career management, Careers, Elevator Pitch, entrepreneurs, Job Search, Personal Branding, self employed, small business

Without A Strong Brand, It’s All About Price

Mary Rosenbaum | February 16th, 2010

How would you like to charge more for your services or products than your competitors? With a strong personal brand, you can. If you don’t believe me visit your local drug store. There are generic drugs available at pennies a piece sitting alongside a branded generic product, a more expensive version of the same exact product with the difference being the name of a major drug company somewhere on the box. Companies know that consumers prefer buying brands and as a result, are willing to pay more for the PROMISE of quality.

A strong brand takes pricing out of the equation. David Avrin in his book, “It’s Not Who You Know It’s Who Knows You” says that the 4 most dangerous words to hear when pitching a client, asking for a raise, or selling a product, are: “All things being equal”.  If you hear these words then you haven’t differentiated yourself from your competitors; you haven’t effectively communicated the PROMISE of quality or unique value. Instead, you are now competing on price, location or any other factors that have nothing to do with the value of the service or product you provide.

Branding isn’t limited to corporations. Are there any entrepreneurs, small businesses or professionals who would rather focus on pricing issues when making their pitch instead of on the quality of their offerings? With a strong personal brand, a reputation that is substantiated by results, the focus will be on your differentiating PROMISE of value. (See an earlier post that can help you in defining your personal brand at bit.ly/56nIeA)

Here are some defining characteristics that are the underpinnings of a strong brand.

1. Quality – It’s what clients value and are willing to pay a premium for if it is what they can expect. Think Toyota and how the brand has been hurt by the quality control issues affecting accelerators on their cars.

2. Reliability – Delivering results as promised and as expected each and every time builds credibility and brand loyalty. Negative surprises hurt your brand. Part of Toyota’s brand has been the safety of their vehicles. The recent events have called into question their reliability in delivering safe cars to families who have relied on them for decades.

3. Consistency – Clients like knowing what to expect from you and what value you provide. Staying on brand all the time and being able to clearly and consistently describe your unique PROMISE of value is key to developing and maintaining a strong brand.

So, if there ever was a question in your mind about the value of a strong personal brand for your business or your career take a look around at your local drug store or grocery store and see how your purchasing decisions are affected by strong brands, brand recognition and brand loyalty when the same products are available at a lower cost.

Are there other examples that you can think of where strong brands command premium prices for products or services that are not considered premium?


To Blog or Not to Blog, Benefits and Rules of Blogging

Mary Rosenbaum | February 1st, 2010

I am always being asked about the value of writing a blog. Is it worthwhile to spend the time especially since there have recently been a spate of articles on the proliferation of blogs and the diminishing value of their content? After all, how many different ways can similar ideas be presented and how do we know there are sufficient readers out there to make the time you spend writing worthwhile?

What would your purpose be in writing a blog? If you are an entrepreneur, a small business owner, a sole practitioner, or a careerist, the odds are that you want to grow your business, grow your reputation, gain greater visibility, and/or promote your career. What better way than to write about the issues affecting your clients or your industry in a way that helps your readers and provides them with some insight into how you think and what you know.

From a personal standpoint I know that writing a blog has solidified how people view me and my services in addition to generating new business. Writing and maintaining a blog enables me to:

1. Get my point of view out there for others to read and comment on

2. Convince or introduce people to new ways of thinking

3. Solidify my brand – what others think of me in their hearts and minds

4. Gets my name out there in front of people I may not have been able to reach otherwise

5. Provide other experts’ opinions and writings to my readers through links and references

6. Start a conversation and create a community with like minded people

7. Get input because I am always interested in learning from the experiences of others

In order to achieve these goals I make sure that I follow these rules when I post on my blog.

1. Don’t try to sell them anything. It should not be a sales piece for you or your business.
2. Offer information that would be valuable to your particular audience.
3. Be consistent, stay “on brand” to solidify how others view you and what you offer or do. If they expect you to write on particular topics, meet their expectations.
4. Maintain continuity and post regularly, if not every week then at least every other week.

5. Never bad mouth others (unless they are criminals or are already viewed as “bad guys” by the world).

When done correctly blogging can be a valuable tool to growing your career or business; but promoting your blog is critical to making the time you spend writing worthwhile. Using Twitter, Linkedin, Facebook, as well as publishing on a variety of content related ezines you increase your readership exponentially.

Are there other benefits you derive from writing a blog? Are there other rules you adhere to when writing your posts? What other ways do you promote your blog?