Category: Tools


Last night, I was talking with my brother and he mentioned how the story of Apple and its brand awareness was amazing. I immediately related the Apple brand success to the relationship that the company has with their employees. I haven’t researched this, but I am willing to create a theory on the success of the Apple brand. I believe that if the Apple employees were not as excited and bought into the Apple products and ultimately, the Apple brand, Apple would not be the household name that it is nor would d Apple have developed such a following. Think about it. Let’s say that Apple created an environment of creativity and innovation. They made sure that every member of the Apple team thoroughly understood and believed in the mission of the company. That same Apple employee who is working on a new product starts talking to their family and friends about this great product that is coming out, then, the friends and family share the same excitement with their other friends and family. Suddenly, everyone had to have it. This excitement all began with the internal relationship that Apple built with each team member.

This is an example of the direct correlation between relationships and success, whether personal or professional. Branding doesn’t exist without relationship, positive or negative. A company you don’t like because of a poor product or bad customer service has a brand that makes them unsuccessful because remember, a brand is simply a perception. The practice of developing positive relationships seems to have become rare commodities. It seems in our desire to attain what we think we need to be strong and sustainable in our life, we’ve unconsciously returned to the days of very mechanistic behavior. This has been to the detriment of building positive, honest brands.

For this reason, Brand Event Marketing (BEM) is launching a new company called Branding Katina (sound familiar).  After years of strategic brand development and even applying those practices to my own life, I realized the importance of the relationship and how so many don’t perceive this nor do they know how to develop and maintain positive relationships. As Managing Director of Brand Event Marketing, I want to change that behavior, one client at a time. Branding Katina will teach the behaviors of successful internal and external relationships, while continuing to do what BEM is known for, developing successful brand strategies.

As you read this, I hope that you consider your own personal and professional relationships. Are they what you need them to be? Are they providing you the support and knowledge to continue to move forward and be proud of who you are? Do the people around you know what you stand for? Do you know what your company stands for? Are you proud of the work your company does? Let me know. I’d love to hear about it. Let’s start building that positive, successful relationship.

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Over the next few days, I am going to give a general overview of how to start a community business. Within this conversation, I will try to answer some of the most popular questions and explain why certain steps are taken. I have chosen to focus on a start-up that will provide mobile services to the community. Specifically, managing estate sales. I’m sure some of you are familiar with HGTV’s Cash & Cari. Cash & Cari follows “estate sale guru Cari Cucksey [as she] combs through her clients’ basements, attics and garages in search of hidden treasure. And once she and her team have organized and priced the entire contents of the home, they hold an estate sale right on the premises.” (HGTV) Since we all have or know someone who has lots of stuff and the idea of treasure hunting for money seems kind of cool to me, I decided to let this be our fictional new start-up.

We’ll get started by considering the answer to one of Brand Event Marketing’s most common requests: PLEASE help me figure out where to begin. How do I get started? That is a loaded question because it doesn’t have a simple answer. It always finds its way to what, when, where, why and how. What is the business? Where will the business be located? Who are the clients? Where are the clients? How do you communicate your product/service to and with them? Why is the service/product important to the client? When are the deadlines? As we begin, we will list all of those questions and answer them honestly. This is the self- and business- assessment that can be the difference between failure and success.

The Small Business Administration is a great place to start the process. They have some great tools that will help you make smart decisions. As I go through this process, I will begin with their 20 questions to ask before starting a business. Additionally, below are a few more questions to deepen your thought process. (Competitive Analysis)

  1. Have you thoroughly listed all of your direct and indirect competitors?
  2. Have you done your homework and gathered accurate facts and figures on your competitors?
  3. What are the strengths and weaknesses of your competitors? We will discuss this in more detail in another post.
  4. Is there a segment of the market that your competitors are overlooking?
  5. Are there services that your competitors are not providing for their customers that you could provide?
  6. Are you pricing goods or services competitively in regard to your competition? Make sure to explain why you are able to price higher or lower than your competition. Undercutting competition with price is not always favorable.
  7. Do you have the finances required to build a business in a competitive market?
  8. What is your competitive advantage?

Tomorrow, I’ll answer those questions for the Estate Sale Start-up and then, we’ll discuss the next step.

Recently, I had a conversation with a peer about the issue of people being resistant to change. They like their routine, their way of doing things and when we, as brand strategists or change agents, get involved, not everyone is ready to do their part. This caused me to start thinking about change and why we are sometimes against it. I know that I have a certain way of doing things and if that is disrupted, I can quickly lose my place. But within the big picture of the work environment, it seems change is the everyday constant. When you begin your day, you never know what is going to happen and in a work environment, the bottom line is to stay relevant and to grow. Growth is such a trigger word right now, yet, it seems people would like to receive the growth without dealing with the change. Now, don’t get me wrong, just as Ellen Glasgow said, “All change is not growth, as all movement is not forward.” But growth is defined as a stage of development; therefore, to mature and become better, you must grow and to grow you must change.

Change is not necessarily easy and can seem to require more work, even if the workload is the same, but  just a shift in process can difficult. I believe this is why so many struggle with change, but in a world that is growing smaller everyday, change is now the standard, not the variable. We all must shift our thinking to live in this world of ever-changing dynamics. But, as long as you know, understand and recognize your truth, then change can become a variant within what you know as your professional and personal roles.  Take time to be aware of what may change and how you can adapt to it. This is your time. Make change work for you, not against you.

This morning, I read an article arguing that small business owners should not focus on developing a brand, but on creating sales. In the article, “Trying to Create a Personal Brand? Unless You’re Steve Jobs, Stop.”,  Jeff Haden on bnet.com argues that:

Sales generate immediate profits and, possibly, will slowly build your brand.

http://www.bnet.com/blog/small-biz-advice/trying-to-create-a-personal-brand-unless-you-8217re-steve-jobs-stop/519?tag=content;drawer-container

I understand his goal, but I disagree with his statements. As a brand strategist, I am constantly asked to place value on the work that I do. Hence, this project called Branding Katina. By making the statement, “Sales generate immediate profits and, possibly, will slowly build your brand.” is saying that sales are simply people asking a question and receiving the answer that moves a service or product, removing the process of the initial interest of the customer and the conversation that begins based on the need and the possible solution to the need. Branding, in its simplest form, is a perception. If there is no perception, then there is no perceived solution to a problem, which is why people purchase a service or item. As it relates to personal branding, perception is why people choose you for certain jobs, ask your opinion on certain subjects, and ultimately, respect you as someone who fills a need. You cannot sell without the market’s belief that you will solve their problem, whether they are thirsty, hungry, or even confused about which way to go next. Everyone has a problem that requires a solution.

Jeff goes on to state that:

As a business owner, your employees and customers know you by your words and actions. Sure, you can adopt a look, develop a personal value proposition, and carefully manage your persona. Potential customers may be positively influenced.

But to the people you see every day, no amount of personal branding will ever offset the impact of your words and actions.

Ultimately, aren’t your words and actions the catalysts to other’s thoughts and beliefs about you? So, in essence, aren’t your words and actions the framework to your personal brand? Who you are is how people will respond to and treat you. As children, we are taught to be polite, saying please and thank you, respectful of our elders and learning as much as we can so that we can be at the front of the class. This, in turn, creates the environment in which the adults relate to the children, therefore, creating a brand. Remember when you were playing a team sport and the captains chose who was on their team? Those who were considered better game players were chosen first. See, a brand determined from a perception.

I recognize that most people equate branding with big logos, fancy fonts and taglines, but branding is so much simpler and an integral part of our communication process. You may know who you want to BE or even, who you are, but if no one else perceives that about you or your business, sales won’t happen. Nothing will happen.

A few weeks ago, I discussed some ideas to promote yourself through online social media. Today, I want to take a few minutes and discuss a common branding process. It will help you develop a plan to better understand how others view you and how to create a brand strategy from the current perspective. In brand development, there is a document/process called the SWOT analysis. SWOT is a landscape analysis and stands for Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities and Threats. The first two, SW, are internal and the last two, OT, are external.When you are beginning to determine a plan for a venture, whether business or personal, it is important to recognize all of the factors that will affect your venture.

In developing a SWOT analysis, it is best to create a chart that looks like this:

This way, you can visually see the good and the bad, so to speak. As you decide what to place in each area, remember these guidelines:

  • Strengths: characteristics of yourself that gives you an advantage over others or simply, makes you standout from others.
  • Weaknesses: are characteristics that place you at a disadvantage relative to others.
  • Opportunities: external chances to increase your ability to meet your goals.
  • Threats: external elements in the environment that could cause trouble for your goals.

Adapted from http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/SWOT_analysis

So, for example, an early client of mine wanted to expand her home baking business into a full business that would eventually support her financially. To first determine if this was a viable option for her, Brand Event Marketing developed a SWOT analysis for her.

Creating a SWOT analysis to determine the route of your personal goals is a productive and thorough way to begin creating your brand. After you finish the analysis, let me know who you want to BE and how you’re going to get there.

Getting Free Stuff

I decided at the beginning of the year to figure out how I could maintain our standard of living (a small household of 2) while spending less money. The immediate answer, of course, was coupons, but little did I know how intense couponing could be. Now, let me first say that I am not an “Extreme Couponer” like they show on the new TV series. I just wanted to see if using coupons was worth the time and effort that I’ve heard. So, I began with a newspaper, but being who I am, I had to investigate the process and that is when I found my FAVORITE money-saving blog. Hip2Save is a wonderful tool to have in your money-saving arsenal. It is run by Collin, a mother of three and the wife of a Marine, who had a similar goal, to create a certain lifestyle within her family’s budget. When I just happened to find the site, little did I know how much she would teach me, not just about couponing, but about getting products that you love either free or very inexpensively. Since I started reading  Hip2Save,  I’ve learned to save at least 60-70% on each grocery bill, how to organize my coupons so they are easily accessible, but even greater,  very rarely does a day go by that I don’t receive something free in the mail. And if that happens, that simply means that I’ve been too busy to spend the time necessary to do the work.  A few months ago, I was even sent two pairs of jeans to keep. All I had to do was wear them over a two-week period and fill out a survey that took less than 5 minutes to complete.

Now, don’t get me wrong, this process of saving money is not quick. For example, I now use a three-ring binder for my coupons and it took over 5 hours to organize. But, it’s all about what you wish to gain. Saving money while maintaining my lifestyle is important to me and I know that my boyfriend loves not worrying about whether he has all of the items that he needs. Below, I am going to give you a few tips that I’ve learned in six short months. I am, by no means, an expert, but I am getting better.

  1. Join a money-saving blog that will alert you when there is a promo online or if there are any great sales going on. As I mentioned earlier, I love Hip2Save. It is well-written, organized and well-managed. I check it several times a day to make sure I’m not missing anything.
  2. Begin couponing. It takes time, but don’t think you have to go crazy when you first begin. Just get a Sunday paper, sit down and clip the coupons for the items that you like. Use them and see if that process works for you and your lifestyle.
  3. Take the time to compare the coupons with your store’s online ad. Let this guide your grocery list.
  4. Be open to trying new things. Resist being completely brand-loyal about everything. (Can you believe a brand strategist just said that?)
  5. Join market research sites like BzzAgent and All You Reality Checker. You will be given the opportunity to try (and keep) new products for free, with no catch, but a short review.
  6. “Like” your favorite brands on Twitter and Facebook. I liked Tide on FB and received a free full-size bottle of their new Stain Release as well as a full-size bag of the laundry additives.
  7. Join House Party to apply for parties where you are sent items to have a party and introduce/try a product with your friends. I won a Coffee-Mate party earlier this year, where I was sent 18 free Coffee-Mate coupons to share with friends and family at a party. In the party package, I was also sent the board game, Cranium and a full chess set as well as free coffee to make sure everyone could try the new Coffee-Mate flavors at the party.

These are just a few suggestions. It can seem very overwhelming, at first, but do what best fits your lifestyle and you will be excited to see the results. Now, I’m off to go check the daily deal sites to see if there is anything good out there. Happy Saving!

 

Consistency is the key to your success. Do you believe that statement? I do. It has been proven that it takes 21 days to create a habit. In his book, Psycho-Cybernetics, Dr. Maxwell Maltz discusses how he realized that it took 21 days for amputees to no longer feel the  phantom sensations in an amputated limb.

(As a plastic surgeon), he also noticed that many of his customers retained a poor self image even after having surgery which improved their appearance. This prompted him to work with his clients’ self image prior to surgery, and he discovered that he could assist them to acquire an improved self image without surgery, using the same 21-day period to create changes in their mindset, and that surgery then became unnecessary for them.

http://answers.google.com/answers/threadview/id/786165.html

With this knowledge, we can look at our own actions and consider the question, how consistent are we and how does this consistency (or lack of) directly affect others perception of me? At work, do you say you are going to get a task completed by a certain date and then make excuses for why it is not on time? Do you say you are going to workout and you start out hard, then fizzle off after a few days? Are you always late or always early? Over the last few weeks, I’ve silently been reviewing relationships and the expectations that are placed on them and I realize that a large part of the expectation is consistency. Can I count on this person to do what they say they are going to do? We can even make this more simple, do I expect people to be kind to me, yet I am not kind to other people? Do I expect people to care about my wants, yet I am indifferent to theirs? I believe that consistency is truly at the crux of success, whether big or small, public or private. A long time ago, my mother taught me that you have to teach people how to treat you. Recognizing this, am I consistent in demanding certain behaviors around me? Consistency lends itself to results. If you are not getting the results that you want, are you consistent to your commitment? Don’t expect to have a lean body, if you’re not willing to work hard consistently to get it. Don’t expect to get clients/customers if you don’t consistently promote your business. In my line of work, people are always looking for grand results, but they are not always willing to commit to the consistency that it takes to get those results. Are you looking for a new job or career change? In today’s economy, it’s easy to just sit back and focus on all of the negative aspects of your situation, but you will never get the job/career that you want if you are not consistent with your search.

Today, as I look at my own commitments and my consistency, I challenge you to do the same thing. What areas are you not getting the ROI that you expect, then look at the “I”, your investment and see if they match? Personal or professional, consistency is a key to your success and a huge part of your brand. Can you rely on yourself to be consistent in whatever is important to you? Then, go create that positive habit. If you need help, there is a great website, www.stickk.com that allows you to determine what habit you would like to create (or break) and gives you tools to be successful.


A great, and now expected, way to develop who you are and get people to know  you is to create your image online. The great thing about social media is that you can control how you are viewed, which further determines when people interact with you and why. Your first impression should and can be your best impression, even when you’re not face to face. We all know that those pictures of you racing to drink the most Tequila or seeing you dressed explicitly are not the best images, but what about those of you that don’t reflect what you do and how well you do it. It doesn’t take long to create a strong, visual personal brand online, but it does take thought and a strong understanding of how you wish to be perceived. I’ve mentioned it before, but about.me is a fantastic way to organize all of the places that you can be seen online and also allows you to say things about yourself in your own words. I’ve attached a few ideas as you further develop your own personal branding. I am currently updating all of Brand Event’s social pages. As soon as they are done, I will add to this post. Good Luck.

Kat's about.me page

Deb Nillas' about.me page

Aline Washington's about.me page

about.me

Being that this is a blog about how to develop your personal brand, I thought I’d take a few minutes and talk about a new tool that I’ve discovered. It is about.me. I was introduced to it as a BzzAgent and immediately decided to use it. I loved the idea of putting all of my info and Brand Event Marketing’s info in one place. In just a few minutes, I had a page that looked like and felt me. I liked that it was just a quick blurb about me using words that I chose about myself with my format. I was able to customize the image, the font and the overall look.

Once I decided I liked it for myself, I quickly told two of my colleagues about it and they developed their own pages. Their pages have a totally different look that is uniquely their own. Talk about instant gratification for developing your brand. I also like how you can look at stats of your about,me page and see if it is getting noticed, which as a marketer is an important part of determining if this option is the right fit.

About.me does offer business cards that are mini versions of your customized site and are a great way to reinforce your brand in person. I can’t say enough about about.me. I think it’s a great, modern site that is very useful in developing who you are in a snp.