In their book, "Million Dollar Web Presence," authors Chad Barr and Alan Weiss lay out tactical strategies for building a brand and business by leveraging the Internet. In the following excerpt, the authors detail the key components of a successful brand and outline steps to achieve it.
Your brand should be memorable, compelling and carry implied value. It shouldn't be time-related to an event. When an interviewer says, "Tell me who you are," how would you complete the sentence: "I am ____"?
A brand is a representation of uniform value that most often creates both intellectual attraction and, more importantly, emotional appeal and even cachet. Most people you ask will tell you that Coca-Cola or Coke is the strongest brand in the world, followed closely by McDonald's. A few years ago, BusinessWeek [now Bloomberg Businessweek], which uses a formula to calculate the worth of the brand appeal in building business, placed Coke on top of the list, at $80 billion.
But at this writing, and for the past two years, the brand king has been Google. The web builds brands at the speed of light.
So if you believe, as we do, that logic makes people think, but emotion makes them act, ask yourself these questions when people consider your brand or brands: Is it something special? What kind of emotions do you want to generate? Are you someone with whom they would like to do business or follow?
If you don't blow your own horn, there is no music. At some point your horn can become a full orchestra, augmented by the web's scalability and power to leverage. The key is to create this presence in a non-narcissistic way, and look like a valued asset and not a late-night infomercial.
The strongest brand is your name. "Get me Joan Larson" is a far better dynamic than "Get me an excellent strategist" and Joan happens to be a possible name among many. Not many people have said, "We need Summit Consulting Group." They say, "We need Alan Weiss."
But on the way to your name recognition, and often in conjunction with your name recognition, you can and should create brands that "play well" on the web and enhance your appeal. Among the brands we've helped people develop: the Lion Tamer (working with aberrant behavior in executives); Lifeblood (working in the biotech field); the Technology Tailor; the Performance Architect; and the Sales Accelerator.
Search your brands and those of your colleagues and competitors, via YouTube, Google's advanced search tools or Twitter. You can also set up automatic alerts through Google Alerts and subscribe to automatic blogs update using Google Reader. When searching your name, company name and brands that are associated with you, what do you see? Are the results vast, impressive and complementing your credibility, or not?
Find out for yourself if people are being exposed to a coherent, clear "story" about your value, or if they find a gallimaufry of odd notices and references.
If you find that your brand isn't consistently expressed or strong, try these techniques:
- Position yourself as the brand while publishing. For example: "Chad's 10 SEO Myths" or "Alan's 101 Sales Question for Every Sales Situation."
- Publish often--several times a week on your blog and at least monthly on your site with articles. Contribute your expertise to online communities and social media and provoke with questions.
- Engage and build online relationships with thought leaders and influential bloggers. Consider the following:
- Comment on their sites, blogs and social media profiles with provocative yet helpful content.
- Mention their content, products and services in your content such as articles, podcasts, and videos.
- Suggest additional resources.
- Interview them.
- Offer to be interviewed.
- Monitor what is being said about you and your brand and interact quickly with both the good and the bad.
- Connect with journalists and provide them with relevant and interesting information for their followers.
How many of these activities are you engaged in? We'll bet too few.
Learn from the best and emulate their approaches. Who appeals to you and why? Whose brands are easiest for you to remember and use when you make purchasing decisions? We think you'll see the following commonalities:
- Attractive design
- Brand-related books
- Podcasts on the site, blog and iTunes
- Videos on the site, blog and YouTube
- Huge supporting content and value
- Workshops, teleconferences and webinars
- Speaking engagements
- Constant reinvention and evolution
The unmined ore of your brand reach is probably your own database. Once you interact with someone, be sure to consider:
- An auto responder after an initial purchase, to thank them and offer additional value and offerings
- Newsletters with how-to content, interviews and incentives
- Promotion newsletter with special offers and announcements
Increase your database's size and quality by creating landing pages that offer enticements for visitors to provide their email addresses. Alan routinely sends gifts to every 500th new follower on Twitter, for example.
The turbo charge to building powerful brands is to provide value to your clients, prospects and visitors that generates results that demonstrably improve their condition.
This article is an excerpt from the book Million Dollar Web Presence from Entrepreneur Press.
Chad Barr and Alan Weiss are authors of Million Dollar Web Presence (Entrepreneur Press, 2012). Barr is president of The Chad Barr Group, an Internet-consulting firm based in Shaker Heights, Ohio. Weiss is president of Summit Consulting Group Inc., a management and organizational-development consulting firm based in East Greenwich, R.I.