Recently, I attended a branding workshop given by Jeniffer Thompson – “Get Branded: The Secret to Soaring Above Your Competition”. Thankfully, it wasn’t painful at all : ) and I learned so much about branding, that I wanted to share with you. Jeniffer is an author branding and Internet-marketing strategist and is the co-founder of Monkey C Media. Not only is she an expert in her field, but her warm and welcoming approach set the tone for an engaging, informative, and interactive learning experience.
In addition to providing helpful content, Jeniffer also sent us home with her invaluable branding strategy workbook. It walks you through all the necessary considerations of branding, step by step. In it you learn how to establish authority, increase visibility, polish your personal style, and build your author platform.
It turns out that knowing who you are is key, not only to being successful in life, but in branding.
Who are you? What do you do? Who do you serve? Are all key questions in developing your brand. You have to establish your goals—are you trying to build credibility, gain exposure, sell books, be famous, or make money? She said that concentrating on three goals is ideal. What are your core values? And are you selling you or your book? People want to be able to trust you. Most importantly, be honest with yourself. As time passes, make sure to keep your bio updated—don’t let it get stale.
Jeniffer let us know from the beginning that it will take lots of courage to slay that dragon of fear that pops up as we ask ourselves questions like, “Am I good enough?” Time to take a deep breath, let it out, and move forward. She advised us that branding is a journey, not a destination, and she recommended that we not go it alone. Ask family, friends and colleagues to help identify your personal brand. What are you passionate about? What makes you unique?
Some of us were the beneficiaries of seeing how working in collaboration with others can be effectively used to develop your unique and authentic brand. I talked about our unique experiences in Israel, and the life-changing impact it has had for me. Spending my vacation touring by day, and bomb shelters at night. The missiles blasted me out of my complacency to becoming a Peace Maker—my brand was slowly being teased out from me by my words, Jeniffer’s direction, and the conscientious observations of my fellow audience members.
You have to realize that your brand is your promise to your reader, and it encompasses everything about you from your writing to what you wear. Look at your brand and analyze it in detail. Keeping your audience in mind is paramount—who is your reader? Identify your ideal customer, and know that person inside and out. Is your reader an outdoor adventurer who would expect rugged or casual, or is your reader a buttoned-down lawyer?
Look at your competition and see what they are doing to attract your audience—it probably will give you some ideas. Also look at who influences your audience. Use the platforms where they do—you want to be out among your peeps and experience who they are, to be able to respond effectively. Choose the social media that you are comfortable with; if you can’t bring yourself to use it because it is so out of character, concentrate on those you can.
Jeniffer reminded us that we have to periodically take an inventory of our various points of contact with our audience, whether on our own websites, LinkedIn, Facebook, or Instagram. As humans, we change constantly, so we have to keep that in mind to ensure we are promoting ourselves in a consistent fashion, with who we are today. Plan these platform reviews periodically throughout the year, and schedule them on your calendar.
Consider which blog makes sense to share your information with—spend some time lurking on the site to see what is being shared and what types of comments it is generating. Make some of your own comments. Medium.com, is a great place to share valuable content. It’s best to join a blog when it is new. Even if you are receiving some comments that seem like spam, see if there is something that you can salvage by fixing the typos and taking out the links. Shut down comments after a month, they probably will be spam and a waste of time.
Jeniffer showed us several slides of book covers and how the authors have established their brands by using the same colors, fonts, and sometimes even consistent placement of title and the author’s name. If you are a Tess Gerritsen or Andrew Peterson fan, from the moment you look at their latest book, it feels like you are returning to what’s familiar to you, and it invites you to take a peek inside, if you dare.
Google is your friend—whether you’re using Google spreadsheets, alerts, documents, surveys, Google+, or YouTube.
Make a reader vision board. Cut out magazines pictures of 1–3 people who would be attracted to your work. Post it on the wall where you can see it while you write. Look at three key markets and focus on one at a time.
Connect with your readers, thought leaders, media, and educators to drive traffic. Your supporters can be divided into three categories: people who love anything you do, people who hold you accountable, and Influencers who can help you make inroads.
Make sure all of your visuals are consistent—logo, website, collateral pieces, email signatures, etc. Branding is like a big puzzle—and you have to be sure all the parts are there to make it work and appear cohesive. While you’re building that puzzle, through consistency and authenticity, it helps create trust.
Well, as you can see Jeniffer is very knowledgable and a consummate professional. Now, let’s get out there and make our brands consistent, authentic, and effective!
Written by: Penny S. Tee adapted from her submission to the PWOC newsletter for PublishersWritersOrangeCounty.org.