Every week as SmallBizLady, I conduct interviews with experts on my Twitter talk show #SmallBizChat. The show takes place every Wednesday on Twitter from 8-9pm ET. This is excerpted from my recent interview with Branding Strategist @DeborahShane. Deborah is the Author of Career Transition-make the shift and a nationally published writer and speaker. She hosts a weekly Blog, business radio show, and writes for several national blogs and websites including smallbiztrends.com, careerealism.com, American Express Open, Personalbrandingblog.com and Blogher.com. Deborah delivers smart ideas and solutions, which make her a popular go-to resource for clients and the national media. She has been featured on CBS, Fox, CNNMoney.com, HLNTV.com. Connect with her on the web at DeborahShane.com
Smallbizlady: Why are we talking SO much about personal branding?
Deborah Shane: It’s just not enough today to be in business or have a job. To be successful people have to develop a defining, distinctive personal brand that clearly communicates ‘who they are, what they do and what they stand for’ to make an impression and get noticed. The emergence of “personal branding” has been an outgrowth of the social media revolution. People getting more personal in their communications through the social medias is an amazing way to build brand awareness and credibility. For business, people want to know who is behind a brand now. The authenticity and transparency has become much more important to consumers. For entrepreneurs is vital to come out in front of your brand to let people know who you are and give people a glimpse of you.
Smallbizlady: We use brand and branding so interchangeably. Is there a difference and why is that important?
Deborah Shane: The brand is you: what you do, stand for and believe in. The branding is you in action: everything you do to market yourself online and in person. These work together and are mutually interdependent. Creating yourbrand first (the who/what/package), all the visual imaging, logo, colors, messaging about who you are and what you do has to come first. The branding (packaging/presentation), or all the marketing tools, and platforms you use to market and present yourself can only happen when you have the brand package.
Smallbizlady: What are the 3 things stand out brands have in common?
Deborah Shane: They know exactly who they, what they do and whom they serve. An example of this is: “I am a baker that makes mini gourmet cupcakes”, or “I am nature watercolor artist who paints wildlife and birds. Knowing your target audience and the psychographics of your customer is key for marketing to them.
Smallbizlady: What are the steps one should take to reinvent an existing brand?
Deborah Shane: The first step is to review and update the Messaging about what you do, your value proposition. Make sure it is still relevant and targeting your key niche and customer. These should be kept very current with what it is NOW not 2 years ago.
The second step is to review and update your Visual Presentation. The formats, styles, presentation of your logo, websites, cards, marketing copy, user experience should all be what you want people to see and what are the best practices of businesses NOW.
The third step is to use an Integrated Marketing approach for the ‘branding of your brand”. Review all the things you are doing to put yourself out there and make sure they are the best activities to reach your customer. Are they where your customer engages? Use these branding activities in tandem, together: social, email marketing, blogging, video, networking.
Smallbizlady: What kind of help does a small business need to reinvent their brand and how much should that cost?
The DIY choice can work very well, as long as it is not taking too much time away from the other important things we need to do. Get a referral from people you know for marketing consulting, a graphic designer, website management and social media management. It is an investment you make in yourself and your business to look great and have a unified message. The prices can vary from the Elance.com type of site to a sold referral from your network. I highly recommend getting a referral, unless it is a very easy type of project.
Smallbizlady: Why is knowing your target customer and niche so important in small business branding?
Deborah Shane: By knowing this you can target the right media, messages and sales approach that is best for your target audience. Demographics plus psychographics gives you the best profile of your customer’s age, gender, background, and values.
Smallbizlady: How does someone build brand authenticity and credibility?
Deborah Shane: Demonstrate your brand’s core values as much as possible,. Have a defined, clear value statement and promise of who you are, what you do and whom you serve. Build your legacy and leadership by being consistent, authentic and telling your story, Strive to serving others. Reinvent and redefine yourself as things change, but be true to your core values.Don’t be afraid to fail, fall, show your vulnerability and celebrate perseverance and hope. Celebrate your sense of humor!
Smallbizlady: What social media platforms are best for building a personal brand?
Deborah Shane: Blogging is the best way to demonstrate your build brand and position you as an authority in your field. Email marketing can grow your personal relationships with your permission based list. Video can show your personality and allow people to connect with you more personally.
Facebook used more professionally on fan pages can get your people to engage, interact, rant, rave, discuss, ask questions all at the same time! It is an amazing engagement and branding tool.
Smallbizlady: How can you use multiple social media platforms together to build reach?
Deborah Shane: I have been combining my monthly themed email marketing newsletter with video, tele-calls, and articles on my blog. I also use my blog and email newsletter to promote my weekly business radio show, by highlighting upcoming and past shows and guests. I created a feature called “You’re in The Spotlight”, which combines all my digital assets: blog, radio show, email marketing, social media to highlight feature businesses and experts.
Smallbizlady: Why do some small business brands fail?
Deborah Shane: There are many ways that small business owners damage their brands including using multiple brands messages and/or images, inconsistent maintenance of blogs, and having no social media footrprint. You must have a professional brand image and logo that is on all of your web and hard copy materials. You must be able to commit to blogging two to three times a week, otherwise you shouldn’t bother. You must have a helpful website that tells people how you can help them within 7 seconds of them clicking on your page.
Smallbizlady: You talk about ‘accessorizing’ your brand like you do an outfit or your home dÃ©cor, explain this?
Deborah Shane: In the fashion and design worlds, it’s that splash of color, pattern or grouping that catches the eye and grabs the emotion. So, why not apply this idea to ways you can accessorize your brand? Using stories, images, info-graphics, testimonials, color, video, etc to accessorize your brand and make your business more relatable to your target customer.
Smallbizlady: What are your top 3 tips for personal branding for 2012?
Deborah Shane: Reinvent andLeverage your talents and accomplishments. Use more video, testimonials, recommendations to create better results in your business.
Reimagine what success looks like and means to you today. Be realistic and put things in perspective for today, not 10 years ago.
Reinvigorate your visual brand and branding activities. Update your websites, logos, copy, messaging and business skills and make sure they are current and fresh. Network, network, network in person and online, and change up your routine.
Smallbizlady: You have 25 Free and Low Cost Ways to Market Yourself NOW! How can people get the complimentary copy of them?
Deborah Shane: Go to DeborahShane.com and sign up in the Join Our Community box and we will send them to you. That also get’s you in for our informative monthly letter and complimentary monthly tele-call.
If you found this interview helpful, join us on Wednesdays 8-9pm ET follow @SmallBizChat on Twitter. Here’s how to participate in #SmallBizChat: http://bit.ly/S797e
For more tips on how start or grow your small business subscribe to Melinda Emerson’s blog http://www.succeedasyourownboss.com.