Commenting on my earlier post about “Time Management Secrets Every Entrepreneur Should Know,” Dennis said:
“Nice presell, Dr.Mani.”
I laughingly replied that there was “nothing for sale”.
But I lied!
Let me ask you a question. What one thing is it that you are ALWAYS selling, no matter what you say or do? Regardless of which business you are in? Wherever you are, whatever you’re doing?
Think about it for a moment, answer the question to yourself…and then keep reading.
The first time I consciously thought about it was around three years back (it happened in the shower, where some powerful insights pop up regularly, and random thoughts snap together into a startling and clear picture! You?)
It was almost revelational!
You see, the line of thought started from a forum discussion where people were talking about the now famous Internet marketing ‘30 Day Challenge‘ by Ed Dale. One person stated that Ed wasn’t selling anything…but I knew better. Because I ‘bought’ it. Even ‘sold’ it to others.
But…WHAT was it?
Before answering it, let me ask you another question. If you could afford to, would you buy me?
Would you buy me?
Now, no matter what your answer was, think about this.
- What if YOU were a product or service?
- Who would buy you?
Marketing is about filling a need, identifying what an audience wants, solving a problem for them. And selling is about making them want it – because unless they want it, they sure ain’t going to buy it!
People do business with people. They prefer to work with people they know, like and respect. And because business is always about people, the one thing you are always selling is the PERSON behind the business. The ‘product’ or ‘service’ called…YOU.
If you’re a ‘product’, you should fill a need. If you’re selling the ‘product’, you should learn about positioning it as something your audience wants.
That’s exactly what marketing yourself is about – and every single one of us is doing that (successfully, or not) every day, in every way, all the time…knowingly or otherwise!
It’s what Ed Dale is ‘selling’ (and doing it masterfully) in his FREE ‘30 Day Challenge’. He’s selling you on ‘Ed Dale’ – the man, the expert, the brand. And every year, thousands are buying…just like I did, just like even you did, maybe.
Through this weekly column on Yaro Starak’s blog, that’s what I am doing too. I’m selling you, my reader, on the brand called “Dr. Mani”.
So, you think it’s egoistic to consider an individual a ‘brand’? Here’s an eye-opener for you. It’s this article by Tom Peters I read way back in 1997 that shifted a paradigm in my business thinking, and got me working on a strategy to brand myself. “The Brand Called You” is a landmark article every entrepreneur must read, especially in today’s exciting, socially networked, globally accessible world powered by the Internet.
Because now, EVERYONE – yes, that includes YOU – has the power to build a brand around the unique, special and exquisitely exciting person that you are.
“Solopreneurs should not fear competition. You are unique. There is only one YOU.”
My friend Mari Smith, whom FAST COMPANY magazine calls “the Pied Piper of Facebook”, said it very nicely on one of her blog posts.
That’s absolutely true, especially when you sell your audience on you. Suddenly, you have no serious ‘competition’. And that’s why it helps to think about yourself in the same way as you would a product or service. Consider features and benefits. Figure out positioning and USP (Unique Selling Proposition). Think about marketing angles and presentation.
Then use the inexpensive, yet wildly powerful tools that you have access to, and leverage your online presence into a strong brand that attracts the right kind of people into your network. “Social marketing”, even if it’s a paradox in terms, is about revealing and sharing your personality. When you align that with your brand and business, you can squeeze incredible value out of your engagement on every social network you choose to participate on.
That’s how marketing on social media works.
Authenticity is its currency. Transparency is the risk. Trust is your rich reward.
The nice thing is that you can direct the conversations that happen around your brand – by becoming a part of it online.
Except that it’s a lot more complex than merely promoting a service or launching a new product – because this is something you are selling ALL THE TIME.
- Yes, even when you’re schmoozing on a discussion forum, or answering personal email, or dashing off a tweet on Twitter, or updating your status on Facebook.
- Yes, even when you’re posting that funny picture on Flickr, or commenting on recent news updates, or sharing a joke or quote or a blog post with friends.
- Yes, whatever you do online (and maybe, even offline – since the people you do it with may share it on the ubiquitous Web!)
And the collective impact of it all is what goes into creating what Hugh ‘GapingVoid’ Macleod calls ‘the global microbrand‘ that’s YOU.
That’s the risk – and the opportunity.
Because when you do things that are remarkable or worth sharing, you tap into the new ‘recommendation era’ we are now entering, and get your brand to go viral through social networks. People tell people about you. New audiences hear about you and your message. Markets open up and expand. Competition withers away and dies.
All of this can happen – for FREE!
So what can you do to take advantage of this situation and leverage it into expanding your business and growing your profits? It’s easy. Just make it easy for others to recommend you. Realize that you are selling yourself, the brand named ‘You Inc,’ and use that realization to structure everything that you say and do – at least in the future.
You can take this insight that you are selling yourself all the time, and use it to attract the attention of your ideal propects, build relationships with them that translate into getting closer to your goals, and turn them into spokespersons for your brand, for your business, and for YOU.
- Knowing this, will you go out on Twitter or Facebook spraying around affiliate links willy-nilly? Or will you engage your followers and friends in conversation?
- Knowing this, will you mindlessly pass along racist jokes, controversial blog posts, or make religiously offensive comments? Or will you first run it through the “Does this fit my brand?” filter?
- Knowing this, will you condemn and criticize folks, or bad-mouth certain categories of people on a public discussion forum, lose your temper or go off on rants? Or will you tweak this behavior to fit your ‘micro-brand’ better?
Maybe yes. Maybe not. But either way, EVERYTHING that you do has an impact and influence.
Because, remember, YOU are the brand!
Thoughts? Comment away