Another Look at Personal Branding

We’ve been talking about personal branding and Brand Y-O-U for some time now (even the legal implications), and undoubtedly you’ve invested some time already in it.

Right?

No matter what your profession is, I certainly hope so. Need some more convincing? If you’re in healthcare, hop on over to my latest blog post for Oncology Times and learn about why personal branding is valuable for oncology clinicians.

Even if you’re not in healthcare, take a good, long look at it anyway, since many of the same priniciples apply to building your value as an expert in what you do. Need guidance on how to get there? Take a look at these posts:

It’s important to charge ahead with crafting a personal brand that establishes your expertise, builds social capital and your social network, and carries you through tough times and good times alike.

Social Media Revisited

I’m not even sure that’s the right title for this post. It seems like everything we do nowadays involves social media — maybe this should be called “Social Media Yet Again.”

Anyway, in the past I’ve focused on things like measuring social media ROI and the demands of doing social media right. I took a good, long look at a couple articles recently that I want to pass along, since they highlight several important points about the evolving nature of social media.

  • The 5 Phases of Social Experience — this CRM magazine column from a Forrester analyst makes a compelling case for the evolving nature of social media and your social experience online, ultimately climxing in the Web becoming a completely social, customer-controlled experience driven by portable identities, personalization and relevance. Do you know what phase we’re in now? Read up.
  • Social Shepards — also from CRM, this article point out the tenuous relationship between social media and corporate liability, transparency and risk. The growing number of employees who participate in social media on behalf of brands, as well as in the interest of building strong personal brands, increases the liklihood of inappropriateness or information-sharing that could negatively affect the company. Don’t think you need a social media policy? Read this and then go start working on it.
  • The New Currency of Social Media — yet again from CRM, this article highlights this solid key point:

    “We spend most of our social media energy passively capturing from the information any feedback we can…Passive feedback loops give us a good understanding of how things are now, but they don’t give much hint about where things are going…you’re essentially driving by watching the rearview mirror.”

    The point is you need to actively engage customers to learn about customer needs in the future. Can be much more important than passive listening. Want to know why? Read up.

  • How Speakers Should Integrate Social Into Their Presentation — an insightful post that highlights ways that speakers can not only counteract negative audience reaction in the backchannel, but act on and incorporate real time backchannel feedback into their active presentation. Have no clue what that first sentence means? Don’t think real-time audience reaction is important? Do you speak alot? Run events where people speak? Then read this article now.

I also want to highlight one last key point, highlighted in a CRM recap from some Twitter conversation. A very sharp @dmscott (speaker and author David Meerman Scott) chimes in with this:

“Social media is like a cocktail party. Do u shout “BUY MY PRODUCT”? Ask for business cards? Or just meet people and talk?”

Perfectly said in terms of how you should charge ahead into Twitter. It’s amazing how many people and companies don’t get it right.

Cascading Questions?

It was a good week wasn’t it? Got alot of work done and accomplished alot, but always alot left to do, right? Looking forward to the weekend?

I started with a few questions because many questions popped up for me today, all day. I read some articles and heard some comments that made me think, and it resulted in a series of cascading questions about marketing, marketers and our jobs. Make sense? No, you say? Then here, let me give you the question that started it all:

  • Why do some marketers totally disregard Twitter?

    I answered that question with a question, which was also an answer…and so on and so on. Enjoy.

  • Do you not want to hear what customers are saying?
  • Isn’t listening to customers part of our jobs as marketers?
  • Hell, isn’t understanding new media channels a big part of our jobs, too?
  • Isn’t there something — anything — we can learn just by listening to customer conversation?
  • Even if you think Twitter is crazy, why wouldn’t you jump in and at least understand what it’s all about, especially if it’s part of your job?
  • Do you disregard other media and tactics without understanding them fully, too?
  • Are you doing your job by doing that?
  • Technology and marketing evolve fast nowadays, aren’t we supposed to learn and evolve along with it?
  • Even if most of Twitter is “pointless babble,” shouldn’t you be able to find a creative way to mix dialogue with tasteful marketing?
  • Would you hire a marketer who doesn’t learn and evolve, stay up-to-date with technology, and get better at their job?
  • If you’re the supervisor of a marketer who doesn’t evolve, why are you employing them?
  • Are you not evolving because your organization doesn’t evolve?
  • Even if that was the case, why wouldn’t you still want to learn and be a better, more marketable marketer?
  • Don’t you want a strong personal Brand Y-O-U?
  • If you’re not on Twitter or other social media where customer conversate, do they notice?
  • Do they wonder why you’re not there?
  • Would you know if they did?
  • What are you going to do about it?

    Charge ahead and answer the last question.

  • The Culture of Culture

    People are different.

    And that’s not just marketing speak to kick off some rant about targeting messaging to various customer segments.

    The people we work with are all different too. Take a good, long look around your office today. Some just show up to work and go about their business, maybe you rarely ever see them (Rares). Some are, as one of my former bosses would put it, the “perfect corporate employees” who do everything completely by the book, politically correct, neat and tidy (PCs). Some are the gossip-furtherers and water-cooler-whisperers who give the Rares and PCs knots in their stomachs (Whisps). You could get even more granular and break it down even further, yet the point is this: all the various types of people come together to make up the corporate culture. And if you’ve been through a few companies, you know that corporate cultures can be as different as the people who make them up. Hey, it’s a hot topic, to the tune of 79.3 million Google search results.

    Of course, one thing that impacts corporate culture is strong leadership. And in the blink of an eye you could rattle off a few names of executives who strongly impact their corporate cultures: Richard Branson, Rupert Murdoch, Jeff Bezos, Meg Whitman. Did you ever see a robust corporate culture policy that did the same?

    Well, now you can, and that’s the purpose of this post. Tell me that NetFlix’s corporate culture and policies document doesn’t do an effective job of setting high performance standards and expectations for the company. At best it’s unbelievably motivating and passionate stuff for the PCs, and at worst it makes the Whisps chatter even faster about their imposing leaders. Yet either way it’s a great example of how to define a company’s culture, in this case with specified policy instead of implied example.

    Also check out Greg Verdino’s comments on the NetFlix policy, I think he illustrates some key takeaway points for today’s companies that plan to evolve into tomorrow’s leaders. Does your company show the door to non-performers in a moment’s notice? Do your finance and HR teams have simple and easy-to-follow instructions, or long lists of processes and guidelines? Would they ever dismiss tracking vacation days? Do you think this is crazy stuff, or do you think this translates into motivated employees who are passionate about their work and powerful brand ambassadors to customers?

    Would you consider these kinds of issues as part of your next career move? Do you have a strong personal brand and social network that employers want to attract? Do you want to work with Rares and Whisps, or the type of talent described in NetFlix’s policy?

    While some of NetFlix’s policies may be shockingly different from the norm, I bet they had the desired impact: top performers from far and wide charged ahead and are banging on the NetFlix front door.

    Craft Your Personal Brand With Care — Or Else

    Personal branding is certainly important to career growth for any growing or established executive. It’s arguably more important than your resume, as when your personal brand is strong, it makes the job of your resume that much easier.

    That’s why it’s critical for you to take a good, long look at a few short videos, courtesy of the very valuable AdMaven blog, on the legal implications of personal branding. These videos, taped during a recent Chicago Media Marketing and Advertising June Meetup, feature Daliah Saper discussing the nitty-gritty details of the employer-employee relationship as far as who owns what in regards to your personal brand and how you build it. The discussion of course includes a focus on personal branding via social media, including Twitter and blogs.

    You may be surprised at some of the answers.

    Kudos to AdMaven for making these videos available.

    7 Things To Do in the Next 7 Days — Part One

    It’s a crazy time to be a marketer.

    So much to do, so much to learn, so much to stay on top of. It’s the most dynamic time in the last 15 years. Technology evolves at a breakneck pace even in the down economy. Social media rewrites the way marketers can engage customers and build relationships. Twitter rises to a frantic level of use — and marketers become frantic overnight trying to embrace it. Expected evolution in traditional tactics like direct mail and email still continues (yes, we’ve arrived at the point where email is now a “traditional” tactic). And you have to keep an eye forward to prepare for next-generation advances in targeting and technology.

    How can you do it all, AND do your day job?

    Ultimately, the answer lies with you. You have to find a way to balance the skills that keep you employed today…

  • Driving sales
  • Achieving goals
  • Raising ROI
  • Motivating employees
  • Building brands

    …with the skills that will keep you employed tomorrow.

  • Utilizing the latest technology
  • Understanding shifting customer needs/wants
  • Building a strong personal brand
  • Evolving your brand positioning with the changing market
  • Driving sales, raising ROI, building brands, and all the rest — in different times, with different rules, and different strategies

    So, in the interest of helping you find that balance, I offer you a few things to do in the next seven days (if you’re not already doing them). Take a good, long look at this list, and find time to dedicate time to each task — not just this week, but for good. You’ll be better prepared to charge ahead with whatever the economy demands of marketers in the coming months.

    1. Find five blogs to read regularly.
    This is the first thing on the list, because it is a complete MUST. There are so many experts out there who write compelling things every day to help you do your job. And they don’t work for publishers, they’re not all journalists — if you read this blog, you know our future is driven by content, not journalism. They’re marketers with decades of proven experience who blog and offer ideas and insights you need to read, understand and apply.

    Seth Godin and Chris Brogan are two I read always. There’s a buzz-generating new book out called Free by Wired‘s Chris Anderson…do you know about it? You would if you read blogs. There are also people with excellent business acumen, who aren’t necessarily marketers by definition, that can help you. Mark Cuban, for example. Look at the blogroll on my homepage for more. Use Google, search in your vertical market for other experts. Ask colleagues. Whatever you need to do. The point is this — set up a My Yahoo or Google Reader page, and find at least five blogs you must read, minimally, at the start of each day. You will be smarter at the end of the week.

    2. Talk to one customer each day.
    Every day, we’re busy. We have copy to write, projects to manage, bosses to assure, and strategies to present. Yet if part of the day doesn’t involve a conversation with a customer, then all that other stuff may end up being inaccurate. How do you know if the copy you write, projects you manage, and strategies you present — all of which are targeted to your customers — will be effective with your customers if you don’t ask them? How do you know what media to use for your message — not just today, but tomorrow — if you don’t ask them? How can have a breakthrough launch or idea that differentiate you from your competitors, if you don’t ask customers what they need?

    More importantly, you can’t build a strong personal brand without a refined way to understand customer needs.

    So get a customer list and call one each day. Young marketers, especially you. Don’t just be an executer — be someone who can offer insightful input based on conversations you have with people in the market. Ask that customer each day what keeps them up at night, what media they use, what budget challenges they face, and what keeps their customers up at night. And use that feedback to guide all your decisions. You will be smarter at the end of the week.

    3. Rethink your email marketing campaign.
    I almost gagged the other day when I heard about someone in my own company who emails every person on his email list every single week. Everyone gets everything. Here’s a better idea — save the time and money, and just opt-out all your customers right now.

    There are two ways you should rethink your email campaign right now: frequency and relevance. More is not better — more relevant, however, is. So take extra time to understand your customers and your list, and craft well-timed messages that are more relevant to what keeps them up at night (which you’ll found out by talking to a customer each day…#2, see above). Some people on your team may push for more, more, more — I say go for quality over quantity. Email inboxes are full right now, in case you’re the one exception to that reality and didn’t realize it. Stop pushing messages just to be pushing — study your metrics and know what works for a particular list, know what customers need and find relevant, send messages around times/dates that are important in the metrics, and focus the message on key needs and/or pain points. Doing it this way, less will get you more.

    Oh, and if you’ve been doing the same thing, try something different. Find balance between consistency in branding and fresh messaging that generates response. If you have a brand email template, try a text-only message that’s on-brand yet delivers the message in a unique way.

    There you have it. Three things to start on right now. See you in three days for the rest of the list.