Recently, I participated in a solo branding and entrepreneurship conference call with Amanda Miller Littlejohn, founder of MopwaterPR, who gave me some essential information about solopreneur branding and just branding your business in general.
You know you’re an expert when…
Many experienced professionals who are excellent at what they do and enjoy what they do have a difficult time convincing themselves they are actually experts. But, do not be afraid! Step into your expertise and own your knowledge. Are you a jack-of-all-trades and don’t know what your expertise is? Well, let’s figure it out together. What are your answers to the following questions?
- If you could do anything for free and be perfectly content, what would it be?
- When your friends and family seek your advice, what is the topic?
- Start journaling and do it for 21 days straight. When you put your thoughts on paper, what are you writing about?
Think about the answer to these three questions. What is the common response? That is your expertise. And, as any addict will tell you, the first step is admitting!
Now that you have defined your expertise, what is your message? Knowing your message is critical to the success of your business and your personal brand. Who are you going to target and why? What services are you going to provide? What is your vision or mission statement? Developing a mission statement reinforces your purpose as a business and a brand. Do me a favor, write your mission statement down and place it somewhere prominent in your home or office. Mediate on that statement and watch your productivity grow.
The Packaged Deal
Now that you’ve defined your message, it’s time to package your brand. According to Amanda, there are five essential elements to a packaged brand:
o It’s very possible for your message to be your tagline. Your tagline should generally be brief, memorable and describe what you are all about (what you do, who you target, how you help, etc.)
o Building your brand is not for the camera shy! People want to be able to connect a face to a business, brand or expertise. Business rule 101: People do business with people! A strong professional headshot makes you look more credible and definitely more memorable.
o Your website should be the online face of your business. It should tell prospective and current clients who you are, what you’ve done, what problems you have solved and provide testimonials. People want to see results. Your results can be shown through case studies as well as those client testimonials.
o Building a website does not have to be a daunting task. For the eager-preneur, you can use sites like WordPress.com, WordPress.org, Wix.com or Intuit.com to build your own site. For the HTML savvy, check out Dreamweaver and Notepad ++ or ModX and Coda.
o Email marketing has the potential to drive great return and customer engagement. Through email marketing, you have the opportunity to build real-time and personal marketing messages for your audience. If you are looking for more benefits, check out this article from Comm100 about the top 10 benefits of email marketing.
o It’s a lot of work if you are doing it effectively, but it brings significant reward! Blogs are a great way to have a more personal and conversational chat with current and prospective clients. If you are consistent with your blog entries, it can be an excellent SEO tool. Why is this? You may update your website once a month (at best), but if you are blogging effectively, you are uploading two to three posts a week. Remember: If you blog it, they will come. One blog a week…month….won’t cut it.
Lastly, Amanda made a few great points about business development. Once you’ve identified your expertise and packaged your message, you must go out and churn up some business! Who can best benefit from your expertise? Once you have figured out your ideal client, do your research. Network where these people network, either online or in person. For instance, if you’re a PR person and you want to build relationships with other journalists in your area, join a local journalism association. Or, participate in a Tweetchat. I have participated in #journchat, every Monday at 8pm. You can join this chat by following the hashtag #journchat on Twitter or log on to Tweetchat.com and follow the hashtag #journchat. Find prospective clients through your local business journal, certification agency and chamber of commerce, as well.