August 22, 2009
In my dreams, I envision being the marketing consultant equivalent of Oprah or Tiger Woods. Oprah, for her premise, "You're a woman and only you are responsible for yourself." Tiger Woods, for his ultimate dedication to the game. Respectively, this is what they're known for or what their personal value can be identified as; put another way, this is what their brand identities are.
Once you're known for something and people perceive value in "this something [your brand]," it's at this moment that you start to make money. Once you have perceived value, other entrepreneurs and businesses will pay money to be associated with the perception for which you're known.
To be an entrepreneur, the first decision you must make is, "Who do you want to be?" Or, put another way, "How do you want to be perceived by others?" The answers to these two questions are equivalent to the foundation that'll drive all of your future marketing decisions, from what advertising vehicles you'll use, to the type of customers and clients you'll target.
For example, would you like to be known as the world's most prestigious dietician? People all over the world seek you out and pay money for your advice on how to integrate more color into their diets. To build a foundation and reach such prestige, your image marketing plan might involve the following actions.
* Complete appropriate credentials such as certifications and higher education.
* Obtain and make visible reputable references including popular media personalities quoting you as an expert, current and past clients quoting specific things you did to help them, and a variety of print articles and electronic news bulletins in which you're quoted.
* Build credibility by hosting, writing or producing a weekly healthy-eating column called, "Got Colors, Get Healthy."
* Socialize and be seen with other health-related well-known experts or people who exhibit healthy behavior such as: other dietitians, diet book authors, athletes, personal trainers, physiology professors and food scientists. Why? Because a person can create an implied credibility about themselves simply by hanging out with other experts. Generally speaking, people assume that because the other experts let you hang with them, then you must be worthy of your "expert" status.
* Pick a unique clothing and makeup style and stick with it. A simple example, perhaps every time you leave your house, you always wear something purple, a scarf, pin, shirt, tie or nail polish. The repetitive purple creates a subliminal image, that, after awhile, causes people, when they see you in the news, at an event or in a magazine, to say, "I've seen her somewhere." And from this statement they extract that you're sought after, and therefore, you must know what you're talking about.
* Always evolve your image based on current trends. However, remember to make small changes, so as not to walk away from the image you've been working hard to build.
Every entrepreneur's image-building plan will be unique. In fact, it must be. It's the subtle differences about you as an entrepreneur that distinguish you from your competition. More importantly, it's also these differences that help your customers find you, since you'll be more able to effectively and affordably reach customers by selecting an image niche.
About The Author
Sharron Senter is a New England-based marketing consultant, speaker, writer and founder of Senter ?14 Image-building Dos ? small biz survival report. Receive Senter's free marketing tips at http://www.sharronsenter.com.