Personal Branding by Marsha Friedman

Keeping Your Personal Brand Alive Is A
Must For Success In Today’s Marketplace

How To Promote The Most Personal Product Of All

By Marsha Friedman

Turn on the television, pick up a newspaper or visit the Internet and you will be inundated with messages about brand products.

Tide is a brand. Pepsi is a brand. Nike is a brand.

And so are you – or at least you should be.

Personal branding has gotten a lot more buzz in recent times and has become an important tool for everyone who wants to improve their career or business opportunities. I’m a big believer and have been touting the need for personal branding for several years. In fact, it’s the essence of my book, Celebritize Yourself.

If you open a dictionary, the word “brand” is defined as a type of product manufactured by a particular company under a particular name. These days you need to be that product.

When you think about it, though, personal branding is not new. It’s just that more people have the means to do it today and, fortunately, the Internet has provided us with numerous ways to create and maintain a personal brand.

But many entertainers and athletes thrived at it long ago. While I don’t want to date myself, many of us remember the song “Happy Trails” from our childhood.  Roy Rogers was the movie and TV cowboy who made this song popular and whose name and image appeared on toy holsters, lunch boxes, comic books, puzzles, coloring books and other merchandise in the 1940s and 1950s.

Roy is a great example of someone who was ahead of his time with personal branding although he stumbled into it unintentionally. The story goes, he wanted a raise from his movie studio, but the boss balked. Bummed out by the response, Roy asked for what he considered a consolation prize – all rights to his name and likeness.

As it turned out, that was no consolation prize. Roy soon figured out that he – not the studio – was the big winner in the negotiations. Any raise would have been paltry next to the money he raked in from Roy Rogers brand merchandise.

Here’s an additional lesson about personal branding that Roy Rogers provides us. When I asked my employees if they knew of him, Roy’s name drew puzzled expressions from most of the younger staff.

Even the best personal branding, you see, doesn’t last forever. It has to be nurtured continually. (Roy, of course, nurtured his brand his entire life, and it was only the passage of time after his death that caused it to fade, so we’ll give him a break.)

The rest of us get no break and the message is clear: Don’t rest on your laurels, or in your saddle, whichever is appropriate.

So what can you do to get your personal brand launched and keep it alive? Here are a few suggestions.

•  Make sure your website represents you exactly the way you want to be seen. This is one of the best places to control your image. That could mean you want to be viewed as witty, intellectual or physically fit. It could mean you want the world to see you as an expert in a particular field. Maybe you want to convey an image of trust. Roy Rogers was the clean-cut hero wearing a smile and a cowboy hat. What’s your image?

•  Maintain a strong social media presence. Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn and other social media sites are invaluable tools for networking or getting your message out quickly under your personal brand. Also, make sure you have a unified message that weaves through your website, your social media sites and anything else you use to promote yourself. Design elements should be consistent from one platform to the next as well.

•  Keep your presence alive in traditional media, too, making yourself available for interviews. Media appearances act as a third-party endorsement, casting you as an authority in your field. This also needs constant cultivation. If you were quoted in a newspaper article last year, then you’re last year’s news. Even worse, if your competitor is quoted in an article today, they’ve become more relevant than you and are winning the personal-branding war.

•  Branding yourself is not a one-shot deal. One of the biggest misconceptions about branding is that people expect to do one or two things to promote themselves and then figure they are done. Nothing could be further from the truth. Your branding effort never stops. It’s like trying to become physically fit. You don’t go to the gym for one week to get your dream body – nor would you expect that a good workout three years ago would leave you set for life. Your personal branding effort is the same way. It’s ongoing.

The bottom line is that creating a personal brand is one of the keys to success in today’s world. By branding yourself – making sure the world knows who you are and the expertise you have to offer – you not only set yourself apart from your competitors but you also open the door to new opportunities.

About Marsha Friedman

Marsha Friedman of EMSI PR & Marketing Marsha Friedman is a public relations expert with 25 years’ experience developing publicity strategies for celebrities, corporations and media newcomers alike. Using the proprietary system she created as founder and CEO of EMSI Public Relations (www.emsincorporated.com), an award-winning national agency, she secures thousands of top-tier media placements annually for her clients. The former senior vice president for marketing at the American Economic Council, Marsha is a sought-after advisor on PR issues and strategies. She shares her knowledge in her Amazon best-selling book, Celebritize Yourself, and as a popular speaker at organizations around the country.  

Social Media Cocktail Party

Afraid To Admit That You Don’t Understand Social Media?
View Those Sites As A Cocktail Party Where
The Rules of Networking Etiquette Apply

By Marsha Friedman

I talk to a lot of business owners and authors who don’t “get” social media. 

A year or two ago when I’d speak with them, most were quick to say they didn’t understand it and didn’t need to.

Today what I hear is: “I know I’m supposed to be doing that, so I have a Facebook account.” Or, “Yeah, I’ve got my teenaged nephew taking care of that.”

Unfortunately, simply posting occasional announcements about upcoming sales or telling people why they should use your service or read your book is not social media marketing and it’s not helping you. In fact, if that’s all you’re doing, it could be hurting you.

What’s worse, you’re not taking advantage of what could become the most powerful tool in your marketing arsenal. Why?

Social media is the world’s biggest cocktail party and everyone’s there – including your competitors and your potential customers.

I first heard the cocktail party analogy from marketing guru David Meerman Scott, who used it in his best-seller, The New Rules of Marketing & PR, published in 2007. It immediately clarified for me why social media networks are marketing gold.

Imagine walking into a networking party at a hotel. People are roaming around, engaging with folks they know and being introduced to those they don’t know. They’re talking about the economy, the weather, the price of milk.

You get into a nice chat with someone and he asks what you do for a living. If it were me, I’d say, “I’ve got a national PR company that specializes in publicity.” The person might say, “Wow, I’ve got a friend interested in that. Let me introduce you!”

The friend may or may not be present at this cocktail party.

But if that same conversation happened on a social network like Facebook, that friend and dozens more would be so close by. They may actually be “listening” to your conversation.  That’s what makes social media so much more valuable as a marketing tool.  You can be exposed to thousands more potential customers than you would through traditional networking channels.

How does that happen?  Social media users stay connected by “following” one another.

If I’m following you, I can see your conversations. Post something clever and I might share it with my followers, who may also share it with their followers.

Before you know it, you and your brilliance may be exposed to hundreds of thousands of strangers. Some of them will become your followers and, voila! You have a growing audience.

But it won’t happen if you don’t have a plan and don’t apply cocktail party rules of etiquette. What works on social media – and what doesn’t – are the same things that work (and don’t) when you’re networking at that hotel conference room party:

•  Go in with a plan. If you’re going to a party to network, you have goals. Maybe you want to find prospective clients or get people interested in your upcoming project. You identify your target demographics and learn which influencers will be at the party, such as the local media, politicians and celebrities. On social media, the world’s biggest cocktail party, making the right moves gets a bit more complicated and involves some strategizing.  (My company now offers customized strategy plans that can be easily implemented by casual or newbie social media users.) 

•  Don’t stand in the middle of the room saying the same thing over and over. Repeatedly posting the same thing, like “Come in for our big sale tomorrow” or “We won Business of the Year!” is like going to a party and saying the same thing over and over.  People will run from you. Instead, engage in conversations on a variety of topics. They can be related to your business or book, but in a tangential way. Someone who sells jewelry, for instance, might share a great trick for cleaning rings.

•  Be genuine and show some personality. At a party, you smile, ask people questions about themselves, maybe tell some jokes, if that’s your personality and the personality you want your brand to reflect. People are drawn to people, not things, so let your humanity shine. But don’t try to be something you’re not. Other users will quickly figure it out and you – and your brand – will lose their trust.

Social media is a great way to build awareness of your brand, cultivate prospective customers and establish yourself as an authority. It has tremendous value for anyone with marketing needs, and it’s really not intimidating once you jump in.

Plus, it’s a whole lot more fun than an old-fashioned networking cocktail party!

About Marsha Friedman

Marsha Friedman is a public relations expert with 25 years’ experience developing publicity strategies for celebrities, corporations and media newcomers alike. Using the proprietary system she created as founder and CEO of EMSI Public Relations, (www.emsincorporated.com), an award-winning national agency, she secures thousands of top-tier media placements annually for her clients. The former senior vice president for marketing at the American Economic Council, Marsha is a sought-after advisor on PR issues and strategies. She shares her knowledge in her Amazon best-selling book, Celebritize Yourself , and as a popular speaker at organizations around the country.  

Woman in Charge ~ Women in Business

Are You One of the 500-plus U.S. Women
Launching a Business Today?

Your Competitive Advantage May Surprise You!
By: Marsha Friedman

What’s your best advice for women in business?

It’s a question I hear frequently as more and more women strike out on their own, whether it’s to start their own company, write a book, turn their great idea into a product, or otherwise monetize their talents. The number of women-owned businesses in this country is growing 1.5 times faster than the national average. From 1997 to 2011, they increased by 50 percent.

I love seeing this surge of confidence! Putting yourself out there is risky, but it’s better to try and fail then to spend a lifetime wondering, “What if?”

Yes, I do have a favorite piece of advice for women in business but first, a word about a project that gleans wisdom from dozens of us female entrepreneurs.

“One Red Lipstick” is a documentary, book and website being created to advise, encourage, inspire and empower the more than 200,000 women launching U.S. businesses each year.

Filmmaker Spenser Chapple (Tiny Elephant Films) has received great support for the project on KickStarter, where she has already met her minimum goal — the amount necessary to finish the film and book — and has until June 28 to raise an additional $5,000. That will cover expenses associated with editing and distribution.

I’m excited to be featured in “One Red Lipstick” (the title comes from the emboldening power of red lipstick). I believe, like Spenser, that women working together have tremendous strength, and that there’s a lot we can do to help each other succeed as entrepreneurs.

And we do need to help each other. 

Despite the fact that our businesses added 500,000 jobs over 10 years while other privately held firms lost jobs, we’re also less likely than men to borrow money to expand, so our businesses are smaller. They’re more likely to fail and, despite the huge number of sales receipts we ring up, the total is still disproportionately less than our male counterparts.

That information, by the way, comes from the U.S. Department of Commerce’s “Women-Owned Businesses in the 21st Century” report.

It details the hurdles we still must overcome: the legacy of a long history of discrimination; our tendency to be risk-adverse; and even some of the ventures that we choose. The report says we can help ourselves by creating more supportive networks, having access to more information, and finding mentors.

That last point gave me pause. When I launched my first business, there were comparatively few female CEOs, and certainly no internet to foster communication among them. I learned how to run a business mostly through good old trial and error. That’s also how I figured out how to balance that work with my roles as mother, wife and daughter, and how to fit in time volunteering for the community organizations I valued.

But women don’t have to go it alone anymore, and nor should we. Which is why I welcome questions like, “What’s your best advice for women in business?”

Here it is: Know your audience.

Because guess what? It’s you!

Women account for 73 percent to 85 percent of all consumer decisions (according to Boston Consulting Group, Competitive Edge Magazine, and TrendSight Group founder Marti Barletta),. From the grocery store to the automobile dealership to the tech industry, women drive purchasing.

You need to communicate with that audience in mind. No, you don’t want to exclude men, but you also need to be sure your message appeals to women.

As a woman, I’m a sucker for honesty and sincerity. I’m turned off by condescension. Unless the writer is somebody I already know and respect, I have little tolerance for preaching, judgment, or demands.

Any message that takes those things into account will work for men, too.

Whether you’re writing marketing copy, posting on social media, or working on an article or newsletter, if your goal is to turn your readers into buyers, you need to write with your audience in mind.

That’s not so hard – if you’re a woman.

About Marsha Friedman

Marsha Friedman is a 24-year veteran of the public relations industry. She is the CEO of EMSI Public Relations (www.emsincorporated.com), a national firm that provides PR strategy and publicity services to businesses, professional firms, entertainers and authors. Marsha is the author of Celebritize Yourself and can be heard weekly on her Blog Talk Radio Show, EMSI’s PR Insider. Follow her on Twitter: @marshafriedman.  

Marketing Mistakes

The Most Rewarding Marketing
Mistake I Ever Made
By: Marsha Friedman

Recently, a colleague asked me, “What was the most rewarding mistake you ever made in business?”

It’s a great question, and I quickly had an answer for him because it was an incredibly painful mistake. However, it proved to be an invaluable lesson that has served me well in the years since. I’m sharing so perhaps you can learn it the easy way.

The lesson: Don’t ever stop marketing because you think you’ve reached the point where you don’t need to. And, secondarily, believe the old adage that warns, “Don’t put all your eggs into one basket.”

There’s a story, of course!

Years ago, my public relations company connected with a large publishing house that served many prestigious authors. The first few of its authors we accepted as clients had such successful campaigns, we quickly became the publicity firm of record for this publisher. I thought we’d tapped the mother load! The publisher kept a steady stream of clients flowing to us, and eventually, they became about 80 percent of our business.

We were so focused on delivering for these authors that we became much less focused on getting our company name out to prospective new clients. We slowly stopped marketing. Our newsletters ground to a halt. We didn’t waste time networking. We quit our efforts to get the same publicity for our company that we get for clients. Why bother? We didn’t need new clients!

We had a whole basket full of beautiful perfect eggs and we were happily skipping along with it.

And then … it broke.

The publisher ran into some serious problems with its investors and the business came crashing down. And guess who almost went with it?

Our eggs were cooked.

Faced with only a few clients and no prospects, we got busy fast and cranked up the marketing department (me!) again. It took awhile to regain the momentum we’d lost but, thankfully, we had a side business that could help pay the bills in the interim. Slowly but surely (this was before the age of social media, which really speeds things up), we built up a new list of prospects and clients – only this time from a diverse array of sources.

It was a terrible but powerful experience that demonstrated very clearly: No matter how great things seem to be going, you never stop marketing. It needs to be a constant hum because if that hum stops, you know there will be a big problem ahead.

I stopped marketing because I thought I had all the clients I needed. Over the years I’ve seen others make the same mistake but for different reasons. Here are a few:

One great publicity hit is a really bad reason to stop marketing. I’ve talked to people who believed if we could just get them on “The Oprah Winfrey Show” (before 2011) or “The Ellen DeGeneres Show,” that was all they’d need. They’d be done. Yes, a big national show can give you a tremendous launch, but you won’t keep soaring unless you do something to stay in the public eye. I guarantee you, there are plenty of people you never heard of who got their “big break” and then disappeared because they stopped marketing.

Most of us won’t get those huge hits – and that’s not a reason to stop, either. I haven’t been on “Oprah” but I often hear from prospective clients that I or my business was recommended to them by someone I’ve never met and don’t know. That’s what good, sustained marketing does. It may not always create fireworks, but that doesn’t mean it’s not working for you.

Yesterday’s story is old news. Look for fresh new ways to stay in the public eye. The publicity you get today can continue to work for you online, but eventually, it’s going to be old news. We encourage our clients to post links to their publicity on their websites; it shows visitors that they have credibility with the media. But if those visitors see only publicity and testimonials that are five or 10 years old, they’re going to wonder why no one’s been interested in you more recently.

Just as I put all my eggs in one basket by relying on one source for clients, it’s also a mistake to rely on just one marketing tool. Maximize the reach of the publicity you get in traditional media by sharing it on social media. Put a blog, or other content you can renew and refresh, on your website. Write a book. Do speaking engagements (for free, if necessary). Your audience is likely not all huddled together in one corner of the world. To reach them, use a variety of marketing tools.

Whatever it is you’re promoting – your business, your product, your book, yourself – keep the momentum going. If you want people to know you’re out there, you have to stay out there.

About Marsha Friedman

Marsha Friedman is a 23-year veteran of the public relations industry. She is the CEO of EMSI Public Relations (www.emsincorporated.com), a national firm that provides PR strategy and publicity services to businesses, professional firms, entertainers and authors. Marsha is the author of Celebritize Yourself and she can also be heard weekly on her Blog Talk Radio Show, EMSI’s PR Insider every Thursday at 3 p.m. EST. Follow her on Twitter: @marshafriedman