Your brand matters

After nearly two decades of marketing and branding businesses, I needed to shift and use my experience to brand individuals for a new career path.  I quickly came to realize it is much more challenging branding a person than a company.  I now have much admiration for influencers and other individuals who have excelled in doing just that.

For starters, companies spend big money on branding. They hire outside agencies, have decent budgets and many have spent years building a strong go-to-market identity.

I’m hoping my blogs and Minute of Marketing YouTube series offers value in helping you lose all inhibitions to create your own personal brand and campaign.  The process is entirely egocentric and at times uncomfortable, but you’ve got to flaunt what you’ve got.  Let’s get started!


Who are you and what value do you bring to your profession or lifestyle?  Don’t dig too deep on this one but seriously, what are you good at?  If you’re a real estate agent, are you a location expert because you’ve grown up in an area?  If you’re a lawyer, what area of law do you specialize in? Are you a consultant or specialist, what is your niche – where do you excel? What makes you, you?  Pretty much, what are you good at and why does that deliver value? Most importantly, what is your unique selling proposition?

Keep in mind that your competition may deliver the same service as you do. Don’t think of it as WHAT you do but HOW you do it.  It’s your client’s experience they have with you that sets you apart, keeps them coming back for more and referring you to others. You should be able to provide the answer to what results you deliver and how that sets you apart.  How do your clients feel after working with you?  

When I was in the consulting world – not only did I deliver marketing strategies which are the same as my competitors, but I guaranteed results and offered measurability.  What made me unique is that I focused on ROI and didn’t require a long-term agreement. This way if I didn’t deliver or they didn’t think I did – they weren’t stuck with me and could cancel in 30-days at any time.  


Who is Your Target Market?  

This is more difficult to answer. “I want to target women who make more than $100K per year”, is not enough.  You need to clearly define what your audience looks like.   Is your target customer an entrepreneur? Do they have a family with kids? Do they work for a small or large business? Are they younger or are they older?  Where can you reach them?  Are they online, are their noses buried behind magazine covers? Where do they work? Are they in stores, on social media?  Most importantly, are they empowered to make decisions?

What are they looking for? What do they need?  Are they looking for a real estate agent, lawyer, mortgage, a logo, campaign, a new hairstyle?  Write a narrative about what they look like and look for so you can target them.

Also, who is your target consumer going to now for the service they desire and why would they use you?  What makes you special (from your defining exercise above) and why would they switch?  What conversation would you have with them if you were sitting across from them? 

For me, I was looking for small business owners with a business offering I could relate to.  I knew from years of helping dentists or accountants, that was not the direction I wanted to go.  I wanted a relatable field – fitness, fashion, entertainment, food or retail.  Because I pride myself on becoming the expert in whatever I market, I want to understand all sides of my task and it must be something I enjoy.  

I also focused on business size – I wanted a large enough business to have a decent budget to work with but not a huge entity that I couldn’t manage on my own without hiring a crew.   


Your brand should be authentically you.  Be relatable!  Remember your customers are real people and they want to identify with you as a person.

Show off how compelling and interesting you can be and why you are the expert in what you do.  Be multi-dimensional and do not edit your personality out of your writing or videos.  Your personality is a big part of what will make you a brand.

Combine your value with who you are targeting and wrap it up with your unique personality as part of the brand building process. Mix in your recreational hobbies, sports, strengths, weaknesses – anything that defines you and creates a bond.  Make your story personal and authentic.

For me, I used that I’m “small but mighty” and not a “slippery salesman in a shiny suit.”  I noted that I like boating and the energy of the water, the smell of ink fresh off the press and how my son is a wrestler. So, I understand the fear of stepping on a mat knowing you might not win but have the strength to go out anyway.  I added that I’ve had many personal fails, so know what it takes to get back up after falling.


Now that you’ve defined yourself and your value, identified your target market and thought about how to let your personality shine – write your branding statement.

This is not unlike writing a positioning statement for a business. This is unique to you and will clearly describe what you do and who you serve.  This statement will be on your website, your social media platforms and woven through all of your messaging. 

On my next blog, I will expand more into using your brand to develop visual elements and setting up your own domain, website layout, blogs, social presence, videos and more.

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Free samples gain customers

In my last blog “Marketing and the Power of Free” and subsequent vlog, I wrote about the impact of giving away products and/or free services.  By sampling or giving your product away at no cost builds brand awareness, increases sales and enhances your budget.  But how does it work and why?

Have you ever been to Costco and enjoyed the free samples?  How often did you buy what you tried because you really enjoyed it?  And if you didn’t buy the product, did you feel guilty?  Maybe you even put the product in your cart and unloaded it a few aisles down. 

That’s just a sample of the Law of Reciprocity.  The law of reciprocity says that when you offer something first for free and it is valued, people feel a sense of indebtedness toward you, thus in turn you then wanting to return the favor.

The law of reciprocity is one way marketers use psychology to entice or influence people to buy products or services.  It’s an innate reaction that if used correctly could result in an unprecedented ROI.

I received a postcard in the mail a while back for a free 8lb bag of dog food from PetSmart – brand of my choice.  I went into the store and grabbed the bag of dog food but feeling guilty about just getting something free, I also filled up my cart with $50 of treats and pet toys for my pup. I felt compelled to make a purchase, to reciprocate.

Imagine you’re out to dinner with your friend and she grabs the bill, a small argument ensues, she wins, and you feel indebted and want to do something in return immediately.  The result may be a lot of thanking, but you know quite certainly that you will be picking up the next tab. That is the psychology of reciprocity.

So how do you use reciprocity to increase business?

Service Business

Offer free advice and consultations.  Lawyers can answer pertinent questions, realtors can provide a free staging appointment, medical professionals can offer a free assessment, a salon can offer a free bang trim, etc.

Brick and Mortar Restaurants or Retail

Offer something to get people out of their door and into your store!  A free small gift just for stopping in, a no purchase necessary gift card for dining, a free appetizer, or even a free experience.  Recently, I received an offer from Gillette for a FREE Venus razor  – titled “For Your Daughter.”  That’s a $15 value, of course that made me get out of the house and go to the store, and we far outspent the value of the razor.  Then there are free Slurpees at 711, Free Coffee Days at Starbucks and the list goes on.  

Online Services

When the pandemic hit, Peloton offered 90-days free of their in-home workout app – up from 30-days previously.  This allowed potential users to try their program and get hooked. After the free trial was up, it was just $12.99 a month – who wouldn’t continue? 

Moz, a software platform for digital marketers offered a free trial with no commitment other than signing in.  This showed off their capabilities and made users feel compelled to commit to Moz when they were ready for digital software.  Hubspot, Amazon Kindle, LinkedIn, Google, Canva and others offer free tools and platforms with the strategy of ‘free’ and reciprocity in mind.

Free is one of the most powerful tools available for customer acquisition if done correctly.

By offering a free sample, businesses get customers to try a product without putting up a price barrier, while the customer gets a ‘free’ item while not having to gamble a portion of their budget on a product they may not even like. Knowing this, brands should happily eat the costs associated with free.

For more social media and brand communication tips – follow Communication Strategist Edan Gelt and her recent blog series –

Learn More

Follow my next VLOG or blog to learn how to use your videos.

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