Posts on Branding

Being More Than a Brand, On Purpose

Posted on 11/09/2014

A set of employees riding arrowsCompanies are increasingly aware that their brand is bigger than the products the company sells. In fact, per Edelman’s Carol Cone, who has done extensive research on purpose driven business strategy, a full “86% of global consumers expect business to place at least equal emphasis on social interests as on business interests.” The same holds true for executives who lead these companies.

An executive’s personal purpose typically aligns with the business they lead in some way, whether directly or tangentially.  This personal purpose, however, is bigger than their role as an executive. The digital age allows an executive to connect on purpose more broadly and with greater impact than ever before.

We see the pronounced value of this connection in employees and customers from the Millennial generation who now make up roughly a third of the workforce. This generation grew up with computers; speed-of-light news; and the ability to search for any information in the world with Google. Transparency and giving back for the greater good is so common to them that it is unthinkable to operate any other way. Per Forbes, 81% of them have donated services, goods or money to charity. And this generation will make up 75% of the workforce before 2025. Add to that a full 89% of them expressed increased likelihood to buy from companies that support solutions to social issues. To that I say bravo, as they will make the world a better place as a result.

Putting this all together, executives are now a new type of celebrity.

Some great examples include Howard Schultz of Starbucks who built a company around the joy of experiencing great coffee. Schultz though was not only someone who was all about great coffee; he firmly believes that people should have good quality lives and that we should do what we can to help each other out. Civility and cooperation permeate all he does from campaigns to help people get jobs; to the benefits Starbucks offers employees; to the urging of politicians to do right by the electorate. His actions show his core value and belief that being good to each other and working together to solve problems can transcend all the things that typically hold people apart.

Sheryl Sandberg is one of the most powerful business people in the world. She is known for transforming companies through superb operations coupled with high quality, rapid growth. She did it at Google and again at Facebook. Sandberg has always stood for more than excellence in business. She firmly believes that women can and should be leaders in business and that they need not sacrifice their career dreams in the name of social norms. Sandberg made that dream a plausible reality for many through her books and lectures as well as in her daily life by redefining the concept of a power couple with her family.

Arianna Huffington built a highly successful media company. She did this at a time in her life when most people would never consider taking such a big leap. One of the best business stories you’ll ever hear is how she started The Huffington Post and how her friends all told her she was crazy because this “Internet thing” is for the young people and she should go back to her books. Huffington pioneered changes in the media and publishing business that are now standard practices. But she has also always stood for more than that. Huffington always wanted the stories, successes and needs of the everyday person to be heard because we all have a voice; have a story. In recent years she has taken up the mantle of personal well-being and has actually made sleep a business topic. Huffington’s crusade has made well-being a right not a privilege for workers.

If you think about it, the executives with the most gravitas and impact on the world by and large all have some higher purpose than their day job and they are not afraid to be vocal about it. The digital age has made it both ok and easier to be open about one’s higher purpose and values. Now an executive can connect with countless people who believe similar things and that is a power that truly can change the world.

What is your higher calling? What do you value in your core? Do you let this come through in genuine ways by what you do and say each day? Do people respect you for who you are not just what you do for a living? If you’ve not let the world know this side of you, give it a try. south sudan Open up a little and you may be amazed at what happens next.

I hope you’ve enjoyed this post. Please follow me on LinkedIn and Twitter for new posts or visit my website for more information.

Balancing Image, Brand, And Reputation

Posted on 08/25/2013

People struggle with “What is my personal brand?” and “How do I create the right image?” Usually people put brand, reputation and image all under personal branding, but each piece is in fact different. Below are my thoughts. I hope you enjoy them and will add your thoughts as well.  

Brand

Brand is what makes you uniquely you. As I’ve said before, everyone has their freak flag of value – things they are uniquely great at. Pick two to five things you are uniquely great at and love to do. These can and will change over your career and  revisiting your brand each year is a good practice.

For example, do you work best on white-space problems that have no clear solution? Then creative problem solving as part of your brand. In the end, brand is about what you do. You can change your brand by learning new things and shifting the focus of your work and what you talk about to these new things.

Reputation

Reputation is all about the how you deliver your brand pillars and your consistency over time. Reputation is a continuum, not a point in time. Every day you make your reputation better or worse on balance. Reputation is made up of two areas – your personality style and your action style.

Your personality style is how you communicate, how you speak, your body language and your fashion style. Do you command a certain presence simply by walking in the room? Can you inspire others by your words or turn naysayers to supporters with a few conversations? We’ve all said things like “He/she knows this space well. They look like a total mess, but don’t let the looks fool you.” or… “I don’t know how they do it, but they’ll have the whole group on board in no time. Somehow they have the magic to align people.”

Your action style is how you deliver on your brand focuses more on your organizational skills, planning skills, execution capability, problem solving and how close to the stated goals you come over time. We’ve all said things like “He/she is brilliant, but it will be chaos right up to the last minute and then it will all come together” or… “He/she will give you a solid plan and not stop until it’s delivered and you are happy with the result. They are a get-it-done person.”

Managing your reputation requires checking your ego at the door and seeking feedback on a regular basis. Trusted mentors and colleagues are invaluable for this. Often our own perception of our reputation is not completely aligned with how the rest of the world sees us. So it is a good idea to periodically do a 360 feedback process. There are many services out there you can use, just make sure you get anonymous feedback so people are more honest and that you solicit feedback from people can either hire your or endorse you. Don’t fall in to the all to common trap of asking for feedback from people you think will tell you all good things. This should be a reality view, not simply an endorsement of what you want to hear.

Image

Image is the collective perception others have of you. Image usually comes in to play when someone has not met or worked with you before. A good digital footprint is critical to effectively managing your image. If someone is considering hiring you or is looking for people with your type of brand value, they will absolutely do a search on the topic area connected to your brand to see if you show up as well as your name to see if your brand holds up. They will then see whom they have in common with you and seek perspective on your reputation. A good way to think about your image is the collective reach and perception of your brand and reputation combined.

Brand, reputation and image – the three keys to a successful career presence. All can be managed well with simple focus.

 

CMO, How Does Your Digital Garden Grow?

Posted on 09/28/2012

Having typically inherited a brand with existing marketing efforts, building a digital footprint and then growing it is new territory for most CMOs. Let’s use an analogy for how to build a digital center of excellence in an existing company. The analogy is gardening. Yes, gardening because it has many of the same elements of growth and sustainability as digital marketing.

Here’s what you need for an excellent digital garden.

Soil: The business environment you operate in

Soil is the marketing elements and fundamentals plus the internal perception about them. You inherited a website that may be depleted of vital nutrients in the form of stale content or low repeat visitors. You may have rocks to dig out in the form of executives not fully on board with a push to digital. Or you may have some clay to break up in the form of skeptics who with a little more information can become a vital part of your digital soil. Take stock, note the nutrients you need to build a rich digital soil. Make a plan, work the plan.

Sunshine: The brand perception or range of actions you want to drive via digital

Sunshine varies by time of year, just like a brand perception changes through sales seasonality and product cycles. You need to understand the sunshine you are working with and how much sunshine your audiences want/need so you can plant content accordingly. Are you trying to really turn the tide and improve your brand value, then you need a lot of sunshine or a mix of broad and then audience-specifically deep digital engagement. Again, take stock and be specific. Digital allows you to mix a range of activities through very targeted efforts so use that to an advantage.

Plants: The content

Most people’s favorite part of gardening is selecting and planting the plants themselves. This is how your garden comes to life. Content is the planting of your digital garden. To have a year-round digital garden you need an editorial calendar that spans the seasons and is audience specific. Leave the air cover marketing to TV and perhaps the home page of your website. This is about being on the ground since air cover only works if it is tethered to something of value people can grab on to. That TV ad for beautiful roses doesn’t mean you can clip them now for a bouquet. So, what types of content and in what structure resonate most with your audience? Do they want roses to smell and give as a gift aka content to read and share?  Or vegetables to eat aka downloadable content and resources? Perhaps they want both. Do the research, test, plan, execute, taste/measure, iterate.

Water: Marketing your digital presence

Water brings nourishment to plants much like the promotion of your digital efforts brings visitors, viewers, fans and advocates to your digital content. So Tweeting that your new thought leadership article is available for download brings water to those who may be thirsty for this information. Water often and in proportion to what the content needs. The delivery is also important – do you need a sprinkler like Twitter? Or a watering can like Facebook? Or a drip system like email, RSS and newsletter subscribers? Not all plants need the same amount of water just like all content doesn’t need the same type of promotion. Test, measure, tweak and help your plants / content grow.

Tending: Weeding out the bad and adding more of the good.

Yes, you’ll need to pull some weeds in your digital garden. Weeds in the form of negative feedback to manage with a little weed spray or plants that are being unruly and need to be pulled like content that isn’t performing as needed. You’ll also need to turn the soil a bit by keeping your internal stakeholders informed and measuring the nutrient level through a variety of metrics so your digital garden stays healthy and enjoyable for your audiences.

You can add digital gravitas to any brand, just like you can plant a garden. You just need to understand the soil, sunshine, plants, water and how to tend your garden so your audiences can enjoy it over and over. Happy gardening!

CMOs and the Digital Paparazzi

Posted on 08/19/2012

Looking at trends, the average CEO at an S&P 500 company has a tenure of 8.4 years; the average CMO lasts  2 to 3.6 years and the average CFO lasts 5 to 12 years depending on which statistic you believe. And for HR execs, well those stats are ironically difficult to find.

That means most CEOs will go through 2 to 3 CMOs, 1 to 2 CFOs and probably a couple VPs of HR in their tenure. Heads of R&D and product teams turnover as well with timing that varies greatly by industry. Combine this information with general employee turnover and it is not surprising that recent research by the Altimeter Group found over 60% of respondents say social media carries a critical or significant risk to the company’s brand and reputation. Yes, social media risk is the digital paparazzi of the corporate world.

As a CMO you have a unique opportunity to use these trends and set your company apart in positive ways. We discussed making your VP of HR your cohort in branding to turn the tide of former employee and current employee sentiment. But what about the executive suite?

Each executive at your company (including you as the CMO) needs a personal brand and a connection of that brand to your company brand. An executive’s personal brand will hit social media in a fast and furious way which will impact your company brand like it or not. As CMOs we make sure our company brand has a laddered up set of value statements, backed up by good visuals and overall marketing but many of us forget to do a similar exercise with our entire executive team.

So what does your CxO stand for as an executive, ambassador of your company and individual? What are their personal values and things that are important to them? How do they show up in person and online? What is the trend and perception of their digital footprint? If you do not know these things and do not track perception regularly, it is only a matter of time before you find yourself in a PR crisis situation. Seriously, the crisis is a “when” question not an “if” question and can arise from rumor or fact but it will arise none the less.

How to start and what to do as the CMO? Five easy steps:

First claim a digital footprint for each executive. Set up Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn profiles for each executive and if you lead a well known brand do verified accounts. Claim the space so the “fake” profiles don’t. Make sure the privacy settings are aligned to your company’s social media policy.

Second, update the executive profiles and PR sections of your company website. Bios should be current, photos / visuals aligned with your brand strategy. The language used should map to your brand strategy and reflect key words about your company so the SEO of the company brand and executive brand will align. Remember everything online is marketing content – period.

Third, educate your fellow executives in online etiquette, personal branding and privacy settings in social media. If you are not sure how to do this yourself, hire some help. Hopefully you have a social media and online policy for your employees already in place, but if not then you need one fast. The executive policy has a few unique spins and personally tailored advice – as an example, your VP of Business Development who is off doing cutting edge deals probably should not check in on Foursquare for work items as it will tip off competitors and press as to what your company is up to. People will notice that this executive has been to XYZ city 5 times in 5 weeks which is unusual given your business landscape and the rumor mill will go full tilt. Your average account manager checking in at airports, however, is usually less of a risk. Many PR firms have a digital-executive practice. Examples of good ones are Airfoil and Brandfog.

Fourth, set up monitoring. Hopefully you already monitor and track the brand perception and news of your company, your biggest customers and competitors. Make sure to include the digital landscape in these efforts – lots of tools do this well like Sysomos and Radian6.  Add overall executive digital trends to your business reports and give each executive in your company a personal report on a regular basis. Some PR firms will even benchmark your executives’ digital presence to those of your competitors or to executives they aspire to be like.

Fifth, integrate and adjust. Most executives are out in public for work or personal projects like charity events. Make sure you integrate public appearances into their digital strategy so a keynote at an industry conference translates to positive twitter buzz and traffic to your company website as well as positive press mentions in general. If you have an executive with a less than favorable perception, you can then put in motion an integrated branding campaign for that executive and monitor the shift of perception over time.

Claim, update, educate, monitor and integrate – it is that simple.

Want Brand Advocates? Connect Your People Strategy to Your Brand Strategy

Posted on 07/25/2012

Post as seen on The CMO Club site:

With the broad use of social media, prospective customers, employees and suppliers form opinions about your brand and company long before you ever interact with them directly. True, they see all the campaigns and focused PR efforts you put in market, but they also see the sentiment in posts from your employees on social media, see the talent movement in and out of your company and see where people go after they leave you. And, they can see whether your former employees remain fans of your brand long after they are required to. And they see whether former employees continue to engage with your company… or not.

For CMOs that means it’s time to make the VP of HR your branding partner.

The data plays this all out. According to Mercer, 40% of employees aged 25-34 are currently considering  leaving their present company. The same is true for 44% of employees under age 25 and 32% of employees in total. The under 34 workforce is extremely active in social media and social networking – they often will take calls or give opinions on jobs, companies, brands and executives when asked. So if you treat your employees well while they are with you and especially as they leave, you stand a better chance of them being brand advocates and company advocates long term.

This is precisely why companies need to connect their people strategy with their brand strategy. Deepak Chopra was recently interviewed for a Forbes article titled Deepak Chopra on Enlightened Leadership. Dr. Chopra quotes Gallup research which showed that 25% of the US workforce is engaged, meaning they enjoy what they do and 75% are disengaged and do not like what they do. As you can imagine, it is difficult for people to be advocates of a company brand when they dislike their job, company culture, manager, etc. That means the vast majority of people on social media today do not have positive things to say about your company and your brand.  If you’re a business leader, that should make you very  nervous.

Dr. Chopra offers good advice – be a genuine, authentic and human leader.  According to Dr. Chopra’s interview, the statistics speak for themselves:

If your boss ignores you, your level of disengagement goes up by 45%. If your boss criticizes you, it goes down to 25%, because you’d rather be criticized than ignored. If your boss notices your strengths, your rate of disengagement goes down to less than 1%. How we treat people has huge economic implications and yet it’s totally ignored by leaders in the corporate world.”

So if you acknowledge and leverage your employees strengths, they are 99% engaged which means they are happier and more likely to be an advocate for your brand and company. Connect your people strategy with your brand strategy in an authentic, strength recognition based way and the advocacy effect is all good. That seems like a pretty good deal to me.

No Mindshare Taxation without Brand Representation!

Posted on 07/02/2012

I guess you can tell from this blog entry title, I have been following too much political news lately. So dust off your American history and hang with me. The consumers have spoken… no mindshare taxation without brand representation!

We see information about brands all day long – some put together by the brand itself; some by loyal fans; some by consumers-done-wrong. But with the proliferation of social media and Web 3.0, brands have little to no say over what they stand for any longer. People discuss your brand, their experiences with your products, their friends’ experiences with your products, competitive product experiences, what this all means to them etc. at any time with nearly anyone. While this has always been true to a certain extent, the wide spread acceptance of social and mobile media has added a layer of visibility to these trends that brands had been blind to in the past.

Your brand stands for exactly what people say it stands for – period. Social media has democratized your brand whether you wanted it to or not.  

Forget the traditional branding briefs, value pillars and so on. All this is well and good for ideas, but if you do not allow people to participate in your brand identity and help shape it, do not expect to get mindshare or loyalty from them.

People want to have a relationship with a brand or product. To create a relationship with your customers your brand has to have things in common with them, create a lasting and evolving emotional connection and deliver value over time as well as receive value back to your brand. In short, your brand has to have a community relationship where your customers experience your brand in a unique way that is memorable to them. So embrace the community and enlist a little help from the New Hampshire state motto by adopting a “live free or die” approach to your brand. Let your brand be free from the confines of traditional marketing and the mindshare you garner may just surprise you.

For those of you that live in the land of metrics, scorecards and an infinite fear of the color red, this can all be very scary. But in reality people have always been this way. For all time, people have wanted connection with others for some reason or another. Now, however, people can connect seamlessly, constantly and universally if they choose. Whether your brand gets any of this connection opportunity or mindshare is entirely up to how your brand chooses to participate. Mindshare is a human characteristic. Thought, reasoning, perspective, feelings and emotional connection are what make us human so why shouldn’t your branding be human as well?

One of the best recent articles on the emerging view of human-centric marketing comes from the team at One to One Global. I recently came across an article Jeremi Karnell posted on MarketingProfs and was intrigued. He partnered with David LaPlante to produce a short presentation on the evolution of marketing from brand centric to customer centric to now human centric marketing. I have to say, the presentation is inspiring and well worth a look. Here are some of my favorite points (paraphrased)…

  • To create a human approach (and therefore garner mindshare) your brand must have purpose. This goes beyond the traditional value pillars of a brand to include a variety of senses of purpose that your customers can experience in their own way.
  • Be improvisational. Brands that are in the moment of a customer’s experience, sharing with the customer and receiving meaning back in return from the customer create the most lasting and valuable human connections.
  • Be contextually relevant to create a human connection. Rather than build mounds and mounds of content, choose simple insights and examples that are delivered in a contextually relevant way to your customers so their experience is truly delightful. And remember to enlist help from your customers as to what these insights are and the context that is most memorable, from their point of view.

Your mindshare after all is highly valuable so why would you share it with a brand that did not value it?  So take a break from all the political debate, fire up your favorite browser, grab your favorite summer beverage and be inspired.

Want to be the Ruler of Your Brand? Measure Instead of Count

Posted on 06/04/2012

You can and should count friends, followers, clicks, views, Tweets, posts, likes, etc. But counting simply gives you a number – whether that number is “right” or “good” or “impactful” is unknown unless you measure instead of count.

Measuring compares what you’ve counted to some relevant baseline or group. Measuring is counting with context.

For example, your brand has 10,000 friends on Facebook (counting) – what percentage is that 10,000 of all possible friends of your brand on Facebook (measuring)? And, what percentage is that of your total target audience (measuring)?

If your target audience is 20,000 people, 100% of whom are on Facebook then your friend community reaches 50% of our total audience. From a measurement perspective that may be pretty good depending on your brand goals.

If, however, you have 2,000,000 in your target audience and 20% of them are on Facebook then your friend community is reaches 2.5% of your target audience who are on Facebook or 0.5% of your total target audience which may not be so good from a brand perspective depending of course on your goals.

In both cases you counted the same number of friends – 10,000 – but the measurement is what adds  brand impact context to the number. Measuring is counting with context and the context comes with some point of comparison or baseline.

This leads us to the next dilemma. How do you set a baseline so you have context to measure? Start with clear brand goals. Do you want to generate pure awareness, purchase intent, post-purchase advocacy, etc? These goals will help you set the number targets after you’ve selected your baseline. To choose the right baseline, you need a good understanding of your brand goals, presence and your target market dynamics. Here are some baseline ideas:

Competitive baseline: Determine what your most significant competitors are doing for brand reach and set your goals accordingly. Keeping with the example above, if you estimate your nearest two competitors each reach 50% of your collective target audience (remember, people may “friend” them both) then you may want to set 50% as your baseline of acceptable reach and then seek to grow at a healthy clip from there. This works well for established brands in known markets.

Experience baseline: Count your reach over a period of time that is representative of your business cycle; take an average and use that as a baseline. This baseline is your “normal” brand presence and you can add goals to move above this. Make sure to reset your experience baseline with your fiscal year or product lifecycle so you continue to drive improvement and impact. This works well for new brands and/or fluid markets. If you have a fluid market, you should reset your baseline more often in the beginning and note the assumptions you made in these resets.

Transferable baseline: If you have a new brand in a new market or are taking an existing brand to a new market or media, then you may not have either competitive or experience baselines to use. So choose an industry or media type that is structurally similar in branding – meaning the target audience is similar and their behavior and purchase patterns are similar – and use that as a baseline. It’s ok to mix industries as long as the audience and branding structures are similar. This will get you started then you can move to experience baselines and finally competitive baselines. Transferable baselines work well for disruptive brands and markets.

Be the ruler of your brand and measure instead of count. You’ll gain credibility in your industry and you’ll get faster, lasting impact for your brand. Good luck!

SEO Yourself! Build Your Personal Brand Online

Posted on 05/13/2012

I had some requests for this post which originally was a guest post on the Women in Tech blog. If you’re spring cleaning your life, doing a little spring cleaning for your personal online brand is a good idea. SEO is a key piece of this. I hope you enjoy the post and please add comments on how this has worked for you.

With more than 2 billion people in the world active online, the first encounter someone has your personal brand starts with a simple online search of your name. Like it or not, your personal brand is primarily your digital brand, and further conversations with you will happen (or not) based on what people learn about you online. Advocating for yourself online is more important than ever, no matter what business you are in.

So how do you stand out? How do you advocate for yourself online? Well it is as simple as doing search engine optimization or SEO for yourself.

A few simple steps will have you on your way: Plan, Research, Engage and Focus your impact. Here’s how it works:

PLAN:

First you need to decide the top 3 things you want to be known for by anyone doing a search on your name. What are the most important things for people to know about you? List 3 things in priority order.

As an example, my list is:

1. I have an amazing track record of building new businesses with high profitability that is useful for my current and prospective employers.

2. I am an expert and executive in digital marketing and want to continue my career here.

3. I like to help people with marketing and career needs.

Your list may include all career items or a mix of career and personal items such as social or community contributions, political activities, or hobbies. There is no right or wrong answer as to what should be on your list. This is a personal choice and you are the only person qualified to make these choices for yourself. So list you top 3 things for people to know and move on to the research phase.

RESEARCH:

To improve your SEO standings you need to know where you are today, so fire up your favorite search engine and type in your name. What comes up on the first page of results? Is it populated with the many contact scraper sites that claim to have your email, phone number, etc.? Does it come back with lots of results for someone with the same name but who does things you do not want associated with your brand? Do any of the things on your top 3 list show up on page 1? Make note of the results, you will need them later on.

If you have a fairly common name, consider ways to make yourself stand out. These include using a middle initial in everything you do or using a nickname (but please nothing tacky or overly pop-culture-of-the-moment) or including a personal tag-line. The tag line is helpful if you have a unique title in your career or you own your own company.

Research the hubs of expertise and content in your top 3 list. Where are the centers of gravity online for what you want to be known for? As an individual, the fastest way to improve your SEO is to go where the traffic is. So look through the top search returns for your priorities; notice the types of sites, ways to engage on these sites and language used. True die-hard SEO has some very scientific ways to target sites and key words, most of which involve a marketing investment, but these simple steps will get you started for your personal brand. Choose no more than 3-5 target sites to focus your efforts so you avoid spreading yourself too thin in terms of both time and impact.

Using myself as an example, LinkedIn is the most prevalent professional networking site for what I do (my first priority); Twitter is a credibility booster (my second priority); and a blog is the best way to showcase original content (my third priority). So these sites became my targets to create my online center of gravity and improve my SEO.

ENGAGE:

First, go back to the search results for your name as they appear today. Look through all the links on the first 2 pages of search results and remove yourself from any lists or databases that do not support your overall top 3 list for your personal brand.

Second, go to your target sites found during your research and add yourself to the mix. Set up a profile on LinkedIn and add contacts as an example. Go all-in and be a full and active participant in these centers of gravity. Fill out your profile completely and double check all your privacy settings to make sure you are comfortable with them.

Third, create cross links in your target sites. It’s called the worldwide web for a reason and the search engines are spiders also for a reason. Spiders can’t crawl unless there is a connected web to maneuver. So… build your personal web. Create links across your profiles and content for yourself so the search engines connect you across the web.

It helps to choose a primary site or home base for yourself where you will direct the majority of searches for you. For me that meant deciding LinkedIn was the primary place I wanted to be found as it most closely supported my number one item on my list. From LinkedIn, you can find my Twitter feed and blog connected to my profile. From my Twitter profile you’ll find a link back to my LinkedIn profile and on my blog you’ll find both my LinkedIn profile and my twitter feed again. These are my 3 target sites of my digital presence and you can get to all of them by starting at any one of them. So build your web by linking together your chosen sites and make sure you have content in these sites to support your top 3 priorities.

FOCUS:

Contribute regularly to your target sites. If you’ve cross-linked this is pretty easy to do and can be automated to a degree. As I mentioned, my Twitter feed is connected to both my LinkedIn profile and my blog so every time I tweet, the Twitter content automatically goes to LinkedIn and my blog without me having to do anything extra. If you are unsure what to contribute, start by simply forwarding or amplifying others’ content in your target sites. “Liking” or “sharing” within these sites is an easy way to introduce yourself to the community and show that you are a good community member. From there, you can add other outside content or unique content you developed yourself.

If you choose to use pictures in your profiles, make sure they are tasteful and support the brand you want to portray. Also make sure the picture quality renders well on the web and in the sites where you are profiled. This is the first intro most people will have to you so make sure it is of the highest quality. Remember the old saying “you never get a second chance to make a first impression.” This is very true in the online world as well.

Check your search results on a regular basis. Continue to remove yourself from places you don’t want to be. Also take note of which sites you have engaged that seem to pop you up in the search results so you continue to focus your contributions in places of impact. Over time, when someone searches for your name, you want the first page of search returns to come back with items aligned to your top 3 priorities. Other ways you can see how your SEO is progressing are through some free tools such as Klout, Identified and many more.

Doing a personal brand SEO effort helps you advocate for yourself and have control over what others know about you. Whether you’re looking to build your career or contribute to your community, people will find out about you first by how you show up online. I hope these tips will help you advocate for yourself and let people know what an amazing woman you are.

Good luck to you all and I’ll see you online!

Katrina

Relevance is Relative

Posted on 04/22/2012

Warning… this post is a bit of a tongue twister. Is your brand relatively reliably relevant? Say that 5 times fast – LOL.

Each day you wake up and have the opportunity to earn a spot on the relevance radar of your customers (or prospective customers). In the digital realm, however, relevance is relative. It’s relative to:

  • Where a person is in the conversation lifecycle: Have they heard of your products? Have they purchased from you? Are they a fan? With a little encouragement would they be an influencer for your brand? The contact lifecycle in digital doesn’t end with a purchase. Instead that begins a new series of conversations.
  • Where someone physically is during the day:  Are they always on the go so you only have a few moments to grab their attention between activities – if yes, mobile is a good way to go. Do they work with a laptop or tablet – if yes, then a great website is a must. If they tend to be a highly connected consumer during the whole day, social media is critical.
  • The source:  Information coming from a reliable source like a friend or trusted authority is more relevant than the same information coming from a random or unknown source. Better still is a group of related messages coming from a group of reliable sources – now that is relevant! 

When building a campaign or conversation plan, think through what a day in your target customer’s life looks like. Understand where they are relative to the conversation lifecycle. Remember when trying to drive repeat purchases that your goal is usually a combination of emotional connection and reinforcement that choosing your brand again is a wise and valuable choice. Never tell a customer they are out of date or behind the times – seriously, who would want to hear that even if it were true?

Understanding the flow of a person’s day and what marketing moments you have as a result can let you make powerful emotional connections and drive action as a result. Delivering these messages through media that they will see or use during these moments makes all the difference in being relevant.

Lastly, recruiting reliable sources to reinforce your message adds relevance. Today anyone can validate facts you present with a simple web search. To be personally relevant, your message needs to come through a reliable and known source with social media and blogs being an excellent route to personal relevance.

Each day your brand has the opportunity to be relevant. Plan accordingly and you will be relatively reliably relevant and that is very reassuring.

Meet the Happily Connected Consumer

Posted on 04/12/2012

The idea of the connected consumer is all the rage in the marketing world today. But what does this really mean? And, equally important, what should a brand do? The connected consumer has a few facets including:

  • Anywhere, anytime access to information: This is the device part. More than 80% of consumers watch TV with a phone or tablet in hand (Gartner). Mobile phone penetration worldwide is 77% and climbing (Mashable). More people worldwide will access the Internet through a mobile device than through a desktop by 2014 (Morgan Stanley). People have more access points than ever to the Internet which opens the world’s information to them anytime, anywhere they want.
  • Rapid validation of facts: Because consumers can get to information anytime, anywhere, they can validate it in real time. Is the price they see in the store the best around? Is there a promotion going on in this store or someplace else? Does the product really perform as the marketing materials say or do online customer reviews differ?
  • Social recommendations: SEO and PPC are the cornerstones of access to the connected consumer. These two tactics will get your brand in front of them but that’s just the beginning. From here, consumers will access their favorite social media sites – usually Facebook, Twitter and possibly some blogs – to ask for recommendations and opinions from people they know and who know them. This adds a personal relevance to the validation of the facts.
  • They are ageless: While many people have written great articles on Millennials or Generation C for connected, like this post from Brian Solis; the fact is the connected consumer can be anyone of any age. They may choose different devices and apps to be connected by, but they are all connected in some way.

Fantastic you’re thinking… so now what? Gaining interaction with connected consumers is mostly a content strategy followed by a multi-media execution strategy. How does this work?

Content must focus on the relevant threads of your brand for each consumer. It’s no longer about your whole brand everywhere all the time. Instead it is about that one thread of your brand that will form an emotional connection with a consumer. To do this, audience segmentation of all forms is critical – who are they; where are they; what makes them happy/sad/motivated-to-action; what do they care about; what could they care less about… somewhere in these answers are the threads of your brand that will make the connection.

Visibility of the brand thread is the app connection. Using the term “app” very loosely… this could mean everything from your company website to YouTube videos to Facebook to Four Square to Twitter to a custom brand app. Where will your targeted consumers most likely be online when they expect or want to see this brand thread? Most often it is multiple places or they want to connect threads across places so this is not a decision of a single place online – rather the range of places online these consumers will go.

Emotional connection is dependent on the device. How your brand thread shows up in the app of your choice is completely dependent on the device a consumer is using when they have this experience. Want the consumer to immediately share their excitement about your product? Well, you’d better have a great connection in Facebook and Twitter that works via mobile phones. Want people to enter a contest because they can’t wait to win your prize? Again, if they are entering after seeing a TV commercial, the contest website must be tablet-optimized and mobile phone optimized since those are the devices people have with them while watching TV. Or better yet, have an app that connects via the consumer’s TV directly. If a consumer gets frustrated with your brand experience because of the device they are having the experience on, you’re sunk.

Connected consumers bring fascinating new marketing opportunities for brands. You can now engage with them in more ways, in more places and most importantly in more relevant ways. Just remember to think about the brand thread, the app and the device so you create a full, rich experience for these consumers.

Happy Connecting and I’ll see you online!