Branding is a whole new ball game from even ten years ago.
It used to be – in the dusty past – that brands were seared into the flesh to identify the herd. Thankfully, those times are past (unless you count tattoos and piercings, we won’t).
Corporate branding tactics really weren’t much different, treating their customers like so many generic pieces on a game board. Consumer behavior has changed. Today, customers have the power so branding strategy – especially for Solos – needs to change with the times.
The change in consumer behavior
People have grown tired of being shouted ‘at’ but big business. They’re fed up with one-size-fits-all products and having to navigate complex automated phone trees when they have a problem. They’ve learned that they can turn to the internet to search for better options. They can share reviews of other consumers and learn from past mistakes. They can turn to social media to vent their frustration when a company doesn’t deliver.
Consumers today are also drowning in messaging. Compared to just a decade ago, people were hit with about 5,000 ads a day in 2006 (up from 500 a day in 1970). Today, it’s estimated to be over 50,000! Not only are consumers inundated by advertising noise, but their brains are automatically filtering messages for them. That’s why you’re seeing a drastic drop off in the effectiveness of marketing today – even with personalized email marketing that people have signed up for. It’s just TOO MUCH. So what do you do to survive in business today?
The solution has to do with branding
If I were to ask you to make a list of the 5 most influential people in your life right now, could you do it? Why?
Because those people have a personal impact on YOU. There’s a resonance. It’s personal. That’s the solution. Odds are the people you’ve listed said something or did something that caused them to be lodged into your consciousness. A good example is Oprah for me. Over the years, she’s expressed her opinion, shared her trials, and gave us a peak into her life. All with an open sincerity without trying to be someone she was not. While she does have a global company, she does not hide behind it. She’s connected with millions personally just by being true to herself. This is expert branding at its best.
Why it works BEST for solos
Let me share a business secret: You don’t need to reach millions. A solo-based professional only needs a few well-paying clients – and well-paying clients tend to refer people like themselves to businesses that treat them well and deliver the goods. You don’t need Oprah’s huge following. There are some caveats for this to be a successful business concept:
- You cannot charge rock-bottom prices by the hour – you don’t have enough hours
- You need to provide high-quality, high-touch products, programs and services – no Walmart thinking here
- You need to be a content creator – Share you opinions (related to your business expertise mostly), your resources, your reviews, your know-how, your insight, and then curate what other experts in your field are saying
What you need to do
- Show up as a competent professional with a level of expertise
- Demonstrate your knowledge and expertise through content creation
- Put on a credible professional image – good head shot with eye contact, professionally designed website and collateral, well-written profiles and material, show up with other experts in your field (you can do that by commenting on their blogs or interviewing them for yours)
- Position yourself as the leader NOT another one of the followers (be the speaker or sponsor)
- Take the time to get clear on exactly who you help (remember you only need a few), what they really are struggling with, and how you can help
- Create clear messaging – avoid cliches, puffed-up jargon, or exaggerated claims, no hype – just help
- Show up and share your story, gather nice words from others and share those too
What to avoid
- Don’t try to hide behind a ‘corporate’ image to try to make your business look bigger. That will backfire. People today distrust the big corporate wall. They want a person to help them. Just be the person you are.
- Don’t try to do it all yourself. Yes, there are TONS of cheap template websites and other services, and yes, you can eventually learn to design or code a website, but that’s time that you’re not getting paid for what you do – invest in your business and it will repay you over and over
- Don’t do trades, discounts, or any other activity that paints you as unprofessional – successful business owners do not devalue what they offer, they encourage people to set up to invest
Of course, there’s a lot more to strong branding for Solo Pros, but this will get you off to a strong start. If you need individual help, let’s schedule your Business Mapping call and well tailor your branding just for YOU.
Author Info: Barbara Saunders is the Solo Pro Business Success Expert who helps self-employed professionals go from floundering to flourishing! As the Founder of the Solo Pro Academy, she’s developed programs focused specifically on helping solo pros build a profitable custom-fit business for our new technology-drive global economy. Swing by SoloProSuccess.com and pick up your free ‘Income Accelerator Success Kit’. To connect with other solo pros, tune into Solo Pro Radio.