I know first hand social media can be a valuable, income generating tool.
My social media efforts have landed me business (a million dollar contract in 2008), sold books and products, aided my international media presence and hooked me to important resources and new friends.
Social media can provide a garden of goods that are aligned to your goals, or it can make you feel like your endless efforts produce no more than a crop of crappy connections that suck time and don’t produce a worthy return on your investment.
Follow these tips and your odds of success will increase.
1.) Tend your efforts based on a plan with goals, strategies and tactics. I write 80% of my content in one scoop at the beginning of the month. I also update a content bank in Excel to store future ideas.
2.) Automate as much as you can. I use Hootsuite to manage scheduling and tracking.
3.) Carefully mix personal with professional content along with your strengths and your vulnerabilities. This strategy will keep you interesting and human.
4.) Promote others. It’s the best fertilizer around.
5.) Provoke. Progress doesn’t happen when everyone agrees with what you think.
6.) Have the big guns ready behind the seductive links, lines and comments. A click through means nothing without the real value you provide. Your website, blog, products and services must walk the social talk.
7.) Master the craft of being a concise, punchy, smart and entertaining word smith or hire someone who is.
You’ve experienced a brand earthquake. A recession hit. Your once-successful retail company was forced to declare bankruptcy. Everything around you has crumbled, your credit has been destroyed and all that was once working for you and familiar to you is now gone, including most of your customers.
But suddenly, after a year of reorganization, legal battles and a production freeze, you have new investors. And you’re in charge of leading the brand turnaround—introducing the new face to a 30-year-old store brand.
For a shaken brand that has lost its core buyers, the goal is to find the new and former buyers who will forgive and forget past missteps and love the brand like it was loved once before.
To bring your brand back to its glory days, you’ll need to create new brand momentum, excitement and desire. All while resources are still tight and you have the giant task of changing tarnished perceptions about the old brand.
In my recent book, Brand Turnaround, I take readers through the journeys of more than 75 brands, exploring how they managed to bounce back from blunders and turn themselves around. Along the way, I identify what I call Game Changers—seven key concepts to brand transformation. Staying relevant is one of these Game Changers.
Staying relevant means to:
- Solve complex problems with simple answers.
- Keep eyes and ears on the market, watch trends, converse and listen.
- Walk in the shoes of stakeholders, whether customers, employees, investors, vendors or even critics.
- Understand the buyers’ value system.
- Identify strong segments of the top buyers’ base.
- Don’t want to or attempt to please everyone.
- Be fluid and flexible.
- Be able to detach to the past if it’s not working today.
Especially, when a brand is emerging from a dark space, it’s temping to want everyone to love you. No retailer or any business wants to miss a sale, but that’s the kiss of death in brand turnaround. If you try to be everything to everyone, you will end up being nothing to a lot of people.
As a brand leader you must focus on the most meaningful aspects of your brand—the ones that make buyers loyal, make them love the brand and want to tell their friends about it.
The very essence of brand relevance is
- The magnet that attracts new buyers and attention.
- The connection to common values and concerns.
- A relationship to exchange shared interests.
- A two-way dialogue that demonstrates that you care (you can do this by educating buyers, treating them well and never forgetting them).
- The application of your brand to their world and its needs.
- A clear message that convincingly tells buyers what’s “in it for them.”
Follow these steps, and you’re on your way to being a relevant, turnaround brand of choice.
1) Gain insight.
Identify and understand who your top customers are
This may require conducting research. In the long run, it will be a worthy investment. Your goal is to identify the customers who have the most influence with others like them, who will recommend you often, who will be repeat spenders and whose lifetime value to the business is the greatest.
You can’t please everyone. Go for your core buyers, those who matter most. I’m a strong believer that 80% of your best business comes from 20% of your market. Use segmented, strategic communications and relationship-building programs to get your core target buyers back on board with your brand.
Next you must understand what matters to these top customers and prospects, not what matters to you or your marketing department
To do this you must study buying trends, ask questions, identify common values that provide emotional satisfaction and also set up multiple dialogue channels for two-way conversations about your store, its products and the buying experience.
2) Innovate—with new solutions, recycled ideas, a mix of both.
Providing buyers with first and fresh answers to their needs and challenges not only positions you as a problem solver and savior, but it opens up many opportunities for brand exposure in the media, word of mouth and social networks.
3) Add extra value to your offerings.
Increasing the value you offer can be the difference in a buyer selecting you over one of competitors. Whether this is a tangible or intangible item, improving with more and relevant offerings count.
4) Deliver an amazing experience.
The customer experience is a three-point opportunity to be relevant. Consider the touch points before they buy, at the time of transaction and after the purchase. Include visuals whose look and feel go along with operational ones.
5) Listen and communicate.
Building brands is no longer a one-way monologue from the company. Today all brands, especially those in turnaround mode, must listen a lot and then communicate in ways that your buyers prefer. Two of the most powerful tools available to big and small companies are social media and live observations with customers. This means get social, participate in high-traffic social networks in a conversational way and pay close attention to what happens with customers and your team in the store and in other venues.
6) Stay flexible and current with economic and societal changes. This means embracing change.
Maybe you were a niche retailer at your peak. No one else offered merchandise with quite the same essence as you. But during your time out of production, other companies popped up and attempted to cash in on your niche market. You’re no longer as unique as you were before. What now?
Finding relevance doesn’t automatically guarantee sustaining relevance. At any moment, your brand could begin to lose it.
These things often happen:
- Brands grow, and with that comes bigger marketing departments, more audiences to cater to and larger committees to appease. Suddenly brand relevance is so watered down that it’s not serving the brand base or producing the outcome that everyone wants.
- Brand leaders can’t see the big picture because they are caught up in the details. They don’t recognize the problem because they are relying on old ways of researching and thinking.
- Brand leaders are reluctant to push out into new categories that they create, can own and rule for fear of failure.
At the end of the day, ask yourself: is your brand relevant? Is it clear on what’s in it for the customer and does it bring a high level of emotional satisfaction?
This article is based on content from Karen Post’s latest book Brand Turnaround (McGraw-Hill 2011).
My friends and business colleagues often ask me, “How do you constantly produce so much stuff, ideas, stories, images, books, products and speeches?!”. The answer is simple. I consume this delicious cocktail, straight up daily, which let’s me get more done and have more fun!
Start with ample sleep, for me it’s 8 hours.
Eat often, at least five small meals with protein daily.
Set accountable goals, daily (one or two is fine).
Meditate and do deep breathing, even if it’s 5 minutes.
Pay attention to what you experience.
Hang out with people smarter than you.
Exercise, for me it’s tennis.
Read, books, labels, faces, bumper stickers, the WSJ.
Journal good ideas.
Ask questions that feel stupid.
Whip through magazines, daily (notice headlines, photos and ads).
Limit hard problem solving to two-hour sessions at a time, break for food, fun or exploring.
Watch spectacular performances.
Observe super successful people.
Push yourself 20% more than your comfort zone welcomes.
Enjoy the fruits of your production.
Time to reinvent? Jumpstart your business or your career with this simple, easy to follow Reinventing you Ta-Do list.
No, I didn’t. And because I’ve bought so many of those silly $100 replacement cables and lost them too, I was not about to hit the road without it. So I quickly phoned up my driver to see if he could run back to my place, get it and bring it to me before my flight left. Like a champ, he said no problem.
So how does a list-obsessed traveler like me forget stuff like this? By moving too fast.
My trip to Chicago was fabulous. I spent three days at the restaurant show, did a lot of marketing for my new restaurant product, filmed a 6-minute live segment for FOX News that aired nationally, attended a series of excellent focus studies for one of my Chicago clients, met a bunch of great new business contacts and experienced a city that I adore.
Wednesday morning I’m up early to catch a flight back to Tampa. I’m showered and dressed and looking for my make-up and hair care stuff. It is nowhere in the room. I call the desk and ask if they have a gift shop where I can buy the basics, the store does not open until 8AM, my driver is picking me up at 7AM.
(To my guy readers, not having make-up is equivalent to not having pants on and going to a meeting.)
I have no make-up, no hair brush and no patience. I also have a business meeting as soon as I get off the plane in Tampa. I’m starting to stress.
I improvise. I find a fork in the kitchenette and do the best I can with my hair, thinking I’ll get to the airport and they will have a store to buy a brush and make-up.
With my sunglasses on, I race to O’Hare, get to my gate and look for a store. There are none other than food and magazine shops. I calmly walk to the plane quietly thinking I need to be rich enough to afford a make-up artist to travel with me, then this would never be a problem. I also thought having my own jet would be a lot better than standing in line with a bunch of screaming kids. I definitely need to work smarter or start buying more lottery tickets.
I find my seat and I’m now really concerned that if I show up to my 2:30 meeting looking like this, (no make-up on) my client will not only not recognize me, but they will be frightened.
My seatmate looks like a million bucks. She’s well dressed, her make-up is perfect and she’s relaxed. I compliment her and tell her my story of the missing make-up bag.
Then like an angel from the sky, my new friend Denise Sowder tells me she’s a beauty consultant and works for Mary Kay. She also said she had a suit case full of make-up products and samples. OMG. As soon as we landed, she saved the day. We found the nearest ladies room, I got a make-up lesson and all the products I needed.
What are the odds of that happening? A million to one.
- Slow down. Speed will not necessarily get you to the goal faster.
- Always carry toiletries in your carry-on bags. Not in a separate bag that you can leave somewhere. Turns out I left it at a research facility.
- Keep an extra set of power cords in your suitcase.
- Pay it forward. Keep your Karma bank account full. I’m placing a Mary Kay order with my new friend Denise. That plane trip and her kindness will not soon be forgotten.
For more on trips to Chicago, view:
5 inspirational ideas and 2 revelations from an adventure to Chicago
This past weekend I attended the National Restaurant Association Show in Chicago. This show hosts over 100,000 attendees from over 100 countries.
The mix included suppliers, restaurateurs, the media and entrepreneurs, like myself, hoping to tap into this lucrative 600 billion market. For the past year I’ve been building restaurantbrandingroadmap, an e-learning product, a web site and business that serves up marketing and branding help to this niche market of independent restaurateurs. I hope to launch the first product within the next 60 days. To date I have built a membership model website and a robust blog. At the same time I’ve been aggressively building a base of future buyers and fans via twitter, Facebook and my opt-in community. Part of my growth strategy is to get into the minds of my market, so I can better deliver on their unmet needs and to build a network of restaurant product and service providers that I can partner with to accelerate the project and monetize my efforts.
Attending any large tradeshow is a significant investment for a small company. To attend this show, I will spend about $3,000. before time costs. This covers travel expenses for two, show attendance fees, special business cards I printed that promote the restaurant product and an online subscription to watch the Tampa Bay Rays TV on my laptop so I don’t miss a game
A show this size can be overwhelming without a good game plan. So Lauren (My Chief Problem Solver) and I came up with ours to ensure a healthy ROI at the show.
1.) Before you go, set your accountable goals and your action plan to achieve them.
- For us it meant taking home 500 new contacts.
- Discover at least 10 promo partners.
- Make 5 media contacts.
- Identify at least 50 resources for content.
- Learn at least 20 new marketing ideas.
2.) Print something that you can hand out that speaks to why you are at the show.
For us, in addition to our Brain Tattoo Branding Business cards, we printed special cards that included our restaurant product, site and social media addresses.
3.) Identify targeted companies you want to meet and schedule your day.
4.) If you go with a colleague like I did, don’t hang out together all the time. Don’t sit next to each other at a session or on the shuttle. You can cover twice as much ground if you both go different ways.
5.) Don’t wait to get home to sort out your hot new contacts and ideas. Take action while stuff is fresh on your mind. Organize your thoughts and leads, contact your new friends in social media right away. The next morning we already had traction from our new contacts on our site and social media accounts.
6.) Take pictures and keep good notes of your journey, the people you meet and new resources. These pics will not only give you follow up material for your new contacts, they can be seeded in social media and in your blog.
7.) Stay focused on who you want to meet. This show had over 1800 exhibits, only about 20% mattered to me concerning business goals. Don’t forget your mission.
8.) Look professional, but dress comfortably. I usually wear my red glasses and some creative jacket or outfit. This seems to be a magnet for conversation and strangers get the vibe I’m a creative thinker.
9.) If you say you are going to follow up with someone after the show, do it! This is part of your brand. Keeping your promises.
10.) Stay at a cool hotel. The likelihood of meeting cool people will increase. We stayed at the Sax. I love this place, it’s hip, has good energy and is in the heart of lots of interesting and fun places. The House of Blues is next door.
11) Bring a ton of business cards, if there are 100,000 people at the show you you can easily burn through 1,000 cards.
12) Make sure you have downloaded all the apps to help you be productive.
-For us this was a QR scanner on your smart phone., so you can bookmark cool things. Many booths used this digital tool.
-Instagram to take and share photos.
-The NRAshow app to view the schedule and map layout quickly.
If you are interested in restaurant or hospitality branding, do check out my other blog. There will lots of great new posts concerning this exciting industry.
When I was in Newport, RI last week visiting the Tennis Hall of Fame, I had the pleasure of meeting a new friend named Lauren. Lauren coaches tennis and helped me decide on a couple of new tennis outfits. She also mentioned she was coming to Tampa next week and asked me if I’d be up for a match of tennis. Absolutely!
So we played Thursday and had a blast. We played 11 games before our court time expired. I was down 5,6. Lauren brought Linda, a friend of her mom’s, with her too. After tennis we watched the beautiful sunset in Tampa Bay and all had a drink at Jackson’s, a local restaurant.
I asked Lauren where her mom was? She explained her mom, her grandmother and 111 people were killed in the United Flight #232 plane crash 23 years ago. I had never met anyone who lost friends or family in a commercial plane crash, so I was curious and inquired more. Lauren, where were you? She replied, “I was there too. I was one of the survivors. I was thrown from the plane and ended up in a corn field”.
Lauren was 6 at the time. After being in a coma for nearly a month she was given a second chance to live. Wow, I thought, she was so lucky; dodged the death bullet and I was so fortunate to have crossed paths with her. Today Lauren is a 29 year old beautiful person with a bright future.
Throughout life you meet people in very random ways and they imprint something on your soul. My time with Lauren was really special, even though she was about to kick my butt in the tennis match, her glow and spirit for life was contagious. This won’t be the last time I see Lauren.
I’ve been thinking about Lauren’s brush with death and how we all never know when our number is up and when our journey on earth will end.
Most of us will only get one chance. The dress rehearsals are over. Don’t take things for granted, not even tomorrow.
So if you’ve been parked in some ho-hum job, dreaming about your next career, maybe as a happy entrepreneur or doing something you are truly passionate about. Or maybe it’s not a career thing at all, but you are miserable in a bad relationship that is holding you hostage to a less than fulfilling life—what are you waiting for? The horn from the big bus around the corner, before it runs you over?
Why not live like today is your last one. Make your move!
Don’t forget to check out Signs of the times – 5 tips to make them meaningful.
Confidence is a condition you manifest when you do things with competence. Self-esteem is a belief level you buy into about yourself, when you’re not doing anything at all. To enjoy a great life and a rich business or career, they are both needed to be mastered.
I consider myself an emotionally healthy person. I also know that I can always improve myself. I’m interested in learning things that can make me more effective with my business, my personal relationships and things that provide me with a more fulfilled life.
Back in January Alan Weiss, a coach and mentor of mine for the past decade, offered a one-day workshop on self-esteem. Alan is known as the million dollar consultant. He’s authored over 40 books, works all over the world and has guided me on many business projects. His Self-Esteem Workshop was $2,500 and limited to 6 people in every workshop, it was sold out until April.
There’s no debate here, lower than peak self-esteem is bad for business. If you are a start-up, it can make the difference in you raising needed funds. If you are a growing business it can cost you new clients. If you are employed it can stump your advancement. In all cases, low self-esteem enables price, valuation, compensation discounting and costly over-giving of goods and services too.
I attended Alan’s workshop this past week in Warwick, RI to help take my business to a higher level. It was an excellent investment in time and money.
Consistent with Alan’s tough-love style of coaching, the workshop wasn’t hoo-rah-rah at all. There was no flood of compliments or achievement praised. There were a lot of open and candid discussions about where human doubt and questionable self-worth comes from and how to dump the debris that brings down anyone’s esteem level.
Before the workshop, I knew the root of many of my green monster issues, but after spending the day with Alan and a great group of other highly-accomplished consultants, I better understood how to re-frame the past, dump the garage and power forward with a stronger direction and intent. I also learned a lot about how to sustain high self-worth in the most challenging of situations.
The three biggest take-a-ways for me were:
1) The perfect self-esteem cocktail is 1-part listen to others (that you request, unsolicited feedback is useless) and 3-parts listen to yourself.
This means accept feedback from qualified givers, not others who have some axe to grind or bigger issues than yourself.
2) Having an accurate feedback grading system is key.
Many of the most damaging and negative beliefs that imprint adult self-doubt comes from our parents because as children, they were our primary authoritative figures. This dominating influence can apply to professional settings too. This does not make either of them right. Use realistic measures to evaluate criticism.
3) Positive reinforcing environments and relationships are critical, not optional.
Birds of a feather flock together. A scrappy nest is not where you want to be. Hang with other highly-esteemed people and make sure your work space is empowering and inspirational. If it’s not, change it.
Alan Weiss is not for everyone. He’s not inexpensive, his content is not sappy and sugar-coated. If you are serious about taking your business to the next level, I’d look at some of his offerings. If nothing else, sign up for his weekly newsletter, it’s free and one of the best things I read and enjoy every week.
In closing, here’s another good article on the subject on of self-worth. It’s written by one of my favorite tweeters @yourpocketguru, follow him and me @brandingdiva on Twitter for some short gems of insight on a all kinds of topics.
This weekend a friend of mine shared an article about how Tampa Bay is trying to figure out their brand message as they near the city’s hosting of the Republican National Convention in August. The event will attract millions of eye balls, thousands of delegates and at least 15,000 members of the media.
Reading the article not only wore me out, but it brought back memories of projects I’ve worked on that had the same odor—branding by committee.
Sure consensus is important, doing collaborative research is key and hearing out many perspectives, that’s part of the process, but winning brands are created when one leader steps up, makes hard decisions and champions the movement. This is why we never see statues of committees in our parks or public spaces.
The problems with branding by committee are rampant. There are usually tons of the non productive meetings that suck days out of the resources that could be used for actually building the brand. It’s inevitable that the committee will include people adverse to risk. Great branding is risky. To stand out, bold thinking is required. Committees are notorious for watering down breakthrough ideas. And there are so many diverse agendas, brands by committee become a hair splitting activity, instead of picking a lane and charging forward.
3 tips for brand building.
1) Trust one leader and give them the power to make decisions.
2) Pick the single most important message/promise. Deliver these with extreme intensity, frequency and consistent execution.
3) Accept and embrace that bold, breakthrough and brilliant brands will include a degree of risk.
I wish Tampa the best in finding their brand to take to the world. Whatever they decide on, which I hope is pretty fast, since August is right around the corner- they need to know, it won’t be perfect and it won’t be loved by everyone and that’s OK.
As Nike said so well— Just do it!
For more branding tips, check out:
5 personal branding tips that have instant impact
So many books, so little time to read. The next 4 titles I’ve read, I loved, I recommend. They cover marketing, branding, the human condition and how to stay competitive.
Confessions of a Public Speaker by Scott Berkun
Loaned to me by another speaker, I laughed out loud for several nights while reading this book. It’s a gem. Whether you do presentations as part of your job or you are a paid professional speaker, this book is raw, funny and a valuable resource.
Why it’s worth the read
- It’s a fast fuel to improve your speaking, around 200 pages.
- I love snarky humor, its got lots of it.
- It provides simple, actionable how to’s.
- It’s real. Scott has been around.
Provides applicable checklists.
Interesting science about attention, human fear and communication.
Biggest take away for me
Preparation and practice are the magic moves to home run speeches. Period.
Steve Jobs by Walter Isaacson
I’m an Apple addict. I’ve been one since my first computer in 1983. So I really connected with this book, feeling like it was part of my personal and business growth. It’s a big book, almost 600 pages. Most importantly I related to how a college dropout, who lives a Zen life and had a very quirky, intense, odd personality with bouts of distorted reality could end up being a such legend and leader in global business and life changing technologies.
Why I’ve given it a glowing report
- It’s inspiration on steroids.
- It proves you can be a little weird and succeed.
- It’s well written.
- It proves sticking to your standards. With Steve, extreme attention and dedication to design and doing things differently, can pay off.
Biggest take away for me
Dreams can come true and turnaround even while operating a company on death row (almost out of cash and losing millions) is possible.
The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Conquering Fear and Anxiety by Sharon Heller, PhD.
Everyone feels fear and anxiety, including me, the brave soul who has walked on fire, driven a Porsche around a race track at 120 miles per hour and addressed thousands of strangers on a huge stages. If you don’t battle with moments of mental craziness every blue moon, I suspect you are an alien who flew in from a planet for the day. Even history’s great leaders faced fear and anxiety. I love this quote by Winston Churchill.
“You may take the most gallant sailor, the most intrepid airman, or the most audacious soldier, put them at a table—what do you get? The sum of their fears.”
As a student of better and happy living, I’ve also been curious about stress, phobias, fear and anxiety as I have my daily share of all of them. This book has been a useful tool for me. I really like it because the format is organized in a way that after you finish the book, you can refer back to a specific section for a quick fix.
If you battle with high anxiety, this book is a must have survival resource
- Beyond ways to manage stress and mental demons, it exposes the root causes.
- Provides simple rituals that can greatly reduce nervous bouts, panic attacks and sleep disorders.
- Shares real professional people situations that I related to.
Biggest take away for me
Peak mental health, just like physical health, is a work in progress. A better understanding of human psychology, triggers and controllable external factors can accelerate one’s journey to personal and professional bliss.
Sharkonomics, How to Attack Market Leaders by Stepfan Engeseth
I recently met a new friend and marketing expert from Sweden. The new business relationship was the result of meeting and counseling a student from the University of Tampa who is also from there. I love how the planet is so small and one local connection opens up a world of new resources. After a few online chats, Stepfan sent me his latest book, which was an exhilarating read to say the least.
A contrast from the book review above on managing fear, Sharkonomics will likely spread fear in some boardrooms with just cause. Not only is the shark metaphor a very cool marketing idea, the author actually spent time in the water with these very strategic predators (sharks) and parlays this insight into meaningful business lessons and useable management methods. His premise is that nature can be smarter than business as usual. Instead of endless PowerPoints and studies, companies need to embrace a hard survival psyche.
Business can be a dangerous adventure, here’s just a few ways to make sure you are not someone’s lunch
- Strike unexpectedly.
- Hunt in packs.
- Leverage blind spots.
Biggest take away for me
Don’t get stuck in history. Keep moving. Kill with style.
Till next time, read on!
For more books reviews, click here.
Have you called yourself recently? On all of your phones? If not, it’s a fast find and fix to improving your brand impression.
How do I know this? Because I was grossly guilty of phone message neglect.
Fortunately, I have good friends who tell me the truth. Here’s a recent call I received.
“Hey Karen, Ms. Branding Diva your phone message stinks. It’s too long, you sound like you are in a tunnel under ground and teetering on having a bad day.”
She was right. This was a big disconnect from who I am and what my brand stands for. Here’s the really sad part, it’s been like that for a year, YIKES!
Five simple tips to a better telephone branded signal.
1) Be clear – Always state your full name.
2) Be brief – In our fast paced and busy world, short and to the point are best.
2) Have tone – Include some branded attitude, for me it’s energy and confidence.
3) Be current and relevant – Keep things fresh, consider changing your message with the seasons, the months or for no reason at all.
4) Provide a clear call to action – What do you want the caller to do? Leave their name and what they need? Or even better their American Express number?
5) Manage expectations – If you can’t check messages for along period of time, provide a timely route to you, request a text message or email from the caller.
Don’t ever, ever use the default, computer message. That clearly communicates nothing except you are unprofessional or so unorganized you can’t find the time to set up.
Bottom line, your phone message is often the first impression a new contact has with you. Make it a great one. And it does not hurt to make sure your visible phone and accessories are on board with your brand too. It’s all part of the personal branding package.
Still don’t have a smart phone? It’s 2012. Plus, being a tech dinosaur is no marketing edge.
And if bold styling is part of your image, consider a retro hand set (like pictured above) to plug into your iPad, iPhone or other smart phones and a cool, matching phone protector. I’ve usually sport the Branding Diva® red set —phone case, handset and fire engine hot lipstick. It’s an excellent conversation starter at coffee shops and airport lounges, after all that’s where new business often starts.
Got to go catch a call! Talk soon! Brand on!