Lessons from Paula Deen: How What You Say Can Damage Your Brand

I’m a huge proponent of being yourself as part of your brand for your business. Authenticity and truth need to be at the core of what you say and do. It doesn’t matter if what you say is hurtful or controversial, there are still people who will love your brand if you hurt people’s feelings, look at Howard Stern, Donald Trump or Simon Cowell. The problem for a brand happens when you appear inauthentic because there’s no CONSISTENCY in your actions. That’s what got Paula Deen into this huge financial mess that has all her big corporate sponsors backing off.

In Jim Joseph’s article in the Entrepreneur magazine, he makes these very valid points:

We can learn from this unfortunate example. First of all, understand who you are as a brand. Be clear about your intentions and your beliefs, and align them with your marketing activity.

Secondly, make sure that your beliefs and behaviors align with your customers as well, to avoid any disconnect like we are witnessing with Paula Deen. While some fans have risen to defend her, for the most part, her actions are fortunately out of line with her broader following.

Lastly, a big part of sincerity is consistency, allowing people to trust that you’ll always behave a certain way. These are human qualities that go a long way toward building a brand. The better people know you, the more they will trust and depend on you.
via Lessons from Paula Deen: How What You Say Can Damage Your Brand.

So, yes–it’s ok to be you. Even if that you is racist or hateful. From a brand standpoint that is. Just make sure that you’re ALWAYS the same you. Your brand will thank you for it.

Need more chicken soup for your biz? Follow me on Twitter, friend me on Facebook or connect with me on LinkedIn –and let’s talk

Are you being too clever for your customer?

A good friend bravely took the plunge into entrepreneurship after over a decade spent working for “The Man”. The first thing she did like any business owner was not to get a business strategy or to make a marketing plan. She went and got a graphic designer to design her brand, spanking-new company logo. That’s the exact moment in time that she started strangling her newborn venture at conception.

The Silent Killer

My friend decided to shorten the industry in which she would be working and incorporate it into her brand name. For example, Janice’s Project Management became JPM.

I can’t tell you how many businesses I come across everyday do this very same thing. I’m not sure where we learned that companies with acronyms for brand names were cool.

If this is you, you’re KILLING your business with that brand name.

The death of your beloved baby business comes about due to several factors that stem from this awkward acronym.

1. Nobody understands what it stands for except for you

I chuckle fondly every time I remember the name of a meeting between our production and marketing teams at my last job. The name PMS (production, marketing status meeting) had been coined by some boss who didn’t even survive half as long as the name did. I’ve heard PMS used for so many other things since then. The point is, no matter what it means to the person who coined the name, if it’s an acronym, it’s meaningless to others.

2. You’re missing a Search Engine Optimization Opportunity

I still tell the story of a business I met who 20 years ago, with zero knowledge of the internet named their company Stenogropherstoronto and bought this same URL. To this day, where SEO has become crucial to success in her industry, she still ranks top of the search pages. No potential client is searching for your acronym. I guarantee it.

3. You’re missing a Memorability Opportunity

The reason you branded in the first place was to be remembered. Otherwise people would say ‘oh, Kim Dickson does interior design for lofts, you should call her’. People still do use their own names as their brand names and for those who are established and have lots of equity in their industry, that’s absolutely ok. However, if you’re a newbie and need to get traction in a crowded marketplace, your brand name needs to stand out and be memorable. Here’s a story to demonstrate:  I needed to get a quote from a new maid service and remembered that one of the ladies in my bootcamp fitness class owned a business called Bubbles and Squeak. I absolutely didn’t remember HER name or anything else about the business but just remembering her brand name allowed me to seek her out and hire her.

Save That Business

To save your brand, if you have an acronym or if you’re using your own name and you’re still relatively unknown—change it. Change it to a regular word in the English language that relates to something in your industry. The best in class example of all time of good branding is the brand name Staples. Do you wonder what they do for a living when you hear that brand name?

That’s what I want for you. I want people to stop scratching their heads or even worse, forgetting about you two seconds after hearing the name of your brand.

Need more chicken soup for your biz? Follow me on Twitter, friend me on Facebook or connect with me on LinkedIn –and let’s talk

Startup Wedding Planners Explore Niche Markets to Stand Out

Yes, I’m beating the drum of niching AGAIN. During my conference coaching sessions which consist of laser coaching small business owners on growth and development in 15 minute segments, the lack of a discernible niche is the number one problem for small businesses. It’s also the number one way for them to grow faster. Find that one ideal target client and that one thing that you sell to them. Make it very very specific. Then see the profits roll in.

Here is an excerpt from an article that talks about 3 differently niched Wedding Planners. I couldn’t resist sharing…

The Day-Of Coordinator
Helena Parker, Divine Events by Helena
San Diego

Helena Parker caters to brides who don’t want to spend thousands of dollars for a wedding planner but still need help. Clients hire her to deal with vendors in the final two weeks leading up to the wedding and manage the flow of events on the day, which typically requires about 20 hours of work. Unlike a full-service planner, she isn’t involved in early-stage planning and doesn’t help choose colors, flowers, food or music.

The Same-Sex Wedding Expert
Bernadette Coveney Smith, 14 Stories
Boston and New York

Bernadette Coveney Smith capitalized early on the same-sex marriage movement. When the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court ruled in 2003 that same-sex couples had the right to marry, she quit her job at a Boston nonprofit organization and launched her same-sex wedding planning agency, 14 Stories.

The Destination Wedding Planner
Alison Hotchkiss, Alison Event Planning & Design
San Francisco and New York

In 2003, when Alison Hotchkiss started planning weddings in exotic locales, the term “destination wedding” wasn’t yet part of the lingo, and only three other U.S. planners specialized in lavish locations.

via Startup Wedding Planners Explore Niche Markets to Stand Out.

Other wedding niches could be Goth, Sexy, Country, Glee…you name it! There are as many different kinds of people as potential niches. It differentiates you if you choose one of them instead of trying to service all of them.

It just makes marketing sense…

Need more chicken soup for your biz? Follow me on Twitter, friend me on Facebook or connect with me on LinkedIn –and let’s talk!

Don’t Talk About Your Hell While You’re In It

You are human (right?) and while as an entrepreneur you help solve your clients’ pain, sometimes you are also in pain. Sometimes, that pain that you make your living helping clients with is also, for a brief moment in time, your pain. Do you feel like a fraud every day and go on as if nothing’s happening?

While at the WIBN conference this weekend, the dynamite Danielle Laporte, channelling my hero Dr. Wayne Dyer in a tight leopard outfit talked about this very topic. She said that while she was going through her divorce, she was selling books and advice on how to sort out other people’s lives. Similarly when I first launched my coaching practice, I had nightmares for 2 solid months trying to think of ways to get new clients.

Are You A Fake?

When what you teach ain’t helping you, do you stop the teaching? Well, I think that what you’re teaching (and selling) wouldn’t have an audience if there was no need for it in the world. No matter the source of the message, doesn’t the message still help those who don’t know what you know?

Hell Strategies

What do you do when you’re a money coach and you’re in debt or a biz development consultant and can’t get clients? Well, first and foremost you DON’T TALK ABOUT it WHILE you’re in it.

Another thing that you can do is to get some help. There’s a reason you’re in the situation you’re in so fix it. That, in my mind doesn’t negate your power in helping others.

When’s It Ok To Share?

Hopefully the mess will have moved far far away from your current everyday reality and you can (as Suzanne Evans says) then “make your mess your message”. You gain instant credibility and liking with that kind of authentic honesty.

What’s NOT Ok To Share?

Don’t share details that will hurt others. Don’t close doors you can’t open. Don’t bring judgement into your message. Bring hope and courage. Then use the lessons you’ve learned to help even more people.

Need more chicken soup for your biz? Follow me on Twitter, friend me on Facebook or connect with me on LinkedIn –and let’s talk!