Feeling stuck on the bio for your “About Me” page? Worried that you don’t have ten TV appearances and seven advanced degrees to showcase? Feeling pressured to have lots of pizazz? Or egotistical because you’re talking about yourself?
This all gets easier when you write in service to your audience.
How do you do that? Offer them a story that they can relate to, a thread that mirrors their own challenges, and shows them they can get through it with grace. You’re not going to squeeze every piece of experience you’ve ever had onto the page. Be willing to let some of your valuable experience go, when it’s not in service to your people.
Here are five (5) questions that will get you there.
Who is your audience?
This can be an easy question. It can stop you in your tracks. Let’s say you’re a speaker who targets middle management about leadership challenges.
What are the 3 biggest challenges your audience has?
This is key. What do your people think about all day long? If you’re the middle management speaker, your audience wrestles with being understood by their bosses, leading when they report to someone, managing people (they might be new at it), resolving conflict, and supporting their team without becoming their parent.
What has happened in your professional life that reflects similar challenges?
Your audience wants to see that you’ve been through something similar. With our middle management speaker, she was promoted from middle management to VP level at Target. The business was struggling with lackluster customer service at several of its stores (total hypothetical here)! There was lack of communication between the customer service reps and upper management, and this showed in how they acted toward customers. She was placed in charge of turning this around.
How did you resolve issues/challenges in ways that build your credibility?
So what’s the happy ending to your challenge narrative? Our speaker developed a process to effectively hire, train and manage the reps for an entire region. Upper management was thrilled with the results, and it helped that she figured out how to keep them in the loop throughout the rollout. The program was so successful, her process was adopted by Target corporate for the entire country and she was promoted. She clearly understands the intricacies of being in middle management. And that is her audience. Yes!
You can go with a couple more stories like this, or just share a longer story that shows you understand a challenge similar to theirs and how you solved it. They’ll be wondering what your secret sauce is, and that’s what will get them to hire you.
What other training, education, background would show them you can support their challenges?
Well, you’ve done it. You’ve built some rapport. Now, bring in related experience and training for a slam dunk. Our middle management speaker went through an MBA program specializing in management and customer service. She completed a conflict resolution course, business leadership training, and even managed a bunch of volunteers at her local United Way for years. She really gets the pain and rewards of managing people.
When you are finished answering all these questions, you might notice that you haven’t included some qualifications that you think are valuable. It’s OK to leave them out. You’re starting a conversation here. Once you’re in contact, you will get to know each other better, and you can pleasantly surprise them with deeper experience, if it’s relevant. The bigger danger is that you overwhelm them with credentials. There’s no need. Speak to them with full regard to what matters to them.
Take all this and write a bio that is in total service of your audience. Ready? Set? Go!
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Guest Author: Christina Frei
The concept of a personal brand is a relatively new one. Throughout modern times, we have come to generally associate the term brand with products. As personal branding gains traction, though, it requires different consideration. You can’t simply take what we know about branding sprockets and widgets and apply it blindly to personal branding and expect it to be successful.
As you devote more time and effort to your personal brand, consider these 4 key differences between a personal brand and a product brand.
1. You are on your own.
Sure, you can (and should) get help from designers, coaches, accountants, and assistants. However, when the newsletter is late, when there are issues with the presentation, when the website isn’t up to par, when the you-know-what hits the fan, you will be the one dealing with it front and center.
You can’t run from this, so use it to your advantage.
Promote the importance of the one-to-one connection and don’t be afraid to be seen as a one-person band. Use first person language in your copy. Be up front about your limitations as an individual. Your audience will respond to this, as it’s much more authentic and real than trying to make yourself look BIGGER.
2. Your personality and your brand have to mesh.
How odd would it be if you cultivated a button-down image for your personal brand when you’re more of a loose and casual individual?
Part of the job of a brand is to give people who don’t know you a blueprint for how future interactions will play out.
Imagine, then, how jarring it might be to project one persona in your website and other marketing materials, only to arrive as a totally different person IRL. Or, worse yet, how bad would it be if you had to put on an act to meet expectations? Sounds exhausting.
Be true to yourself and make sure your brand is an extension of your REAL personality. You should be so comfortable with your brand that it feels like your favorite item of clothing. If there’s a disconnect, it’s time to put your brand under the microscope.
3. You NEVER get to walk away from your personal brand.
You know and I know that there’s personal life and there’s business life. No one that I’ve ever met is the exact same persona from client to family to friends. That, though, is a tough distinction to expect potential clients to make.
Whether people see you in the setting of a ballgame or a networking event, they are going to associate you with the services that you sell. This leaves you with two options: 1) make sure all visible elements of your personal life are carefully sanitized or 2) create the kind of brand that can exist peacefully within your personal world.
In other words, if your Saturday consists of a couple pitchers of beer and drunkenly butchering it at karaoke night, you need to make damn sure that stays private (I’m looking at you, Facebook) or pick clients that are okay with handing their problems over to you, regardless.
4. Products are bought. You will be sold.
Think about the last few things you’ve bought. Chances are, you went to a store or to Amazon.com, chose the product on your own, paid for it and went on your way. In essence, a very simple transaction.
If only selling your services were so simple.
If you’re lucky, you’ll only have to convince someone that you are the right person for the job. More often than not, though, coaches, speakers and consultants have the added task of convincing someone that they have a problem that needs fixing in the first place.
For example, most people that I talk to don’t see where their website is costing them time and money, they just vaguely know that something in their business needs fixing. I have to first convince them that their website is the issue, THEN convince them that I’m the right guy for the job.
So, what do you do about this? Build qualifiers into your brand: “if your website is missing this plugin, and you do this for a living, then you’re probably losing money, and here’s a few reasons why.”
Never forget the necessary educational component of your brand materials. No one is going to buy your services solely because you’re the cheapest, the smartest, the tallest. Educate your audience. If you start by showing them WHY they need you, convincing them that they need you gets a whole lot easier.
Think about these items over the next couple weeks as you make tweaks to your website, send out your newsletter or prep materials for your next event.
Is your brand in tune or is it merely acting out the old-school tactics we’ve been taught for branding soda and vacuum cleaners?
I’d love to know if these points lead to any practical solutions. Send me an email, leave me a comment or even give me a call and let me know what you come up with. We love working with those looking to become more aware about the development of their personal brand.
When I was about 16, I scraped together a few extra bucks by occasionally mowing lawns. I would ask my neighbors if they needed their lawns mowed, roll my parents’ push mower over there and knock it out. I didn’t have business cards, signage or even a business name but I did, effectively, have a brand.
My brand was that of a scrawny teenager available on weekends to mow your lawn to the tune of $20. My lack of branding was my brand. Stay with me, I promise this isn’t going to go off on some terrible tangent.
The point of my lawn-mowing story is this: At its most basic, branding is nothing more than how you are perceived. Even if you don’t have the things normally associated with a brand, like a logo, business cards, or one sheets and even if you’ve resisted the idea of branding your business, you are still subject to public perception.
The Unclaimed Brand
I like to think of those who have yet to put the effort into a personal brand as having an unclaimed brand. Once you frame the situation that way, the solution becomes simple. Claim it!
The first step to developing your brand is putting a flag in the ground and saying “this font, this color, this graphic, they are mine and I claim them for my brand.”
If you’re at the unclaimed brand stage, you may be dealing with budget constraints that mean you have to go it alone without the help of a branding professional. And that’s okay. Do the best you can, make a conscious decision about your brand elements and own them. Even if what you choose or design isn’t perfect, it’s better than casting those decisions off until you have the budget to make it perfect. Trust me, people are smart enough to see where effort is and is not being made.
I thought I’d share a few resources that might help you pull together and create some branding elements.
Choose from free fonts:
Finally, here are 25 tips for branding your business that translate pretty well to different industries.
When you figure everything out and you’re ready to take your brand to the next level, we would love to talk to you. We love to help our clients create not just a brand or personal brand, but a game-changer brand.
Give us a call and let us spend 15-20 minutes asking you a few targeted questions. After the call we’re be happy to share several options for you to pursue. While you’re at it, ask us about our branding mastermind sessions that allow you to develop your personal brand in a one-day group setting. \
Crafted and distributed well, a speaker one sheet is a crucial item in the arsenal of any professional speaker. Think of your one sheet as the executive summary for your speaker packet or PR kit.
It’s a simple enough document. It shares what you do, the benefits of booking you and, if you’re booked, exactly how the engagement will go down. I’m sharing my seven tips for nailing that one sheet and landing that great speaking gig. Follow these guidelines, and I’d be willing to bet you’ll tack on at least one or two extra speaking engagements in the coming year.
Setting Up A Stellar One Sheet
1. Resist the urge to pack it to the gills with information.
White space is kind of a big deal. You need it to call attention to items of emphasis, rather than overwhelming the viewer.
There’s only so much space available on an 8.5 x 11 page, so you’re not going to be able to tell your life story. Instead, you’ll need to make some hard decisions about what to include.
Make a hierarchy of your content in order of importance. Save the stuff at the bottom for your expanded speaker packet or your website.
2. Definitely include a professional photo.
Seriously, I don’t want to catch any of you trying to get away with a cell phone pic.
Hire a pro to take that photo and make sure you’re represented like a professional, then use your favorite shot conspicuously on your one sheet.
3. Position yourself as THE sought-after authority.
You’ve been featured on NBC, CNN, the Wall Street Journal and the Huffington Post? That’s impressive! Include a small section resembling “As seen on,” then include some high-res logos to really showcase where you’ve already been featured.
Not quite at that level yet? That’s okay. Instead, opt for a glowing testimonial from someone (preferably in upper-management) from the most well-known organization that had you speak.
4. Let people know the benefits of working with you.
Did a company report increased profits or productivity right after working with you? Play it up!
People don’t act without first asking “what’s in it for me?”
Remember, this thing is going to wind up in the hands of people in a position to hire you. When that happens, they needed to be motivated to make the call.
5. Spell out how working with you is going to play out.
You have to strike the right balance between detail and brevity here. Let people know what topics you’re willing to cover. You need to make sure they get the picture, and you must do so succinctly.
6. Include a call to action.
I’m a big believer in putting calls-to-action on damn near everything.
You have an ideal outcome in mind, so ask for it to happen!
Be explicit and ask for the viewer to call you or email you to book you for their next corporate function. And, this is kind of a no-brainer, but make sure your one sheet has your contact info on it.
7. Get an extra set of eyes on it.
Ideally, you would have a professional designer take a crack at this but sometimes that’s not necessarily feasible. At the very least, put it in front of someone who might not know what you do all that well and get their honest opinion. If they can recite back to you accurately what you do and who you serve AND give you a favorable first impression, then you’re off to a pretty good start.
Speaker one sheets are one of my favorite documents to design. There’s so much opportunity to reflect the speaker’s personality and really enforce a personal brand.
I’m going to say something that flies in the face of what most designers often tell you. When it comes to marketing, anything that has the word “timeless” in front of it is phenomenally overrated at best, and damn near impossible to achieve at worst.
That’s right, I said it. Give me a trendy design any day.
Advertisers have done a great job programming us to believe things that go unchanged for decades, aka, things that are “timeless,” are the best.
The stoic pinstripes that the New York Yankees have worn since the 1900’s, the Coca-Cola logo that has been with the company since the beginning, James Bond drinking martinis that are shaken but not stirred. These things have gone so long without changing that we just assume they must be perfect the way they are.
This is the approach that many people want to take when they brand their business. They want a logo, font, color scheme, whatever, that stands the test of time. Something created once and let stand for one hundred years.
The only problem? This approach to branding is really impractical.
Think about it, if you’re saying that you want your brand to be the same for decades, aren’t you essentially saying that there’s no need to adapt to what the future may bring? Also, think of how goofy a piece of branding might look if left untouched for even 10 years.
Instead, why not embrace your brand as a living entity that needs to evolve over time to accommodate new technology and new perceptions in the marketplace? Besides, there’s some value to having a company or personal brand that looks current, fresh and, dare I say it, hip.
I’m not saying that you need to embrace every design trend that pops up and change your brand every 2-3 months, but I am saying you shouldn’t be afraid of the trends. Do be willing to let your brand roll with the punches.
Do you have a plan for your brand in 6 months? A year? 3 years? If not, give us a call and we can come up with one together.
By the way, that “timeless” Coca-Cola logo I mentioned? Take a look at this. It’s gone through more adaptations than you might think!
Last week I watched a documentary on 3-D printing in which someone delivered the following quote: “Branding is perceived value.” I thought this was a great quote because it simultaneously simplifies a topic for which everyone has his or her own definition and underscores just how complex branding is.
If you stick around this blog long enough, you’ll hear us preach on this topic, a lot. Your branding doesn’t stop at a logo; it’s the sum of what you project to clients and potential clients, from your logo to your type, colors, written content, and photographs, etc. Branding extends all the way down to what you wear in business settings.
Fair or unfair, from your outward projection, people will decide what they think you’re worth.
There’s a reason Fortune 500 companies spend six figures (yep, SIX figures) planning, aligning and ensuring their branding is consistent. Because creating the desired sense of value in the minds of customers is a vital part of doing business.
Think about it, if Tesla’s branding were aligned with that of economy automobiles, Tesla would have a tough time selling $100,000 cars. Instead, Tesla has carefully crafted an image for themselves as a high-end, exclusive automobile dealer intent upon saving its customers hundreds of dollars on gas every year.
So, what can you do now to embrace this broader concept of branding? Our recommendation is that you put your branding through a quick test, a test that we think every company should take from time to time.
Take your best branding piece, be it a flyer, web site, whatever, just make sure it doesn’t have your pricing on it, and show it to 2-3 people who don’t know much about your business. Ask them a few questions, like:
- How much do they think your services/products go for?
- What kind of clients do they think you work with; big ones or small ones?
- Would they peg what you’re selling as high-end or middle of the road?
Granted, some people aren’t really going to get your business, especially those outside of your target demo. But, if people are consistently completely off base on the value you offer, you could have some branding issues on your hands.
The good news? It’s amazing how much easier it gets to market your company with the right kind of branding strategy in place.
Ready to take the next step toward better branding? Give us a call! We’re all about helping people launch their personal and business brands and we’re eager to help.
And, I absolutely recommend you check out that documentary on Netflix. It was fantastic!