Tony Robbins often says that people overestimate what they can do in a year, and underestimate what they can accomplish in a decade (source).
Like so many things in life and business, branding is much more a marathon than it is a sprint. We can see results from our efforts quickly, but the good stuff often takes time, much like a fine wine.
You have to be willing to put the time in, and you can never see into the future, no matter how great your visualization skills are. Branding requires consistent action toward its attainment. If you don’t put together the right game plan, crossing off all the right boxes along the way, growth will always suffer; perhaps never happening at all.
Here’s 8 unique ways you can improve your branding efforts starting immediately:
1. Give more, to receive more
This one’s simple. The more you give, the more you’ll receive in terms of branding. I’m not talking just about giving back once you’ve attained a certain level of prestige, start giving without expectation of receiving, the minute you open the doors to your business.
- Head out and sign up to sponsor a local soccer or baseball team (parents will fall in love with you and you get tons of free advertising in return).
- Offer free consultations and discounted work to local charities in need (think of the free media you’ll receive).
- If you are in a Content Creation business, offer free articles – quality and original ones, of course – to publishers, in exchange for a mention of your brand inside the article body or bio section.
- Go just a little farther than you normally would for a client who needs your help on a special project (who would you recommend to your friends – a stingy miser or someone who shows they can go the extra mile without billing you into next year?)
2. Own a category instead of a brand
This little nugget of branding wisdom comes via Tim Ferriss, who, as a sort of contradiction to the title, hates the terms “brand,” “branding,” and other similar iterations. Ferriss believes too many entrepreneurs shoot for the moon, ostensibly trying to get to space before they’ve even learned the simple art of flying.
He warns that entrepreneurs at all stages should seek an audience of 1,000 hungry, dedicated customers to act as a marketing team to the millions who don’t yet know about your brand. Ferriss recommends owning a category within an industry rather than tackling the industry as a whole (ie., instead of being the best in the beer industry, seek to be the best in the imported or low-carb beer category within that industry).
If not, Ferriss cautions, “find or create another category.” (read more of his views on branding here).
3. Resolve to become a leading expert in and around your industry
Few in business understand the industry they work in, beyond that which is immediately relevant to their day-to-day. Then, that educational-negligence ends up being unmasked one day when you’re quoted in an article, interviewed on a podcast, or otherwise get credited with doling out misinformation about things the buying public would expect you should know better about.
In 2017, make it a must, not a should, to become the most informed you can be about all information, news, and upcoming events related to your industry. The public will respect you, and your brand will increase leaps and bounds in value. Why? Everyone likes to do business with people who’re experts in their industry and avoid those who are not.
4. Make promises that you’ll always deliver on, without fail
Who wants to do business with a company or person who says one thing then does another?
5. Thoroughly edit your professional Rolodex
A good Rolodex will help build your brand. Promptly erase people who always call asking for something, then never pick up the phone when you need them. You don’t need these people. They’ll waste time you could be spending on branding efforts and certainly won’t do anything to help you expand your reach.
Next, make sure you have as much information as possible for each of your contacts. Where you first met, potential skills and contacts they offer, a basic rundown of their needs as they relate to how you can help them, along with birthdays and other special events they take seriously.
6. Be as valuable to your contacts as they are to you
Using tip#5 to maintain good and consistent relations with your professional contacts, you must always keep in mind that almost everyone in business (and life) is always walking around with the “What’s in it for me” on their mind. Make yourself unduly available, unless you have a reason that’s beyond reproach for being so.
7. Build relationship
Ana Maria De La Cruz mentioned that by building a relationship between your brand and bloggers/influencers, you might attract them to promote your brand – free of charge.
8. Don’t “brand” your brand on social media.
Here I’m talking about actively engaging in anything that’s labeled as “branding” in the various books, articles, vlogs, and podcasts you’ve consumed in the last few years. Instead, just be real – be YOU. I’ve also stolen this one from Tim Ferriss, and he makes a great argument against using social media as a “branding platform.”
“Don’t put the cart before the horse. Put good business first, and good ‘brand’ will follow.”
Ferriss’s basic (paraphrased) argument is that social branding should be a byproduct of being consistent and delivering on what your company promises. Not bombarding social media followers with semi-useful information and product plugs all day long – or pretending to be what you think the public wants you to be (ie., what most brands do on social all day long).
Ready to get to work?
As you’ve learned, branding requires consistent action. There’s no sense sitting around reading about it all day if you don’t actually get out there and put this knowledge into action.
Which tip do you plan to put to work for your brand starting today?