Even before I published my first book, I made a declaration to anyone who would listen to me that: I am a writer. Then a friend from college started pushing my buttons about how to market myself. I told her, “I have nothing to market…yet.” After all, I was still in the writing stages of my first book. “It doesn’t matter. Brand it as a work-in-progress.”
It made sense. I suppose it was akin to someone saying that they are an out-of-work actor. It didn’t make the branding any less important, it just meant the resume wasn’t as substantial.
One author told me very bluntly, “You’re a writer. Now act like one.” She mentioned the importance of how one is perceived [online], and that I needed to understand the business of writing and what direction to take my brand. She also inspired me to create a mission statement. So many companies use them as part of their branding, so why not an author?
Whether you are a writer, a therapist, an electrician, or a dog groomer, these are the basic steps on how to start establishing your brand.
Register your domain. It’s important that you “dot-com” yourself somehow. Usually it’s using your business name, but make sure it’s simple enough.
Create a website. Many free website-hosting sites are user-friendly these days. They can include drag-and-drop methods making it easy for a novice website manager.
Link your domain to the website. Create a custom URL to give your website address a clean look.
Create a business email. This is usually your first impression with clients. Create an email that is clearly you, without giving the wrong impression.
Create a tagline. Short and sweet, in one sentence. That’s you. Use it on your website, social media sites, and any literature you create.
Take flattering, professional photos. This means no selfies. Let someone with a DSLR camera take photos of you in good (or appropriate) lighting. Use them to upload as profile photos.
Create social media accounts. Claim all of the social media platforms with your name (before someone else does) and if possible, keep them all the same. Interact and share, but don’t rely on social media for important information. Always draw the attention back to your website.
Create literature. Direct your clients to your website and social media using business cards, rack cards, and brochures. Carry them with you wherever you go. You never know when an opportunity will strike.
Create a mission statement. How would you inspire your clients to use your products and services? If you have staff, what makes them proud to work for you instead of someone else? Your mission statement should be a reflection on how you view your brand and how you feel about your clients and staff.
Proof read. Your site, social media, and literature should be clean and professional. Make sure there are no errors.
Be the brand. You're the professional now. This may require resisting negative interaction online, including personal public conversations on social media. Whether your style is to be formal or informal, let it reflect your brand and attract your target market.
While I was studying broadcasting, one of my instructors told us: “Once you work in the industry, you’ll never be a regular consumer of radio again.”
He meant that every splice and edit, every modification of sound, and how the talent is used to create a product will be analyzed by a student of broadcast much differently than anyone else. Our program included a mandatory overview of television, journalism, and marketing. What’s more, I had taken extra courses on marketing and film before even starting college full time.
I was ruined.
I couldn’t watch movies with my friends without being production-minded. I could call out editing spoilers and come to conclusions about how the art direction utilized lighting and costuming to create certain effects. Instead of just enjoying the story and the performance of the actors, I felt as though I was supervising the project – either looking for mistakes or admiring the good efforts of cinematography.
The same can be said for marketing. I can’t buy toothpaste without being skeptical of the value the manufacturer tells me I’m supposedly getting for my dollar.
It’s this type of thinking I encourage people to use when they find themselves swayed by advertising. Since I worked in the industry, I knew exactly how consumers were persuaded. My biggest problem is trying to keep my mouth shut while watching television commercials. (Yes, we watch cable TV on a daily basis.)
Often, my husband sits quietly as I point out the annoying techniques that an advertiser may have used to make their product stand out from the others. Then I think, “What if I wasn’t so skeptical?” Would I be buying in to the hype of new features of old products? Would I be suckered in to a sale of items I really don’t need? Maybe I am saving us a few dollars just by stepping back and noting how the advertiser is doing its job.
My tip to consumers is to shop as if you worked in marketing. Know the difference between the gimmicks and good information that leads you to the right choices. Every brand is trying hard to stand out in order to get you to purchase their product. Their message is that you should include their service or product because you need it or it makes you feel good. They’ll tell you they know you, thanks to their target-marketing and psychographics research. Placement of their advertising based on your gender, age, and where you’re likely to be and what you’re likely using in your day-to-day life isn’t an accident.
In this age of information, challenge the industry by doing your homework on the product you’re interested in. Compare ingredients, services, and quality. Read, watch, or listen to testimonials from other consumers. Find out how often (or what time of year) is the best to take advantage of a sale, and ask yourself if that sale is actually worth waiting for.
An advertiser will never tell you to ignore their message. So, send a message back. Let a company know that they need to step up their game because starting now, you refuse to spend your hard-earned money on a product or sale that has no worth.
If you are selling a product or service, who is your target market? Men? Women? Chances are, if you've been believing the statistics from the last thirty years that women are the ones spending the money in their households - think again.
A new movement of men who are refusing to get married and have children due to systematic flaws are called MGTOW (Men Going Their Own Way). Just ask one of them, and they'll tell you that not only are they against marriage, but they will crusade against the traditional expectations of dating.
But this isn't a MGTOW article. You can certainly read more about them on their website, and any search engine will provide you with other areas of the web to find links and news.
This new wave of single men are not budging when it comes to their hard-earned dollar, and make it very clear that "going their own way" means they live by their rules, jealously guarding their finances. So how would you like to advertise to these men? Almost all advertisements on television that portray couples will hand the brains and sensibility to the women, while the men remain idiots.
Whether or not advertisers care to admit it, this practice has become off-putting to the men. Forbes has published that "for the first time, men are outspending women by 13%". This means that "dumb guys" are buying your stuff. How much do you care about this quotient of your clients when it comes to choosing advertisers to represent your product?
Consider this when men see your ads. What are you telling them? "You're an idiot. Will you do business with me?" While women may have cheekily enjoyed a few decades of proverbial butt-kissing, it's time to stop. Poking fun at one gender takes away from showcasing your product and your message. One is hurting your business, and one will help you. While men go their own way, which way do you want to go with your message?