Last week I attended a workshop on Personal Branding and although I am into Marketing, I had never thought so much of my own “brand” and marketing myself. Herewith I will share with you some of my take aways of this very interesting experience.
What is meant with a personal brand? Yes certain corporate brands have done a great job on making clear what they want to stand for such as; Coca Cola (refreshing a thirsty world), Disney (using the power of entertainment to educate & enlighten) & McDonalds (world’s the best quick restaurant experience) , but people can also do is. Some of the best current examples are probably Barack Obama (who clearly stands for change; “yes we can”) & Richard Branson (adventurous entrepreneur, going against the establishment).
How do you define and build our personal brand?
The workshop started with looking at ourselves from a number of different angles. We had to select our core values, define what is truly meaningful for us and what the values are that we really do not compromise on. Although the list of words you come up with are still very generic, they already tell some important things about what you want to stand for. This you can further sharpen by defining statements of what you want your brand to be associated with “I am…” and what not “I am not…”. Also making a list of your true passions and things that motivate help.
The next angle to take is the view of others have on you. How do your bosses, colleagues and friends currently describe you, what are your strengths and which achievements have you been recognise for and what are the important things you have learned along the way? Try to describe the points that make you unique as good as you can.
When you have all this, you can start articulating your brand. First step here can be taken into the direction of describing “I want to be known for…. because….”. Keep in mind that in order to have a believable brand, you of course need to have reasons to believe or in other words, evidence, which convinces people that you live up to your brand.
Before you make your brand description it is important to describe who your target audience is; who do you want to market your brand to (new colleagues, potential clients, your community,..). When writing your Brand description try to make it exciting and keep it simple. Think of the famous 30-sec elevator pitch in which you try to market yourself. In order to sharpen your story, you should try it out on a few people and check what their take away/feedback is.
I herewith give you my example of the brand description I came up with as an example:
“I am an all-round international business leader, who can change, innovate and grow businesses. My passions are in the areas of strategy, marketing and innovation. I have a very broad experience; having lived and worked in 7 countries (across Europe & Asia), in different businesses (both B2B & B2C) and inside various functional areas (business management/development, up-/downstream marketing, strategy, product planning/management, project/process management & logistics). I can drive and motivate multicultural & geographical dispersed teams to high performance and engagement levels”
This is just one of the many outcomes. There is a lot more you can get out of the exercises, such as; how describe why people should work with you, who to ask for help with positioning/communicating your brand, etc. More on this you can find in the literature of people who specialise in Personal Branding. For me this was a very good learning experience, it makes communicating/connecting to people a lot more effective (as you can see I am using my brand statement now in the “About” part of my Blog) and also gives you a framework which you can use when making certain decisions. Personal branding makes sense!
Let me first start with the plusses and the minusses, as I have observed them, and see if you agree.
On the plus side:
- Twitter is a fast way to update people on certain information.
- It is simple, works on various platforms and many tools are avialable to make it easier for you to tweet.
- The need to keep it short makes people communicate more precise.
On the negative side:
- When communicating with a small number of people there are other media to do this in a better way, e.g. (social) networking sites
- When following a large number of people, the interesting tweets get hidden in the large volume of other tweets.
- Big questions I still have about the effectiveness of the tweets – are they being read?
In my view the main issues to work on in order to make Twitter an effective marketing tool will be.
A. Find/recruit the target group you want to communicate with.
I have tried in the past weeks one of these followers building services and learned a lot from that. One of the things is that probably >90% of the people who are following me now, probably are; either trying to figure out how to use Twitter (like I have been doing myself) and/or not interested in my tweets (just added to build followers themselves).
In the end you want to build a group of followers that are interested in your tweets, therefor you need to recruit them smartly. Some ideas & tips here:
- Use other online media where you know your target group is and highlight the option of following you on twitter and what type of content you will be tweeting (see also next issue on this)
- Look at Twitter exchange sites and try to find out via keywords who are other tweeters/twitterers (still do not know what is the official word for someone on twitter) that could be part of your target group
- Do not be afraid to follow others who you think are your target group, you can always unfollow them when you find out that you are mistaken
- Use the people who are already following you on twitter to help recruit other people who would be interested in your tweets.
B. Be very consistent in what you Twitter about and how you tweet.
- Make sure you build an identity on Twitter, so that people know what they can expect in your Tweets. To give an example, my tweets will in 80% of the cases be related to Strategy, Marketing & Innovation and maybe 20% personal information & fun.
- Look at which gap Twitter is filling in your communication. If most of your target group already get’s the same information at the same time, question your self of the benefit of the use of Twitter or the other medium (e.g. RSS feed).
- How often you tweet is also important. Do not try to force yourself in a time slot, tweet as often as you have relevant information.
- Also how do you handle 2 way communications in tweeting? This is very important especially when you want to use the feedback or that it is seen as part of an expected service by the followers.
C. Twitter is only part of the solution
- Since you are limited on Twitter to 140 characters and often have a lot more to say/explain, make sure you have other online media you can use to communicate the rest of the message.
- Using links to social media, boomarking, blogs and other sites are extremely useful and url shortening services like bit.ly will help you to integrate them easily in your tweets.
- Via Twitter you will probably find some very interesting people with whom you will want to take the communication one step further. Think in advance where and how you want to do this .
The Future of Twitter
This will very much depend on all of us. There is in my eyes a serious danger that many people try, but can not figure out what the benefit of Twitter is (next to all the other stuff they are already doing online) and stop using it actively or us it wrongly. Another danger is that the number of tweets grows too much to handle both for ourselves and for which ever company wants to run Twitter in the end. In the meatime I will continue to use Twitter, on one side to communicate as an individual about Strategy, Marketing & Innovation and implement for the business I am in, an infrastructure in which we will use Twitter to communicate with our target group relevant updates in our products and services.
I hope you enjoyed reading this blog, I have written it quite generally. When you have more specific questions, do not hesitate to post them below or join the discussion on my LinkedIn forum: http://www.linkedin.com/groupRegistration?gid=1899487
with lot’s of interesting discussions and news on Strategy, Marketing & innovation.
I am currently reading the book “the Marketing Gurus”and in there I found a chapter about “Lateral Marketing” from Philip Kotler & Fernando Trias de Bes. The nice thing for me was that it very well covered the marketing issues I am currently working on and facing in my work.
Lateral Marketing – as described in the book – complements traditional marketing by providing an alternative route to generating fresh new ideas. Whereas vertical marketing helps us find increasingly smaller subgroups for which a product might be developed, lateral marketing lets marketeers develop an entirely new product that finds a much wider audience. Instead of accepting that your product or service will have a small share of a saturated market, you will find yourself the leader in new markets.
A very good example used in the book is about how Hero created a complete new product inbetween the cereal products and candy bars, the cereal bar. Instead of creating the next light/fiber rich/fruity cereal (of which we have enough of choices/subsegments), Hero now is leading a complete new market for people who want a healthy kind of snack or take no time for a sit down breakfast.
Lateral marketing works best for mature markets with no real growth. It creates markets from scratch. It is riskier, requires more resources and time for the consumer to assimilate and understand. It anticipates high volume and may redefine the mission and business focus.
So how does that apply to my business. I am currently working in the home audio business. And although there have been many innovations in the past, from LP, to cassette, to CD, to Docking, the growth has been limited. Unlike the portable business, where the MP3 players (with the iPod + iTunes as lead product) really changed the business and increased the size and type of solutions significantly.
My marketing challenge currently is to market a new type of audio solution where the product does not play anymore back the music from a physical carrier which you insert in it (like CD) or dock into it (like iPod), but a solution where the product directly streams wirelessly your own music collection from your PC/Network, can directly access over 10.000 radio sations from all over the world and allows for music subscription services, with which people have unlimited access to millions of songs via the internet. We call this a network player.
When I read the chapter on Lateral Marketing I really recognised the issues we are/have been struggling with and for me reading the chapter, triggered quite a few ideas and thoughts. These I will not share openly in this blog, since my competition can also read it, but if you are interested follow what Philips will be doing around their Streamium network players.
And for anyone who is working on marketing innovations, I can advice them to take a look at what Kotler and Trias de Bes are saying about vertical and lateral marketing.
Your feedback on my blog, the advice or your personal experiences with marketing innovation, will be very much appreciated.
Next to my own ideas, I have also posted “innovation-in-a-recession” related questions in a number of professional forums and there are clearly multiple angles to this subject.
In general people agree that innovations can drive markets out of a recession. They require to address a consumer/ customer need in a new way or address an unmet demand, which actually can be related to the changing buying behaviour during a recession. This buying behaviour will be moving towards products required for day-to-day use, necessary replacements (e.g. in case something breaks down) or new needs because people change their routine.
In most of these cases consumers are now – more than ever – looking at the value being offered. In many cases this will relate to the costs of purchase & ownership. Therefor breakthrough innovation in terms of the cost of the products/ services should get focus, but also the way the products/services are being delivered, plays a major role. Therefor innovative business models which carry the least cost in them – e.g. via the internet - can flourish.
On the side of creating innovation there are a number of viewpoints as well. On one side budgets will be tight, but on the other side, the organisation and employees will be under pressure to come up with new ideas to help safe the business and protect their jobs. Having a strong purpose and direction as a business in these times will definately help. Maybe it is not a very nice example, but very powerful. One of the most breakthorugh innovation rich periods in the 20th century was in Germany around the 2nd world war. People were coming out of a very dark period for their country (after the first WO) and were working very hard on creating a new future. Under this pressure a lot of breakthrough technological, scientific and organisational innovation took place. Possibly in a more constructive and smaller scale this can be applied in our own environments.
With regard to organising and funding innovation within our business environments there are as well a number of viewpoints. Which innovations to focus on is a strategic question. Since this will be different per business, a general answer is difficult, but applying some common sense, we can identify a few directions. First of all the innovation should be addressing a clear consumer need, for which people are willing to spend the related costs. There should be a competitive advantage for the business compared to competition.
Another point to look at is how to bring the innovation to the consumer in a time of recession, especially when it is a real new area. Here we need to look at the value chains that are willing to support this. Some of my personal experience is that for instance traditional retail is at this moment focussing more at surviving by selling items which have already a high rotation. Therefor if you want them to bring something new, you have to give them a good reason to list it. Therefor maybe this is also a good time to look at how to innovate the delivery model to the consumer by looking at lower cost supply chains and new sales channels (e.g. online).
In times of recession strong additional elements to look at in making choices between various options, can be in the direction on the cash flow required and pay back time of the investments. In certain cases the short term benefits are required to sustain the long term future of the business, but when there is a choice between similar options, the one that serves the long term future should be opted for. Also certain innovative areas will become more interesting because of new funding becoming available, e.g. government programs can be an influencer to change the innovative resource allocation in certain industries (just look at what is happening in the car industry).
A number of the discussions I have seen and had, addresses the point that a number of innovative areas will not be impacted that much because of the recession, simply because the need for them remains strong. For example people will continue to look after their health, do not stop caring about the environment and become more energy usage conscious (also because of associated costs).
Since this is my first real post and I have no feeling yet if this is too long or too short, I leave it here and hope to get some feedback on the length and quality of the content – please give your feedback.