12.26.2008

Branding and Marketing Yourself (Part 2)


Written By Jesse Muhammad

I hope that you have had the opportunity to implement some of the tips I gave you in Part 1 (Article Archive) of this three-part series on ways to brand and market yourself. Have they been successful for you? What has worked? Please give me your feedback.

The world is waiting for you and there is no time to wallow in sorrow about how poorly your marketing strategy was this past year. Do an assessment, note the mistakes and learn from them by not consistently repeating them. Insanity is sometimes defined as doing the same thing over and over expecting different results.

Don't rob 2009 by kicking it off with the same old tactics. Here are some more tips to properly brand YOU:

1. Create a professional e-mail: Unless you are living in a cave, you should have an email address. Create an account with an email name that is tied to your business. It is recommended that you buy your own domain around your name and create an e-mail based on this domain. (i.e. mynamehere@mynamehere.com). When doing business avoid using your nickname from back in the day as an email address, it's unappealing and unprofessional.

2. Create a catchy e-mail signature: Every time you communicate with someone, you need to "pound" your brand into their minds. Your email signature, which appears at the bottom of each one that you send, should consist of some form of message that re-enforces YOU. For example mine is "Mediocrity is NOT in Your D.N.A.", which is the theme of my motivational talks. I have only been using it for over a year but a lot of my contacts tell me they think of me when they hear the word mediocre.

3. Keep Updated & Professional Photos: I know you are still using the same pictures from 10 years ago to promote yourself because you may be uncomfortable with the way you look but you don't know that can undermine your image. Once people see you in person, they might say "Man, you aged fast".(smile) Don't feel bad because most celebrities get their pics "photo-shopped" or graphically enhanced. Hire a professional photographer and do a fresh photoshoot once a year. You need to have your images on disk because you never know when it will be requested plus you need them for your website and kit.

4. Step up your appearance: A good friend of mine named K.Jer'Rod likes to say "Your image is the first judgement made". He's right. The man with a so-called million dollar plan that looks like he just finished playing rugby won't get heard. First impressions at in-person meetings are an important component of developing your brand. Be creative with your look but don't get outrageous. When you step into a room, command attention without having to say a word. Research shows how you dress dictates your posture. Dress according to your daily game plan.

5. Develop your information kit: If you are trying to get a new job, where is your resume? If someone wants you to speak, where is your track record? Can you email a bio to the news reporter who is on deadline and needs your info now along with a quote? The key is to build these things before they are needed. Develop stationery of business cards, letterheads, etc. Research online the various media kits that are needed for your particular endeavor and start developing it immediately in electronic form.

6. Get Out of Your Bed: Emails and text messages are the norm but nothing beats the human contact. Stay abreast on the happenings in your city so you can make an appearance. I have a friend who goes to a minimum of seven events per week to network with people he can potentially add value to and vice versa. Whether it's a banquet, community event or private invite, do your best to plant your image into the minds of as many people you can because you never know when your big break will come. Like Kanye West says "get your back up off the fouton".

7. Build Your Database & Follow Up: Most potential business relationships go down the drain due to poor follow up. So you have to be relentless in following up on conversations you have with people who want to do business with you. Don't wait for them to do it, you do it! If you don't follow up, it negates the purpose for even getting yourself exposed. Relationship building is an art, so soak up as many books as you can on the subject matter. I recommend Never Eat Alone by Keith Ferrazzi and How To Win Friends And Influence People by Dale Carnegie.

Branding and marketing yourself is not an insurmountable task. What are you waiting for? A new beginning is upon you.