Is Competitor Comparison Syndrome Crippling Your Business?

Competitor analysis. womanfearful

We’re all told to do it – it’s Market Research 101, right?

After all, how can we distinguish ourselves from everyone else if we don’t know what they are doing!

But what happens when a harmless ‘search and analysis’ exercise turns into an unhealthy ‘comparison, stalking and spying’ frenzy?

There you are unable to stop yourself from revisiting a competitor’s website (and social media platforms), and then wishing you didn’t because it leaves you feeling inadequate, incompetent and disheartened because no matter what you do – you just can’t keep up with what they’re doing?

Can you relate? Be honest.

I believe there’s a competitive streak inside each of us.

How influential is your business card?

Does your business card make the cut?

This week I attended a networking event with 120+ women executives and business owners (my ears are still ringing from the level of noise we made with all the networking and Business Card relationship building going on).

As I connected with people I received numerous comments about how much they loved my business card.

Specifically the colour, the shape of the card, and the business name/tag line, which sums up my services and what I help people achieve – perfectly.

If you’ve been reading my posts for a while- you’d know that I’m passionate about helping women entrepreneurs create an authentic, memorable Signature Brand so they exude an influential message so they get noticed, hired and paid what they’re worth.

Credibility, visibility, hireability AND profitability is what I help client achieve, hence my business name and tag line: “Communicate Your Brand – Get noticed, hired and paid what you’re worth” being prominently displayed on the front of my business card.

Here’s a picture of my business card:

Business Card - Front

Business Card – Front

Business Card - Back

Business Card – Back

What about your business card? How influential is it?

When you hand it out – do people stop and take an extra moment to look at it? Do they comment about the uniqueness, colour, style and/or design or whatever it is that you have done to make your card stand out?

And, what about all of your other marketing/brand touch points, including brochures, website, answering machine message, pens, stationery – in fact pretty much EVERYTHING. Do they continue to send out a consistent message that represents your Signature Brand?

They should…

Because of the clarity I have around my Signature Brand (including what I stand for, my inner brilliance and expertise, my primary and influencing Brand Archetypes and the key emotions of my brand) it made it so much easier for me to communicate with my graphic design about the message I wanted my card to portray and the impact I wanted it to have when I handed it.

And, I’m sure you’ll agree this was captured beautifully in my business card.

MY PERSONAL MESSAGE TO YOU:


What special elements does your business card incorporate to help you incorporate your brand message? What ‘aha’s did you have? What action step are you going to take after today’s article? Go ahead and share, it’s always great to hear from you!

Till next time, to your success and brilliance

Annemarie

 

Your Brand Communications Wheel: Why you should use multiple ways to increase brand awareness

Are you communicating your brand in the most effective way?

One of the best ways to boost brand awareness and your overall credibility, visibility and hireability is to write and share informative articles and blog posts.

In fact in Hubspot’s report: ‘The 2012 State of Inbound Marketing’ showed that companies who used blogging as part of their marketing not only gained brand exposure, they also generated leads that later converted into clients.

Hubspot’s report also confirmed that companies who tended to blog more frequently increased their customer acquisition numbers. [You can get a copy of their report here].

While blogging is fantastic for brand exposure, leads and customer acquisition (and should be part of your Brand Communications Wheel) it’s important to realise that if you’re ONLY relying on writing articles to get your message out you could be leaving money on the table. Especially if some of your ideal clients don’t enjoy reading.

If their preferred representational system (i.e. visual, auditory, kinesthetic, internal dialogue) is NOT visual and you are only using articles/blog posts as the way you share your information, you could potentially be missing out on numerous opportunities to build relationships and your credibility with these people.

So what the heck is a representational system?

Representational Systems – how we code events, experiences and information:

Many years ago I completed studies in NLP (Neuro Linguistic Programming) and learned there were four Representational Systems:

  1. Visual = sight
  2. Auditory = sound
  3. Kinesthetic = feelings and touch
  4. Self-talk = internal dialogue

Representational systems are how we code events, experiences and information, and our preferred representational system (or primary representational system) is the one we tend to favour over others.

I discovered that my Preferred Representational System was visual, followed closely by kinesthetic and auditory (internal dialogue).

 

Leveraging multiple ways to communicate, build rapport and strengthen relationships:

So what does this have to do with you and your business, you may ask?

Being able to recognise other people’s communication styles and preferred representational systems can enable you to build rapport and strengthen relationships with your community faster and in a far deeper, more meaningful way.

And, I’m sure you’ll agree – in business (and life in general) being able to build strong relationships and communicate your message so that it is understood with the meaning you intended, is important.

My lesson:

I learned a valuable lesson when starting a joint venture (several years ago, now) with one of my colleagues – Keith Keller through the launch of our internet radio show – Career Success Radio.

While my preferred representational system was visual, Keith’s preferred representational system was auditory (i.e. sound). In fact, his preference for audio was very strong and he really disliked reading.

I quickly learned that sending him long emails and written instructions just didn’t resonate with him.

Shorter paragraphs and sentences were better.

And, if I really wanted to make sure important messages didn’t lose their meaning, I’d ring or leave a message so he could listen to the content.

Thankfully those years of training on representational systems and being able to recognise and adapt to different communication styles certainly came in handy – and still do, for that matter.

Your lesson and takeaway:

So what can you learn from this?

To be mindful that not all of your clients (or prospective clients) will have the same preferred representational systems and that you should integrate different communication methods to build brand awareness.

That way you don’t miss out on connecting with an ideal client because you’re not delivering your information in a way that enables them to absorb it.

How?

Through making sure your Brand Communication Wheel incorporates a number of different ways to get your message out.

Such as:

  • Podcasting and audios
  • Videos
  • Graphics and pictures
  • Speaking
  • Newsletters
  • Or a combination of all of these

Here’s an example of my Brand Communications Wheel and how I’m currently building awareness about my business:

Annemarie’s Brand Communication Wheel

I recognised podcasting was increasing in popularity so started the Ambitious Entrepreneur Show – a weekly podcast focusing on business to bring my message (and that of my guests) to people. Through doing this regularly I have now created an audience who enjoy listening to the weekly podcasts.

I also enjoy recording and sharing audio biz tips, such a this one:


I’ve  incorporated video (both talking head where I am speaking to camera and by recording my screen) allowing me to combine both audio and video together so people can see and hear me – a powerful combination.

[While I haven’t been actively creating videos lately, I have set an intention to do more soon and will be dusting off the lights and camera in the coming months.]

[Note: This is an older video so some of the social media platforms have since changed their formats/layouts]

Because I love speaking I’m always looking out for opportunities to get involved in telesummits, teleseminars and other speaking events. I’m now regularly being asked to be a keynote speaker and participate in telesummits

My weekly newsletter is sent out to my database; and I’m regularly posting and communicating with people on various social media platforms.

Your turn…

So, what about you? Does your Brand Communications Wheel integrate other methods so that people can absorb your message in a way they prefer?

If not, why don’t you commit to adding one different method to your wheel over the next month to see what kind of response you get from your audience.

 

Final insights…

For those of your who love to write, here are a few tips on how to present your blog posts/articles so that people who don’t like to read can still benefit from your wisdom.

  • Use headlines to separate paragraphs
  • Write smaller paragraphs
  • Get to the point – quickly
  • Write in a conversational style
  • Add lots of white space

And, some advice from my colleague Keith Keller to help him read your article should he stumble upon it:

  • Use bullet points
  • Incorporate images that convey the message
  • Use lots of graphics
  • Add a video

YOUR SAY:

Are you already using different methods of communicating your message? If not, have I inspired you to try out a new method? Which do you prefer? Do you have an idea what your preferred representational system is? Let me know below – it’s always great to hear from you.

 

Business Branding & Niching: Important & Relevant or a Waste of Time?

Branding & Niching: are they just a waste of time?

 

Ever been in a situation where you’ve read and/or heard something that made your blood boil? So much so that you had to come forward and make a stand for what you truly believed Business Branding was fundamentally important?

This happened to me last week, where on three separate instances other business professionals were advising their clients (coaches) with (what I believed was) incorrect information and therefore were setting their clients’ businesses up for disappointment and ongoing struggle.

Following these approaches in your business can seriously jeopardize your ability to build a solid reputation as a go-to-person in your industry and building a loyal clientele who love your work and would happily refer you – or not.

Hopefully you won’t recognise any of them. And if someone suggests these things to you – you’ll know better.

Business Branding & Niching Mistake Number 1: It’s not important

The first situation was when I was speaking to a Health & Wellness Coach during one of my Business Breakthrough Strategy Sessions. She had been struggling to get more clients for quite some time and was at her wits end.

A few years prior she had invested thousands of dollars with a business coach and internet marketer and had worked closely with them to implement a number of things within her business.

  • She now has a website, which looks quite impressive
  • She continues to write regular articles
  • She has her social media profiles set up and is actively sharing information with a growing community
  • She has a range of programs she can offer to suit prospects’ needs
  • She has been involved in a number of JV opportunities, and through partnering with others,
  • She has built a sizable list of subscribers that many coaches would envy

But (and it’s a BIG but)… she still isn’t getting any new clients.

Why?

In my opinion it’s because the business coach and internet marketing guru forgot two MAJOR elements in their work with her, which was now negatively impacting everything she had put into place. They were:

  • Understanding her niche market and getting totally clear about her ideal client (including demographics and psychographics)
  • Unearthing her ‘Inner Brilliance’ (her unique attributes, characteristics, core values) and other vital aspects that would help her create a powerful and magnetic Signature Brand

Unfortunately, never once were these two key elements considered as she continued to build her website, her articles and programs/packages etc.

Business Branding & Niching Mistake Number 2: Service Businesses Don’t Need to Build a Brand

The second situation was an article titled “Forget Branding” that went on to say that service-based businesses (i.e. coaches. consultants and solopreneurs who were selling their services and expertise) shouldn’t bother with building a brand.

The author (a Marketing Specialist) posed the question:

“Can Services Business be Branded?” to which he responded, “In my view services and brands are not related, altho’ many practitioners would have you think they are.”

Hmm, what can I say other than “what a load of *&^%.”

Does he honestly believe that service-based businesses can’t and shouldn’t build a strong brand? Which planet is he on?

Your ‘brand’ is your reputation. It’s what other people think about when your name is mentioned.

Everything you do and say, how you show up can impact your reputation (i.e. brand), positively and negatively if you’re not careful.

If you’re still unsure about business branding and how to define and build your own unique brand you’ll find numerous branding articles here to show you how.

Business Branding & Niching Mistake Number 3: Go out and get clients and worry about niching and branding later

The third situation was a business coach who believed it was important to ‘build value’ and to work with as many clients as possible and then go back and think about niching and branding later.

Sounds wonderful. Unfortunately though, this is often what keeps coaches and consultants stuck.

Let’s take a Life Coach for example.

She follows this business coach’s advice and offers her coaching services to a diverse clientele with numerous issues. When you read through her website you see that she can help you if you are struggling with your relationships. Oh, you have a problem in your career? She can help you out there too? Did you say you have a phobia of spiders? The steps she follows in her coaching program can help you get over your arachnophobia too – in just one session. Smoking a problem – guess what, this Life Coach can help you give up smoking in 3 simple steps! She can do it all!

I wonder if her business coach has heard of the saying: “Jack of all Trades and a Master of None?”

Personally, if I were struggling with my marriage, I’d want to see a relationship counsellor or an expert who specialised in that area. My marriage is far too important to me.

If I were unhappy in my career, I’d rather go and see a Career Coach who was specifically trained in the area of careers to help me find a job I love. After all, I spend so much of my life at work, I’d want to seek the help of a specialist – not a generalist.

Trying to be all things to all people can often lead to disappointment, exhaustion and frustration. And if your goal is to be build your credibility as a specialist in your field so that you can boost your hireability and get paid what you’re worth, being seen as a generalist and a ‘jack of all trades’ will certainly stop you.

Business Branding & Niching: Are they important and relevant?

Yes, Yes YES!!!

I believe these two things are paramount if your goal is to build a reputation as a specialist in your field to get noticed, booked and paid what you’re worth. This is why I spend time working on these two elements with my clients in all of my coaching programs.

Understanding and defining your niche will allow you to create programs and packages you know your ideal client will want to invest in.  This is because you’ve spent time listening and observing your ideal client to see what he/she is struggling with.

This information will allow you to better tailor your message to speak directly to their needs. Your brand voice and your message will connect with your ideal client. And, you can tailor your services and programs as a solution to help them overcome their problems.

Identifying and defining core elements of your brand will ensure you build your credibility and will distinguish yourself in the market place by incorporating your Signature Brand in everything you do. Including:

  • Your Brand Voice: the words you use in your articles, flyers and sales pages
  • Your Brand Design: the look and feel of brochures, images and fonts
  • Your Brand Persona: your mannerisms and your body language
  • Your Brand Style: the clothes and accessories you wear

Once you have these key elements in place, not only will you start to attract the attention of your ideal client, you’ll also quickly boost your credibility and reputation as a specialist in your field, which in turn will boost your hireability.

Prospects will want to invest in you because of the reputation you’ve been building and because of the value you offer to your ideal client.

YOUR SAY:

Do you think niching and building a strong brand is important? Or do you believe you can build a successful business by providing a diverse range of services to anyone and everyone? Let me know in the comments below. I’m interested in your thoughts…

Business Branding: Is your brand voice and message connecting with your ideal client?

Business Branding: How influential is your brand?

As a business owner, I’m sure you’ve probably heard about the importance of having an in-depth awareness of the needs and goals of your ideal client. After all, how can you craft Brand influential marketing messages that speak directly to his/her needs if you’re not aware of this information – right?

So just how well do you REALLY know your ideal client?

Can you list the top three reasons that keep them up at night? Are you familiar with the key words and phrases they use as they discuss their issues with friends and colleagues? What is it that they long for – their goals? What words do they use to describe their hopes and dreams? Why is this so important to them? And, are you weaving this information into all of your online and offline communications?

When I’m working with my clients and reviewing the level of information they have about their ideal client, it’s often too general and unfortunately no-where near the depth of understanding they need to really make an impact with their marketing.

The information that is going to be extremely important is your clients’ psychographic attributes such as their personality, their values, attitudes and interests and what’s going on for them in their lives/businesses that would have them seek out your help.

Is the information you have on your ideal client too general?

Here are some of the warning signs you’ll want to keep an eye out for. If this is happening it means you haven’t spent enough time getting to know your ideal client as well as you should.

  • You aren’t growing your list on a daily basis with site visitors requesting access to your irresistible free offer despite people visiting your website
  • Your articles, tweets and posts are not generating interest and conversation with your ideal client – specifically enquiries about your programs and offerings
  • Your subscribers are unsubscribing from your list in droves
  • Your sales pages and other special offers are not converting prospects into clients
  • You feel like you’re speaking to an empty room despite all of your online and offline networking activities – no-one is listening and/or responding
  • And the list goes on…

Recognise any?

If you do, don’t panic!

Here are three things you’ll need to do to start gathering the right information as well as how you can weave these golden nuggets into your online and offline marketing to really make an impact with your ideal client.

Business Branding Step 1: Listen and observe – they’ll show you

You don’t need a crystal ball (or sixth sense) to learn all you need to know about them.

In fact, all you need to do is to listen and observe. They’ll tell you want you need to know.

Recently, I was networking on an online forum with other coaches and consultants (my ideal clients) and by asking a few questions, I received some incredibly insightful responses.

Here’s what they said about what they were struggling with in their businesses:

  • “I feel so frustrated – despite all of the marketing I’m doing, nothing is working to help me get more clients”
  • I’m struggling to sell my high-end programs. Despite all my efforts in building my profile and credibility my list just won’t  buy high-end programs from me”
  • I’ve tried everything and feel so frustrated. I know there is something missing – something that I’m just not doing but I can’t figure out what that is.”

How does this help me?

It not only confirms that the information I include in my coaching programs are EXACTLY what they need – it also helps me to build rapport by showing them I know what they are going through. And, I have a solution to help them.

You’ll notice that I’ve included many of the words and phrases (listed above) into the sales copy of my 6-Figure Success Blueprint Group Coaching program. I also weave these words and phrases into my articles, tweets and other marketing material.

What are the key words and key phrases your ideal clients use to describe their struggles? If you’re unable to answer honestly, or if you are only assuming that is what they are saying and feeling then you need to spend some time just listening and observing them. They’ll tell you!

 

Business Branding Step 2: Build rapport – they’ll begin to trust you

A few months ago I attended a networking meeting with 30 other business owners. I was presenting on the topic of Branding – in particular “Magnetic Marketing with Brand Archetypes” and I asked the audience to select the introduction they liked best out of following three examples:

  1. Dominate Your Niche Online In 3 Powerful Steps
  2. Building Your Credibility As An Expert Online: How to Capture Your Ideal Clients’ Attention in 3 Proven Steps
  3. Client Magnet: 3 Powerful Ways to Attract, Nurture & Build Long-Lasting Customer Relationships Online

 

Which phrase stands out for you?

If you answered number 3, you chose the same phrase as most of the group – in fact 27 of the 30 business owners.

The wording I used in number three aligns with the Romantic Brand Archetype, where words such as magnetic, attract and nurture will instantly connect with them.

Who knew I had a room full of romantics in the group? At least now I know the words and phrases to use when presenting to this group to attract their attention.

By the way, for those of you who selected the other two examples and want to know which of the 12 Brand Archetypes they are; number one uses words and phrases from the Ruler Brand Archetype and number two is the Teacher Brand Archetype.

So why is this important to weave words and phrases that you know will resonate with your ideal client into your marketing material? Because it mirrors their values, their characteristics and their likes/dislikes and you’ll be able to instantly build rapport and trust. It just ‘feels’ right for them.

That’s why I spend so much time in my Unearth Your Inner Brilliance and 6-Figure Success Blueprint Coaching Programs helping my clients identify which of the 12 Brand Archetypes they resonate with the most and which of the brand archetypes describes their ideal client.

As each Brand Archetype lists over the dozen words that will stand out for that particular archetype makes it easy for my clients to create magnetic marketing messages. All they need to do is sprinkle these words throughout their marketing.

What about you – have you got a list of words and phrases that you know will seize and maintain the attention of your ideal client?

If not, you may like to consider joining me on one of my upcoming Unearth Your Inner Brilliance to Your Signature Brand workshops. Or my 6-Figure Success Blueprint program starting soon – I’ll show you which words to use.

 

Business Branding Step 3: Build credibility and hireability – they’ll want to work with you!

Are you constantly building your credibility and hireability so that your ideal client feels compelled to work with you?

You should be.

How?

By ensuring you incorporate your Signature Brand in everything you do. This includes:

  • Your Brand Voice: the words you use in your articles, flyers and sales pages
  • Your Brand Design: the look and feel of brochures, images and fonts
  • Your Brand Persona: your mannerisms and your body language
  • Your Brand Style: the clothes and accessories you wear

 

Everything you do and say ‘speaks’ your brand. Are you sending a consistent message that resonates with your ideal client?

Here are some other areas where you can exude your brand voice:

  • Tweets
  • Program Titles
  • Facebook Books
  • Articles
  • Blog Posts
  • Emails
  • Slogan / Tagline
  • Your introduction and bio
  • Your domain name
  • Your company name
  • Your videos and audios

Ensuring your brand voice and message is showing up in ALL of your communications will help you build a level of credibility and hireability so that when your ideal client is ready to move forward, YOU are the person they’ll want to work with.

Here’s to building a magnetic, influential brand voice and message that connects with your ideal client.

YOUR SAY:

What words and phrases resonate with your ideal clients? Which example statement out of the three was your favourite? What have you done that has sparked your ideal clients’ attention and compelled them to hire you? Please share – it’s always nice to hear from you!

Business Branding: 3 mistakes that can stop you from creating a magnetic Signature Brand

Business branding: are you standing out for the right reasons? branding

This year I celebrated my 18th year in business. [Cue the birthday song, streamers and party whistles].

When looking back I can see just how much my business has evolved. Thank goodness – because it certainly wasn’t always like that!

My first business venture was a secretarial and bookkeeping service, which I started when my first child was around 18 months of age.

Back then I had no idea about branding and the important steps I needed to take to build a successful service-based business. So after printing out a stack of flyers and placing an advertisement in the local paper – I sat back and waited for the phone to ring.

Boy was I disappointed.

While I managed to pick up a few clients here and there, I certainly wasn’t creating the strong presence I needed to attract a steady stream of prospects to my door.

And when I did get the occasional enquiry, I would find, more often than not, that I’d have to justify my price and offer a discount in order to win the job.

So not only was I struggling to get clients – I was also struggling to get paid what I was worth.

Disappointment turned into frustration and frustration into exhaustion as I tried everything I could think of to improve my results.

But, even with the increased advertising and more flyers being circulated in the local area – it didn’t have anywhere near the impact I’d hoped for.

Fast forward to today and thank goodness I invested in personal and professional development. The lessons I learned from my business coach and mentor were incredibly valuable and showed me where I had gone wrong and what I should have done when I first opened up my secretarial and bookkeeping business.

These are the same steps I took when I evolved my business from a secretarial and bookkeeping service into my career coaching and personal branding for executives business. And, were the same steps I used when I expanded my business to include my work with heart-centred solopreneurs to help them boost their credibility, visibility and hireability so they get noticed, booked and paid what they’re worth!

Want to know what one of the (many) important lessons I learned was? [In fact, this lesson ended up being a pivotal turning point for me personally and in my business.]

It was: Learning how to build a strong personal brand.

All of the things I learned about personal branding those many years ago prompted me to follow a career path in that field. I was hooked!

I found personal branding (for both executives and solopreneurs) fascinating, and recognised that many service-based solopreneurs were also doing it all wrong and struggling with the exact same issues I had been facing when I first started my business

So, if you’re at a stage in your business where you are branding (or re-branding), here are the top 3 mistakes that you’ll want to avoid.


Business Branding Mistake 1: You try to emulate what other successful people are doing

I recently tweeted: “Want to build a strong brand? Authenticity and integrity are vital. Don’t try to be something you’re not. It’ll show.”

To put this into context, picture this.

One of your competitors has a charismatic, yet controversial style and is known for dropping a few colourful words when voicing her opinion.

She’s all about shaking things up and destroying the status quo. If she doesn’t like something, she’ll tell you so in her usual powerful and edgy manner.

[Note: These are all qualities and characteristics of the Maverick Archetype from the Branding with Archetypes system I use when working with solopreneurs who are going through the branding process].

She has a large following on her social media networks who love her work and her business is thriving. Seeing all of her success and achievements, you try to emulate these qualities and approach in your business.

But guess what?

It’s exhausting; it feels awkward; and despite your efforts, you’re just not attracting anywhere near the results you had hoped for. In fact, you’re still the world’s best-kept secret, and you’re feeling miserable and frustrated.

No wonder.

Trying to be someone you’re not takes an enormous amount of energy.

And, more importantly, it’s not the ‘real you’ that’s showing up in your business so of course it feels unnatural and awkward.

The question that was asked in my article: “Personal Branding – is authenticity really important? Yes! Authenticity is crucial – especially when it comes to your brand.

That’s why when taking my clients through my Unearth Your Inner Brilliance Branding Programs, I ask them over 50 insightful questions about themselves to uncover their unique gifts, traits, characteristics, mission, likes and dislikes.

Nothing speaks louder and more powerful than when you give yourself permission show up as ‘you’ in your business.

 

Business Branding Mistake 2:  You listen to the advice of others

Despite their best of intentions to provide you with sound branding advice and how to distinguish your services from all of your competitors, it’s impossible for anyone to truly understand your vision, your values and core beliefs. These are the things that you stand for – it’s the core of who you are and one of the many aspects you should identify as you work through the branding process.

I’ve been a Personal Branding Strategist for well over a decade and have helped numerous clients over that time define and build a powerful, magnetic Signature Brand.

However, in all those years, never have I told a client what they should be doing with their brand, how they should act, what they should say, or what their brand attributes/strengths, their brand voice, or their brand story should be.

Going through the branding process should involve unearthing essential information about ‘you’ and what is unique about ‘your’ brand, not what I (or anyone else for that matter) believe you should be.

My own values and beliefs can cloud a client’s true essence, which is why I’ll never tell someone what they should be.

Rather, I’ll ask the right questions and present them with the right tools to help them unearth their inner brilliance and the key elements that will help them identify the core elements. All of this information will become part of their own powerful, magnetic Signature Brand.

So, when working on identifying key elements for your brand, make sure that whatever you incorporate into your brand is uniquely you and resonates with who you are and what you stand for. Not what someone else has told you how to be.

 

Business Branding Mistake 3:  You work on all of your external brand touch points but not the core elements of your brand

The branding process MUST start with you.

The core of your brand MUST reflect vital elements such as your mission, your values and your purpose. Your unique characteristics and key factors that drive you forward with immense passion and why you have chosen the work you do with your clients will influence your Signature Brand and how you will continue to show up in the world.

As Jim Signorelli outlines in his Story Branding videos,  the branding process should start with identifying the inner layers of your brand. It’s the ‘why’ you do what you do. “It’s the cause that you’re trying to promote.”

Once you have identified these core elements, then you can start to work on the outer layers of your brand such as your logo, brochures, designs and other brand touch points.

Start with the core elements of your brand first and then move onto the outer layers of your brand.

For me, taking the time to work on all these areas made a significant difference in my business. Having a powerful, magnetic Signature Brand has enabled me to get immense clarity and focus and subsequently:

  1. Position myself as an expert
  2. Charge a higher fee due to increased perceived value
  3. Create a powerful, clear and consistent message
  4. Attract my ideal client
  5. Create a unique brand that is difficult to copy

And, by defining and building a powerful, magnetic Signature Brand – you can achieve these things too.

HAVE YOUR SAY:

Have you taken the time to define the core elements of your brand? Why are you so passionate about the work you do? Is this reflected in your Signature Brand? Let me know in the comment box below. It’s always lovely to hear from you.

Till next time, stay inspired and brilliant!

Annemarie

 

 

 

 

Business Branding: how brightly does your ‘Inner Brilliance’ shine through?

A special message to all heart-centred solopreneurs …

Quote: “Each and every one of us has a beautiful gem deep inside waiting to be unearthed, cut and polished. This gem is your inner brilliance – the heart and soul of your Signature Brand. Let it continue to shine brilliantly.”
– Annemarie Cross

Ever wondered about some of the decisions you’ve made in your business?

Specifically around the work you’ve done on creating your unique Signature Brand? Including, how are you going to ‘stand out in the crowd’ and capture the attention of your ideal client, branding especially when ‘YOU’ and the services you offer are what you are selling?

I know I have – on many occasions.

For instance:

  •  “Are these gifts and talents REALLY my strengths, and just how unique and different are they in comparison to my competitors?”
  • “How on earth can I capture my personality and characteristics in my brand voice so that it shines through my articles and blog posts? Especially since I’m still struggling to understand what my unique characters, traits and ‘brand voice’ is?”
  •  “Am I using the right language in my marketing so that it resonates with and inspires my ideal client to take action?”

And on it goes.

Thankfully, all of the training I’ve completed over the years has given me the tools and resources I needed to dig deep and uncover the answers to these and many other questions. [You can read more about my Personal Life Journey here].

Now in my business coaching practice, I use the same tools with my clients. Other heart-centred solopreneurs, who feel like they are drowning in a sea of competition and unable to identify their inner brilliance making it difficult to create an influential, irresistible identity that stands out from the crowd.

One of the tools I use to help clients unearth their inner brilliance, is the Branding with ArchetypesTM system.

So what’s an archetype you ask? An archetype is a universally understood symbol and/or pattern of behaviour, and is often used in myths and storytelling across different cultures.

There are 12 archetypes in the Branding with ArchetypesTM system – Maverick, Nurturer, Romantic, Innocent, Humanitarian, Explorer, Ruler, Jester, Hero, Teacher, Artist and Alchemist, each having their own values, characteristics, gifts, likes and dislikes, needs, and sense of mission, purpose and calling.

Once a client gets clear about these things they can capture their personality and what they’re all about (i.e. their ‘inner brilliance’) to create a magnetic signature brand which their clients resonate with and love.

Why is this so important?

Because people are emotional beings. And by incorporating these key elements in all of your marketing messages, you’ll be able to connect in a far deeper and more meaningful way with your ideal client.

Let’s have a look at this in action:

  • Kerri Baruch –Awakened Princess.com

    branding

    Kerri Baruch, Awakened Princess

Kerri is the Teacher/Maverick archetype and is passionate about sharing her wisdom and insight to help her clients discover, embrace and nurture their inner Princess. She helps them breakthrough and eliminate bad habits that have been keeping them stuck and she continues to inspire them to uplift their spirits and advance their lives so they can achieve their greatness, their joy and their wellness.

“By understanding my own unique brilliance I now better understand my ideal client from within. From that place I have been able to really communicate with ‘her’ in all my content and in shaping the focus of my business so that my work reflects my passion, purpose and strength. Before, the process really was a head thing, which doesn’t build connection with prospective clients.” – Kerri Baruch

  • Sylvia Bourne – Office Genie.com.au

    branding

    Sylvia Bourne, Office Genie

Sylvia is all about transformation! She helps her clients transform their cluttered and disorganised offices into streamlined and productive work environments using her unique magical and nurturing approach. Sylvia is the Nurturer/Alchemist archetype.

“I am speaking more confidently and with more clarity. And I no longer have writer’s block as I have words to use that enable me to connect with and inspire my clients into taking action.” – Sylvia Bourne

  • Annemarie Cross (ME!)

As the Explorer archetype my mission is to pioneer the discovery of truth.

Pretty amazing considering I spent the last 15 years as a Career Coach helping people discover the truth about their skills, strengths and values so that they could find a job they loved because the role now aligned with ‘who they were’.

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Annemarie Cross – Me!

The Explorer archetype also has a need for “expressing oneself and individuality.” This can be seen in the work I do with solopreneurs helping them discover and live their full potential by identifying their unique gifts and talents (their inner brilliance) and building their reputation as specialists in their field.

So what about you?

Have you clearly defined the heart and soul of your brand? Do you continue to portray this in everything you do? Does your ‘Inner Brilliance’ shine brightly through all of your brand touch points so that you create a powerful, magnetic Signature Brand?

If not, I’d highly recommend you read my Powerful Branding to Stand Out articles.

HAVE YOUR SAY:

So what’s your Inner Brilliance? Are you bringing this message out into the world in a powerful, meaningful way that reflect who you are and resonate with your ideal client? Let me know – it’s always lovely to hear from you!

 

51 Ways to Increase Your Credibility, Visibility and Hireability

Want to increase your credibility, visibility and hireability? Read on…

Struggling to stand out in a competitive market place and unsure what else you could be doing to reverse this?

Here are over 50 ways you can increase your level of credibility, visibility and hireability so that next time an ideal client is ready to move forward – YOU are the person they decide to credibility, visibility and hireability invest in.

Which will you start implementing today?

Increase Credibility with a Powerful Signature Brand:

  1. Take the time to define and build a Signature Brand that is authentic  and that will distinguish you from your competitors
  2. Develop a professional bio across all your social media and online profiles to build a consistent on-brand message about you and the value you offer
  3. Include a link on your social media and online profiles that directs visitors back to a web page that continues to add value and showcase your expertise
  4. Create a well-written ‘About Me’ page that captures your brand voice so readers can get a sense of the ‘real’ you
  5. Develop  a succinct Media Page to make it easier for media representatives to learn more about you and how you can help them

Increase Visibility by Creating & Sharing Compelling Content:

  1. Answer a pressing question that your ideal client often asks and publish this on your blog
  2. Search for other popular blogs (relevant to your field of expertise) and contribute thoughtful comments on selected blog posts
  3. Write a book/product review
  4. Write a book and self-publish it
  5. Write an ebook
  6. Write a white paper
  7.  Setup a YouTube channel and continue to create informative videos
  8. Setup an iTunes channel and continue to create inspiring podcasts
  9. Establish an online Radio show / podcast
  10. Record a podcast with Audacity and include in a blog post
  11. Record an audio tip (with Audioboo.fm)
  12. Be interviewed by a colleague and use the audio as part of your next blog post
  13. Write a series of helpful tweets using relevant hashtags to get your message in front of your ideal client
  14. Know target keywords and phrases you ideal audience uses and sprinkle throughout your blog post
  15. Write a guest blog post/article and submit for consider to a popular blog that you know is frequently visited and read by your ideal client
  16. Speaking: Get invited to be a keynote speaker on a Telesummit that targets your ideal client
  17. Attend a conference and write a number of posts about the speakers/topics and share your viewpoints
  18. Regularly update your social media feeds with relevant, helpful information
  19. Write a series of blog posts and schedule these to go out every second day. Make sure you tell your followers beforehand to create interest and anticipation for each upcoming post
  20. Answer relevant questions on your topic of expertise on LinkedIn Answers
  21. Join relevant LinkedIn groups and continue to build relationships with group members
  22. Contribute to discussions and share your viewpoints on LinkedIn groups
  23. Start a discussion on LinkedIn groups and encourage feedback
  24. Share relevant resources (including articles, videos, podcasts etc) that will be helpful to your followers
  25. Join a local networking group and continue to build and strengthen relationships within the group
  26. Offer to speak at networking groups
  27. Send out a well-written press release to capture attention of journalist specializing in your industry
  28. Foster relationships with journalist/bloggers in your industry and become known as a reliable source
  29. Seek out joint venture opportunities and create an amazing product/service through your collaboration that continues to showcase your expertise in front of a larger audience
  30. Write and send out a regular newsletter to your database/list
  31. Monitor your social media feeds and contribute to conversations relevant to your field of expertise
  32. Start a conversation on a forum relevant to your field of expertise and invite other people to comment and share their viewpoints

Increase Hireability by Maintaining a Solid Reputation

  1. Don’t destroy all the hard work you’ve done (through implementing the steps above) by creating digital dirt. Remember, it can take a life-time to build a solid reputation, which can be tarnished overnight by doing, saying or sharing something that is totally inappropriate
  2. Continue to portray a consistent on-brand message in EVERYTHING you do and say, even the groups you join and the people you associate with
  3. Monitor your social networks /online discussions about you and your company and respond accordingly
  4. Compile testimonials from satisfied clients and showcase these on your website. Ensure comments include specific measurable outcomes
  5. Collate snapshots of ‘thanks you’s’ and other impressive comments about you (with permission of course) mentioned across social media platforms and showcase these on your website
  6. Ensure your ‘About Me’ page includes snippets/comments of satisfied customers as well as awards/other recognition
  7. Bring your video camera with you when you are a guest speaker and record videos of individual participants singing your praise. Include in your ‘About Me’ and Testimonial page
  8. Continue to do as much as you can from the ‘Creating & Sharing Compelling Content’ section above to build a reputation as an authority in your field
  9. Build your Signature System and ensure you also have all the other 4 key pillars in place to increase your hireability

And in summary:

  1. Plan and schedule your content development strategy outlining which ways you are going to implement in order to build your visibility
  2. Make sure you are doing at least one of these things every single day
  3. Be consistent in what you send out including being on-brand in everything that you do and how regularly you post/share information
  4. Monitor and track what you do regularly so that you can identify what’s working and continue to do this, and identify what’s not working so you can tweak in order to get better results
  5. Don’t give up if results aren’t immediate. It takes time and commitment to build credibility, visibility and hireability. Stick with it!!!!

Bonus Tip:

  1. Ensure core elements of your Signature Brand are captured and communicated across all your brand touch points including your:
    • Logo
    • Business card
    • Business stationary
    • Answering machine message
    • Email signature
    • Website
    •  Social media platform backgrounds/graphics
    • Office furniture
    • Your personal image/presentation
    • Presentation material
    • Email address, etc

Have Your Say:

So what do you think? Are you doing these things already? If not, which are you going to start implementing so that you can begin building your credibility, visibility and hireability? Let me know. It’s always such a pleasure to hear from you!

To your success and brilliance!

credibility, visibility and hireability

5 Key Pillars to a 6-Figure Business

Can’t breakthrough to a 6-figure business? 6-figure business

The thought of being your own boss and running your own business is an exciting prospect, wouldn’t you agree? After all, that’s why you’re operating your own coach, consulting or training business to share your talents and help people achieve their goals.

Can you still remember the day you hung out your shingle, launched your website and announced to the world through your social media channels that you were officially open for business?

You continued to market your business, attend online and offline networking events, share helpful resources and even reach out to help people, with the goal of raising your profile and awareness of your services.

Yet regrettably that excitement turned to frustration and confusion. Because despite everything you’ve done (and continue to do) the number of people who are interested in your services is not what you’d hoped for. And, they’re certainly not investing in your services.  And when they do it’s not really at a level that is paying you what you’re worth.

You didn’t realise it was going to be so difficult (and exhausting) to get new clients.

So, you increase your marketing efforts, attend even more networking events, and stay up to the wee hours of the morning tweeting, blogging, commenting on other people’s blogs. You share other people’s information, and anything else you can think of to build awareness.

Can you relate?

Many service-based businesses can. So they increase their marketing, networking and social media efforts, which unfortunately will NOT make any difference UNLESS they have 5 key pillars in place.

Without these 5 key pillars the hours spent on marketing and networking won’t have the impact they’re hoping for therefore making it very difficult to get more clients, get paid what they’re worth and build a 6-figure (or more) business.

Are these pillars missing in your business?

6-Figure Business Pillar 1:  Your Ideal Client (Niche) For Rapid Business Growth 

While your products/services may be able to help ‘everyone’ – if you’re trying to market your services to ‘everyone’, you’re really speaking to no-one.

Why? Because trying to be all things to all people means that you’re not speaking directly to the needs of your ideal client. Therefore, you’re unable to seize their attention and show them that YOU have the solution to their issues.

Here’s an example:

Imagine you’re a Job Search Coach and I’m currently looking for someone to help me get a new job.

When reading your website, the information you provide is not really convincing me that you understand what I’m going through. Nor do you position your services in such a way that I feel compelled to invest in (or even make contact with) you. So I’m off searching for another Job Search Coach who can help me.

Let’s see what happens if you were to niche your services and specifically target my needs.

I’m a Senior Sales Executive that sells high-end IT solutions to the financial market. However due to a decline in profits my company is looking at downsizing. With a family to support and mortgage to pay, to say that I’m slightly apprehensive and anxious about my job prospects, would be an understatement.

Yet, you specialise in this area and you’ve helped hundreds if clients like me transition quickly into senior level roles with your services.

And, when reading the information on your website, on Twitter, LinkedIn and through your Facebook business page, I get to know and trust you, and can see that you are someone that has the solution and necessary support that will help me achieve my goal. So I call you, and the rest is history…

Figure 1: Defining Your Niche

6-figure business  

By niching and getting to know your ideal client so well that the next time your ideal client visits your website (or reads one of your articles or posts/Tweets) your message will speak directly to the struggles they’re facing.

You show them you know exactly what they’re going through; AND more importantly you spark their interest and create a sense of hope and possibility so much so that they feel compelled to get in contact with you to learn more about you.

My coach’s tip: Identify your niche and ensure all of your marketing material speaks to and reaches that market. You’ll soon position yourself as an expert in that niche market!

6-Figure Business Pillar 2: Your Powerful Signature Brand to Outshine Your Competition

Many people mistakenly believe their brand is their business cards, their website, and letterheads etc. While these are important they’re really ‘branding elements’ or what I like to call your ‘brand touch points’.

Your ‘brand’ is your reputation. It’s the perception others have of you. It’s what they think of when your name is mentioned. More importantly, by building a strong Signature Brand YOU are the person who’s mentioned (and not your competitors) when someone is looking for a professional in your field.

If you’re unclear about what makes you unique, your brand voice, what separates you from your competitors, and why someone should invest in you, then you’re going to find it very difficult to position yourself as an authority in a crowded market.

My coach’s tip: Get clear on these elements and make sure you continue to portray these in all of your branding and communications.

6-Figure Business Pillar 3: Your Signature System to Gain Expert Status AND be Paid What You’re Worth

Are you still charging by the hour?

There are only so many hours in the day and charging by the hour will restrict the amount of income you make. Also you may find yourself in a pricing war trying to justify your hourly rate when a prospect compares your rate with one of your competitors.

Remember, you DON”T get paid for the hour. You get paid for the VALUE you bring to the hour and for the results your client will achieve through investing with you.

Offering clients to pay you by the hour tends to devalue the benefits and results you offer as well as making it very difficult for you to distinguish yourself from all the other coaches and consultants offering similar services.

Therefore it’s important to create your Signature System and various programs and packages that incorporate your system, which you can then position strategically (and influentially) to your prospect.

My coach’s tip: Develop your unique Signature System by defining the steps you take your client through, and then creating various packages and programs that involve more than just your time so that you can quickly gain expert status and get paid what you’re worth.

  1. 6-Figure Business Pillar 4: Your Irresistible Free Offer To Grow Your List

Have you heard the saying: “The money is in your list?”

Your irresistible free offer plays a key role in your list-building strategy.

While this is a well-known expression, I’m surprised at how many coaches and consultants aren’t pro-actively building their lists.

Are you sending out regular messages to encourage people to access your irresistible offer so that your list is growing on a daily basis?

If not, you’ll need to get this key pillar in place immediately.

Remember, it can take 7 to 9 individual communications from you before someone decides to invest. And in a tight and difficult economy it can take double that amount of time.

Adding people to your list on a daily basis will give you the opportunity to send updates and helpful information as part of your keep-in-touch strategy so that YOU are the person they think of when they’re ready to invest.

My coach’s tip: If you’re struggling to grow your list, create a free offer (such as an e-report, a video or audio series etc) and make sure it’s relevant and of value to your ideal client and continue to encourage people on a daily basis to sign up for your irresistible free offer.

6-Figure Business Pillar 5: Your Memorable Personal Marketing Statement to Spark Attention

If I were to read your Twitter or Facebook bio – would I feel compelled to follow you? Or if we were introduced at a networking event, would your introduction inspire me to find out more about you?

Or do you sound like the dozens of other professionals in your area, some of whom are attending the same event and using an introduction that sounds very similar to yours?

Unfortunately for many coaches and consultants, it’s often the latter.

Your personal marketing statement should include elements of your Signature Brand, Your Signature System and the benefits/value you offer your clients so that people feel compelled to get to know more about you and the services you offer.

When done correctly you’ll definitely give yourself the edge you need to distinguish your service from all of the other coaches and consultants working in your area of specialty.

My coach’s tip: If you’re still stating your job title, or you’re not generating interest with your introduction then go back to the drawing board and make sure it’s memorable or compelling and relevant to your ideal clients’ needs and desires.

These 5 key pillars are a must if your goal is to make this year the year you make your mark in the industry, become recognised as the ‘go to’ person in your field, while creating a 6-Figure (or more) business.

HAVE YOUR SAY:

So, what do you think? Do you have some work to do? Or do you need some slight tweaking here and there to strengthen what you are already doing. Let me know in the comments section below. It’s always lovely to hear from you.

And, if you feel you need some expert support in identifying and building these 5 key pillars, come and join me on my 6-Figure Success Blueprint Group Coaching Program, starting soon! I’d love to help you map out your 6-figure (or more) business.

Are you ready?

Till next time, stay inspired and brilliant!

6-figure business