This week as I’m focusing on Personal Branding, my thoughts wandered back to 2012 when I presented at the Franchise Brokers Association Conference & Expo. My presentation was appropriately titled, Personal Branding for Franchise Brokers. I recall many questions that essentially asked the same thing – What is personal branding and why is it important to me as a franchise broker or franchise salesperson (or business development professional)?
I started my presentation with a picture of a starting line at a race. The runners were all poised, ready to sprint forward when given the signal to do so. Although pointing in the same direction, their eyes were looking at different spots ahead of them. For whatever reason, they were focused on something of relevance to them. At this point, I discussed focus and the questions surrounding the same – the why, what, how, etc… After all, one must have a plan and these questions must be asked and answered to develop that plan.
I went on to discuss the importance of standing out. There were five points listed on the screen: 1. Perceived as an expert, 2. Improves search results, 3. Creates opportunities, 4. Builds confidence, and 5. Attracts resources.
Next on the screen was a look back at the way things used to be, affectionately referred to as the “Old days”. This slide listed the following obstacles or instances that prevented, hindered, made it difficult, or just the way it was to get in front of or to attract potential customers or clients including: 1. Stuck behind the counter, 2. “Rubber chicken” lunches, 3. Large PR or marketing budget, 4. Slow to grow business, and 5. Pay for resources.
To those who may remember Sam Drucker from the then popular TV shows, Petticoat Junction and Green Acres, I used his photo to discuss the old days. I also thought about Sam Drucker because he personified personal branding back in the day. He was known as the expert on, well, everything. After all, he had available for sale just about anything one might need in a small town. He was also very knowledgeable – just ask him the times the Cannonball train came through Hooterville or where Arnold the pig lived and went to school. He was the go-to guy. Certainly, Sam Drucker had a personal brand, even if he didn’t know it at the time.
Next, we discussed today’s franchise candidates, but it could certainly have applied to any potential candidate or consumer for whatever product or service you’d like them to consider and buy. Twelve years later, I believe my reference is much the same today. I described “today’s” candidates as, 1. More educated, 2. More sophisticated, and 3, More technologically advanced, than ever before. I also referred to these candidates as being, 1. More diligent, 2. More cautious, and 3. More anxious, than ever before. Note, 12 years ago we were in the throes of economic uncertainty similar to what is being experienced today.
We next saw on the screen a picture of a man on the ground hugging a lion. One of his hands was cradled around the lion’s neck and the other resting on the lion’s rear quarter. He was not holding him down, per se, but he was being cautious as he was building trust. There it is – trust, and with it, confidence. That is what must be done through personal branding. Trust must be built in order to have the target audience gain confidence in you, and your personal brand.
Well, trust and confidence do not happen overnight and certainly not without effort. The next screen listed a 4-step process to building trust and gaining confidence. It was titled, Earning the Right because that is exactly what must be done; trust and confidence must be earned! The process included, 1. Share information, 2. Interact with the candidate, 3. Engage with the candidate, and 4. Call for action – the next step. I asked the audience, “Is all of this making sense?” Of course, as I could tell by the heads nodding in agreement.
As I moved forward through the presentation, I discussed the definition of a brand. After all, if my audience was to become a personal brand, they should at last understand what a brand is, right? I also discussed brands in the digital world. This is really where personal branding allows us to thrive today and for the foreseeable future – in the digital world of social media, blogs, podcasts and much more. This is when I addressed the question about having enough time and selflessly (or selfishly) showing all my activities online. I believe I dispelled the notion of not having enough time. Meaning, I earned the right to not only continue with my message, but in presenting my personal brand.
Moving on through all the examples (and self-promotion) I stopped abruptly to focus on what must be done to ensure that a brand lives and breathes much like anything that is intended to grow. A brand must be planned. A brand must be nurtured. A brand must be allowed to grow. A brand must be invested in. A brand must be protected. A brand must be promoted. A brand must be cherished. A brand must be the center of the universe.
As I wrapped up the presentation, I again showed on the screen the picture of the man and the lion. There were smiles on the faces of the audience, and more nodding. Everyone seemed to understand the analogy – the message of trust and confidence. I then asked what would happen if trust and confidence had not been attained… Everyone understood as the next slide showed a lion with a lion tamer’s whip in its mouth, his hat on the ground, boot and shredded clothes on the ground around the lion. Yes, eaten alive!
If you’d like to see the PowerPoint in its entirety, it may be viewed on SlideShare HERE. If you happen to take the time to view it, I’d love to learn your thoughts. In the meantime, here’s my Question of the Week:
How important do you believe personal branding is today?
Have a great day. Make it happen. Make it count.