#FocusFriday – Focus on Your Message and Messaging

wesfryer-etechohio09-stageWith so many platforms, strategies and marketing approaches available to us, it is easy to become distracted. Many gravitate to new, exciting and technology-focused marketing tools and social media platforms. However, what is marketing without a message? Understanding what your message is, crafting it and using it are important elements of marketing and business development.

On this #FocusFriday, take time out of your busy marketing activities and programs and examine your message. Ask questions, the answers may require you to hit the reset button or at least reexamine you message and how you are projecting it to your target audiences. The language here may be new to someone unfamiliar, but no matter: take some time to walk through this process and it will strengthen your marketing foundation which is necessary for long term personal and business success.


Message and Messaging

What is your message?

The definition of message. In terms of marketing, message is the underlying idea or theme in a marketing piece or communication, or the central or primary content or information that passes from a communicator to a receiver. When I think of message I think of what my organization is about and committed to and the value we bring to clients. Understanding your message – and it may change over time – is important. A clear and articulate message conveys confidence, success and ability. A powerful message and how you convey it is a competitive advantage and a differentiator.


In the marketing world we often discuss messaging. What exactly is it? This is the process of how you bring your key messages relating what your organization is, what its mission is and why you do what you do. Your messaging focuses on the key points you regularly make when you communicate with your target audiences. Remember, messaging always connects back to your brand.


Can you write it, articulate it and explain it? What good is a message if you can’t convey it to the audience? You message must be clear in its intent and purpose.

Organizational Acceptance

Is your message embraced by your organization and is is a part of how team members communicate with customers or prospects? This is vitally important and all team members must be on board and learn how to communicate and share your message effectively.

Message Projection and Consistency

Can the members of your organization explain it and convey it to prospects and clients? This is where regular training and review of your overall message and marketing messages becomes important. Remember, it’s all about focus; if we wander away from what is important, messages get muddled and this creates brand confusion. Consistency in your message and messaging eliminates confusion and keeps attention focused.

Talking Points

Do you have talking points that support your message? For example, if you were at a networking event and somebody asked you questions about what you do or your business could you easily convey your message and key elements of what you do and the value you provide? Preparation is important any time you or a member of your team will be “on stage” or in the spotlight. We regularly train people for TV news interviews which are typically short and to the point. Having three well defined and practiced talking points makes for a much better interview. In a business interaction you can use these defined talking points in the same way.

Value Proposition

Do you know what your value proposition is? The definition of value proposition is an innovation, service or feature intended to make a company or product attractive to customers. Sounds technical – and it can be. However, the point here is can you explain in easy to understand terms what value you bring to a relationship and the value that your products or services bring? Being able to articulate value and back it up with examples will give you a competitive advantage when presenting or when speaking with prospects.

Competitive Advantages and Differentiators

Do you know your competitive advantages and differentiators? We know that having an edge or competitive advantage puts you in a superior position over those in your market space. How you describe these advantages and how you are different in your approaches will allow you to stand out and attract more attention. Being different is a competitive advantage. If you have not taken the time to write down your key differentiators, do so. Take the time and assess how you do what you do, why clients choose to work with you and examine how you are truly different. Write these down and commit them to memory.

Why are we going through this exercise?  All too often I have been in the presence of fantastic business people. Many have great ideas, offer quality services and are leaders in their respective industries. Unfortunately, based on the way many communicate, you would never have the foggiest idea. Communicating, whether it is in person, online, or though video or audio must be done effectively and with a message.

Keep Focusing on your brand and your business.



Focus Friday is all about being more effective and successful in business and life activities. Focusing will allow you to save time and achieve goals in both your personal and in your professional life.

Have questions, need a resource? Contact me at wjcorbett@corbettpr.com.

Need to start creating a personal marketing plan?  Email the code PMP2016 to me at info@growyourpersonalbrand.com and I will send you a list of questions to ask yourself to get started.

Looking for some help setting up your LinkedIn plan? Visit www.growyourpersonalbrand.com

Join our groups on LinkedIn and Facebook.


By Bill Corbett

Corbett Public Relations Long Island and the World 




Revisited 2015 – July 4th Independence Day – Lessons from the Founding Fathers for Social Media and Personal Branding

I wrote this blog 5 years ago it is still relevant today.  However, the world has changed.  Today Americans have more ways to market and communicate.  With smartphone technology in our hands we have enormous power to broadcast our messages and engage with others. I call smartphones, PMD’s Personal marketing Devices they can also be seen as your own personal broadcast center. (More on this in a future blog)

The technology we have however is not being leveraged effectively by small business people.  Many don’t see the opportunity because they are overwhelmed with time pressures and lack of understanding of the power that they have. Understanding marketing and why and how it must be done is also a challenge.

It’s time for small business people from across America to take charge of their destiny and bring their brands and messages to target audiences.   Failure to utilize the marketing tools that are available (for free) today will see many smart and capable people struggle to succeed in the new economy and within the new marketing paradigm.

As we look back at the lessons of our Founding Fathers below, consider what they would do today.  I believe that they would be regularly leveraging social media, blogs and video to get their message to the masses. They would engage in conversations and share their vision for the future.  They would be making connections, building relationships and beating their competition.

The pursuit of happiness lies in our hands both literally and figuratively.  Use marketing technology today as a vehicle for achieving success and your American dream.

First Published 5 Years Ago 

Today we celebrate Independence Day, July 4.   Beyond the fireworks and BBQs, we all should think about the great nation that we have the pleasure to be part of, and the many people who gave up their lives to give us the freedoms we enjoy.

Exactly 234 years ago, a group of brave, brilliant and industrious individuals met in a steamy Philadelphia room and agreed to do something that had never been done before—start a revolution.  The risks were great; the price that was paid was high in terms of lives lost, lives destroyed and money, but in the end the reward was unmatched in human history.  The American Revolution gave us a country where freedom is sacred.

Today despite a challenging economy we have the freedom to express ourselves and pursue our business as well as our personal dreams.  For many the dream is being an entrepreneur or a small business owner or simply pursuing a career in a chosen profession or industry.  Having this choice is an integral part of our national character and a driver of the entrepreneurial spirit.  While entrepreneurs and small businesses are under attack from many directions, the American entrepreneurial spirit lives on.

The information age has brought with it new media vehicles which are allowing individuals to voice their opinions, develop creative ideas and start new businesses.  Like the minutemen of Lexington and Concord, individuals can stand up, and take control of their own destinies like never before.  Like the “shot heard around world” that started the American Revolution a simple Facebook post or Tweet can literally be seen around the world just in seconds.

Jefferson, Madison, Franklin, Adams, Hancock and the other Founding Fathers all understood the importance of individuality and expression.  They were passionate individuals with a mission, and the creativity and drive to achieve their goal – a free and independent nation.

While the Founding Fathers did not have social media vehicles and platforms like Facebook, Twitter, Linked In, Youtube, Flickr and Foursquare I am sure that they would have taken advantage of them as mediums for communicating with contacts, public, friends and others interested in “the cause.”  Social networking and marketing did not exist, but these individuals knew the importance of publicity, having a personal brand, word of mouth marketing, networking, effective writing, publishing and public speaking. Do these skills and approaches sound familiar?  These techniques and others are the same that individuals need to capitalize on today to build their own personal brands, the foundation for a success in life, in business and in any community.

Did Franklin and Madison have a Blog?  Not exactly, however they did have a printing press.  They were able to create a buzz using well written content, printed books, flyers and newspapers. Papers and printed materials were circulated in pubs and homes across the 13 colonies and beyond.  People held discussion sessions and analyzed the information they were provided.  They debated and came up with their own comments and then shared materials with others who they thought would be sympathetic to their dreams of an independent democratic nation.

Today’s social media and personal branding gurus like Gary Vaynerchuk (@garyvee)Dan Dchawbel (@DanSchawbel),  Guy Kawasaki (@guykawasaki), Peter Shankman (@skydiver), Seth Godin and others are taking similar approaches as the Founding Fathers.  The Founding Fathers published articles and spoke to small and large groups to educate, motivate and inspire individuals to become part of a movement that included the individual but also was much larger than any single person.

Let’s look at some of our Founding Fathers and how they relate to personal branding and communications.  There is much we that can learn from them and ways we can apply these lessons to social media marketing and personal branding efforts today.

George Washington – Founding Father and First President of the United States of America.  Washington is also

known for his leadership abilities, speaking skills, political savvy and ability to stand out in crowd.  Although he did not sign the Declaration of Independence his leadership of the Continental Army made him a front runner to lead the country after the war.

During the Revolutionary War era it took weeks or months to get information or important messages out to thousands of people, or just one letter from one colony to another.  Hand written copies of the Declaration of Independence were circulated by hand around the 13 Colonies and read in front of groups gathered in pubs and in front of churches and other community buildings.

Today we can disseminate messages and blog articles in seconds using social media sites and digital communications.  The speed of distribution may have changed but the goals of communicating ideas messages and attracting attention remain the same.

We can learn from George Washington an important lesson, humility.  When offered the opportunity to become king of the new nation, he turned it down.  He also turned down the opportunity to run for a third term as president; instead he retired.  In today’s world full of online and off line self promoters and overexposed celebrities seeking the lime light, humility is a trait that seems to be in short supply.  We could all benefit from more people following Washington’s example of humility and grace.

Thomas JeffersonThomas Jefferson, the author of the Declaration of Independence, agonized for weeks to find the right language and consulted with other Founding Fathers to craft this historic document.   We learn from this example that writing passionately and choosing the right words is important.  On Facebook, Twitter, blogs and other writing quality has certainly suffered. Today it remains true that quality writing and compelling content will attract followers, and poor and uninteresting content will drive them away.

In our fast paced mobile technology society we are constantly on the move. A telling example of this is that on average there are more than 3,000 Tweets being placed every second.  Jefferson’s quote: No person will have occasion to complain of the want of time who never loses any. It is wonderful how much may be done if we are always doing,” is apropos for today.  Many people are always “doing,” (communicating).  However, how much doing is actually wasting time? How much time is being spent on social media marketing with no measured results? Social media marketing programs must be planned and have goals. Without goals or a plan, the “doing” is nothing more than wasting time.

John Hancock – We know the name and we know the signature, he was the first to sign the Declaration of Independence and did so in large and bold script.   John Hancock knew the importance of standing out, making a statement and doing something different.  My favorite quote from Hancock is: “The greatest ability in business is to get along with others and to influence their actions.” This statement is especially true today. To be successful in business relationships and trust need to be built.  To influence people to act, purchase products or services, information and proof of abilities need to be conveyed to the target audience.  Be bold, but also have objectives and consider how relationships are being forged.

Benjamin Franklin – Frequently clients ask what should be said or what information should be put out on social media streams?  This quote from Benjamin Franklin answers the question perfectly: Either write something worth reading or do something worth writing about.”

Benjamin Franklin was truly an original and individual who understood celebrity and personal branding.  His exploits, scientific experiments and inventions as well as his larger than life personality made him a celebrity in France before he arrived to solicit their support for the “cause.”

We have much to learn from Franklin but for now, his grasp on being relevant and authentic can be our take away.  If something interesting or newsworthy is done write about it, don’t just write something for the sake or writing something.

John Quincy Adams – Are you a leader or do you aspire to be one in business, politics or in another field? If your answer is yes then this quote from John Quincy Adams is most appropriate:If your actions inspire others to dream more, learn more, do more and become more, you are a leader.” To be a leader you need to be relevant and interesting.  Self-promotion and self-serving actions will not attract the right attention or inspire others.  Remember that being successful is not what inspires; what motivates and inspires others are the stories and examples of overcoming challenges and hardships to become successful.

There is much we can learn from studying our Founding Fathers.  From humility to creating relevant content their lessons can be applied to many facets of business and life today.

Every day of the year we should celebrate the precious gift of freedom we have been given.  We continue to enjoy this freedom because of the sacrifices of those who came before us and those who fight for us today in foreign lands and on other fronts.  We can honor them by embracing the American entrepreneurial spirit and following the examples set by our Founding Fathers.

All comments welcome, Happy 4th of July.

13 Scary Social Media Mistakes to Avoid This Halloween

Nothing is scarier than watching people continuing to make social media mistakes.  It frightens me to think of all the time, money and effort wasted with ineffective and inefficient approaches to social media marketing.  Unfortunately many businesses and business people approach social media in a nonchalant way with no planning or goals.   At Corbett Public Relations we see this happening every day.

I offer many workshops: Grow Your Personal Brand and another on using social media to grow business are the most popular ones. Most attendees are eager to use social media, but almost all have no social media or marketing plan.  They are also overwhelmed in regards to where to start.  Whether you are already using social media, or just getting started, these are some common scary and time wasting mistakes you must avoid:

1) Don’t go in there! – Just like a group of unsuspecting teens who venture into a haunted house, remember you need to have a plan when approaching a social media marketing effort for yourself or your business.  Would Van Helsing go vampire hunting without a plan and wooden stakes for their hearts?  Start your planning with an assessment of what marketing you are doing now; research the social sites where your customers interact; completely set up your sites; link your social media sites, website and blog; and create goals with methods for measuring them (for a copy of my six week social media start up plan e-mail me at wjcorbett@corbettpr.com).

2) Boo! –  Using social media to sell or, even worse hard sell, is a major mistake.  By doing this you will do the exact opposite of two of the major goals you want to accomplish with your social media activities – attract followers and start conversations.  If you try to sell you will scare many people away, probably forever.

3) What was that? –  This is a line often heard in scary movies.  Freaked out teens in an abandoned building are obviously scared, but what are they doing? They are hypersensitive to their environment and listening for danger. In the case of social media everyone needs to listen to customers, competition and other online influencers.   If you do not listen you will never understand your customers, the marketplace or know how to position your business and your messages.   Listen and you will avoid the danger of communicating messages nobody is interested in.

4) Scream – Social media is a two- way street with multiple intersections.  If you stand on the corner and shout your message at passing cars few will hear you and even fewer will care.   Your screaming (touting yourself, your

products or services) will eventually fall on deaf and uninterested ears.   People will listen to you if you speak with them and listen.  Answer their questions and give them a reason to pull over and listen to you.

5) The Swarm – There have been many scary movies about killer bees.  What we learn from these movies is that the saying, “never disturb a bees’ nest” is true.  The same goes for getting involved in cyber wars, arguments or discussions of religion and politics online.   As part of your social media activity you are seeking to show your expertise and build your brand.  Discussing these taboo topics can and will bring unwanted attacks and many negative comments.  This will drive people away and potentially hurt your brand and social media efforts.

6) Rotten Eggs – With Halloween comes mischief and unfortunately some destruction.   Throwing eggs is part of this tradition and is a practice that should be frowned upon by everyone.  Like an unwanted egg, an unwanted direct message or a poorly thought out,  error-filled post is equally undesirable.  Avoid sending direct messages asking for sales or with direct selling offers.   Build relationships before you ask for anything or even attempt to sell something.  The same goes for posting; if there is no purpose to it, don’t do it.  Posts should have interesting content, photos and videos whenever possible.    To build relationships and followers social media users need to be interesting, fun and informative.  You may only have one chance to make a good impression, make sure it’s the right one.

7) Trick – Don’t get tricked by high expectations for social media.  While social media can be very helpful and for some a strong business driver ROI (Return on Investment), for many, especially in the business to business world, this remains elusive.  Create a plan and look at social media as a long term investment in marketing and branding.   If you expect immediate gratification then you really have been tricked.

8) Trick or Treating – Did you ever plan out your trick or treating route when you were a kid?  Did you know the best blocks or houses for getting the most and best kinds of candy?  I bet many of you did.  For social media focus

on activities that work, spend time in communities (groups) where you can enhance your brand and attract followers.  Complete goals before moving on to new ones or developing new strategies.  Track your success with different social media sites and different communities and return to them.  Don’t go back or invest too much time on communities that proved to be more of a trick than a treat.

9) The Black Hole – Whether it’s a portal to another dimension or a black hole in space, it is important to avoid them.  Social media also has its own black hole – the black hole of time.  Social media can be a major time waster for many, like a vampire with a craving to suck blood social media sucks time away. Set specific “time budgets” for social media activities and only add time when you see efforts reap rewards or when they clearly demonstrate they are helping to achieve goals.

10) Your Costume – Have you ever won a costume contest?  Why do people win costume contests? The winners are usually creative, visually interesting, memorable and fun.  Your online image needs to have the same qualities.  Make sure you have a photo of yourself; one that makes you look good.  Spend the extra money to get a professional headshot done.  This image is important; studies show and social media experts report that without a photo people are less likely to connect with you or a business, follow you, comment on your posts or even read or look at what you post.

11) Zombies – What do zombies do?  They roam the earth looking to make a meal out of a live person.  In the social media world we also need to avoid zombies.  Zombies come to us in the way of viruses, spam and those engaged in fraud to get personal financial information.  Thankfully, viruses are less common via a social media but they do happen.  If you receive a direct message that looks strange, from someone you do not know or a message that suggests you check out a video or photo with you in it, delete this right away.  Knowing your enemy is important, but also be prepared.  If you use social media regularly make sure that you change your passwords from time to time, never share information that can be used by others to create accounts, make sure you back up your data remotely and often, and finally be prepared because you eventually will get a virus, malware attack or get hacked.  This is scary to think about.  Make sure your zombie (virus) protection plan is in place and software updated.  Protecting yourself will also help stop the virus from infecting others you are connected with on social media.  Spreading a virus is not a good way to attract friends, fans or followers.

12) Your Halloween Party – Who do you invite to your Halloween party?  Certainly friends, family and people you think will have a good time.  Would you invite people who you know would not wear a costume?  In social media you need to know who you have and who you want to have at your party.  The wrong people at the party could spoil it for everyone.  From people posting inappropriate content on your Facebook wall to LinkedIn “connections” who mine your client base for business, or worse steal your ideas (it’s happened to me), monitoring and carefully analyzing who follows you is important.   Take the time to review your followers on all social media sites; don’t let any questionable people into your community.  This does not mean preventing people you don’t know in, but do your best to vet them and watch what they are saying to members of your community.

13) Treats – A successful Halloween for me when I was young was all about having fun, maybe getting a little scared, collecting some great candy, and engaging in some harmless mischief.  A great costume attracted attention and some extra candy.  In addition, friends and family took photos and remembered the best costumes for years.   Social media can lead to treats or as I like to call them followers, referrals and business.  With a social media plan in place reputation and followers can be built on a growing basis.  By listening to followers and others, conversations can be started.  This will lead to relationships, real world meetings and eventually referrals and the best treat of all business.

Don’t be scared of social media.  For the new user it can be a little frightening but the rewards, both personal and business-related, can be significant.

What scares you about social media?  Let me know.

Boosting Trade Show Success

Bill Corbett Presents at Trade Show Seminar

Over the past month I have had the pleasure of offering several workshops on trade show marketing and strategies for success with Judy Fairbanks, VP of Sales & Marketing for Skyline New York and, Rob Fishman, Partner of Sandler Sales Training Institute.  Events events were held at Skyline New York’s modern facility in Hauppauge, New York.  

My firm Corbett Public Relations  has promoted many trade shows and we have assisted many clients who use trade shows to market their products and services.  The sessions that I am giving with Judy and Rob continue to help me find new strategies and look at the overall trade show experience from different perspectives.  It remains clear that exhibitors of any company need help in being more successful and securing ROI from trade show appearances. 

There are many benefits of being involved in trade shows.  Shows allow businesses to be directly in front of people, demonstrate products and services and start relationships.  We are in a day an age where online communication is dominant, it’s great to see people face to face and have real interactions.  This also means getting out from behind the desk to promote and selling a product or service.  Selling and promoting effectively takes skill, planning and a system.   

The following are five quick strategies that must be part of successful trade show appearances:  

  1. Plan- To be successful in any marketing effort you need to plan.  Start by working the calendar backwards. Set dates for materials to be ready, for publicity efforts and creating campaigns to invite prospects to your booth.  Remember 60 percent of people who attend trade shows go on a mission to see you specifically or to look for a specific product or service.  Don’t forget to contact the show producer, they want to help you promote your appearance and be successful.   
  2. Promote Appearance– Create your online trade show promotions and use social media. List your trade show appearances on your website, create a Facebook event page, create a special Twitter account or hashtag and certainly create your media kit with a press release.  Alert the media and the show producer if you have new products or services that you will be introducing at the show.   
  3. Training– Educate and train all booth/exhibit workers. Start this process early and make sure everyone knows what they need to know about the products and services offered.  Have them practice their elevator pitch but most importantly help them create questions to assist them to start conversations.  Remember it is as important to listen and ask questions, as it is to talk about the benefits of your products and services.  Hard selling will never get you leads, but conversations and solving problems will. 
  4. Exhibits and Booth– Take the advice of the professionals like those at Skyline New York. Create open and inviting booths that do not overload show attendees with too much information.  Create a booth that is open, inviting, branded clearly and interesting. 
  5. Next Steps and Following Up- Did you know that 80 percent of leads that are received at a trade show never receive a follow up? This is a tremendous loss of money and time.   In order to be successful, take the time to create a clear system for qualifying leads and procedures for following up.  As Judy Fairbanks says “the real trade show starts when the breakdown of the booth starts.”  Set up your system and even block off a day or two for specific follow up after the show.  Quick follow up is essential.   

These are just a few basic strategies to think about for enhancing trade show success.  The workshops we are offering at Skyline New York hit on these topics and many others. 

For Additional Trade Show Tips from Skyline:



Personal Branding Winner and Loser – March – Chris Brown and Ralph Macchio

Bill Corbett’s Personal Branding Winner and Loser – March

Periodically I am going to include personal brand winners and losers on my blog. Two individuals stood out to me last month.

Video - Chris Brown on Good Morning America

For his Good Morning America (GMA) rant and chair-throwing incident Chris Brown is our personal branding loser of the week. We all heard about Mr. Brown’s antics following his interview with GMA’s Robin Roberts. Although Roberts clearly pushed the issue regarding Brown’s legal woes and tangles with former girlfriend Rihanna, Brown should have kept his cool. When trying to rehab a personal brand it is important to convey that the behaviors and issues in question have been resolved. In other interviews and statements Chris Brown has apologized and said that he will not behave “badly.” However, it is clear that following his GMA interview to promote his new album there continue to be issues he needs to overcome. From a personal branding perspective his behaviors last week place him in our loser category. Ironic as it seems, the latest upsurge in notoriety (even infamy) and expanded name recognition will probably enhance Brown’s album sales due to the massive media coverage that helped him regain a larger piece of America’s mindshare. We are happy that Brown apologized for his behavior because this is the first and most important step in personal brand rehab.

Our winner of the week is Ralph Macchio. Yes, the “Karate Kid” himself returned to the spotlight and captured the attention of millions. Ralph is competing on the popular television program “Dancing with the Stars.” Matched with professional dancer Karina Smirnoff, Ralph showed his dancing skills and charisma and wowed the judges and viewers. His first performance received the highest scores of the night proving that — just like his character “Danny” in the Karate Kid trilogy (yes, there were three films) — Ralph himself rises to the occasion. Ralph is our winner this week not only because he became a popular figure in the media, but because he resurrected his personal brand in a positive way. Fans, young and old, have been captivated by his return and are rooting for him. This

Video - Ralph Macchio and Karina Smirnof

demonstrates that while Macchio experienced relative obscurity from the spotlight for many years, his fan base and personal brand remain strong. All of us on Long Island, where Ralph hails from, wish “Daniel son” the best as the competition continues. We hope that the fanfare around his new kicks and moves — this time on the dance floor instead of the gym floor — will help to reinvigorate his career.

Do you have a personal brand winner or loser to nominate? Let me know.

Can a Man Be Cool Driving a Minivan?

An intriguing commercial for a 2011 Honda Odyssey recently caught my attention.  I thought to myself,  “Could  I actually be considering a minivan for a future purchase.” This thought was coming from a guy who has only driven trucks and a mustang convertible over the past 20 years.

The creative commercial jarred my preexisting perception of the minivan as a boring utility vehicle for “Soccer Moms.”  From a branding and marketing perspective the commercial was done well, capturing my attention from the start with exploding pyrotechnics and the flash and roar of a panther for no particular reason.  The ad’s imagery and soundtrack, a heavy-metal Judas Priest song, “Hellion,” were more reminiscent of rock concerts I attended in the 80’s (band names to be withheld) than a minivan ad.

A Minivan for Guys

The commercial entitled “Rock Van,” was created by the advertising firm RPA.  The commercial was part of its campaign, “Vantasies,” and clearly focused on targeting men, like me, from Generations X and Y.

As a former Mustang owner and Jeep driver, I never thought I would ever even consider driving a minivan, but this commercial made the minivan seem “cool” (the van in the commercial being black, of course, with all the tech gizmos).  The commercial smartly focused on the Odyssey’s technology package offerings: premium speakers (for the best of the 80’s heavy metal) dual-screen DVD players, GPS navigation and the ever- important remote control that gives a man the power to open and close the rear hatch and sliding doors with the press of a button.  The ad was successful and blatant in its appeal to a man’s obsession with technology, gadgets and gizmos.

Marketing professionals are often faced with the concept of branding or rebranding a product, person or service.  Can this be accomplished?  We have seen many examples of failure; remember Coca Cola’s change to its traditional recipe or the GAP’s recent attempt to launch a new logo?  In the case the minivan, the market for the product has changed. Generations X and Y are growing up, and are in search of more sensible, family-friendly vehicle options that meet domestic needs as well as “guy” needs.    

For years I said to my wife, “You will never get me in a minivan.”  However, over the holidays, I was forced to rent a minivan to help me cart around our 14-month old twins, my wife, my mother-in-law and our mountain of accessories and holiday gifts.   There were no waling, screaming heavy-metal vocals or guitar solos, but the experience was more pleasant than I thought it would be.  I guess I am susceptible to branding messages too, and although I don’t think the minivan is in my near future, the possibility is not out of the question.  Honda’s commercial is a rockin’ example of how creative branding and advertising can change perceptions and drive sales to a new target audience.

Honda Odyssey “Rock Van” as link:


RPA “Vantasies” press release


Let me know if you would drive this minivan?

LinkedIn – Good for business…If you use it effectively


Bill Corbett Jr.

William J. Corbett, Jr.

I have been intrigued by LinkedIn for several years. The site has grown steadily in popularity: as of July 2010 more than 70 million people have LinkedIn profiles. I know that many people are actively using the site, but far more are not using it effectively, and some are not using it at all. There have been numerous informative articles about LinkedIn and lots of tips given. I have posted several dozen tips over the past few months myself. I use LinkedIn regularly; I update my profile, add links and my blog is connected. I post updates and host a number of groups, including the Grow Your Personal Brand LinkedIn Group. All this activity has allowed me to meet new people and expand my list of contacts.

There I an ongoing debate about whom one should connect with. Should people connect with people they don’t know or don’t know well? I changed my tune on this subject earlier this year. In the past I tried to limit my connections to people that I “actually” knew in the real world. This limited my ability to grow my contact list and network. Several months ago I started to contact people with whom I had some connection with or who were members of groups of which I am part. (Note: If you are a member of a group, you can directly contact other members and request to connect.) This has enabled me to grow my contact list and create new relationships.

For me, creating and developing my own personal brand, growing my list of contacts and keeping in touch with people are my main goals for LinkedIn. The following are some tips and strategies for using LinkedIn for your business.


Growing your list: Your contact list can be grown in a number of ways. You can search LinkedIn for people you know and request that they connect with you (often you will need their e-mail address). You can even send bulk connection requests by cutting and pasting in lists of your own e-mail contacts. If the individuals you communicate with are LinkedIn members, you can quickly connect using this method. If they are not members, the message will ask them to join. If you know these people and they are in business, you are doing them a favor by suggesting they join LinkedIn.

Growing a list can also be done one person at a time. For example, you can go to the contact list of a friend and see to whom they are connected. You can directly connect to them or ask your contact to introduce you. This direct process comes from a referral and can help facilitate relationships. Remember, once you connect, keep the conversation going.

Caution: Often names of individuals are recommended to you by LinkedIn. These are people you may know or perhaps they are in the same industry or group. LinkedIn is aggressively seeking to prevent people from soliciting connections from people that they do not know (there has to be some mutual relationship, mutual group membership, school or employment connection). If you solicit people to connect with you who do not know you, I strongly suggest you send them a personal note asking them to connect and not simply use the standard request LinkedIn provides.  If you solicit people whom you do not know, they can report you, and your account could be limited or other actions taken. You have worked hard, so don’t risk losing your account.

Did you know that you can download your e-mail contacts from LinkedIn?

Follow this link for a brief demonstration video.


Join groups and show your expertise. LinkedIn gives you a tremendous opportunity to show your expertise and knowledge. Join groups and actively participate in conversations and discussions. Monitor the discussions; if someone replies to your comment keep, the conversation going or answer any questions that have been posed. Give thoughtful solutions and tactics they can adopt to overcome business challenges. Remember, showing your expertise and knowledge helps to grow your personal brand.

Bring the cyber world into the real world and vice versa. Armed with your list of contacts, you have a powerful tool to enhance your relationships. Review your contacts to see which people you would like to meet or get to know better. Invite them to meet for breakfast, lunch, a cup of coffee or simply a conference call. An invitation to a video conference would be something different, and if you both have the technology, go for it. On the flip side, if you meet someone in the real world, keep the relationship going through LinkedIn. Send them an e-mail to connect and exchange information. Communicate via internal InMail. Why communicate by InMail? People typically get fewer InMails even though the response rate is often better, and there is much less spam to deal with. However, most people tend to check InMail less often than regular e-mail.

Profiles and company description: We all have read boring corporate bios and company descriptions. Don’t let this happen to you; make your profile interesting, chock full of information, and try to tell a story. Remember, people recall stories more easily than a list of accomplishments. In your content on your LinkedIn site, use as many keywords as possible; this will help people find you when they go to Google, Bing, Yahoo or other search engines. If you do not have a website, or a bio on your company website your LinkedIn profile can fill this gap. And remember if you move on to a new position with a new company, your LinkedIn profile and site stays in place. Your valuable contacts will have a way to contact you should your telephone numbers or other contact information change. (Note: always keep control of your LinkedIn profile user ID and password. Remember to have profiles proofread; there is nothing more embarrassing and unprofessional than having errors in your profile or company description.)

Don’t sell or spam: Many nonmarketing people confuse the terms “communication” and “marketing.” If you are selling anything or hosting a self-promotional event (an event where you will be charging and making money as part of your business), don’t use LinkedIn to promote it. This is considered inappropriate behavior and could cause people to disconnect with you or simply ignore you moving forward, which is the opposite of what you want to accomplish. LinkedIn should be used professionally, for discussions and as a forum to promote your expertise. If you are hosting a free event, speaking at an event or hosting an educational event, these should be promoted and used to bolster your personal brand and reputation. This is all done to enhance your personal brand and attract more followers and contacts.

Research: Use LinkedIn to research the backgrounds of people you know and people you want to get to know. With more people on LinkedIn every day, you are likely to find information about a person or a company that interests you. You can get information about where a person lives, which school he or she attended school and the organizations he or she belongs to. This is excellent information to have when seeking to start a conversation and a relationship. Use this information. It is easily available to you.

Quick Tips

1. Grow your list constantly – add your own contacts regularly.

2. Connect with people who share your interests and members of the same groups.

3. Join groups to meet more people and become part of the discussion.

4. Show your expertise and knowledge through discussions; it will help you grow your personal brand and reputation.

5. Bring the cyber world into the real world and vice versa.

6. Never sell or spam with In-Mail or with posts.

7. Update profiles and keep control of user ID and password.

8. Use keywords in your profile for search engine optimization purposes.

9. Make sure profiles are error-free.

10. Don’t solicit people whom you do not know to connect without a proper introduction or well-written personal request.

LinkedIn can be a powerful tool for all businesspersons interested in building relationships, growing their personal brands or simply communicating with contacts. I have found these tactics to be effective for me. Let me know if you have any other effective tips and tactics. I will include them in future blogs.

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