On Friday, I attended “Essex’s #1 Entrepreneur Extravaganza”, Wanna Be An Entrepreneur. January is a great time of year for this type of event. We have yet to forget about our new year’s resolutions, and we’re still buzzing with optimism for the year ahead. January is the month of self-reflection where we take the time to search for new opportunities to improve our lives.
Then it gets to February, and apathy starts to blossom as Spring sets in.
But, it’s now the 2nd of February and Wanna Be An Entrepreneur has only just got me re-thinking my new year’s resolutions. Many of the speakers’ motivational messages can be applied on a variety of different levels, both personal and business. So how can I apply their messages to my own online marketing strategies and up my game in 2016?
As Penny Power stated, in the online world attention is your biggest asset. With so many individuals and companies constantly competing for everyone else’s attention, how do you stand out from the crowd? Our online reputation as digital citizens can help to spread messages.
A couple of years ago, I blogged about an intriguing phenomenon that I noticed occurring in the online world. I touched on the increasing role reversal between people and brands, and how businesses can use that pattern to appeal to more customers.
Extract from Appealing to the Narcissism of the User:
“Companies are personalising their image, toning down their brand’s own narcissism, whilst brand-ifying their fans and followers. We brand ourselves. We’ve become very good at it. Teenage girls who frequently use social media have become branding experts. We customise our own packaging, and choose the words and images that we want to represent us as an individual. Clutching at our own personal USP, and flaunting it on every online profile we can get our hands on. And the more information people share about themselves online, the easier they become to target. It is then the job of the marketer to find ways in which to convince the user that we can help to enhance the user’s public image.”
(Yes, I just quoted myself. I’m aware of the irony. But…) I still stand by that perspective. Businesses have to humble themselves to the mercy of the customer. After all, the combined entity of “the customer” has more power than the business. Customer experience has become everything, and your customers have huge online reach. If they’re talking, make sure they’re talking about you. And if they’re talking about you, make sure that they’re saying good things. But that’s the difficulty, isn’t it. It’s not enough to just give your customers a good experience, you need to give them a unique experience. That’s where branding your fans comes in. You need to make your customers feel like they’re part of the elite, even if they’re a dime a dozen. Look at Apple, for example. Everyone and their gran has an iPhone (I don’t, personally, but you get the point), and they all feel like they’re part of some sort of exclusive club and us ‘Droid folk “wouldn’t understand”.
The second half of the Power couple to speak at Wanna Be An Entrepreneur, Thomas Power, demonstrated how we can use social media to promote our own personal brand. Because, don’t forget that you’re a user too! People trust people more than they trust companies. That’s because companies are so obviously looking to sell something – why would they exist otherwise? This is where your personal accounts come in. You are an ambassador for your company. You represent your company online. But your personal profiles need to be dedicated toward building trust and authority to your personal brand, sharing your own values, ethics and passions. You need to be a real person. Building that kind of social authority allows the trust to flow into your business as a by-product of your personal social presence. You need to play the role of the user and the marketer. BUT you need to do this without compromising your authenticity and integrity. You shouldn’t have to exploit your soul to get more sales.
Dan Chambers, local Southend entrepreneur and director of 1st Call Sales & Lettings, was interviewed at Wanna Be An Entrepreneur and is a great example of how your personal brand can spread the word about your business. His personal story is inspiring. If he could sing, The X Factor would eat him up. His success and personal achievements in life will only help to strengthen his business. If people believe in him, they’ll believe in what he’s selling.
Julie Bishop, founder of Job Hop, inspired the young wanna-be entrepreneurs to use their digital skills to get the jobs of their dreams. Saying goes, “you should dress for the job you want”. These days, this applies more to our digital footprint than the style of our clothes. But what about for the customers you want? What about using your digital skills to get the customers of your dreams? Your business is being judged online right now – through your use of graphics, your website, your social media content… Customers are making snap decisions about your company. And if your online presence doesn’t reflect what your customers are expecting to see, then you can be losing business and confusing your brand. So blog about what your customers would be interested in reading, joke about things that your customers would find funny, and be your customers’ best friend. Julie advised any job seekers at the event to “use your digital hyper-connection to empower yourself”. But this is good advice for everyone really, whether or not you’re looking for employment. Businesses should be collaborating with other businesses and their brand ambassadors to help empower themselves, as well as actively making an effort to engage with other users on social media.
It can be hard sometimes to open ourselves up for collaboration. Especially as an online marketer. Sometimes you get so used to swapping out all these different hats and trying new ones on, it can be hard to give up our hats to lend or swap them with others. But, as James Sinclair the Millionaire Clown, said at Wanna Be An Entrepreneur: the pyramid is composed of 75% Sheep, 20% Oxen and 5% Eagle. And the phrase of the Ox that will forever prevent them from becoming an Eagle is
“If you want a job done well, do it yourself.”
I’m not saying that marketers aren’t Sheep. But even Sheep marketers have to think like an Ox or, better yet, an Eagle. This means that you have to get rid of whatever god complex you may have about your roles in the business. If you want a job done well, find the best person for the job. Collaborate with bloggers, graphic designers, advertisers and other marketers.
My goals for the year are to:
- Explore new ways to make the customer feel even more special.
- Analyse buyer profiles and their journey for different clients, and adjust strategies as necessary.
- Be aware of how my online activity shapes my personal brand.
- Am I hanging around in the right circles?
- Collaborate more with talented people.
- Search for new opportunities with guest bloggers, infographic designers, industry experts, social influencers and others. After all, I’m just the SEO.
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