In a world with seemingly less time and so much more to consume I’ve identified three tighter, smaller and concise was of getting three important things done in my world.
1) Read theSkimm.com.
This daily feed of the top 3-4 news stories keep you informed even when your day does not allow any news reading, TV watching or much dialogue with your well-informed friends.
2) Weight train in 30 minute chunks.
For years I’ve tried, and then soon blown off, the hour-long weight training sessions with a personal trainer. I got bored. Most days after an hour, I was so sore, I never wanted to come back and the cost, in my mind, seemed excessive. A shorter 30-minute session is fun. I’m seeing the same results and I rationalize the expense as no different from a nice dinner out, but helps to reduces my waist line, not increase it. If you are in Tampa and need kick in the butt, and an inspiring trainer, I highly recommend Sasha Townsend.
3) Write shorter blogs.
Yes, in the beginning this will not seem like less of anything, because it is often a tougher task to get to the point with few words. Trust me, once you master the shorter, sweeter blog post style, it will mean you are a more effective writer and it is very likely, more people will enjoy your opinions, ideas and talents. I know I’ve been guilty. However, I am going to recommit to work this change into my blog writing. Sure, every now and then a “how to” branding subject or marketing issue will need or deserve a bit more detail, story or blah, blah, blah. That’s cool, but for now, I’m signing up to brief is better blog.
Got to go!
I’ve been suffering from plantar fasciitis, a painful foot condition. Not sure why I have it. I’d like to think it’s because I’m such a competitive athlete. Which may be part of it or it could be my body is just getting worn down and aged.
What matters is not the origin of any challenge, but how do you play and win when you are in excruciating pain and not feeling your best.
I was down 5, 0. My opponent was hitting perfect drop shots. I was not able to move fast enough to get to them. I was very frustrated and mad that I was letting my brain think about the ouch in my heels and not what I needed to do to come back.
I needed to make some adjustments fast. Here’s what I did that help me turn this match around. These moves can help in business too.
1) Talk to yourself.
“What the hell are you doing, Karen, playing like a big loser, the victim. Get a grip. You beat this woman all the time. You are going to beat her today.” Self talk and verbal affirmations work. Practice this every day.
2) Control the story and outcome you desire in your head. And don’t believe everything your brain thinks.
I got so focused on the ball and my follow through, that the pain was not even on my radar screen any more. Tennis and business are a mental game and you decide a lot more outcome than most people think.
3) Play one point at a time. Make momentum.
When you start winning again, the points add up fast. Even if you are a visionary, play and work in the moment. Momentum is a powerful force and it starts with small baby achievements and mounts.
4) Don’t let being down, keep you down.
Come backs happen every day. Believe this. Have faith in you. Athletes perform miracles when there are only seconds left in the game. Businesses on the verge of bankruptcy turnaround and so can you.
5) Don’t bask in the achievement zone; get ready for the next shot within seconds.
Yeah getting a tough shot or business score deserves a little inner praise, but in tennis and business your competition does not care what you just did, they are there to win. Marvel your points and results after your win the match or earn your next million.
Many possess skills, talents and attributes that come easier to them than others. This stuff doesn’t feel like work, and it’s fun.
For some it is writing, rain making, negotiating, playing sports, singing, public speaking or even solving problems.
Many believe people who have these traits are considered naturals. They think gifts are included in the DNA, and are passed down when they got their set of genes. Or they are just lucky.
That may be true in a few rare cases. But I’m of the opinion there are no gifts of talent, and luck is extremely over rated, too. Gifts and luck happen, when you really love something, are passionate, invest in practicing a craft and continuously developing “the whatever”, they become a very natural, effortless act.
The origin of the gifts is really not so important. What you do with them is.
Here is the big, bad habit that will steal from your bank account every day if you let it.
Under valuing stuff you do that is easy.
- Discounting the value of your skills, attributes and traits, because it is not hard work.
- Don’t charge enough if you are in business or ask for enough when you work for someone else.
- Or you don’t get your fair share in a collaborative deal.
The value of your skills, talents and abilities and what they will earn you is partly up to the market. Will they pay and what will they pay? But, even more important is what you believe you and your stuff are worth as you control this part of the equation that often ends up in your bank account.
Don’t be guilty of under valuing stuff that comes easy to you. Be grateful it’s fun and do enjoy the experience.
Don’t short change your worth, your bank account or your future.
As outlined in my recent book, Brand Turnaround, through which I tell the stories of more than 75 brands, Game Changers are key concepts to brand transformation. If you’ve been following my article series on turnaround, you will recall that I’ve introduced you to six Game Changers: Take Responsibility, Never Give Up, Lead Strong, Stay Relevant, Keep Improving and Build Equity. In addition to these six, there is one last Game Changer—Own Your Distinction. And, for many brands, this is one of the most important strategies of them all.
In taking ownership of your brand distinction, your marketing dollars will be more effective because your investments link your product in consumers’ minds to recognizable and memorable proprietary tangible and intangible assets and attributes.
Brand distinction is defined as what makes you unique. It can stem from your offering, processes, packaging, persona or experiences but, in most cases, it comes from a combination of many. Once you’ve established distinction and own the turf associated with it, your brand increases in strength and is portrayed by consumers as an identifiable and memorable entity.
Distinction alone will not bring your brand back from a shake-up. The other Game Changers need to be addressed too. Your set of distinguishing factors need not only be uniquely yours but perceived as value-add and relevant to the market you are targeting. Once achieved, you will be in a better place to start your brand recovery, rebuilding your credibility, trust and authority in consumers’ minds.
Assess your brand’s level of distinction by answering these seven questions:
• Does your brand provide real substantive differences that are important to the customer?
• Does your brand provide convincing proof of these differences?
• Can you easily articulate your brand’s differences?
• Do your employees exemplify the brand differences through word and deed?
• Relative to the price difference, does your brand deliver substantially more value than does your best competitor?
• Does your messaging and communication exemplify your brand differences?
• Is your brand distinction easy to copy or are the barriers of entry strong?
While these questions serve as a good starting point to establish your brand distinction, there are some other things you need to do. You must demonstrate a great level of courage, display long-term commitment over short-term results and create an integrated brand messaging campaign. These things will help your brand to stand out among competitors and can also permeate to wide-ranging consumer touchpoints.
Ultimately you want to create your own exclusive formula whose components result in individuality. For example, Geek Squad, one of the cases in my book Brand Turnaround, did this through the use of humor, harmony, helpfulness and availability. Add to that, unique packaging, and a brand-centric culture that plays through the brand story and work environment, brand reach and communication, and you have a highly regarded brand.
Other brands that I admire and examine in my book who have established a strong distinctive market position include SunChips, Fizzies and Pee-wee Herman. These three brands not only established themselves as distinct as Geek Squad, but they also faced significant turmoil and brand bumps yet managed to bounce back due in large part to their unique and distinct brand story.
Whether your distinction is by being the “healthy” or “green” brand choice (as SunChips is), an innovative brand offering consumers experience through its use and a unique delivery system to accompany the product (as Fizzies is) or simply a very unique character persona (as Pee-wee Herman is), execute on a platform that you can own—one that has legs and that your competitors can’t copy.
If your brand manufactures baby food, you will have a far different formula of distinction than a brand selling tattoo ink. Clearly the two targets have distinct demographics and value systems. The method of standing out and sticking in the minds of the buyer should be as unique as they are.
Distinction planning involves two parts, first identifying your opportunities for difference (e.g., brand niches, personality, look and feel, physical size and stature, campaigns, pricing, delivery methods, locations, materials or brand stories) then you must own your distinction by articulating what makes you different, creating patterns of credible proof in all your touch points, translating your distinction to market segments within your fan base and leveraging symbols and messages in both internal and public communications.
Being distinct takes courage and commitment. While no one Game Changer will ensure your brand immunity to a shake-up, the combination of all seven will help contribute to your bounce back in the event you find yourself in choppy waters.
This article is based on content from Karen Post’s latest book, Brand Turnaround (McGraw-Hill).
For years appearing in the Wall Street Journal has been a dream of mine. The Wall Street Journal is my all-time favorite publication to read. To me it is the “businessperson’s must read” to be in the know of what ’s going is in the world and in business.
The dream came true this week! I was quoted on a front page story in the Wall Street Journal about Naked Communities Seeking Corporate Sponsors and they mentioned my book title, Brand Turnaround: How Brands Gone Bad Returned to Glory and the 7 Game Changers that Made the Difference, too!
I have been fortunate, in the past 12 years of being a branding writer, speaker and consultant, I have appeared in over 300 news outlets around the world from the New York Times to Forbes to Bloomberg TV to Fox News, and now the Wall Street Journal. So does this media ink and exposure really impact the bottom line? And how can you get your “piece of the press mention pie“?
Does media exposure impact the bottom line?
For me it does. Publicity has aided me in earning thousands of dollars and many opportunities. And it comes from these 5 distinct marketing objectives.
Media exposure adds evidence of 3rd party credibility. This helps to position the brand, in this case me, The Branding Diva®, as an authority in my field.
Media exposure puts the brand name in front of potential buyers. The Wall Street Journal alone has a global audience of over 3.5 million daily readers.
Long-term SER (search engine results)
Publicity is indexed in all of the major search engines. One great article has lasting positive influence on a brand’s organic results.
Every time I’m featured in the news, and they mention one of my books, I get a sales bump.
Throughout the years, some of my biggest speaking gigs have come from buyers seeing me in the news.
How do you get your share of media exposure?
1) Position your brand as an authority.
You should have opinions, share success cases about your topics, write books, reports and articles.
2) Be easy to find.
Most reporters find their sources from internet searches around the subject they are covering. Invest in search engine results by optimizing your online content, having an active social media footprint and securing credible links back to your sites. For the past couple years, I’ve ranked on page one under branding expert and branding speaking. This is the result of strategic blog writing, content seeding and key word research.
3) When you get called, be an amazing resource.
When reporters or producers are working on a story they are usually on tight deadline. So, when they reach out, reply ASAP. I was in a conference when the WSJ reporter contacted me. Within minutes I acknowledged her email and made it fast and easy to schedule a time to chat. I also listened to her goals before I started ranting on about my views. In most cases, I’ll ask for questions before I do an interview so I can do my homework. Being helpful will build a long-term relationship with a reporter, so they will call you back for other stories. They will share your name with their colleagues. Beyond my commentary, I will also go out of my way to provide them with other resources to make their job easier. Think sound bites! Before I do an interview I prepare an index card with simple message points and short phrases.
4) Understand the game.
Publicity is not like paid advertising. You can not read it before it runs. You do not get to control the story. You may spend hours talking to a reporter then get cut out of the final piece or they may misquote you or even spell your name wrong. That’s show business. You can do to reduce your odds of these things happening by being a smart resource and by providing interesting commentary. Try to send your points in writing as this can reduce any misinterpretation and always provide an email of your preferred title. There is no guarantee here, but I have found providing clear information usually gets better results.
For a complete guide on how to earn press and publicity to help your brand, check out my Publicity Ta-Do List.
When people ask me what one most important action I take every year has contributed to my achievements the answer is simple. I work from a success plan.
This success plan includes what I really want in life and in business and how I will get there. I’ve been doing this for the past 12 years and I believe it’s a fool proof way to manifest any set of goals.
If you’ve never done a success plan before, it does require some soul-searching, deep thinking and a good chunk of time the first go round. But once you’ve done this the first time, then every year all you do is update and the time investment is minimal.
If this process is seems overwhelming, don’t procrastinate. Break it down into small pieces. Just write one section a day. In a week or two, you should have a critical tool to speed up your path to success.
I just finished updating my success for 2013 and here is my outline. I hope it is helpful to you. The sooner you complete yours, the sooner you will start seeing results.
Before I begin my plan, I inventory my last year.
- What did I love about the last 12 months and want to repeat?
- What specific things or actions did I do that caused those results?
- What did I not enjoy and don’t want to repeat?
- What specific things or actions did I do or not do that caused those results?
From here I work through the pillars of my plan.
Think of your vision as if you were writing your obituary, and how do you want to be remembered. But write it in a present tense.
I, Karen Post, am an accomplished, awesome, very creative person. I am confident, witty, smart, talented and a life adventurer. I am a sought after business and branding authority, motivational speaker, published author and consultant known by many as the Branding Diva®. I touch thousands through my writing and presentations on entrepreneurship, personal growth, branding and marketing issues. I inspire, empower and help others to achieve their goals and live a full, fun and rewarding life.
Words that describe Karen’s brand
These words are adjectives that describe your personality
Your values are what is important to you, there are no right or wrong list of values
Here are mine.
- I value me (my passions, creative gifts, physical being and contributions to the world).
- I value my independence.
- I value my originality.
- I value financial security.
- I value my body, my health and appearance.
- I value the thrill of challenge and risk.
- I value achievement and recognition.
- I value design, beautiful and fine material and natural things.
- I value my personal relationships, my partner, family, friends, and my advisors.
- I value creative environments.
- I value being in the high-idea flow zone.
- I value giving back and helping others succeed.
My 2013 goals:
I try to limit my goals to 2 or 3 big ones. Goals need to be accountable and specific, not vague.
- GOOD EXAMPLE OF A GOAL – I WILL EARN $500,000
- BAD EXAMPLE OF A GOAL – I WILL BE RICH AND FAMOUS
Objectives are smaller milestones that are necessary to reach your goals.
- Sell ________ of books
- Earn national publicity ______ placements
- Deliver _____ paid speaking gigs
- Get booked for a TED event
These are behaviors that must be embraced.
- Be disciplined with rituals
- Don’t compromise creation fuel, time and process
- Stay focused on results, master the art of task chunking
- Perform beyond expectations for clients
- Broaden speaker offering with new motivation program around “Self-steam”, the new fuel for ultimate fortune
- Maintain top SEO ranking
- Build top tier delegation/support team
- Do less better
- Be a smart and efficient knowledge sponge
- Have a blast, everyday
Next, I write specific action plans for each one of my income streams. I have three income streams, they include: consulting, speaking and product sales.
I start by listing my competition. I monitor these companies and individuals monthly. I look at their website and follow them on social media, too.
Next, I Identify my target buyers.
Then, I answer these questions.
- What strategic programs or initiatives do I need to build and embrace?
- What specific actions do I need to take?
- When will I need to do these things?
- And what type of resources do I need to allocate to them?
My annual plans are no longer than 10-12 pages. They are very definitive and clear. I am firm believer in those who work from a plan, get stuff done and those who get stuff done reach goals and experience an amazing journey.
Follow this outline. Write your plan. Work it, and I promise, you will see results.
Here’s a couple past articles from my blog that may help too.
I’m putting the finishing the finishing touches on a presentation I’m giving this week in Rancho Palos Verdes, CA at the Terranea Oceanfront Resort for a large trade association. My talk is on Brand Turnarounds about how companies prepare for potholes and recover after a brand hit.
As I conducted my pre speech research for the engagement I discovered several of the large and respected companies scheduled to attend had some not so favorable search results when I Googled them. Claims of scams and questionable business practices populated the front page search results. Many of these negative results were old, but still they were prominent on the front page. It was not a good first impression for anyone checking out a brand.
Grant it some companies deserve the dark comments, but many times it is a few sour grapes venting their opinions resulting a brand black eye for an innocent brand.
All companies and brands need to regularly audit their search engine results look when someone types in their brand name. This audit should include all of the major search engines, Bing, Yahoo, Ask.com, AOL not just Google. And, if the first or second pages are showing a slew of negative posts, you need to clean this up.
If they are legit, you need to reach out to the posting party and try to correct the situation. If they are not, and are just some pesty, cranky pants people venting their “hate the world everyday attitude”, you need to bury this bad rap with positive search results.
Here’s how you do it.
1) Conduct keyword research monthly so you know what words are most popular with online users looking for brands like yours.
2) Post educating, positive content on your site and other high traffic sites. Move from hard selling tactics to helpful, useful and “on brand” related consumer relevant information.
3) Earn honest links from other online channels and use services like PR newswires to send out news about your brand. These PR service can earn 1000 links or more in minutes, depending on what size list it is blitzed to.
4) Tag content, images, video, both on your main website, and on social media channels.
5) Update your content often; spiders will have more confidence in your expertise.
6) Buy and use your brand name in as many URLs as possible and related ones. This means to use different combinations of your name with .com, .net, .org, etc.
7) Be social. This means have a strong presence with all of the top social media sites. Social media sites invest a lot of resources to make sure they show up in results. This is an easy, low lost effort. Don’t underestimate the power of social media results in search.
8) Become viral. I recently watched a great video from the head of YouTube’s content department. It is a great video, you should see it. He claims the top three ways to become viral with a video are: Post content where large communities will participate and share the clip, expose Taste-makers to your work. Taste-makers are anyone with big influence like celebs, bloggers and news venue reporters. Lastly, create content that is unexpected, shocking or just plain amazing.
9) Maintain a killer blog; post every 30 days and seed in the right rivers (high traffic channels), not low traffic creeks.
10) Request deletion from search engines or party that posted negative comment. This is not an easy task, but all search engines have a contact department where you can request they remove a result if you can prove it is malicious and or false.
Negative results always stink. But with the right efforts you can bury the bad news and push forward your brand story.
Political branding is no different from commercial branding.
Get my attention. Tell me a compelling story. Show me who you are; make me trust you. Show that you understand me. Give me the power to carry your torch and then deliver the goods. Now repeat.
I just attended the RNC 2012 where I was a contributor to FOX News.com and FoxEdge. In a heated, tight race to elect the 45th president of the United States, the stakes are high; emotions are intense and brand matters.
Most people decide whom they will vote for long before they enter the voting booth. Brand leadership behavior, campaign ads, communications, visuals, personal experiences, peer endorsements and messages have all weighed in, and their choice — each Party hopes — was made easy by the power and persuasion of brands, the candidate and sometimes the party.
Challenged by an ever-evolving society, where attitudes toward alternative lifestyles are becoming mainstream, the Internet and social networks have changed not only the speed but also the way people get information, and the gender and age gaps between the candidates are wider than the Red Sea how is that Grand Old Party, the GOP, doing as it rides the wave of their just finished convention?
Have the Pachyderms truly broadened their net: Did the number of women on the platform change the perception that the GOP is the anti-women party, the party of exclusive country club set, dominated by white males? Did the number of Hispanics and African American speakers convince skeptics that this is a party of inclusion when the cameras panning the audience showed a sea of mostly white faces? Did they convince religious moderates that the party is not the captive of the extreme religious right?
From my bird’s eye view, it appears they made some admirable progress; they seem to be moving in the right direction, but they have a way to go if they really want to expand their base to include a younger, ethnically diverse and female demographic. It’s no easy task.
How does a political party — or any brand for that matter — balance the need to keep their loyalists happy and still win a new constituency? The task is even harder when you are battling an established incumbent brand — in this case a president.
As with any brand, the GOP’s multitude of touch points are complex. Some are within their control; for example, these visual assets:
- The strategically placed people of color in the camera’s eye on the convention floor seen by millions;
- The “on brand” messengers who were carefully chosen and scripted to represent a platform of diverse speakers ranging from up incoming female leader: like Moi Love, who is the mayor of Saratoga Springs, Utah, and the GOP congressional nominee, to small business, entrepreneur Steve Cohen who owns a small manufacturing company in Ohio (maybe the next Joe the plumber?) to Artur Davis, an African American, Obama defector and former Secretary of State
- Condi Rice; and the unforgettable, warm and touched by two serious medical conditions, Ann Romney introducing “the man you really need to know like I do,” eloquently resonating with women from all walks of life and economic status.
The Tampa Bay Times convention center sported a consistent, clean and memorable GOP graphic identity. It felt fresh, energetic, and youthful, successfully combating the old, stodgy, and sometimes uptight brand persona. And — mindful of the base — the iconic elephants were clearly visible.
The big event in Tampa was coined, “a convention without walls” and several phone apps and a Facebook destination allowed attendees to get out the Party’s story to like-minded modern , social, GOP friends.
Social media has become an important weapon the GOP’s arsenal, and many say it is already having an impact on the brand. During the first two days of the convention, there were more tweets than in the entire 2008 election campaign. Beyond followers and “likes,” branding is about engagement, message channeling and lighting fires under influencers, and this convention gave the GOP new wings as social players.
The well-trained GOP and event staff added to the “you are welcome here” (of course with your proper credentials) and social media was buzzing — all good for a brand trying to expand its reach and relevance.
Storytelling is brand building magic, and it showed up in the speakers’ crafted tales of shared values and our Founding Father’s principles and in the short films highlighting the Convention’s overall theme of “A Better Future.”
And what big party could be complete without the celebrity parade of actors like: Clint Eastwood and Stephen Baldwin and musicians like 3 doors down and Kid Rock and a dozen of America’s elite Olympic stars who passed the torch of leadership to Governor Romney.
In the end, did these four days help put a new face on the Grand Old Party? No brand bombs went off; there were no unruly protestors, Beck, Trump and Limbaugh were relatively calm; and Hurricane Isaac kept its distance, and may have offered a bonus by allowing Republicans to show their compassion when they cancelled the first day of the Convention.
From my perch I’d say the elephant herd is moving in the right brand direction. The key will be what they do next to sustain and grow it in the coming months. Right now, the GOP web site is still pretty flat and low tech; they need to show new and diverse faces throughout their events and tell their stories; and, except for the convention, the energy level has been pretty low and most importantly, they’ll need figure out how to honestly welcome more diversity, moderates and all lifestyles to their party to maintain and build on this newfound high.
Now that I’ve got your attention, I love metaphors and feeling naked is a common one for entrepreneurs and small businesses.
The naked pitch and how to appear fully garbed.
Since the early days of my professional career I’ve been naked and unequipped many times with industry knowledge, experience and even skill sets, but that did not stop me from scoring new business and ultimately contributing to a client’s success.
In fact, the first piece of business I landed over 30 years ago that launched my career in marketing and branding was when I was totally naked of qualifications, credentials or formal education.
That’s right, I was hired over several other individuals who had a history of not only marketing and branding expertise, but they had specific business sector experience too. I did this by shifting the focus of the presentation to what I did have and not what I lacked.
Five specific tips for winning business when you are competing against bigger and more experienced firms or professionals.
1) Project professionalism on all touch points.
Looking professional frames your value as thorough, thoughtful and competent. All details matter, from how you dress to what your business card, web presence and even social media content and photo look like.
2) Demonstrate evidence of success.
This means leverage every opportunity where third parties confirm that you know your stuff and can be counted on. This can range from highlighting media coverage to posting testimonials from industry peers and customers on your marketing materials and social media profiles.
3) Attitude aces everything.
Communicating a can do mind-set with confidence and a peaceful composure are critical to any relationship building process. Most business decisions have a risk evaluation factor in the decision formula. If a prospect really likes you, trusts you and believes you won’t make them look bad, you’ll earn points that weigh in more than specific experience. Posture, choice of active words, (like I recommend, I believe and I am confident that) and a firm handshake can make a big difference in how the prospect perceives you.
4) Highlight strengths.
Being resourceful, organized and creative are a few of my top strengths. When I’m pitching anything, I cite examples where these attributes have brought other clients faster and better results.
5) Draw comparisons.
Tell prospects about other projects that had similar challenges to theirs and how you cracked the code and produced results. Common points of pain, customer profiles or even channels used can help reduce a prospect’s doubt concerning your abilities to get the job done.
Another side of naked.
Ian Percy, http://ianpercy.com a fellow business speaker recently shared “Why we like to get naked”.
Researchers at Harvard have gotten to the bottom of why so many of us are compelled to share our every thought, movement, like and want through media such as Twitter, Facebook, Foursquare, Instagram and Pinterest.
In a series of experiments, the researchers found that the act of disclosing information about oneself activates the same sensation of pleasure in the brain that we get from eating food, getting money, or having sex. It’s all a matter of degrees, of course (talking about yourself isn’t quite as pleasurable as sex for most of us), but the science makes it clear that our brain considers self-disclosure to be a rewarding experience.
Of course what your self-disclosing nakedness does for the onlooker is a totally different issue!
Either way being a bit naked or exchanging news about your every move can be a rewarding experience.
Need more naked? Just stumbled upon a good article to help earn SEO by being naked with Google too.