In any business, it is crucial to find something about your brand that makes it stand out. What differentiates you from the competition? Why should clients choose your business as opposed to the dozens of other options out there? What is your competitive advantage? A personal brand helps shape your company’s identity and is one of the main things that people will associate with your product. If you currently work for an organization, determining your personal brand can be the difference between getting promoted or getting passed over.
What Makes a Personal Brand?
Is creating a personal brand about finding a strong niche in a particular market, or is it about having a snappy logo? Is it about creating an image that people can understand and relate to? Is it about executive presence? The answer is all of the above and then some.
Say you’re at the grocery store, feeling a little hungry and looking at candy bars. Snickers has established their bars as being high in protein and a good snack to eat to curb hunger for an hour or two. “Gonna be awhile? Grab a Snickers,” their commercials say. Knowing that you can eat one and stave off hunger for a while, you may be more keen to buy Snickers so that you can shop without a grumbling stomach. For me, it’s Slim Jim’s. There are other brands, but that is the one that is “for me”.
This is an example of brand. It has attraction and personality to it beyond just the product itself. You need to learn how to develop that for your own products and services–that personality that your customers will latch onto. It is what makes customers say that your product is “for them”.
When you’re at work, what do people say about you before you enter the room? What do they say after? You want to make sure that you leave a positive, lasting impression. Your personal brand should enter the room well before you arrive.
Developing a personal style that connects with others is very important, especially when marketing a person. For example, (and I’m probably dating myself with this example) Jennifer Lopez has created a personal brand. She is a multitalented and creative artist who still manages to be “Jenny from the block,” just a regular girl. Whether she is singing, acting or selling her perfume line, she has created an identity that resonates with people and makes them more likely to buy her products.
In order to develop a successful personal brand, it is vital to understand your target audience. You have to know not only what you are offering, but also who may be interested in your services. Knowing who to market to is a good way to zero in on potential clients and focus your efforts. What about this product is useful to people? Who is going to enjoy it? What will they use it for? These are all critical questions to ask. For those in corporate America, you need to think about your audience. Is it your leader? Your peers? Your direct reports? The truth of the matter is that they are all your audience.
In today’s world, internet presence is also crucial. Facebook and Instagram posts give customers a sense of what your brand wants to bring to the world and increases dialogue about your product. Reviews are also important for defining a brand; word of mouth can be a defining factor in product development. For example, websites like Yelp allow customers to review business establishments. Many people will search for a business on Google, and if it is listed on Yelp, they read the reviews. Positive reviews make them more likely to use your services. The same goes for individuals looking to enhance their careers. LinkedIn is the go-to place for people checking out applicants. Do you have positive recommendations and a winning profile?
How to Build Your Brand
Building a brand is a three-step process. The first step is deciding what the brand is. What makes your product unique? Why do you like it? Why do you think people should buy it? The second step involves getting feedback on your brand; get second opinions from marketing experts and customers who will tell you if they are getting the impression you are hoping they get. This is helpful because sometimes we are not the best judges of how our work is coming across to others. Lastly, learn how to promote your brand effectively and market it so that you will get the desired response.
If you are working, do a 360 evaluation. Get feedback from all of your “audience” so that you have a starting point as to what your brand is. Then work towards building the personal brand that you want.
Ultimately, building a personal brand is a very individual process. However, virtually everyone needs to decide what separates them for their competitors. Experiment with different ideas: new products, advertising, and logos. Over time, you will start to get a clearer sense of where your business fits into the world and where to go with it. Keep working and learning and, most of all, enjoy the journey.
Building your personal brand? Get success coaching from some of the best experts in the industry. Sears Coaching will help you accomplish your goals and stay on track. Contact us today to get started.
You’ve read the resumes, and they’re stellar. So do you really need to read the cover letters? While some may insist that cover letters are unnecessary, these documents can give you deeper insight into each individual candidate. Here are some things to look for in the cover letter that can help the best applicant really shine:
Is it Specialized?
One of the first indicators of an outstanding candidate may be a specialized cover letter. All too often, candidates create one generic resume and cover letter package that they use to apply to all jobs, regardless of the position or industry. Your business deserves more than a generic template. So, look for cover letters that have been tailored or individualized to fit your specific industry or job description.
While resumes may be impartial and difficult to differentiate from prefabricated templates, cover letters should not read like an automated message. Instead, they should be distinct and individual, offering the hiring manager insight into the candidate and their interest in the company. The best cover letters are the ones that go beyond stating individual interests and speak to the company culture or mission, as this indicates a candidate who has done their homework and who is interested in the company as a whole, rather than just the position.
Does it Demonstrate Good Communication Skills?
Cover letters are also a great opportunity to gauge the written communication skills of a potential candidate. Being able to write effectively is essential in nearly all work environments, and the cover letter should demonstrate a candidate’s command of these skills. Does the candidate use correct grammar, punctuation, and spelling? Are his or her sentences easily understood and clearly stated? Is the letter formatted properly? If a candidate hasn’t mastered these basic skills, they won’t be able to write up reports, create memos, or write emails to clients to a standard befitting a modern business. Additionally, some managers may be sticklers for length, arguing that cover letters should be no more than a page, but no less than two paragraphs. Others assert that the ideal cover letter should fill about 75% of a page. However, cover letter length shouldn’t be your first concern. As long as the letter is well-written, personal and makes a statement about the candidate that is clear and engaging, the cover letter may be as short or as long as the candidate likes.
Does it Make the Candidate Stand Out?
Ideally, a cover letter should act as a first interview before any phone or face-to-face interviews take place. While resumes may illustrate a candidate’s skills, education and prior work history, these documents are often brief and barebones, seeking to offer up only the most important information as quickly as possible. Resumes, by necessity, are very impersonal, so the cover letter should be the more the personal side of an applicant’s submission, offering hiring managers insight into the candidate and filling in the gaps in the resume.
More than skills and education, the best cover letters showcase a candidate’s personal and professional growth throughout the course of their career, highlight talent and interests outside the job description and help to gauge how well that applicant may fit into the existing company culture.
With the economy and job wages improving, it is more important now than ever that business leaders make the intentional effort to implement programs designed to attract and retain employees. As a business leader, it is your responsibility to make your employees feel wanted and valued. Here are four ideas on how you can show appreciation for your employees.
With competitive salaries soaring across all industries, a good benefits package can tip the balance in your favor when it comes to recruiting potential employees. Prospective employees need to know that they and their family will be taken care of with a wide variety of benefits, including medical, dental, and life insurance. A solid 401(k) plan is also a necessity when trying to recruit and retain the best possible employees for your organization.
Savvy business leaders understand the importance of an employee recognition program. Setting a high standard of care in ensuring that your employees get their due recognition will encourage further productivity, benefitting your bottom line and paying off big dividends down the road. Offering tangible rewards for the recognition will only further motivate employees and provide an incentive for their continued hard work.
Office parties and catered meals can go a long way in improving company morale by engaging employees and encouraging personal interaction. In addition to annual holiday parties and company summer picnics, consider adding a series of surprise events during the work week. For example, a costume contest on Halloween or a spread of sweet treats on Valentine’s Day. It is often the little things that make the biggest difference when trying to show employees how much they are valued for their hard work.
Let your employees show their pride in your company by generating company-specific swag. Take the time to research the latest trends in swag so that you are providing your employees with both practical and inventive giveaways. You can incorporate the giveaways into the employee recognition program, offer them as door prizes at company parties, or simply give them out on a routine basis to deserving employees.
Effective business leaders are those who take the time to show appreciation for all of their employees regardless of their status in the company. By doing so you will improve employee morale as well as increase productivity, benefiting everyone in the organization.
The uncertainty surrounding starting your own business can be daunting. With so many things to do before you even open shop, the feeling of there always being more work to be done can make your startup seem like an overwhelming venture. These are a few suggestions that can help you feel more secure before you welcome your first customers.
Understand the Basics of Search Engine Optimization
While search engine optimization, also known as SEO, can be quite complex, it can also be hugely beneficial for your online presence. Goins Writer explains, “having the right keyword strategy can lead to a broader audience and an increase in potential customers.” These tips can help you optimize your website effectively for search engines:
Make sure that your content consists of 1 to 3 percent keywords. This will ensure that your site ranks well with search engines without taking the risk of getting it pulled from search results.
Remember to ensure that you have plenty of long-tail keywords. This means that the keywords you choose are a string of four or more words. The reason that you need to include long-tail keywords in your keyword list is that they are more likely to be searched by people than shorter keywords and have less competition.
Make sure that your entire list of keywords is fairly long. It’s important to have a mixture of long-tail keywords and keywords that are a single word.
A franchise business will act as a safety net of sorts for your company. That is because if one branch isn’t doing well, the others will be able to make up the slack. Franchise Gator claims that food franchises “make up about 32% of all franchise establishments in the U.S. and employs over 5 million people”. Furthermore, owning a branch of a franchise rather than going into business completely on your own has advantages due to pre-existing franchises being recognized more by the general public. This is the difference between opening up a brand new spa all on your own and opening up a Hand and Stone spa.
Do Competitor Research
One of the best ways to do this research is with surveys, and businesses all over the world swear by this strategy. Another great way to do research on the popularity of your products in a specific region is to look at your competitors. Find out how successful they are with certain products that you’re considering offering and what they could improve upon. By researching what others are accomplishing as well as what they’re failing at, you can have an edge up on the competition in your market.
Be Prepared for the Ways That Your Work Life Will Change
While many people become self-employed because of the independence and freedom that it gives them, this freedom creates additional responsibilities. One of the best ways to prepare yourself for the new and exciting challenges that come along with being a new entrepreneur is to seek career coaching. Coaching can help prepare you for the world of self-employment and prevent many of the pitfalls that may accompany it, like burning out.
These are a few ways that you can make your goals more secure, but they aren’t the only things to keep in mind when starting your own business. Continually learning about successful business techniques and strategies can give you valuable confidence when starting up your business.
Most people who know me well know that I love keeping things short, sweet and to the point. Efficiency is a key ingredient to success for entrepreneurs and business owners. All time and money that can be saved while still adequately completing vital business functions have a direct benefit on the bottom line of the company.
Modern technology has done a fantastic job of providing business owners with methods to improve the efficiency of their business operations. There are three major ways technology can help a business to save time and money.
Calculate Your Time Expenses
Business owners who calculate earnings based on a per-project basis or on the hours required to complete a job know that the old saying “’time is money” has a lot of truth in it. The time that employees spend tied up in one project takes manpower away from other endeavors that could create income. Put simply, the more time employees spend engaged in a single project, the more it costs the company to complete that project while it is also not reaping income from other ventures.
An upgrade your project management software to increase the speed of company processes so that you can save money for the company.
Companies can now utilize technology to save on the cost of office space. In some cases, this expense can be eliminated altogether because today’s technology makes it possible for employees to work from remote locations.
When employees are not required to perform their job duties by physically being in a central location, business owners do not have to commit as many resources to secure and maintain that location. In addition, today’s digitally powered business world allows business owners to employ talented individuals for specific projects but not to employ those people full-time at the company. This individual can then be classified as a virtual assistant, a digital receptionist, or a variety of other job titles. According to these digital management specialists, “save staff time, improve security, and ensure a smooth experience for visitors in your office with a digital receptionist. Digital receptionist software provides a secure, web-based interface that simplifies the check-in process for visitors.”
Less Paper Used
There are many issues that require documentation. In the past, this meant printing these documents and storing them in file cabinets or tucked into the workspaces of company employees.
Many businesses continue to use too much paper despite the existence of email and cloud technology that make it unnecessary to accumulate paper documents. The cost of producing and keeping these paper documents can end up costing a business more than the owners and management may think. These tech and business experts explain, “With the advent of photo-scanning apps, business travelers can easily back up expense reports without needing to save a pile of papers to bring back to the office. Electronic files can also be shared with coworkers over a network or via email. Shifting to paperless documentation also makes the transportation of data more efficient, without the need for cumbersome fax machines or document couriers.”
Modern technology affords business owners the opportunity to streamline business processes in ways that save both time and money. A business owner who wishes to improve the efficiency of his or her business operations should learn and implement applicable tech solutions.
These three benefits that technology can provide businesses should be all the motivation needed for business owners to investigate tech solutions.
If you’re looking for help in you business or need some additional guidance, check out how we can help! We know you won’t be disappointed by our coaching services!