Bad Actor Branding

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It doesn’t happen often, but when it does it is deadly.

The internet and social media have given a great deal of power to the public. Like most changes it presents good sides and bad sides. If folks like what you’re purveying and say so it is that wonderful positive feedback loop of great reviews and unsolicited testimonials.

But, on the other side of the equation…

The bad side hijacks your good ship lollipop.

Your brand sinks in a quagmire of negativity. Multiple bad actors add to the pool of despair with comments and reviews that water down all your hard work. If you, as an independent professional, are targeted, your brand and your reputation can be jeopardized. The trust you’ve built over time begins to wash away.

You may not know you’ve offended them until it is too late.

Just like a cocktail party, social media is subject to becoming a jungle of gossip. The juiciest tidbits are always negative. It is just the way human minds work. Ever notice how there are always just a few people that seem to garner all the attention? Disagree with just a few that share a viewpoint and they gang up on you.

When they decide to attack it is with all the positive aspects of social media up ended. At the least, a storm of innuendo rains down on you. At the worst, you can be subjected to boycotts or petitions that prompt attention from the media.

Their strength is their weakness.

They can’t really use social media against you unless and until they have a group of people with the same perceptions. It takes a crowd to build a movement and to make an attack go viral. The only way they can influence customers about your brand is if there are a slew of them all taking action.

Get ahead of the jackals

There is only one way to know if you are in the sights of these adversaries. You need to monitor what is being said about you.

  • Look up your name on Google and read the trending comments on Facebook and Twitter
  • Look up your business and check the trending comments there.
  • Is your product or service reviewed? Read ‘em!

Rethink your approach to subjects that cause people to choose sides.

You can probably get away with having a favorite sports team. That sort of disagreement comes with the territory but opening a bar named for the primary rival across the street from the home town team’s arena…not such a good idea.

Politics was once a refined conversational topic. Not so much anymore. The gold standard was important once but not these days. Religion. Careful. It can depend on where you are and what you are wearing. But sticking to the higher demands of you persuasion sometimes earns a cautious respect.

Announce your beliefs in a sincere but unthreatening way that acknowledges the law.

  • You can say, “No shirt, no shoes, no service.”
  • You can’t say, “If you’re queer don’t come in here.”
  • Try: ”We provide a personal service and believe the agreement to work together must be mutual”
  • Use the phrase: Not all our clients (customers, patients) agree with our personal opinions but none dispute our professional capabilities.
  • Help prospects to accept your approach with these words: Part of our approach is to provide a contrarian look at your business. You must accept that if we are going to work together.

 In other words. Check the situation. Step back. Look at the areas that you might conflict with an influential group. Be careful when and where you open up about your opinions and be sure to disconnect them from your business acumen.

That should help.

And so it goes.


Jerry Fletcher is a sought-after International Speaker, a beBee ambassador, founder and Grand Poobah of www.BrandBrainTrust.com 

His consulting practice, founded in 1990, is known for Trust-based Brand development, Positioning and business development for independent professionals on and off-line.

Consulting: www.JerryFletcher.com
Speaking: www.NetworkingNinja.com
DIY Training: www.ingomu.com

Personal Brand Memorability

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Anna Liotta gave us a glimpse of her expertise in “Generational Codes.” It was obvious from the amount of information she conveyed in a limited time that the years she had devoted to studying and interpreting this phenomenon had not been in vain.

A wake-up call

The trouble is, she made me rethink Brand in terms of how the collection of cohorts now co-existing on this planet each think feel and believe about the most important element in marketing products, services, concepts and even individuals.

There is sufficient difference in how each of the groups she cites think and behave to suggest that they may deal with a complex notion like brand in distinctive ways. That is why I purchased her book, Unlocking Generational Codes this morning.

The generations in her terms:

  • Traditionalists, born from 1927 to 1945
  • Baby Boomers, born 1946 to 1964
  • Xers, born 1965 to 1977
  • Millenials (Gen Y), born 1978 to 1999
  • Globals (Gen Z) born 2000 to 2016

What makes them tick and what ticks them off (as she puts it)

Her analysis of how the generations differ, their codes, is broken down in these elements:

  1. Communication–the preferred style of communicating and interacting.
  2. Orientation—the way they view themselves in relation to other generations, people and the world.
  3. Discipline—how they interact with authoritarian figures
  4. Environment—the behavior they exhibit dealing with the environment including how they gather information, make decisions and relate to the world.
  5. Success—how they measure it. What drives them and gives meaning to their lives?

Comparison to a Millenial Daughter

Because she was born on the cusp between generation X and the Millenials my daughter displays attributes of each but generally falls into the Millenial category. Like an Xer she is very much an individual but she exhibits the Millenial trait of taking things to extremes becoming an Ironman, participating in ultra-running and swimming across Chesapeake Bay when there were small craft warnings.

When it comes to technology she can squeeze more out of a cell phone than I can comprehend. She would rather text than talk if it is a matter of data or a photo. The internet is, for her, a playground. But she doesn’t own a TV.

Her relationships stay strong regardless of distance due to the acceptance of digital connections. That crosses over to the business possibilities for her. She has gravitated to seats of power and because of acquaintances made in those positions enjoys entrée to extremely senior level options in both industry and government. She sees herself as both a nomad (Generation X) and a hero (Millenial).

The Deloitte Research presents another picture

The opening statement is:

Millenials are the most diverse cohort in US history

Black, Latino and Asian ethnic groups make up 44% or the Millenial cohort.  In the Baby boomer generation just 25% was non-white. The research shows that a more complete view of the dynamic consumer includes these factors:

  • The cost of education eats into discretionary funds.
  • People are getting married later or never
  • Home ownership is no longer a part of the American dream
  • There is a deepening divide between the top 20% of wage earners and the rest of the population
  • Millenials, overall are financially worse off than previous cohorts with a 34% decrease in their net worth since 1996.
  • Additional spending on experience-based categories is driven more by income than by age

The impact on Personal Brand

If you are in the top 20% of income (across all cohorts) you already have a brand. Your position in an organization, the reason you met someone, and where you made an acquaintance all contribute to their perception of you. Can you significantly add nuance to that perception? Of course. And if you are conversant with social media and offer a consistent image across the platforms you select you can easily build on what began on a positive note. Interestingly, you can limit your exposure on social media without adverse effect on your brand.

Not on top the income pyramid? You still need to be consistent across the social media spectrum. And, because you may have fewer first-hand meetings that build relationships with influencers you will have to strive to become known to them. How? Take the time to learn who they are and then follow them. Comment at some point and if they engage let them see the “real you.” Never pass up a chance to begin a conversation. And never overlook a direct or indirect request for more information that will put you in front of their “tribe.”

Personal brand is built one connection at a time. One gem of a connection plus another and another until you have a string of them…like a string of pearls.

And so it goes.


Jerry Fletcher is a sought-after International Speaker, a beBee ambassador, founder and Grand Poobah of www.BrandBrainTrust.com 

His consulting practice, founded in 1990, is known for Trust-based Brand development, Positioning and business development for independent professionals on and off-line.

Consulting: www.JerryFletcher.com
Speaking: www.NetworkingNinja.com
DIY Training: www.ingomu.com

Formula for Creative Brand Marketing

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Some advertising wag once said:

“It ain’t creative unless it sells”

But most of us are standing here on the other side of that evaluation trying to come up with something creative that will sell our brand, product, concept or service. We need a way to figure out what will convince a large enough group of folks to lay down their cash so that we can make a profit.

Building a brand that sells

You can work all the magic of words and graphics on anything but when you bring them to bear on something with a real difference they become unstoppable. A truly unique product or service is much easier to position, promote and sell.

How do you make your concept unique? How do you develop it so it inherently has the differentiation that makes it saleable? What do you need to do to make your offering singular?

Here are three things you can do that will help you innovate:

  1. Act like a child

The sad truth is that our education, though not designed to do so, removes the marvelous questioning and experimentation that we have as primary behaviors when we are children. Do you recall losing track of time as you delved into some simple thing? Have you ever gone back to that ‘anything is possible” set of beliefs? Therein lies one of the most powerful tools available to you.

Experiment. Get your hands dirty playing with the possibilities. Try anything and everything, the less orthodox the better. Keep track of what you find out. The insights you reach could prove valuable.

2. Make new friends

Scientific studies tell us that we are most creative when we see connections across unrelated fields. People with different ideas and perspectives can help you see those connections, questions, problems and ideas.

Network in organizations or groups that are outside your “comfort zone” to gather distinctive new thoughts. Allow those new relationships to direct your reading. Ask the questions that challenge their status quo. Apply their answers to your view of the world. Find a way to merge the two. Test the new “common wisdom.”

3. Renew industry acquaintances

Take along look at the behavior of customers, suppliers and competitors to identify how they do things. Just because it has “always been done that way” doesn’t mean it must continue unchanged.

Borrow ideas from other industries. Try them on and think through how they could change your product or service and the industry in which your firm is doing business. Play out the “what if” scenario alone or with your partners. See what might happen form an operational and an income viewpoint.

We live in a time of disruption.

Join the party.

Apply Sir Richard Branson’s mantra:

A-B-C-D Always Be Connecting the Dots

Here are some what ifs that I’ve been thinking about which you may find stimulating:

Cosmetics

What if you could use DNA testing to develop formulations for foundation makeup for women that was healthy for their skin and offer it in tones that matched their complexion by race?

Commuting

What if you had AI driven vertical take off and landing one or two passenger vehicles which you sold as a subscription service. Think about pricing. Peak and off-peak utilization. Would suburbs expand or contract? How would you control traffic particularly altitude changes in the flow?

Distribution

What if you could find a way to replace trucks as the primary physical distribution vehicles. It wasn’t so long ago that the intermodal revolution swept this industry. That change brought about containers that could be moved on the high seas, via rail, air and finally via truck.

Initially, if you had drones to carry single truckloads you might operate at specific heights above the current freeway system. But what do you do about delivery at the destination. How would existing loading docks affect your transport design? Do you have operators either in each unit or at a distance or do you use AI?

And, so it goes


Jerry Fletcher is a sought-after International Speaker, a beBee ambassador, founder and Grand Poobah of www.BrandBrainTrust.com 

His consulting practice, founded in 1990, is known for Trust-based Brand development, Positioning and business development for independent professionals on and off-line.

Consulting: www.JerryFletcher.com
Speaking: www.NetworkingNinja.com
DIY Training: www.ingomu.com

Brand is a Rainmaker

In times gone by, there were folks that hoped or believed they could get nature to relent and to turn cloudless skies into rain that would wash away a drought if only in one little part of the country.

Some seemed successful. Others, not so much.

Desire doesn’t change.

Each of us want there to be some sort of magic formula to bring new business to us without our having to work for it. We want the gods to smile on us. We’re willing to wear clothing we were wearing when we were successful before. That special tie comes out for the “big pitch.”  The unmatched socks get worn on purpose when we’re going for a new job interview. That railroad watch your Dad gave you gets wound up for the first time in years.  The rabbit’s foot key ring once again settles into your pocket.

The charm is your brand.

  • Sorcery doesn’t deliver potential clients. Staying true to your brand does.
  • Voodoo will not bring a customer to you. A brand that delivers will.
  • Alchemy doesn’t solve customer problems. You do and that is what your brand is based on.

You make the rain.

Although my blog appeared here each Saturday for the last month, I was half a world away from my office. I wrote those weekly comments on Brand before I left on a trans-Atlantic voyage followed by visits to Barcelona, Madrid and Washington, DC. I maintained my work with current clients (when I had internet connections). I wasn’t looking hard for new business. I was taking a vacation and meeting with some folks in person that I enjoyed from internet contacts. I thought I might be of assistance to some of them along the way. Turns out I will be.

Sometime when it rains, it pours.

As initially planned I was going to spend a few days sightseeing in Barcelona and return home. But then internet contacts in Madrid agreed to meet with me for lunch or coffee and so I extended my stay to take a high-speed train to Spain’s capital. Here’s what transpired:

  • I had coffee with the managing director of the largest speaker’s bureau serving Europe, Central and South America. He asked if he could add me to their database 10 minutes into our conversation.
  • I had lunch with the Spanish speaking former employee of a client based in Singapore. Later, because of her new coaching business I introduced her to the speaker’s bureau.
  • The founder of a social media service agreed to have coffee with me. I asked why things had “gone dark” after an initial burst of funding acquisition. He told me, in detail, and then proudly said that they had held the company together and it was now profitable. Then he asked for my consulting help in building the business in the USA.
  • I telephoned a client when I reached DC to find out how his knee surgery had gone. He asked me if I would take on an assignment for an association he is working with. I said, “Of course.”
  • A client “hip-dialed” me yesterday morning. We chatted briefly and then he asked me to meet with a consultant he knows. I agreed and the luncheon meeting is set.
  • This morning I got a message through the social media site that another member of group is as he put it “Looking for a professional speaker that may be interested in assisting to bring a virtual reality product to the market in North America.” We’ve agreed to talk about it.

You can’t control it, but you can influence it.

Just like you can’t control Brand, you can’t control the pace at which new business opportunities come to you. You can however, influence both.  You start by staying true to what you do. You stay honest and forthright. You decline when you have to but you always try to suggest someone else that might be able to help.

Most of all you build Trust. You do it in each conversation. You do it more in your actions.

I didn’t have to introduce Rosa to the speaker’s bureau, but I did.

I wasn’t calling a client about his knee surgery, I was calling a client that over the years has become a friend. Help him with the association? I’ll do that regardless of the fee.

Have lunch with a prospect when one of your best clients asks? Definitely. He knows the prospect will get honest answers and didn’t even think to ask.

Hear out a founder who has come through the valley and has emerged profitable? Accept an assignment? Done, in all humility.

Agree to talk to an engineer about becoming a “product ambassador?”  You bet, because I’m convinced that contact came about because of my conversation with the social media network founder in Madrid.

And, so it goes.


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Jerry Fletcher is a sought-after International Speaker, a beBee ambassador, founder and Grand Poobah of www.BrandBrainTrust.com 

His consulting practice, founded in 1990, is known for Trust-based Brand development, Positioning and business development for independent professionals on and off-line.

Consulting: www.JerryFletcher.com
Speaking: www.NetworkingNinja.com
DIY Training: www.ingomu.com