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The Six Worst Ways To Brand Yourself

One evening when my daughter was 12 I asked her to grab my car keys from my desk. She came back with the keys. We got in the car to drive to her piano lesson. “Mom,” she said, “I saw a resume on your desk.” “Was there something about the resume that struck you?” I asked her. “Yes!” she said. “This man says on his resume that he’s the best technical salesperson in Chicago. How could that be true? They don’t have a ranking for something like that, do they?”

“No,” I said. “That’s just how he describes himself. It’s his own designation.” “It’s so sad!” said my daughter. “Anybody could call themselves the best technical salesperson in Chicago. It seems so — childish, like a kid in my grade telling the other kids they’re the best singer or the best volleyball player in the class.”

“It is kind of sad,” I said. “The problem is that people don’t know how to brand themselves. It’s not something they teach in school.”

“So that’s why the man who sent you his resume made up a fake title for himself — the best technical salesperson in Chicago?”

“Yes,” I said. “When someone is looking for a job, they want to stand out. They aren’t sure how to do that, so they say things like ‘I’m the Best Technical Salesperson in Chicago!'”

Calling yourself the best salesperson around, the top attorney in your field, the leading digital marketer in your city or the greatest cost accountant ever to live is a very poor branding choice.

That’s why it’s included on our list of the six worst ways to brand yourself, below!

The problem with “I’m the best!”-type personal branding is that it marks you as someone who lacks the confidence to simply say “I’m a Cost Accountant, and here’s what I’ve done so far in my career.”

Praising yourself is beneath you. Let other people praise you. That’s not your job!

Here are all six of the worst possible personal-branding choices.

• Calling yourself a guru, mogul, maven or expert

• Zombie branding

• Trophies

• The best/the one/the only

• My Tasks, My Skills

• Disruptor, catalyst, change agent

Let’s break down these six regrettable branding choices.

Calling yourself a guru, mogul, maven or expert or using “praising adjectives” like Savvy, Strategic or Visionary to describe yourself is a fear-based move that will not impress anyone.

It is much stronger, more compelling and more human to simply tell your story in your LinkedIn profile and your Human-Voiced Resume.

Zombie branding uses the dull, dusty corporate-and-institutional language most of us have learned at work (whether we wanted to or not).

Here’s an example of zombie branding: “Bottom-line-focused Business Professional skilled at leading cross-functional teams, developing end-to-end solutions and adding value through game-changing strategic initiatives.”

There are lots of good reasons to avoid zombie branding. It’s impersonal and makes you sound like a zombie or a robot, not a living person. It’s generic and trite. Anyone can dish out this awful jargon.

It doesn’t tell your story at all. You are much more powerful than zombie branding makes you sound!

Some people brand themselves based on their trophies, like this:

“Ivy League grad and alum of Apple, Google and Snap.”

Now you’ve made it clear that you were able to get into an Ivy League school and that you subsequently worked for Apple, Google and Snap.

All that tells us is that these three organizations (four if we count the Ivy League college) found you acceptable for their needs.

Is that all you want us to know? Are your trophies really the most significant thing about you? I hope not!

We want to know what you came,  saw and conquered at each stage of your professional life. We want to know about you, the person — not the impressive trophies in your trophy case!

Calling yourself the best, the top or the only something-or-other is an amateurish personal branding move that will not grow your flame.

A very common and unfortunate branding choice is to list all the things you can do, thereby branding yourself based on the tasks you can perform.

This is a very sad and hopeless way to describe yourself, because what’s significant about you is certainly not the list of things you’re capable of doing.

Still, we see LinkedIn profiles with branding like this every day:

Public relations, marketing, customer service, IT and office administration professional seeking new challenge.

Few organizations have a pressing need for a person to do PR, marketing, IT, customer service and office management all at the same time.

The person who brands themselves this way is telling the world “Heck, I don’t know what I want to do next! I’m throwing all my skills out there so that somebody will find at least one skill they need and hire me!”

However, that’s not how people get hired.

Your job as a job-seeker is to decide in advance what kind of Business Pain you want to solve, and to brand yourself for the specific jobs you want, not any job you could possibly perform.

The last deadly branding mistake on our list is to call yourself a Disruptor, a Change Agent or a Catalyst.

These terms are cliches and they don’t tell us anything useful about you. Rather than calling yourself a Disruptor, tell a story in your LinkedIn Summary or the Summary at the top of your Human-Voiced Resume, like this:

I’m a Product Manager whose passion is to shepherd good ideas through the development process to get products out the door on time and on budget. I led the product development team at Acme Explosives and launched six profitable new products between 2014 and 2016.

Now you have a voice, a story and a mission. You’ve shared a concrete example of what you can do, right in the Summary of your resume or LinkedIn profile.

You’re using the word “I” the way humans beings do when they talk about themselves — and haven’t been brainwashed to think that the use of the word “I” in their branding is forbidden!

You aren’t bragging or giving yourself a made-up title like Best Technical Salesperson in Chicago.

You aren’t listing the tasks you know how to perform.

You’re just telling a bit of your human story so we can understand who you are and what you do professionally.

It isn’t hard to brand yourself like the powerful human you are.

It only takes a shift in your mindset. You can start cultivating that right now!

Follow me on LinkedIn.

I was a Fortune 500 HR SVP for 10 million years, but I was an opera singer before I ever heard the term HR. The higher I got in the corporate world, the more operatic the action became. I started writing about the workplace for the Chicago Sun-Times in 1997. Now I write for LinkedIn and Forbes.com and lead the worldwide Human Workplace movement to reinvent work for people. My book Reinvention Roadmap: Break the Rules to Get the Job You Want and Career You Deserve is here: amzn.to/2gK7BR7

Source: The Six Worst Ways To Brand Yourself

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11 Fashion Brands That Support Breast Cancer Awareness Month – Barry Samaha

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Orange, red and yellow are generally what spring to mind when one considers October colors. But instead of rocking those autumnal hues, think pink instead. It is Breast Cancer Awareness Month after all. The use of pink to symbolize breast cancer awareness started in 1992, and came in the form of an overlapping ribbon. It was meant to show solidarity with those that have been impacted by the disease, which affects one in every eight women in the United States. Needless to say, over the years, the use of the color has evolved and it is now cast on a number of items…….

Read more: https://www.forbes.com/sites/barrysamaha/2018/10/04/fashion-beauty-brands-support-breast-cancer-awareness-month-pink-products-2018/#27e5e066d3cb

 

 

 

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3 Ways to Build Your Brand Identity Using Content Marketing – Brian Hughes

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Can your company’s content pass the “no-logo test”? When I work with digital strategy clients who are struggling with content marketing, I always ask them to take the logo test, inspired by this excellent Content Marketing Institute article. You should try it, too.

Related: 5 Tips for Building a Strong Brand Identity

To do that, copy and paste articles you’ve written, along with articles from your competitors, into Word documents. Print out the documents and lay them side by side. Now, can you identify your content from the competition’s without the aid of any logos or company names? If your content lacks a distinct voice and tone, it won’t stand out.

I get it: When you’re first getting started with content marketing, even publishing a blog post every few weeks can feel like a major victory. But once you work out the mechanics of content ideation, you should put in the time needed to create content that brings your brand to life. Why? In a world drowning in digital clutter, content marketing is most effective when you provide a clear, distinct viewpoint that’s beneficial to your target audience.

What’s the secret ingredient that elevates generic content to a brand-building masterpiece? Your brand voice.

“Brand voice is the intentional, consistent communication of your business identity,” brand strategist Dima Midon told me in a recent phone interview. Midon, who founded the brand strategy and digital marketing firm TrafficBox, is an expert in all things SEO and search-engine marketing. He also knows that these digital strategies are incomplete without a solid branded content foundation.

“From startups to global businesses, the organizations with the best content strategy are those that create content reflective of their brand’s unique personality and then use this content to build stronger relationships with prospects and clients,” says Midon.

Branded content has exploded in popularity over the last five years. For clients and customers, reading branded content — in general — is far more interesting and relevant than a marketing ad. “Branded” means content that’s informative, interactive and entertaining and brings value to a reader’s day. Thanks to social media, such content can catch on like wildfire, rapidly reaching a far wider audience than a standard marketing message.

Vision, voice, and value: Bringing branded content marketing to life

As the name implies, “branded content marketing” needs to be grounded in your brand’s identity. If your content can’t pass the “logo test,” it will be just another of those generic pieces daily bombarding your target audience. To make your content stand out, bring your brand identity to life with three steps:

Define your vision. Your organization likely has a mission or vision statement, company goals and core values. Consider how the content you create will reflect this mission, goals and values. Then align this vision with your customer’s needs. Every piece of branded content you create should apply your company’s unique perspective and expertise to problems your customers face.

Example? Consider the “Open Forum” American Express sponsors, to provide small business owners with the “insights, inspiration and connections” they need to grow their business. While topics range from money management to team building, every piece of content Amex publishes here is dedicated to advancing its vision of helping small businesses thrive.

Define your brand voice. A distinctive, unwavering brand voice is an essential component of successful content marketing. While you may have a very clear idea of your brand’s voice, ask yourself, is everyone else at your company on board with this voice, too? Brands, like people, need to prioritize certain traits, to build a reputation. Scattered messaging and inconsistent brand voice can confuse your audience.

So, take time now to codify brand voice and guidelines. Many B2B companies, for example, seek to strike a balance between professionalism and accessibility. They want to be viewed as subject matter experts without sounding too technical or complex. Consequently, the corresponding brand-voice guideline might emphasize the use of clear, concise language that avoids technical jargon.

Example? MailChimp’s brand voice is a great example of how a B2B company can strike this balance. The company isn’t afraid to show a little personality with the use of cultural references and colloquial phrases its customers can relate to. Consider the clever Sherlock Holmes reference for the website’s 401 error message, below.

Your own brand guide needn’t be lengthy: Voice and tone can be covered by just a few guidelines. (I’m a fan of MailChimp’s voice and tone guide, available free as part of its master Content Style Guide.) What matters most is that you codify these guidelines so there is a single set of rules for everyone working on content at your company. From the work of freelance writers to that of marketing directors, your company’s content marketing will reflect a consistent brand voice.

3. Define your value. Branded content is beneficial not only for defining the buying vision in your favor but also for reminding existing customers about how valuable your offerings truly are. From case studies to white papers, how can you create content that helps existing customers maximize the value of your offerings? Perhaps you can spotlight a new offering or provide tutorials for advanced features. The key is to use your branded content to move from a transactional relationship to a customer-centric one that delivers real value.

Example? The enterprise software company SAP has nailed this mission. While many of its products and services seem technically complex to the average B2B decision-maker, the company’s white papers expertly explain the importance of digital transformation in accessible layman’s terms. Most importantly, this content is never a “hard sell” for SAP, but instead subtly reminds customers about the valuable benefits SAP can present as a strategic partner.

Rather than sending marketing material to customers touting your “top of the line products,” then, send them branded content that explains how to use your products to solve their problems. Content that maximizes perceived value strengthens your brand and drives customer retention.

Bottom line

Content marketing is an essential B2B marketing strategy that’s continuing to gain in importance. According to HubSpot, B2B marketers allocate 28 percent of their total marketing budget to content marketing. But before you too jump on this bandwagon, be sure your content is aligned with your brand vision, voice and value. Doing so will ensure your content is impactful, relevant and worth the investment.

 

 

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A Future of Monetized Branded Content Begins With Customer Value – Lauren McMenemy

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Content noise has reached epic proportions, and standing out from the crowd is no longer as easy as chucking money into paid distribution. Providing customer value becomes paramount as users have millions of links all vying for their clicks. They are more discerning, and also more skeptical; so the quality and provenance of content is evermore important.

Traditional media outlets have been struggling with this for at least a decade. As the internet became all-pervasive, media companies just duplicated their print offerings online, for free. It was a scramble to stay relevant in a digital age, but it actually damaged brands and the industry as a whole. By the time paywalls started going up, and the publishers began asking their audience to pay for access to content they had already been getting for nothing, the expectation and value of the content had already been assumed to be, well, free. Consumers naturally were resistant to suddenly being required to pay to read. After all, the internet should be free… right?

“In the transition to digital, a great error media companies have made is trying to emulate technology companies’ business model. If you’re Google or Facebook, advertising works. You’ve got the scale to make sense of keeping a product free … [But] unless buoyed by reach of billions of users, those who don’t charge for at least part of what they do are doomed.

“If you stand by the principle of not charging for anything, sooner or later it’ll make you compromise on everything,” writes online publishing course owner Edward Druce on Medium:

This is all well and good for traditional media outlets, those places we’ve turned to for centuries to inform and entertain us. We pay for the print versions, and evidence shows around two-thirds of news outlets in Europe now have some kind of pay model for digital content.

But the media landscape has changed—brands are now getting in on the publishing act. As brand publishers mature in their offering, the big question has yet to be asked: Will consumers pay for branded content?

Legacy Branded Content Still Sells

The short answer is yes, actually. Age-old content marketing products like the Michelin Guide, prove that consumers will pay for content that provides value, regardless of who has written it. Michelin now prints a range of travel guides, maps, atlases, and more to complement the world’s best-known restaurant guide—all created, of course, to get people into their cars and wearing down their tires.

man reading a magazine

In the UK, The AA (Automobile Association, a roadside assistance provider) follows a similar path, but adds in printed versions of the Highway Code and books to help study for your drivers license. Once you’ve got that license, you’ll need their services, of course.

It’s not just the car industry that has customers paying for content. Weight Watchers Magazine has a total paid circulation of 1,127,545, 90% of which are subscribers. That’s more than one million consumers automatically paying monthly for a magazine that has the sole aim of promoting the Weight Watchers nutritional plans.

So while paying for branded content can work, these are special cases of well-established brands providing tremendous customer value. There is still yet to be a brand that harnesses the power of a paywall for branded content on a mass scale. However, marketers aren’t ruling out the possibility.

Ideas for Leaders explores the idea of charging for online content, ironically placing the crux of the content behind a subscription paywall: “It is crucial how a fee-based charging structure is implemented: charge too little and you are missing out on valuable subscription revenue; but charge too much—or for the wrong content—and you will lose viewers, further undermining advertising revenues. The key is for media companies to take a flexible approach, charging optimal fees for selected content.”

How Can You Charge For Content?

Man standing on train platform reading newspaper

There are various models out there, both in the traditional media world and the world of freelance creators, that a company could look to adapt for its own revenue stream.

A paywall

Hide all of your content behind a payment portal, and charge an annual or monthly subscription fee for access. This model, however, requires a lot of trust on the part of the consumer given they are basically purchasing your content without knowing its quality. If you disappoint them, it may well do more than just lose you a subscriber—it could hit your brand’s reputation.

Remove the ads

If your content hub is currently complemented by banner advertising—be it for your own company, or sold space—some of your audience may be willing to pay a small subscription to remove the ads. Of course, this option is less likely today as ad blocking software is becoming more prevalent, and will necessitate flexible design.

Premium content offerings

Taking a cue from the Telegraph, you could drop the paywall in favor of offering additional special content in exchange for a small payment. In this way, most of your content will remain free to access, but those who truly value the quality of your analysis would get access to special reports or additional reporting.

One-off publications

Many brands know the impact a special report or regular review can have on downloads. True customer value can be found in providing industry analysis or investigative reporting. These publications are the result of months of hard work—why give it away for free? Likewise, you could ask for a small stipend in return for e-books and educational resources. Take a leaf from Michelin’s book and consider producing a guide that will offer insights to your industry.

Webinars and e-learning

Edward Druce’s Course Concierge, helps content creators to serve their audience and get paid for their efforts. One of their clients is Steve Ramsey, who spent 10 years creating woodworking videos on YouTube for a subscriber base of nearly one million people. He’s now offering more in-depth online courses to that subscriber base and making nearly 10 times the income he was on YouTube alone. While Steve is a one-man operation, what’s stopping your company from launching your own online instructional programs?

Paid subscriptions

Subscriber numbers are the holy grail for content marketers, a sign their content offers a valuable ROI to a loyal audience. It’s also a great way to create a community, something many freelance content creators have been doing via sites such as Patreon and Substack.

Screenshot from Patreon website

The former allows creators to run a membership business for fans, providing a meaningful revenue stream while being free from restrictions of third-party platforms such as YouTube. Substack, on the other hand, helps writers to start an email newsletter that makes money from subscriptions. A very new platform, it reportedly has just over 11,000 subscribers to newsletters paying an average of $80 a year for content.

Both options present a quick and easy way to monetize content as well as examples of how a brand might be able to build a subscriber base willing to pay for its content.

Asking for Payment? First, Offer Value

One of the founders of Substack, Christopher Best, has wise words for content creators looking to start a payment model: “The most important thing is knowing who your audience is and what they need and what they want; it’s them feeling like they have a connection with the author that gets people to pay,” he told Nieman Lab.

“When you’re orienting towards paying subscribers, you do start to see some metrics that don’t necessarily matter—just getting a huge number of clicks, in an advertising-driven world that is an end unto itself. But it doesn’t matter from a subscription perspective. On the other hand, you still have to get people to show up and see what you’re doing; you also have to show them the value of what you’re sending them.”

Mind you, a poll held on debate.org found only 20% of Americans think newspapers should charge for content online, so what hope do brands have? It doesn’t mean it’s not possible, it just means you should very carefully consider how you introduce the new revenue stream.

Ensure you’re offering optimum customer value, which means your content should be absolute top quality. Nothing “quick and dirty” will cut it. And importantly, don’t try to charge for something that was previously free. If this is something you want to explore as a potential new revenue stream, introduce a new content outlet, and perhaps test it out on small pieces to begin with.

One marketer I discussed this idea with spoke of an idea he’s had for a while—that the future of journalism will go the way of music, and we’ll have a Spotify-style service for written content. The idea would be that you pay to subscribe, and in return you get access to content from a selection of quality publications who are then paid royalties for access. There’s no reason why content from a brand couldn’t fit such a service—as long as it is top quality.

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Transform Your Content Marketing Program with a Message Architecture – Katie Del Angel

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It’s necessary for content marketing teams to constantly evaluate where they’re at. From measuring performance KPIs to the strategic trajectory, it’s important to ensure that your programs are aligned and on-track for success.

One important aspect that may not be on your radar to assess? Your message architecture.

A message architecture is a prioritized set of communication goals to guide team efforts across the organization. Generally, it originates at the corporate marketing level with input from key, cross-functional stakeholders. For global content teams, it can – and should – serve as a North Star to ensure that all the content you produce supports your company’s overarching goals.

More than likely, your brand may not yet have a message architecture to evaluate. Yet, there’s never a bad time to establish a message architecture, and it’s never too late. So why not now?

Beyond content marketing, a message architecture can help teams guide decisions around everything from site structure and taxonomy to product design and partnerships. Arming your teams with a hierarchy of communication goals ensures everything you “say,” regardless of channel, conveys a unified message.

Why your team needs a message architecture ASAP

At this year’s ThinkContent 2018 conference, the idea of amplifying content efforts with integrated planning and collaborative tools was a frequent focus. One system to unify workflows and marketing assets across content, social media, PR, design, and/or product teams may seem like the holy grail of efficient collaboration we’ve all been waiting for, but we can’t forget the fundamental rule of successful content marketing programs:

Marketers with a documented content marketing strategy are five times more likely to succeed.

Although many marketing teams typically include some variation of voice and tone guidelines within their content marketing strategy, a message architecture takes this one step further: While voice and tone guides help us decide how to say things, a message architecture guides what we say. In particular, what we say about who our brand is and what we care about. And when it comes to crafting impactful content, knowing what your brand needs to say is the first step.

What a message architecture looks like

A message architecture summarizes a brand’s prioritized communication goals in a short list of attributes and phrases. This should be part of your documented content strategy to be shared among teams – which is especially useful when new members join or projects begin.

For example, Facebook might have a message architecture that looks something like this:

Considerate

Proactively transparent

Thoughtful and helpful

Friendly

Familiar, occasionally playful

Welcoming, community-oriented

Creative

Pioneering

Innovative, yet consistent

Open to user feedback

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We can see these attributes in everything from Facebook’s new feature announcements to privacy update notices to error messages. Although they never say “we do this because we are considerate,” it’s evident that Facebook prioritizes that characteristic in the way it communicates with users on a daily basis.

A quick note about what a message architecture is NOT

The concept of a message architecture stems from the content strategy discipline. Author and strategist Margot Bloomstein was an early proponent of the term in her book “Content Strategy at Work,” sharing advice for building a message architecture to guide digital content initiatives like website redesigns. As Bloomstein underscored in her book, a message architecture differs from a mission statement (which is more about what we aim to achieve as a company) and a vision statement (which establishes where we are heading) because it is both actionable and specific to communication. (These are also the primary distinguishing factors between a message architecture versus a brand personality.)

A message architecture is also not a glossary for the actual words we will use in content or marketing copy. Rather, your message architecture is a reference point for cross-functional, internal teams to decide what to communicate.

Although the message architecture isn’t a glossary, the exercise of developing one will help your teams define a shared vocabulary. And that’s at least half of the magic!

How to establish a message architecture

Option 1: Card sort approach

A 45-60 minute card sort exercise is a great way to align internal stakeholders – from both within and outside of marketing –  around a shared vocabulary, spurring conversation around a visual hierarchy of characteristics.

Step 1: Gather your words

You’ll want to compile a list of 50-100 adjectives to guide the conversation in your workshop.

In her book, Bloomstein shares an excellent list of words to use as a starting point. You can find the list in an excerpt of “Content Strategy at Work” online. She also sells a set of premade cards.

I typically make my own set by hand-picking the more relevant words from Bloomstein’s list, and supplementing with tailored additions for my client’s industry. I compile them in a Google spreadsheet, then write each word on its own index card.

Step 2: Invite your stakeholders

Workshops tend to go much smoother when everyone has a moment to digest the instructions beforehand, so it’s ideal to send an email to stakeholders explaining the workshop well in advance. (A note on timing: As most people tend not to consider themselves “word people,” I find that this workshop is best at the beginning of the week when minds are fresh and ambition is high.)

I also share the adjective list and welcome stakeholders to add their own ideas. This saves time in explaining when you get everyone together, and also makes the team feel more involved right off the bat.

Step 3: Sort your cards

Bring your stakeholders into a room (be sure to have a long table and plenty of space to move) and begin by asking the team to sort the index cards into three distinct buckets:

  • Who We Are NOT
  • Who We Are (Today)
  • Who We Want To Be (in two years, five years, etc. depending on how agile your organization is)

Take a few minutes to review outliers or words that caused dissent at the end of this round, asking the team to discuss and articulate presumptions or bias about words. For instance, does “innovative” make one member crinkle their nose in disdain, conjuring images of aggressively sleek tech startups, while another envisions a premium, industry-leading enterprise?

After documenting the “NOT” pile (I usually snap a picture and make notes), ask the team to focus its attention on weeding out any aspects of their brand “TODAY” that they may want to shed or outgrow down the line. Document, then clear away anything that isn’t part of “Who We Want To Be.”

Step 4: Group and prioritize

Although many adjectives may appear to be similar, this is the time to dig into nuances and preferences. For instance, maybe the brand is both “approachable” and “friendly,” but really wants to lean into being proactively “friendly.”

Typically, I encourage teams to group affinities like this, stacking one directly on top of the other to show preference and priority within buckets.

Once these buckets are defined, it’s time to prioritize the buckets, themselves. For instance, one client chose to group characteristics by the following themes:

  • Words that describe our product
  • How our community sees us
  • How our customers see us
  • Who we are at our core

Depending on the organization or industry, each bucket may get prioritized higher or lower. InVision, a design software company, for example, may place the most emphasis on the product – which then influences how the community views the company.

Step 5: Find affinities and document

Now is the time to sort through notes and pictures from the workshop. Remembering that the message architecture is not a glossary, find clear and concise ways to define your “buckets.” Check out the Facebook example above for inspiration.

2. Spectrum shortcut approach

This 10-15 minute exercise is a good way to visualize and verbalize priorities. This is a quick hack of the familiar brand personality spectrum to help us establish a message hierarchy. Because there is less opportunity to find nuance in this exercise, this is good for brands that already have a good idea about who they are and where they’re going.

Step 1: Share the spectrum

Ideally, this speedy exercise can happen during a project kickoff or another in-person meeting. If so, post the “Brand Personality Spectrum” on a whiteboard or using large (8×6 inch) Post-It notes.

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If you are unable to do this in person, you can email the image to stakeholders separately, including instructions from Step 2.

Step 2: Mark your priorities

Once the spectrum is up, give each stakeholder two different-colored Post-Its or sticky dots per row. (For example, each participant would receive one pink and one yellow Post-It for “Personable and friendly” vs. “Corporate, professional,” another pair of pink and yellow for the “Spontaneous…” row, and so on.)

Ask each stakeholder to place the first color (say, pink) on each row where they believe the organization’s priority is TODAY. Then, ask them to place the second color (yellow) where they believe the organization’s priority can or should evolve to in the future. Each participant should contribute two colored markers for each row.

Take a moment to discuss here if there are obvious discrepancies or large leaps to uncover any assumptions or bias.

(If this is being done virtually, you will need to do a bit of extra legwork to follow up. A video conference call would be a great way to share findings and bring the conversation into the open.)

Step 3: Determine priority

Finally, ask each stakeholder to rank each row in terms of significance. You can do this by handing each participant a stack of Post-Its labeled 1-6, or by a color-coded tallying system on the whiteboard.

Again, this is a good opportunity to dig into the “Why” for each person, identify nuances, and find alignment.

Step 4: Document

As in the first approach, your output should look something similar to the Facebook example: concise, descriptive, and unique. (Because you won’t have a list of adjectives to get you going, you may need to be a little creative. Tap into the discussions you’ve heard to dig beyond the brand spectrum surface.)

Bringing the message architecture into your content marketing program

Once you’ve established a message architecture your organization can agree on, it’s time to socialize and fully incorporate it into your content marketing strategy. A few things you should do next:

  • Make sure to document the message architecture.
  • Update your content marketing strategy with the message architecture and ensure that all team members are aligned.
  • Explain what it is (and is not!).
  • Encourage your team to use this as a validation tool at the beginning of content planning cycles to 1. Ensure all content meets at least one stated communication goal and 2. Help prioritize scheduling or quantity of content in a certain focus area.
  • Take a look at your content hub. Is the UX supportive of your message hierarchy? Use the message architecture to consider how navigation, taxonomy, and overall layout can be improved to underscore your goals.
  • Share the message architecture with new team members and at the start of new projects, to maintain consistency.

When you know what your team really wants to communicate, it becomes that much easier to ensure you’re working toward the same goals – and measure success as you grow.

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The 15 Biggest Clues Your Business is Ready for Chatbots – Larry Kim

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Chatbot technologies and AI keep advancing. Maybe you’re wondering if the time is right for chatbots for your business.

Is it Time to Look at Chatbots for Small Business?

Here, 15 signs it’s time to invest in a chatbot.

1. You have a Blog

A chatbot can function as a blog RSS blaster, giving your posts high visibility.

You can deliver them with push notifications on Facebook Messenger and get 8x the open rate of email!

2. You have an Email Marketing List

Chat blast in the same way you always have with the same benefits as email blasting — but in a more natural, familiar and engaging way!


3. You’re Doing Facebook Ads

Messenger ads are an ad format with even more to offer businesses — contact info and opt-in to future messaging.

4. You’re Doing Marketing Automation

Chatbots support marketing automation — scheduling, reminders, surveys and more.

All that can be done via Facebook Messenger with a chatbot, where you’ll get more engagement than with traditional means like email.

Chatbots plug into your other business systems to connect all your lead and customer data from your CRM, to lead management, email marketing, web analytics and beyond.

5. You’re Doing Drip Campaigns

If you have a long onboarding process or a solution that requires training, you use drip campaigns to help lead users through the process. Drip campaigns work great with Messenger chatbots.

6. You’re Already Doing On-Site Chat Support

What’s better than an on-site chat support? Chat support on Facebook Messenger.

You save all chat history. You get people’s contact info. You can message those contacts later.

Chatbots never make customers wait, not to mention the fact you can cut back on expensive operator staffing.

7. You have a Healthy List of FAQs

Chatbots are great at answering frequently asked questions. Just set up the page you want to trigger based on keywords.


8. You’re Interested in a More Engaging Conversion Funnel

With a Facebook chatbot, you can offer conversion forms in a natural and familiar interface. Woo!

9. You’re Tired of Low Email Open Rates

The average email open rate is 10-15%. The average engagement with Facebook Messenger weighs in at 70-80%. If you need to up your Facebook messenger marketing strategy, then you need a very reliable chatbot for your page.

10. You Want to Offer Interactive Customer Service 24/7

Chatbots never close, and are ready to help answer your customers questions all day and all night.

11. You’d like More Sales (Who Wouldn’t?)

53% of customers are more likely to make a purchase if they’re able to message your business.


12.Your Customers Prefer Interacting with a Chatbot

56% of people would rather message than call customer service. Give the people what they want!

13. A Live Person can Jump in Any Time and Take Over for the Bot

Chatbots allow you to scale your customer service.

The chatbot can handle all the basic queries seamlessly and a customer representative retains the ability to jump in any time and take over the conversation if things get more complicated.

14. Your Competitors are Doing It

Two billion Facebook messages are sent between businesses and customers each month.

If your competitors aren’t using chatbots to talk to customers yet, they’ll be using them soon enough.

Beat them to it. You can start building your own chatbot with a free chatbot builder.

15. You Believe in Meeting your Customers Where They’re At

Without question, they’re on Facebook Messenger. With 1.2 billion monthly active users, this is a no-brainer.

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5 Ways To Create a Better Brand for Your Small Business – Brian Hughes

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Your small business brand is like a business card that you present to the marketplace, making it clear who you are and what valuable goods and services you provide. When someone sees your brand you want them to associate it with positive experiences, great products and services, and quality, whether or not they had direct contact with your business. Branding is important to your business success, so you must be intentional about developing it. You could hire an expert and spend tens of thousands of dollars or put in the time and effort to do it yourself. DIY efforts can be very effective and easy on the budget if you know where to look………

Read more: https://smallbiztrends.com/2018/06/branding-help-small-business.html

More References: https://fitsmallbusiness.com/best-free-website-builders/

7 Things You Should Stay Away While Doing Social Media Marketing

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Social media has become a huge platform to socialize and connect with your loved ones. It has also become a great place to market your products to a greater customer base, which enhances the chances of your business. With the ever advancing World Wide Web, digital media trends and rapidly growing social media users, there are infinite possibilities and everyone can easily launch a business and enjoy success.

Today, billions of people are online at a time on social media for various reasons. Although they are divided by the platforms, with advanced connectivity they are all interrelated with each other. This provides a unique chance for any big or small business to operate with little operational investments and develop social media marketing campaigns to expand their businesses.

According to our experience and multiple other types of research, marketers agree that social media marketing is the best way to enhance brand awareness. However, this is not the case with every business running a social media marketing campaigns. There are multiple examples of businesses that have not been able to achieve their desired goals.

But we cannot ignore the fact that its business and marketing individuals who are to blame for their failures, rather than social media platform itself, as there are more success stories than there are failures. A failure can be because of a poor marketing strategy, campaign planning, targeting the wrong audience or even working in the wrong season. You need to design an effective marketing and business strategy for social media marketing in order to get something from it.

It is imperative to avoid common mistakes that determine the outcome of your social media marketing strategy. For an instance, you are running an online travel agency and you want to promote cheap Copenhagen flights. But your social media marketing team made a simple mistake of targeting the wrong audience. This can play heavily against your strategy and in the end, you won’t get your desired results.

There are many mistakes that you are prone to making while launching a marketing campaign over social media. Following are 7 things that you should try to avoid while doing social media marketing of your business. We hope this article will help you diagnose the flaws of your social media marketing and you can find some success for your hard work.

Overlooking data

You simply cannot expect your business to flourish and see success without any business plan or marketing strategy. You should always determine what actions to take or strategy to make so that you can work out the data and information that is needed to process.

Fortunately, data gathering isn’t that difficult today as it was some years ago, due to the availability of multiple tools and analytics websites. You can easily acquire information on the target audience, keyword traffic, and much more. So try not to overlook data when planning your social media marketing strategy.

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Becoming irrelevant

Becoming irrelevant with your social media posts and blogs can always hurt your customer base and reaches. People will start doubting your business intentions and dedication, which can result in un-following your social media pages. Although you can add a little humour to your articles, blogs, and posts to develop the interest of people, it is imperative to never become too irrelevant. Too much irrelevancy and going off topic can also hurt your organic search engine rankings, as Google’s algorithm is always on the watch.

Using automatic means to communicate with customers

Although it may seem like a little practice to use automatic response on chats, to speed up communication with followers and potential clients; we highly advise not to do so. You should always approach your followers with your own replies, and attend their complaints or queries with a proper customer service approach. If you run a small business on any social media platform, try to attend that customer issue personally through a chat box. In this way, your followers can be satisfied and there is a great chance for them to become your permanent customers.

Being obscure

When running an online business, you need to avoid being obscure. Transparency in business helps you to develop a relationship of trust with your followers. Social media is the best way to show your work and products to your followers and it is also an opportunity to gain loyal customers with your transparency.

Obsolete and invalid content

Always post relevant and new content on your blogs, and share them on your social media for more reaches and readers. Never post an outdated, obsolete or invalid content on your social media, no matter what is the purpose behind it, as nobody appreciates out of date information, which is of no use. However, this doesn’t apply to the content that is evergreen and factually relevant.

Avoiding criticism

Negative or positive, criticism should always be welcomed on social media. It provides you a chance to know the taste of your followers, which you can use to your advantage. You can also work on that criticism, by addressing it and making sure all the concerned people are satisfied. This will only result in the favor of your organization.

Insensitive stories

Nowadays the majority of the social media platforms are offering stories and live streaming option to all their users. This feature has numerous benefits for every online business, big and small to increase its exposure. However, you should always avoid controversy by creating insensitive and careless stories. Everything on social media regarding your business contributes to the image of your brand. So be extra careful with every social media story or any other feature.

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Why Brands Have To Manage Follower Expectations On Social Media – Jayce Redford

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It’s only a tweet. There’s no harm done. It’s just banter. That’s not how Mauricio Pochettino saw it. Or, indeed, Harry Kane. When the official Twitter account of the Football Association sent a tweet lightly mocking – and all in good nature – the England and Tottenham Hotspur striker Kane, all hell broke loose and it’s found its way going right up to the manager, Pochettino.

It wasn’t just storm in a Tweet-cup, either. Kane recently had the gumption to claim that he had managed to get the slightest of touches on the ball after a shot from his teammate Christian Eriksen, and therefore attempted to – for want of a better phrase – steal the goal away from the Dane.

Unfriendly behaviour

So it might not be the most friendly behaviour from the England man: taking a goal off your teammate is to rob him of a statistic at the end of the season, it may even have denied him a goal bonus either from the team or his sponsors. But it’s also a good thing in footballing terms to see a striker who is so hungry for goals, awards and records that he puts on the blinkers and singularly focuses on scoring as many goals as he possibly can. Kane currently has odds of 7/1 to be the top goal scorer of the 17/18 season

Because of this, though, Kane was gently mocked. When you’re such a high-profile, Premier League footballer that’s par for the course: you can’t really say or do anything without someone, somewhere, analysing it. And when it becomes a running joke, you’re the butt of all the jokes for a little while.

That seems fair enough: it happens to all top footballers at least once, and they mostly laugh it off. You need thick skin to be a top player these days, but we shouldn’t think of this as bullying – just a light-hearted about a piece of contemporary popular culture. Like any other meme, really.

Official account

But where we really get into the weeds is the bit where we start to consider what official accounts of old, prestigious organisations should be doing on social media.

Clearly, everyone needs a Twitter account these days. It’s a way for brands and celebrities to interact with the public. For football clubs and leagues, it’s necessary to engage with their fans, and indeed the more likes and shares they get the more ‘fans’ they can claim to have. And if they can show their reach is big, they can sign bigger and better deals with sponsors.

Is that what was going on here?

We know that brands and other big accounts tend to try to muscle in on the big events. If they can stay relevant, that’s important, but if they can become part of the story even better. When Iceland beat England at Euro 2016, frozen food retailer Iceland became a viral news story after their social media team pounced on the result and supported the Icelandic national team for the remainder of the tournament.

Hitting the numbers

The thing is, these days there is at least some sort of strategy behind every ‘official’ social media post. Long gone are the days when the intern was let loose on the Twitter account because no one else cared. Now every post is strategised over – maybe not in real time when you’re trying to react to a breaking news story, but there will at least have been a meeting about tone and tactics before the weekend started.

But it begs the question of why the FA would want to go down the more light-hearted route. They are the oldest football governing body in the world – of course they’re seen as old and starchy. And so when they try to be down with the kids, it’s hard for them to hit the right notes and people find it difficult to swallow.

Of course – as mentioned – this is all part of a wider strategy. This wasn’t simply a rogue post that was out of line with what the FA are trying to do on social media. Indeed, it’s firmly in line with their drive to connect with younger audiences on social media. From advertising campaigns aimed at that demographic to innovative uses of Instagram polls and account takeovers like they did for the Wigan v Manchester City FA Cup game a few months ago in an earlier round, they are changing the tone of their brand and doing it fairly successfully.

Just not successfully enough to get away with a ‘banter’ post like this one, it seems.

It shows once again that you have to bear in mind the expectations that your followers have of you on social media, and if you don’t give them what they expect it’s jarring and appears wrong. And when you do that, you’re going to get criticized.

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10 Ways to Create a Positive, Personal “Service” Brand

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When your business product is invisible, it can be difficult to become the go-to expert in your field. We’re talking about business coaches, career counsellors, wellness practitioners, personal trainers, key note speakers, consultants and anyone working in the services industry. This makes creating and maintaining a positive personal brand essential.

So, what is a personal brand, why is it so important and how do you do it? We spoke to Lauren Clemett, an award-winning personal branding specialist, for her expert tips.

What is a Personal Brand?

A personal brand is the process of creating a specific image of yourself in the mind of your ideal client, so they can get to know, like and trust you before they buy from you. Having a clearly defined personal brand makes it easy to explain what you do and why they should choose you. In the same way big brands create instant recognition, your personal brand makes you stand out from a crowd of competitors.

Why is a Personal Brand So Important?

We are living in an increasingly confusing and overcrowded world, where standing out is vital, especially if you sell services such as business coaching, real estate, personal training, finance or wellness services because selling services is like selling thin air. You need to create confidence that you can deliver on your promises to become the go-to trusted expert.

In the 1970’s it was estimated that the brain saw around 500 branded messages a day, today that’s closer to 5,000. The brain is easily overwhelmed by all the brands it sees, which is why having a unique, stand-out brand that engages instantly is so important.

1. Know Yourself First

Before you start any marketing, figure out what you want to be well known, well paid and wanted for. This could be in any space that you have expertise, an interest, education or life experience. When you know yourself and the service you want to offer well, you’re equipped to promote yourself and create a strong and positive personal brand.

2. Get 100% Focused on Your Brand Strategy

If you are an entrepreneur you will have a creative and adventurous brain, which is awesome, but it can also get side-tracked or distracted by “bright-shiny-objectitis.” If you have focus, you will invest your time and money in the right places. I call it finding your true north and you can go through the exercise of considering four aspects:

West – What problem do you solve (not just helping people get fit or balance the books)? What transformation takes place for your clients?

East – Execution. How will you provide a resolution in a unique way?

South – The value of what you deliver. What do your clients really get, beyond what they pay you for?

North – True North. This is your passion, purpose, mission. Why do you do what you do? What is in your DNA that makes you so driven to help others?

3. Consider Your Brand Personality

Your personal brand flows into your business brand, so if you have a clear idea of the brand personality, you can ensure all elements of your business are infused with consistent messaging. If you consider your brand as if it were a person, you can get consistent on how it would behave, speak, react and communicate. The most memorable brands have been totally consistent with their brand personality for years – boring maybe, but everyone knows Nike, Coke and Virgin!

4. Expert-Ease

This is where you should be careful not to sell yourself or your skills short. You should remember that not everyone knows how to do what you do! When you create your personal brand, be aware that your ‘service’ is something you do with ease, but that others find difficult, that’s why it’s called expert-ease!

5. You’re Not Right for Everyone

Just as every person is unique, so too is your service offering. Don’t try to be everything to everyone, as this is where you will come undone. Instead, accept that you can’t help “every Mary in the diary!” You will have more impact and influence with the right tribe following you.

6. Finding Your Tribe

Know exactly who you want to attract to your business – not only clients but also affiliates, suppliers, partners, and staff. Your brand is a culture and you need the right people around you. Start by identifying your core message, mission and brand purpose. This way you can ensure there is a natural alignment with those you choose to spend time with. Maya Angelou said, “People will forget what you said and what you did, but they will never forget how you made them feel.” Branding is all about creating a culture and considering how you want people to feel when they interact with your brand. What’s the number one emotion you want to generate?

7. Create a Target Avatar

Create an actual target avatar, with a name, photo, life-stage and lifestyle as well as their preferred method of communication. When you create this avatar, you will know the right message, the right channel and the right time to contact your potential client. You will also engage and connect on a relevant and relatable level.

Start by considering the demographics: their age, income, do they have children, married, living in a city? All of this will affect their daily lives and give you a better idea of when it’s the right time to propose your solution to them.
Next consider psychographics: how do they feel about the situation they are in? Are there generational values or beliefs that might create barriers or stop them from considering your help?
Lastly, look at their personal communication style and preferred method of communication. There are four types – Owls, Eagles, Peacocks and Doves. Much like the DISC profiling, you can first work out your own dominant style, then learn the others to ensure you are targeting the people that will naturally like working with you.

8. Choose Your Words Carefully

Your personal brand is what people say about you when you’re not in the room. Be clear on what you want to be called so you’re introduced correctly to potential clients.

Use the right words in your elevator pitch and on your collateral and online marketing and think like a P.R.O – Problem, Resolution, Outcome. Most service providers are good at talking about the problem they solve, and the resolution clients get, but few consider the outcome.

The brain thinks in pictures so use engaging language and images that clearly show clients what life could be like if they use your service. A simple action step is to ask your existing clients “What was it that I did for you?” and consider using their words to describe what you do.

9. Create a Cascade of Influence

You can create influence by approaching the key opinion leaders in your industry, or affiliates who have similar clients. Word of mouth marketing is free: third party endorsements make it easy for others to refer to you. Once you know exactly who your ideal client is, you can look at who they already go to for advice. By going to the community or industry leaders and asking for their help, you let them know you are there and make them aware of what you are trying to achieve with your brand. Never try to sell to an opinion leader but consider it an opportunity to work together.

10. Share Your Brand Story

Your brand story is all about recognition, reputation and respect. To be recognised is all about what others say about you, so include the challenges and struggles as well as the good parts. Reputation is memorable, so make your story easy to repeat and share. Respect is about being authentic; we live in the age of authenticity. Remember, anyone can Google you to find out more, so be the expert, but also be a human (and honest).

Australian Online Courses

An ideal way to boost your personal brand and add to your LinkedIn profile is through professional development. If you want to take your business or career to the next level, study with Australian Online Courses to increase your chance of success. Simply visit us online or contact one of our friendly Learning Consultants today on 1300 762 221

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