece of relationship building required for the sale. For example, you may love the product brand Honda because you like the car quality. But you don’t just go buy a Honda from anyone.
You find a Honda dealer who treats you with respect, isn’t pushy, and gives off the vibe you want when making a big ticket purchase.
You might choose a specific grocery shopping place because you like how the cashiers know your name or smile when bagging your groceries – even if the place down the road has items a bit cheaper.
I will actually be working on two things eventually. First, I’m going to brand ME – my name – a phrase or thought that will be associated with the name Catherine Ford.
Then later I’ll brand my PLR store. I want the plrwords.com to be its own brand. It can still be under my umbrella, but it’ll be its own brand.
This is what Richard Branson does with his Virgin line. He’s known for music, airlines, space tourism, cell phones – a myriad of totally unrelated products! And yet he also gets his name out there as the umbrella holder.
You can do this as an affiliate or as a product owner. Personally, I recommend a PERSONAL website for YOU and then individual brand sites for your non-related topics.
I, for instance, will have two personal websites
Sizing Up Competition for Your Brand
It’s not enough to determine how YOU want to be seen, like we did in the list exercise. You also have to determine where you fit in for your niche audience. I love it when people say, “I can’t do PLR because there are already too many other PLR providers.”
Oh really? Okay, so I guess the fact that there’s a McDonalds, Five Guys Burgers, Burger King, Kincaids, In N Out, Wendys, and Jack in the Box is kind of ridiculous since we only needed one burger joint.
Every person and product is DIFFERENT. It’s why there’s not ONE eBay guide, but DOZENS of them!
Why didn’t I simply tell you to go buy one branding book?
I wrote my own because I want it to have MY own slant on it. I wanted to teach people in my way. Specifically, for branding – I see people either not doing it at all or doing it all wrong.
I wanted a course for marketers and solo entrepreneurs, not just out of work people looking to brand themselves into a job, like one book teaches. And not just by using logos like other resources say to do.
My overall brand is being blunt, real, honest and ethical. I saw a big lack of ethics in marketing and I wanted to fill that gap – but not with the happy go lucky motivational “everything’s roses” attitude I see from some people.
Because it’s not always positive! There are bad things that need to be addressed in a stern manner, so my brand is being built to handle that crowd looking for truth in all its glory.
What I want you to do in this exercise now is figure out what you bring to the table that others don’t bring enough of – and what you DON’T bring to the table that others DO.
You’re literally going to go out onto some competitor sites and critique them to see where you want to make yourself preferable over others.
Go and get some Paper
I am more ______________. (do this a few times until you run out).
I won’t/don’t _________________. (until you exhaust it).
Here’s my list so you can see how it’s done:
I am more ethical than some marketers.
I am more honest about what’s possible and the methods.
I am more in tune with my audience than some other marketers.
I understand my niches
I won’t lead people into scummy tactics for greed.
I won’t back down from saying what I feel because of pressure from product owners.
I won’t let myself get scared of learning new things I can share with others.
I say these things because it’s what I see on other people’s websites. I see people promoting products that are obvious crap. I see them lying about what they achieved. I see zero comments on their blog – big name marketers with zero comments? They’re not interacting with their people.
LOOK for things like that when you go sleuthing. Become a prospective customer of theirs – what would you like and dislike in comparison to your brand?
I also see people always trying to game Google to make money – there’s no security in get rich quick schemes. I see people playing nicey nice to each other because they’re hoping for a JV with someone. Behind their back they’re rude about each other.
Get Out of Being Comfortable
And there are tons of people who stay in their comfort zone when they need to move forward for the sake of those who are following them. I can’t think of a totally non-changing niche, really. There’s always something new to learn.
This isn’t all you need to know. You need to know how you can improve.
What Do You Need to Work On to Be THE Best?
There will be things your competitors know that you don’t. If you plan to be a brand leader, then it’s your responsibility to implement some continuing education into your plans.
A leader strives to know it all. They may NOT know it all right up front, but they always embrace learning.
There will be ways they’re better than you that have nothing to do with learning. They might have a more aesthetically pleasing website. They might be better at SEO. They might write better than you do.
Perhaps their webinar was amazing and you wish YOU could do that.
You have to be willing to spy on your competitors (or call it “learn from” if it makes you feel better) and see where your brand falters in comparison.
So now make this list:
I am good at ________________.
I need to improve on _________________.
For example, let’s look at my list:
I am good at relationship building.
I am good at product creation.
I am good at writing.
I am good at listening to my customers.
I need to improve on professionalism. (My site design isn’t professional enough for me).
I need to improve on focus/organization. (I’m all over the place with where I want to go).
I need to improve on technical prowess. (Like SEO for competitive keywords).
Figure out what’s missing in your niche when it comes to leadership. What do you see people complaining about? What promises are being broken? Don’t just go to product or competitor sites – go to Yahoo Answers and Forums and Review pages and see what people are loving and not loving.
Why did they buy from one person or site? It’s not all about positioning yourself for what’s lacking in the industry – it’s about implementing what’s working, too.
Being You Versus Being a Pen Name
There are some reasons why you may not want to brand “you” as in your real name. That’s okay – it’s not a deal breaker.
It’s okay to either use a pen name that you make up, or promote a brand phrase like “The Rich Jerk” or “30 Minute Chef” for example.
There are even ways around putting yourself on video, which we’ll learn later. They might take more effort but it’s doable.
Now if you’re JUST shy and it isn’t a stalker or career reason, then please get over it and brand YOU. I only offer this pen name option to those who truly need it – not anyone who doesn’t feel like being uncomfortable.
It’s going to be better to let people get to know the real you, whenever possible.
If I Said One Sentence About You What Would It Be?
You were probably hoping for some perfect formula where, by the end of this , you had the 5 words or less brand phrase that fit you perfectly. Something like:
“The Ethical Marketing Guru!”
Um, no. Relationship building to ME, means that you let others brand you to a degree. You don’t want to shove a sleek “catch phrase” down their throats.
Living the Dream
In every branding book I read, I learned one major thing:
You can’t SAY a brand, you have to LIVE it.
So this course will be on projecting that IDEAL you that you want your brand to be about. It’s about making your name (or product or site) synonymous with the words and phrases you hope to be connected with – and there may be several!
You’ll understand more as this process unfolds. But right now, let’s create a sentence that you would HOPE to see someone write about your brand/you.
“Catherine Ford is opinionated and blunt, but she’s really nurturing and only teaches people ethical marketing strategies.She never uses her words to be harsh or cruel, but wants to bring out the best in people”
That’s what I want to be known for. The first part weeds out my Non-Audience. And the second shares what I’m really all about with my brand.
· Pricing (Having unemployed people put $4,999 on a credit card for your course? UGH!)
· Product creation (Intentionally leaving things out of your eBook? You suck!)
· Teaching (Showing them strategies you KNOW will only last a few weeks before all their sites get shut down? BOO!)
· Promotions (“You promote me and I’ll promote you – I don’t care about my list!” BLECH!)
· Communication (“Buy my product and if you need me, too bad – contact my “help desk” and hope the system answers you but never expect a personal reply.” Sigh.)
What’s Your Brand?
Your brand has to fulfill you at your core. This is what they mean when they talk about purpose and passion. If you stick to “traffic and profits” mindset, you’ll betray yourself when it comes to developing a satisfying career.
It may mean you say yes to something and no to other things. You may have to let a few sites go so that you can focus and organize your brand.
Your brand needs to be loved.
Not just known.
That means you become lovable to your audience – and that’s what we’re going to be doing – helping you create that rabid fan base.
The Dummies Guide to Branding says, “Brands are promises.” So what’s your promise?
Mine is to always be honest and ethical with you and care about your success.
I don’t just say it – I live it. Write yours down on a piece of paper. Pretend I’m your customer. What would you fill in here?
“I promise to _______________________________.”
What we’re going to do is reinforce that promise all over the ‘net. We’re going to live it, show it, and share it. You are going to develop or change your consumer’s perception of you.
Don’t worry if the thought of not having a tidy little phrase makes you anxious. We’re going to use phrases and concepts to boost your brand. It will come from those lists you made and through the tasks we complete over these 30 days.
Remember that your brand isn’t yours to own – it’s in the minds of consumers. You might even have a crappy brand if you treat them poorly. But I know you won’t do that.
Branding isn’t skin deep. Some people brand like that saying about putting lipstick on a pig – superficially. Think up a phrase, pay for a logo and they’re good to go!
We’re going into DEEP water here with our branding challenge.- into the hearts of consumers.
If you WANT to develop a logo with website theme and advertising banners to align with your brand, you can certainly do that. That’s not the crux of this course.
Your Brand Culture
I’m more about teaching you how to create a culture with your brand – how to share your values to attract people and lead them with consistency and positive behaviors.
If you do already have a brand out there with a list, perhaps – how about emailing them or posting a blog and asking what they think of you? Scary, isn’t it? But do it anyway.
I’m going to do it today. Ask them how you compare with others in that niche, how you change their lives if at all, whether or not they trust you. Ask them to be blunt and honest. Tell them why.
Coming up, we’re going to establish you as an expert in your niche. We’ll increase your visibility as a brand with a sturdy reputation. We’re going to set you apart from your competitors.
This is where the “getting real” part comes into play – where you move out of your comfort zone. Are you ready? Branding -be true to yourself, because you cant be true to anyone else.