Building your brand is a work-in-progress. This may sound funny, but at first, I did not even know my brand was being created until more and more people started to notice. All this time I was just excited to share my passion and purpose with the world.
Truth be told, I did not consciously choose this entrepreneurial semi-public life, it chose me. I always wanted to write and at first, I did it for fun as an outlet for expression and catharsis. Gradually it evolved into different manifestations and became more engaging as I had different life experiences and heeded some of the feedback received from various people from all walks of life.
One by one, doors slowly began to open before my eyes. The first self-published book Thinking out Loud was not planned. It just happened and later led to two speaking engagements locally and internationally the year following publication in 2012. Soon I began to meet and reach more people who inspired me to continue writing.
Many may think that being an author is a lucrative and glamorous career, but a lot of international subject matter experts tell you that writing a book in and of itself does not make you tons of money (unless you are already hugely popular and have many followers). However, they advise you to bring the book(s) to life with speaking engagements and such.
Many writers do it out of love and their compelling desire to share their innate talent in an effort to make a difference with their writing.
Another truth is that speaking was the furthest thing from my mind when I had my day job and I did this on the side mostly because of my enormous stage fright and my far from gregarious nature.
However, with my professional experience over the years, my personality and confidence morphed and I began to develop my craft. When I stepped out of my comfort zone and shared from the heart, I realized I loved to tell stories (I think it’s in my DNA) and soon my messages resonated in a deeper way with audiences/clients.
My love for storytelling was born when I attended events and listened to a few local and international speakers articulate and bring to life sometimes very serious subject matters in a very humorous and animated way to engage audiences. I was blown away and wondered if/when this would ever happen to me.
In 2015, I delivered a motivational PowerPoint presentation to a group of experienced business people and while connecting with the audience, I began to get thumbs up, smiles, laughs and questions that I was able to answer off the cuff.
A few approached me afterwards to purchase books and share how the presentation touched them. This was such a surreal experience because I felt I was still holding back but very grateful that it was received well.
So here I am to offer 3 simple ways to build your brand as a newbie:
- Invest in a modern and engaging website
Your website can replace a bio and business card if done right. Do benchmarking research of subject matter experts in your field and make notes as to your creative concept for what you want your services and brand to convey.
Write engaging text and if you can’t do it properly, hire a professional to get the results you need. Showcase testimonials – text or video highlighting what satisfied customers and clients said about your work.
Get professional high resolution photos to adequately tell the story of your brand.
You can also include a downloadable personable bio and company profile as well as free e-Books or gifts for your readers to view samples of your work.
Most importantly, hire a professional web developer to build a website that you will be proud to place in the public domain. Take it from me; don’t attempt to build your site yourself using popular tools, lest you risk getting the response one of my IT friends told me when I was so excited to share my first site I built myself:
“Carolyn, I don’t know how to tell you this, but you know if I am calling you on a Saturday, it’s serious. It’s about your site. It looks like something built in the 1980s – You know before the advent of the internet.”
Ouch. I am still laughing today. Even if you think you don’t have the resources, you will find it and thank yourself later for a priceless investment in your business. You can check out my new and improved website here.
You must also find ways to promote your website otherwise no one will ever know it exists. Try getting your own domain name or a name closely associated with you or your brand that can be easily accessed by search engines.
You can also include the link at the bottom of every email in your signature.
- Pick 1-2 social media platforms to showcase what you have to offer
Depending on your product or service, you may want to determine where your customers are and what channel is most effective for reaching them. You may have to put pen to paper, make some calls or go out and talk to people, not necessarily in an overt way, but it could simply mean striking up conversations at the grocery store or bank depending on the person’s vibration and how well you can network and connect.
Don’t try to connect on every platform. Master one or two and ‘work-it’ consistently, letting your fun side and passion shine through while adding value to your followers. Social media may not even be ideal for your business, but if executed well, it can amplify visibility and build brand awareness and goodwill with countless people who can spread the word to paying customers. You can also combine it with traditional media marketing (press, TV, radio), caravans etc.
Don’t try to ‘sell’ in every post. You are trying to build a brand [and trust] and show customers why you do what you do, which hopefully is to serve/fill a need. Of course, you want to make profits, but why do you think people are so fearful of insurance salesmen? Because many times their approach is only about the sale because they are driven by commissions.
However, the really successful ones succeed because they can connect with customers in an emotional way to demonstrate the benefits of the purchase to their potential clients or their families.
- Network your heart away
You have to find ways to connect with your ideal customer and know your worth. As one of my Accountant friends said to me recently, “Carolyn, you are a business person now; you have to use your time wisely and strategically. You must value and put a price on your time, especially as an artist and SME, you have to work twice as hard and smart to make that paper.”
Depending on your product/service, [offline] you may choose to participate in trade shows, expos or conducting presentations at companies and groups, hosting events or attending networking mixers.
You can also network online by starting a newsletter, blog, joining social media groups, streaming podcasts or live videos, a YouTube channel or have a monthly potluck, wine and cheese, or games night at your house or a particular location to make meaningful connections with like-minds and your ideal clients.
You have to find a way to get your word out. Stay focused on your purpose, motivation and objective for doing what you are doing. Once your heart is in the right place and you don’t give up, you will always find your way back home.
Success and all things good are on your doorstep.
By Carolyn K. Correia
Carolyn K. Correia is the author of Thinking out Loud, How To Find Yourself and Claim What’s Yours and she missed the boat on love. She is also a communications consultant, freelance writer, blogger and motivational speaker. Learn more here www.carolyncorreia.com or stay updated on Facebook –CarolynCorreiaAuthor.