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How Far Will You Go To Brand Yourself?

Posted by on May 1, 2008

Last week I went to this presentation which was the beginning of a local interview series with successful entrepreneurs in town. The first guy on the list is a millionaire many times over, but he’s done it the unconventional way. In his life he’s owned maybe 20 or so businesses, at one time 12 at once but now is down to “only” 4. He hasn’t known anything about a single one of the businesses before he bought them, but learned early on that hiring people who do know about those businesses and that he could trust went a long way towards making them successful. And he did all of this without a college degree, and he still shuns, as much as possible, computers; doesn’t even own a cell phone.

However, he said his biggest boost comes from self promoting himself as often as he can. To whit, one thing he does is hands out at least 500 business cards a month. Now, this works out better for him that for most of us because on all of his business cards are at least two pictures of these custom cars he makes for celebrities and rich people all around the world, with the least expensive being sold for $90,000, the most expensive going for $300,000. I’d be handing out my cards at a rapid pace if I had that as part of my legacy also.

He also has two other things that most people don’t. One, he wears an ascot and always wears very bright colors. Two, he wears an engraved gold name tag with his name and the name of his most visibly prominent business on his jacket at all times. He said this gets people talking to him instead of him having to open up conversations, which then gives him a reason to pass his card along to them, and because of the cars he knows people will share the cards with others, and it’s possible that they’ll end up in the hands of someone who wants to do business with him. It certainly makes him memorable; no one who meets him forgets who he is.

It’s all about branding, and trying to decide how far you’re willing to go to brand yourself. I think about myself when this issue comes up. Online, I have articles of all types all over the internet, I belong to a bunch of online networking groups, and I have 3 blogs, yet I’m probably still not all that well known because, after all, the internet is in this big place called the world. Offline, I belong to some organizations that have the same people there all the time, I’ve been in some specialty magazines but those people don’t really ever know who I am, I’ve given some presentations here and there, but otherwise I might as well be called Anonymous, just like everyone else.

So, the trick for all of us is to determine how far we’re willing to go, and of course, depending on our business, just what’s appropriate to help us stand out. For instance, if you’re a lawyer, walking around in a clown suit may not get it done. But we all have to find our way of advertising ourselves if we hope to make it big in this world, especially if we want to work for ourselves.

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2 Comments »

John Dilbeck:

Good afternoon, Mitch,

Sometimes I think it comes down to either shining our light for the world to see or hiding it under a basket.

For most of my life, I really haven’t liked to talk about what I do, and – even now – it’s difficult to explain affiliate marketing to people who don’t know anything about it.

Building cars is something that nearly everyone can at least understand, even if they don’t relate to it. So, it’s easy for him to explain what he does and maybe make a new connection to a future customer.

While you and I, and others who may read this, would love to connect with new prospects, our work is harder because it’s difficult to explain.

I think affiliate marketing works best when the link to the merchant is just a natural step in providing information and the person who clicks never even makes the connection.

The trouble with this is that business is hit or miss, at best.

To build our businesses, we have to establish our brand, identify what we do so it is understandable and easily explainable, and then get not only repeat visitors, but readers who trust us and subscribe to what we write.

That’s when we start making the difference. The money really isn’t in the list, it’s in what we do to continue communicating with the people who subscribe to our list and how well we help them solve their problem or get what they want.

It’s more difficult, but more productive, both for ourselves and our readers, when we stick to a topic, explain what we do, and convert those great people into customers.

It’s something I understand, but I’m having difficulty applying it to my marketing business.

What do you think? Am I close or way off base?

Act on your dream!

JD

PS. I once knew a lawyer who was rather (in)famous for “landing” his plane in the top of an oak tree. It wasn’t a clown suit, but people made the connection when you mentioned lawyer, plane, and oak tree in the same sentence.

November 28th, 2008 | 5:34 PM
Mitch:

I think you’re very close to the mark, John. I don’t think it has all that much to do with whether people understand affiliate marketing as much as whether they trust us enough to at least take a look at a product that we may either recommend or market.

At least online that’s how it is. Offline, there’s things I can do and say when I’m promoting myself as far as being an internet marketing consultant for small businesses, or someone who creates websites, whereas I can’t do any of that stuff in my health care capacity. We all know the rules and limits to what we can or can’t do.

Online, though, some of those limits are off because of the apparent anonymity of most of us. Take our friend Dennis, for instance. Outside of internet stuff, I have absolutely no idea what he does, and he doesn’t tell us in his About page either. But take a look at mine, and you’ll be able to track me back to my main site, where you could read my bio and know who I am and what I’m all about, know where my business is located, along with my phone number, etc. So, because I’ve done that, I have to uphold a certain standard no matter what I do, whereas Dennis could be one person online and something completely different offline. I not saying he is; I’m just saying he could be.

So, I guess this ties back in with the other post I had that you’ve recently commented on about promoting oneself. They’re not the same, but some of the same questions have to be answered.

November 28th, 2008 | 7:18 PM