#FocusFriday – Focus on Video Today for Your Brand and Business

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Who would have thought that billions of hours of video content would be uploaded to YouTube and other online sites each month? The growth of video is astonishing and will continue to grow in the years to come. With mobile technology and smart phones, we have a powerful tool in our hands which you must use for marketing and growing your personal brand. Why is using video so critical now? How can you get started?

The purpose of my #FocusFriday series is to provoke thought and encourage people to take control of their personal marketing and business. Focus on the important time saving, business development, marketing and fun aspects of business. Yes, business activities should not be painful every minute of the day. Hard work is necessary and to be successful you have to hustle, try new approaches and focus on finding what works.

If you are not embracing video now for your brand and for marketing, it’s time to start. Here are the reasons why:

  1. More and more people (consumers and prospects) prefer video content. It’s quick, easy to watch on a mobile device and does not take much time.
  2. Besides meeting in person, video is the best way to convey your personal brand message to those you with whom want to build relationships and business. For some it may even be the best approach; a well-crafted, practiced and perfected video message can convey an exceptional and memorable message.
  3. Producing a video forces an individual to focus on their message, delivery, value proposition and differentiators. Knowing your message and differentiators and being and able to clearly convey it will allow you to more quickly educate prospects and your audiences about who you are, what you do and why you do it.
  4. Without video you are not being competitive, you are actually at a competitive disadvantage without having video as part of your marketing. Your bigger, smarter and more marketing savvy competitors are using video and have been leveraging its power for some time. If you don’t have a video strategy, you are at least two years behind your competition and they are pulling ahead fast and your falling farther behind.
  5. There are many types of video: TV News interviews, video podcasts, corporate videos, videos of speaking presentations, webinars, video conferences, live streaming video (Facebook, Periscope, MereKat, LiveStream, Google Hangouts and others) and how to and educational videos and TV and online commercials. YouTube, Facebook, Instagram, Vine, Snapchat, Blogs and other social media platforms have video elements. These are all conduits for reaching your audiences and building relationships and growing your brand and business.

For many, the thought of doing a personal brand video is a scary proposition; they simply don’t know where to start. This is a legitimate fear and challenge. The process of creating a quality video and regular video content takes a commitment of time, energy and you need to be confident in your ability. Confidence and the ability to present and communicate on video must be developed.

Where should you start?

Start by thinking about your customers, prospects, referral sources as well as allies and enemies. Who are they? What do they need to know about you? For some this may boil down to a simple elevator speech or pitch, for others it may be more complex. Remember, the video content that you are creating is for your audience and not for you. You must have a clear and understandable message, project this message properly, look the part, use the right body language and come across as genuine.

Starting to get complicated, right? Well it is complicated. It’s easy to set up a camera, lights and microphone. You can buy expensive equipment or even hire a professional video production crew. However, without understanding the message you want to deliver to your audiences, it could be a colossal waste of time, energy and money. The end product could make you look worse.

Let’s take a step back and discuss preparing. Over the past 25 years I have trained and prepared hundreds of people for news media interviews, many for local and national TV appearances. There is no greater pressure to perform than being asked to do live television. A live TV appearance can make or break a career, and we know the value of news media coverage is unmatched in its value for marketing. Why do I bring up live TV appearances? The process of preparing for live TV, or even a recorded TV interview, is the same that you must follow when preparing to make a video. The pressure may not be as intense and you may have a few shots at making your points, however, failure to think about your audience, message and the reason for the video will limit your success or even the ability to present effectively.

Once you craft your message, it is time to start practicing. Practicing for video goes beyond just memorizing or rereading a speech or talking points. For those seeking to be exceptional on camera, preparation will require an understanding of presentation and communication skills. How do to you acquire these skills? It takes a commitment to focus on yourself and your abilities. Studying, training with professionals, reading and learning are required. The best students we have worked with and trained are those who embrace this adventure. The investment of the time, energy and effort pay off in a product that is more than the powerful videos and TV interviews that are created. Individuals become better communicators of their personal brand message. They are more confident when speaking, networking and interacting directly with clients and staff.

Make the commitment today to get your video marketing program moving forward. Craft your message and get the training and coaching you need to present effectively.

Click here for a check list of 15 points to follow when developing your personal marketing video program.

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.

wjcorbett@corbettpr.com

By Bill Corbett

Corbett Public Relations Long Island and the World 

@liprguy

@corbettpr

#Focus Friday: Focus on Learning and Understanding Marketing

Do you know how to market? Do you know what marketing actually is? Do you have a plan for marketing yourself or your business or do you simply take periodic actions or coast along? It is not surprising for people to learn that many individuals admit that they are not following a plan in terms of their marketing. Most people have limited or no knowledge of marketing basics and fall short in terms of experience. It is clear however, and I have been told this many times, that people know marketing is important but the dont have the time to learn or they are not sure where to go to start learning.

No matter where you stand today in terms of your personal marketing, understanding marketing and learning how to use it is critical for your success tomorow.

The questions I listed above are all important. The fact is that if you are involved in business development in any way or you are seeking career success you need to have a marketing plan. You need knowledge, tactics and strategies to succeed so it is time to start studying and learning about what’s out there and what you should be doing.

I was recently asked by a member of the media writing a story on networking where people should go to learn about personal marketing and where they should start. The first step in this process is relevant to this blog series – focus on learning and understanding marketing. Make the commitment today to continually learn about marketing, marketing trends and marketing technology. It is vital you stay up-to-date on the latest trends and strategies. I would like to provide you with a complete outline and strategies, however let’s stick with the basics.

What do you need to know?

Newbies to marketing or those who need a refresher need to start with the basics. Read and learn about the core elements of marketing. These include:

Goals – An observable and measurable end result having one or more objectives to be achieved within a more or less fixed timeframe. In more simple terms, where do you want your marketing efforts to take you?  Define your goals. Goals can be: How many leads do you want, how many closed deals do you need, or how much customer engagement do you require?

Message and Messaging – Underlying idea or theme in an ad or campaign. You message is the central or primary content or information that passes from a communicator (you) to a receiver (your audience/customers).

Position – An effort to influence consumer perception of a brand or product relative to the perception of competing brands or products. Your position’s objective is to occupy a clear, unique, and advantageous position in the consumer’s mind. What do you want customers to think of when they hear your name, your product’s name or your company’s name.

Value proposition – An analysis or statement of the combination of goods and services offered by a company to its customers in exchange for payment. What value do you offer that makes you or your product preferable to those of your competitors?

Differentiators – Unique features and/or benefits of a product, or aspects of a brand, that set it apart from competing products or brands. Being different is incredibly important; highlight what you do differently and this will attract attention.

Competitive advantages – A superiority gained by an organization when it can provide the same value as its competitors but at a lower price, or can charge higher prices by providing greater value through differentiation. A competitive advantage results from matching core competencies to the opportunities. We are all competing against each other for time and attention. What do you do that your competitors don’t or can’t?

Marketing assets – Customized content such as presentations, brochures, email campaigns, and other promotional items used to promote products or services. Your website, your social media sites, PR coverage and videos are all assets that should be used to market your brand and company.

Marketing vehicles – A marketing vehicle is a specific tool for delivering your messages to a target audience. They are particular channels within a medium that you use to get your message across. Marketing vehicles are contained within marketing mediums. Like your assets, these tools give you the ability to communicate with your audience.

Audience – People or market segment at whom a message or campaign is aimed. Your audience includes your customers, referral sources, individuals from your industry and all those who interact with your company/brand, staff, products and services.

Ideal client or customer – A subset of your potential clients. Ideal clients are those prospects who will provide you with the maximum return on your marketing investment. These are the individuals who will hire you or buy from you. Recognize the fact that every customer or client may not fit the “ideal” client category.

Ideal referral sources – A person or company that interacts with your ideal client prospects and is willing to actively recommend them to you. For example accountants are considered by many as ideal referral sources because they work closely with business and individuals. They know their clients needs and they are trusted advisors, when they make a recommendation it is often acted upon.

*definitions include information gathered from online resources including businessdictionary.com, activedemand.com, trackmaven.com, eyeswideopen.com.au, and lisacherney.com.

Where can you go to learn?

We are living in the age of online learning and the internet. You can use books, blogs, podcasts, online courses, seminars, training programs and event individual training and coaching. As a trainer and personal branding coach I find those individuals that make the investment in some one-on-one or small group training get the greatest value. This personal interaction allows the student to ask questions at and get answers at their own pace.

What should be in my marketing plan?

Your marketing plan should start with your goals and build from there. Check out this blog where I discuss your personal marketing plan. You plan should include a timeline as well as time and financial budget. How much time and effort you will spend are important especially for small business owners and solopreneurs. A timeline of activities is also critical. Map out when actions will be taken, identify themes and schedule activities that will take place during each month. This includes the preparation work that needs to be done the month or two months before a campaign is launched.

An important part of a marketing plan is assessing success. You must examine what works and what did not work. Learn from this process and move forward. Don’t give up on campaigns and strategies right away, some may take months or even longer to show results.

How much should you spend?

Typically 5 to 10 percent of annual revenues is the standard that most in marketing consider to be appropriate. However this varies depending on the industry, business and how aggressive you wish to be.

Where can I go to stay up to date?

As mentioned earlier, there are tremendous online resources that are free or not very expensive. They will give you the ability to stay up-to-date and see what competitors or others with similar businesses are doing or are planning to do. You can create google alerts on topics of interest, subscribe to magazines like Fast Company, Inc., Entrepreneur and others that provide quality content about marketing and business growth.

Learn by reading constantly and listening to podcasts. I find podcasts, while many have an underlying sales message, provide quality information and success stories. These are educational and motivational. Look to thought leaders, follow them.

Gary Vaynerchuck – #AskGaryVee podcast

Pat Flynn – Smart Passive Income podcast

Chalene Johnson – Build Your Tribe

John Lee Dumas – Entrepreneur on Fire

Tim Ferris – The Tim Ferris Experiment

All offer great content in terms of books, videos, podcasts, examples, tools, resources and more.

Finally, consider attending local or national marketing, small business or personal development conferences and events. These programs come with a cost, sometimes significant. The value of this focused time and effort can be immeasurable. The quality learning, inspiration and ideas can make a profound impact on your business. These are some events that you might want to consider:

Entrepreneur Magazine Events

The 16 Best Digital Marketing Conferences of 2016

14 Conferences Every Small-Business Owner Should Attend

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.

wjcorbett@corbettpr.com

By Bill Corbett

Corbett Public Relations Long Island and the World 

@liprguy

@corbettpr

 

#FocusFriday – Focus on Networking

IMG_1698Many people spend an enormous amount of energy on business networking and the fact is that many are just not great or even good at it. Why? The lack of focus, planning and practice, of course. For those who want to make the most out of business networking time, efforts and energy, here are some of my recommendations. These steps will allow you to focus on what really matters when it comes to networking for business growth, personal branding and relationship building:

  1. Take time to actually focus on planning out what you are going to do at a networking event or as part of a networking group. Set your goals for what you want to achieve by attending the event and spending your valuable time.  Planning must be done in advance to optimize the time where you are physically at the meeting or event in order for it to be productive for you. Investing the time upfront will aid in overall success. Spend at least a half hour planning before each event and more if it is a target rich environment or a critical event for your business success like a trade show.
  2. Research – Part of preparation is studying the group. This is important even if you are already a member. Identify who you want to speak with, follow up with or even avoid. Get to know who the leaders and influencers are and speak with them ahead of time. They will play a critical role in meeting people, facilitating introductions and understanding the group’s dynamics. Get to know the leaders first; this will pay off in the long run.
  3. Focus on the people you need to meet. Create an ideal client profile and ideal referral source profile. Take this even a step further. Identify the “perfect” client and define them. Practice explaining to those in your networking groups who this ideal client is and what you can do for them. The second part of this process is educating those who are in your networking groups about how to accurately explain who you are and what you do. This will require personal meetings and constant reinforcement of your value message. Don’t assume anyone knows all that you do and all the value that you provide. Ask them to tell you what you do and see what happens. This may be awkward and eye opening but it must be done.
  4. Focus on the person you are with. Give the people you meet and speak with at networking events all of your attention. Listen, ask questions (these are questions that you know and have practiced) and get all the information that you can. Look people in the eyes, face them directly, use their names and use open body language.
  5. Focus on the little things. Make sure you know exactly where you are physically going for the meeting and double check. Nothing is worse than getting lost, showing up late or going to the wrong location. This is all a waste of valuable time that you will never get back. Plan to arrive early and make the personal commitment to never arrive late. Make sure you are dressed appropriately. Stop in the bathroom to check your hair and attire before entering the networking environment. A few seconds of preparation can make a vital difference when making a first impression.
  6. Make sure you practice and perfect your elevator speech. Much has been written about elevator speeches. The fact is that most people are not sure what to say. Keep it brief and let people know what you do and how you can be a valuable ally. Think about relationships and not selling. Elevator speeches are more than just explanations they are your way of demonstrating your personality, your ability to communicate and what you care about. Consider your tone, how you project, how you use your hands, think about the specific words you use and don’t forget the body language. Even seated, you must project confidence and command of your subject matter. The process of creating an effective elevator speech may take a person many hours of practice. It’s well worth the effort and practicing may seem silly, but you have to do it. Use a mirror, video or ask friends for feedback.

Focusing attention on planning and executing networking is vital to success. Networking in a lackadaisical fashion is a considerable waste of time and both you and the people that are in your networking circles will suffer.

Make the commitment to spend at least and hour a week on planning and preparing for your networking activities. Block off part of the time where you will not be interrupted and examine lists or practicing your elevator speech. Spend the other time calling or connecting with influences so that you can be as prepared as possible at your next meeting or event.

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.

wjcorbett@corbettpr.com

By Bill Corbett

Corbett Public Relations Long Island and the World 

@liprguy

@corbettpr

Focus Friday: The Snow Day Edition

I am continuingSnow Day my Focus Friday efforts. It is snowing in the Long Island New York area, so I am at home with the kids. I got the message that school was closed while on the rowing machine at 5:20 a.m. My plans for the day have gotten completely turned upside down.  Sound familiar? Snow days and changes in a schedule should not stop anyone’s efforts to grow and market their business or plan for the future. I look at quiet days like this one as an opportunity to focus on certain important tasks and to catch up on others and also to stay mindful of the future and my goals.

Here are my ideas for how to spend a snowy Focus Friday:

  • Snow Day University – The kids may be off from school, but a snow day for you means an opportunity to learn. Do you have a book, magazine articles or blogs that you want to read but haven’t had time? Get them together and spend the day learning more about marketing, business building, sales strategies, catch up on trends in your industry or simply focus on motivation. I like to listen or watch business and personal development related podcasts and TED talks so I can learn about new topics and marketing strategies. Block off the time and commit to learning and self-improvement. Why not spend half your day snow day learning and gaining a competitive advantage. Remember, when you are not learning you’re falling behind.  Take advantage of your free time and attend Snow Day University.
  • Create a Schedule – Even though you are at home, schedule your day’s activities. Set a time for work, set a time for dreaming and set a time for shoveling snow (if you must).
  • snow blowCapitalize on the Quiet – It is hard to concentrate and focus when there are distractions. On this nice quiet snow day, set yourself up and get to work on reexamining your business goals. Review the action steps you have already taken this year and be proud of your accomplishments. If you haven’t completed a task or two, get back on track.
  • Get Organized – Quiet snow days are perfect for re-organizing files, cleaning up your home office or getting tasks done that you have put off. I am cleaning up my office, shredding papers and organizing family photos today.
  • Make Phone Calls – Get in touch with friends, business contacts and others. Most of us are pressed for time and often put off those casual business hellos or “How are you doing?” calls. Snow days are ideal for this. Get your list and make your calls.
  • Relax and Recharge – If the pressure is off to get work done, spend this down time relaxing and recovering from work overload. Do you have a novel you would like to read? Do you like to cook, but don’t have time during the week? Do you need to catch up on sleep? Take advantage of this day to focus on these activities. You will be more productive tomorrow.

It’s easy to sit back and watch TV or do nothing on a snow day. Look at this day as an opportunity to use a quiet environment and unexpected free time to catch up and focus on your goals. Time is one of your most valuable assets use the time you have been gifted to reinvigorate your efforts to achieve your goals and get better organized.

What will you do on your next snow day?

Need to create 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 profile to drive market and drive business? Visitwww.growyourpersonalbrand.com

wjcorbett@corbettpr.com

By Bill Corbett

Corbett Public Relations Long Island and the World 

@liprguy

@corbettpr

Giving Tuesday, a Much Better Tradition

Give today and share information regularly about the causes you support all year long.

We have now passed the big consumer shopping days of Black Friday and Cyber Monday. These are two “holiday traditions” that I really wish would go away. Traffic at the malls and hyped up media coverage of people buying items really does not interest me. As a person who embraces capitalism and business I understand the drive for profit but when shopping starts on Thanksgiving and people act dangerously crazy just to save a few dollars it does not make sense to me.

A tradition that I do like that has grown in popularity is Giving Tuesday. This is a day were the focus is on giving and supporting charities. It is truly better to give than to receive and this day puts this into perspective and hopefully reminds people of the importance of the season and other. We thankfully live in a wealthy and giving nation full of the most generous people on earth.

Americans don’t just give on this one day but they give all year long and step up when adversity hits at home or abroad.

From a marketing perspective, this day offers an opportunity to think about what is important to us. What causes groups or institutions connect with us and empower us? I am on the executive boards of two not-for-profits: The Marty Lyons Foundation and the Theodore Roosevelt Council of Boy Scouts (Nassau County, New York).

ML screencap

Marty Lyons is interviewed on FiOS 1’s “Heroes On Our Island”

 

The Marty Lyons Foundation was created by former New York Jets Star Marty Lyons. Marty, a member of the Legendary “New York Sack Exchange” from the 1980s, faced a period of tragedy and from this created the Foundation which would go on to grant over 7,100 wishes for children facing terminal and life threatening illnesses. The Foundation is going strong in its 35th year. Check out the Foundation at www.martylyonsfiundation.org.  Over the years my firm has helped to get the Foundation some very positive media coverage – this is a link to a Heroes on Long Island from FiOS1 News which tells the story of the Foundation and how it is helping families and children facing unimaginable situations.

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Marty Lyons is interviewed for FiOS 1’s “Heroes On Our Island”

 

Before the birth of my children I knew that I wanted to do more with organizations that empower young people. I volunteered to help with publicity for my local Boy Scouts organization. Today I am Vice President of Marketing for the Theodore Roosevelt Council of Boy Scouts. The council provides programs and services for over 10,000 local Nassau County Long Island young people. It has been a privilege to work with this group and support these programs. Young people today are faced with many complex challenges and need support to build confidence and leadership abilities. I am pleased that this tradition is alive and well on Long Island. This is the council’s website for information if you are interested: http://www.trcbsa.org/.

Scouts are always up for a challenge this is a video news coverage from News 12 Long Island of scouts at their studio last year.

BoyScoouts - News12- Corbett PR (11).jpg

Boy Scouts of the Teddy Roosevelt Council at News 12 studios in Woodbury in 2014.

 

Why do I bring up these charities?  Giving Tuesday is a good day, like Thanksgiving and other holidays, to reflect on what we are and should be thankful for. Today think about those who are unfortunate and in need. Offer you help and support. If it can be a financial donation, great. If you can’t give, then share their message. Use your “influence” on social media to share information, stories and the mission and purpose of the organizations that you support. Tell people why you are a supporter and what role you play. Give the gift of awareness and attention. Not-for-profits struggle, to get their messages out to potential supporters and donors. Help them today. However, make supporting and promoting these worthy causes part of your regular marketing activities.   Give today, but support and share all year long.

wjcorbett@corbettpr.com

By Bill Corbett

Corbett Public Relations Long Island and the World 

@liprguy

@corbettpr

Costumes, Characters and Fun: Halloween Personal Branding Lessons

Americans will spend an estimated $6.9 billion on Halloween in 2015, with $74 being the average amount spent per household on spooky decorations, candy, costumes and more for All Hallows Eve. There are the enthusiasts who take time to plan and are willing to spend more of their hard-earned money on props and over-the-top costumes, while the procrastinators are forced to pick over whatever is left at the pop-up party stores.

When thinking about Halloween you need to be creative, whether your costumed as a ghoul or beautiful princess, you want to attract attention. To have fun at a Halloween party and create a buzz you can’t just walk into a party with a hat on your head saying that you are some character- you need to put in time, thought and effort into your Halloween ‘look ‘ in order to stand out.  Sound familiar? These are the same strategies that apply when you want to grow and build your personal brand.

halloween-kidsHere are tips and strategies that you can use when crafting your Halloween costume that also apply to your own personal branding efforts:

  1. Planning – is necessary if you want to wear a really great costume on Halloween – a store bought costume is OK, but the best costume for you will result from your imagination, time and effort.  This is true as well when creating a really great Brand; it requires imagination along with time and effort. Your objective is to get the attention of your audience and to enhance brand recognition.
  2. Attract attention – a quality costume is one that stands out from the crowd and turns heads. How many scary clowns, zombies and generic vampires have you seen at a party or trick or treating? An attention getting costume will bring greater rewards and help to build relationships.
  3. Be creative – think about your costume; do you want to be one of the 20 pirates at a party?  Let your imagination shine and think about how you can express yourself.  Create your own costume or embellish one bought from the store.  Different is always better, the same goes with your personal branding.  Focus on your differentiators whenever possible.
  4. Be memorable and different – I have seen many memorable costumes over the years. By far the most memorable one was one I saw on my way to a Halloween party on the Lower East Side of Manhattan in the late 90’s.  While on our way to the party, we saw a man in costume turn a corner about a half block away from us. He was dressed in a huge Transformers costume made out of painted cardboard boxes that looked completely authentic, as realistic and detailed as the CGI beings from the Michael Bay films. The back of the costume had fins, didn’t look very comfortable, and the guy inside might have had lifts on.  It was painted and decorated perfectly, down to the smallest details. Even more surprising, there were about 20 people following him with cameras; an Autobot Pied Piper. It was a rolling event the closer he got to us. Suddenly he approached and everyone waiting to get into the party (30 or 40 people) started to applaud for what seemed like minutes. This is the classic example of creating a buzz and being remarkable.  This guy did something so unique and special and almost so perfect he attracted amazing attention.  Long before social media, people “followed” him – he created his own parade and people applauded him (“Liking” him) and commented in the street about how awesome he was. Cheers and shouts, applause and whistles fill the street.  It was a memorable happening.  It shows that with planning, creativity, commitment and a great idea amazing attention can be garnered.
  5. Be committed – Go all in with your costume; if you are going to do it, do it right and go all the way – here’s a modern day example of my story above about a costume that took 1,600 man-hours to build.
  6. Be clear – Ever see somebody in a costume but you don’t know what they are trying to be?  Be clear in what you do when you brand yourself.  You should never get the question “What do you do?” after somebody has read your blog, follows you online, has seen you speak or watched you in a video. They should know exactly what you do, why you do it and what you’re passionate about.
  7. Have fun and act the part. Part of dressing up for Halloween is the freedom to be something different and play a role. Understand your characters, do some research, know some facts and have some fun. Live the character for the day or for the party and this interaction will allow you to have more fun; allow those you are with to enjoy your personality. Your career should be fun, embrace your brand and live it with passion.
  8. Be appropriate – Have the right costume for the right event. If the party is for adults you know how to dress; if it is a kiddie party you will not want to be too grotesque or too sexy. The same is true for networking and when you’re in the business world. Dress appropriately for all occasions. Use your look to your advantage and make it part of your brand. I have discussed this in other blogs but take the time to think about your look and how it helps you to convey who you are, what you do and why people should work with you and trust you. Inappropriate activities such as hard selling or getting involved in controversial issues will drive people away vs attracting people with whom you want to work.
Group of children dressed up in costumes for Halloween

A Ggoup of children dressed up in costumes for Halloween

Halloween is a great season and one that allows for us to be creative and have fun. Growing your brand must be fun and you must be creative.  Have a plan for your brand and examine all of the factors that play a part in who you are, what you do, why you do it and why others should trust and work with you.

wjcorbett@corbettpr.com

By Bill Corbett

Corbett Public Relations Long Island and the World 

@liprguy

@corbettpr

The Subway PR Crisis, What Should Franchisees Do?

A Subway franchise owner.

A Subway franchise owner.

Another Reason why Personal Branding Matters

I have written about the Subway Jarod Fogle spokesperson scandal and crisis PR recently. I understand what the management, marketing team and PR firm for Subway is doing this week. It has been a roller-coaster and certainly a challenge for them; this is truly a nightmare for a corporation. While I have discussed spokespeople before in blogs, I am not going to focus on the spokespeople for this blog. I have a different take and a marketing strategy that most franchises should take, both on how to market as well as how to weather a crisis.

Let me start by saying that I like Subway and give them great credit for building a brand and empowering so many entrepreneurs.  I have been to Subway shops many times and have been treated well.  Through Subway, many people around the word are experiencing the American dream of business ownership. They provide for their families, they create jobs as well as economic activity. They provide food at a reasonable cost and for the most part are a positive influence in communities; but, I feel quite sorry these days for the average Subway franchise owner. They have no control over who the corporate management chooses to use as a spokesperson and have little control, if any, over national marketing programs. However, there is no doubt that they do benefit from national marketing and branding efforts. The branding is part of the overall rationale behind franchising in the first place. I have worked with a number of franchises and understand the model from the franchisee as well as the franchisor perspective.

I hope that the marketing team at Subway is thinking about its franchise owners and local operators. The franchise was founded in Connecticut in 1974 and today has close to 70,000 units in over 100 countries. Interestingly the company does not own any units.

The damage of the current controversy will impact store sales, some more than others. Negative publicity for any reason will have an impact.  Most consumers also know that the crisis is not the individual franchisee’s fault, but it is their problem. Negative perceptions will hurt them.

If I was on the Subway marketing team, I would focus my attention on the franchisees and provide them with support, tools and a long term strategy for localized marketing which should include a personal branding and marketing plan for franchise owners. Subway shops are no different than any other local business. They are part of communities and rely on people for business. Franchises like Subway, unlike most other small businesses (restaurants in particular), have owners out front. What I mean by this is that in my market, Long Island, New York, it is not uncommon for you to walk into a diner, Italian restaurant or even a sushi place and be greeted warmly by an owner, chef or hostess. Many of the most successful local restaurants have owners who get to know their patrons, interact with them and treat them special. They make customers feel like family and this builds loyalty. This works with chefs and hostesses as well but not as effectively when you have an owner interacting directly with the customers. The key is the relationship. This relationship-focused approach is something that franchises, and in this case, Subway, need to embrace. When customers know the owners, they have a relationship with them, can compliment them or provide feedback. Even negative feedback is important for businesses and the owner is the best person to deliver it to.

A Subway franchise location.

A Subway franchise location.

Recognizing that franchises do not have this type of structure, for the most part, is a challenge but it can be turned into an advantage if done properly. Like me, many people like Subway, but they don’t know the owner. If they did, when a crisis hits, having a relationship will help the franchisee weather the storm. People will come back because they know the owner and like them. This personal connection is invaluable but must be cultivated. Here are a few personal branding strategies for franchise owners:

  1. Be present: Franchise models are designed so that owners don’t have to be there. While is true, this does not mean that they should not be there. Owners should spend time at their operations, greet people and speak with them.
  2. Be active in the community: Some Subway shops provide food, support and other items for charity or local groups. Owners need to be part of this and part of the engagement with community members.
  3. Local press: There is no reason that good work cannot be touted in the media. Owners, who have interesting stories to tell, should tell them and be available to the local media for stories. However, in the case of Jarod Fogle or crisis situations from corporate, it is best to not to get involved. All media inquiries should be forward to the regional or corporate office. However, local positive business stories or franchise stories are certainly fair game.
  4. Social media: Subway has a large and active social media presence and this helps local owners and operators with branding and promotions. However, local operators should also have a presence online and be part of the online/local online community. Social media should be used to allow the community to get to know who the owner is, what they stand for and what they are passionate about. Again, this is another way to make connections and build valuable relationships that matter when crisis situations occur.
  5. Join local organizations and business groups: This is simple marketing 101. Owners need to be out at groups and remain. Business people need to buy lunch. Do you think that they would frequent Subway shops more often if they know the owner? I do.
  6. Speak: People are interested in big brands and business owners. The branding of Subway or any international brand will open doors. Owners should create presentations for local groups and present the lessons learned as a Subway/business owner.
  7. Educate: Schools and camps are looking for activities for students. They also want to give them life lessons. I remember going to a Roy Rogers as a child. I still remember how they made the burgers and the fact that they placed a little butter on the hamburger buns. This is a memory that has stuck with me for over 40 years.
  8. Have a personal marketing plan: The steps outlined here are part of a personal marketing plan. The owner of a Subway or any franchise should have a personal marketing plan that will allow them to become better known in their community. With the right approach and commitment to the effort, a franchise owner can become a local rock star. We know rock stars attract attention and interest. Interest will lead to customers and will also blossom into relationships. These activities create good will. Through good will and relationships is an insurance policy in the event that a crisis should one day occur.

The Subway Jarod Fogle controversy presents an opportunity for all franchise owners to look at their marketing and their reputations in their communities. Franchisees leverage their brands to grow their businesses and this is an advantage in many ways. Branding and frequent messages builds awareness and a modest level of trust. However, personal relationships and direct interaction with customers build stronger trust and loyalty and can mean the difference in weathering a given crisis.

By Bill Corbett

Corbett Public Relations Long Island and the World 

@liprguy

@corbettpr

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