Your Personal Photo Is Your Marketing Brand

Since I’ve been concentrating on LinkedIn, I notice something totally disconcerting. So many people, even professionals, use snapshots rather than professional photos. I see images where people look surprised they are being photographed, or worse, wacky. Images of you with your kids, hugging your partner in front of the Grand Canyon, your dog, or no photo at all… what on earth do you think you are doing posting a photo of yourself like that?

Photos are a language that speaks volumes. Rule #1 of branding yourself as a successful what-ever-you-are is Increase Your Visibility. All things being equal, the more visible competitor wins.

Viewers read things into photos that you never even considered. Here are some points to keep in mind:

Your photo says lots about you. Do you look friendly, confident and capable?

If you have a professional photo, it implies you can afford to hire a professional. If you don’t you’re either too cheap, unsuccessful, stupid, or don’t care. That’s what people think.

  • A professional photo can make you look active and engaged.
  • Your photo should imply you are a leader in your field.
  • A professional photo builds your credibility.
  • Perception is reality. An amateur photo makes you look unprofessional and NOT what you say you are.
  • Logic loses out to emotion. Photos speak to emotion.
  • No glamour shots or Olin Mills images with lots of light blown into your face. (Thus showing my pre-Photoshop age history)
  • Use props that are relevant to what you do. Or hold a pen or reading glasses in your hand. This makes you look active.
  • Nobody cares how old you are, what you weigh, or if you have a zit. A professional photographer can make you look spectacular.
  • A professional photographer can pull out your personality and make the viewer feel they know you.
  • Wear something relaxed and appropriate. Stiff, uncomfortable clothing will make you look stiff and uncomfortable.
  • Don’t wear prints, jewelry, scarves or anything else that will distract from your face, or be dated in a few years.
  • Be who you are. A great photo of yourself should last you several years. But, don’t use your photo from when you were 22 and now you’re 52.
  • Once you invest in a great photo, put it everywhere including on your business cards.
  • An excellent photo should cost you under $300. If it is too inexpensive, you may not be working with an experienced photographer who can make you look great.

There are a few things you need to invest in to be taken seriously as a business owner. One of them is a professional photo. I know not everyone is enthusiastic about having their photo taken. I have actually seen people cry during a photo shoot. But, I’ve also seen what appear to be shy people “bring it” to the party. Remember, a good photo can be used for many years.

How Sales, Marketeing, Branding & Digital Dysfunction Are Dragging You Down

Getting sales and marketing to talk to each other may feel like torture, but it has never been more critical – especially for the more than 5 million mid-market industrial and B2B companies in the U.S.

The digital age and a host of technology developments have exposed four major flaws in traditional B2B marketing practices:

• Lack of coordination between brand, sales/marketing and digital activities

• Dedication to sales at the expense of marketing

• The slowness of firms to focus their online voice

• Failure to recognize that the internet has changed the sales dynamic

B2B companies are struggling to leverage the internet to sell and grow. Unlike consumer product companies, they’ve been slow off the mark in the digital race due a traditional but flawed rationale that branding and digital communications can’t really help their ‘relationship’ style of selling.

What’s become glaringly obvious is that three core marketing functions – brand, sales/marketing and digital communications – don’t behave as if they have anything in common. Worse, they don’t work together to build equity, share of mind, customer loyalty, or sales for B2B enterprises.

The open secret always was that sales and marketing were never really very integrated. In some firms, they didn’t even like or talk to each other. Not to mention that in many B2B firms, ‘sales and marketing’ actually means ‘sales.’

But because the internet has made company ‘walls’ ever more transparent, there are few secrets. Employees complain, whistle blowers whistle, bloggers gossip, e-mails get forwarded, the news media investigates, and your customers actually know all about you – your product benefits and even your prices – before you ever hit their door. So what are you actually selling?

When a company’s brand, its sales force, and its digital activity aren’t in lockstep, customers notice. At best, customers scratch their heads at this lack of coordination; at worst and more commonly, firms are losing credibility, customer satisfaction and opportunity because they can’t get their act together.

In 2014, Forbes Insights published, Breaking Down Marketing Silos: The Key to Consistently Achieving Customer Satisfaction and Improving Your Bottom Line.

Forbes noted that the challenges with marketing silos mean:

1. Each silo may have its own brand vision, creating a disjointed experience and message for the customer.

2. Team incentives may motivate some team members to exploit and damage the brand in order to boost short-term sales.

3. Poorly integrated teams suffer from inadequate cooperation.

4. Silo interests stand in the way of programs that require scaling.

5. Key growth areas such as digital are not scaled because they are dispersed across silos.

6. Success in one silo is leveraged slowly into others, or not at all.

And not listed, but in the mix: Inconsistent customer experience across divisions and functions.

The good news is that with the right market data, the marketing function is uniquely positioned to lead the charge for integration in the name of better service to the customer. Forbes pointed out why marketing is primed for a leadership role in integration:

1. Marketing brings an outside point of view.

2. Marketing can articulate the unique truth of the company and what differentiates it within the marketplace.

3. Marketing can communicate the product and value-why products are relevant to customers in different ways, identifying segmentation in the market.

4. Marketing creates compelling stories for rallying employees and making an emotional connection with customers.

5. Marketing is a strategic seat at the table; there is no other department that can see such a company panorama and bring those perspectives together.

To overcome the silo issue, the report concludes by offering best practices for CMO’s:

1. Replace competition and isolation among silos with communication and cooperation.

2. Consolidate when necessary.

3. Act as a facilitator, establishing frameworks, encouraging collaboration through teams and knowledge hubs, and upgrading marketing talent.

4. Think like a consultant: create company-wide insights, train marketing talent and participate in strategy development.

5. Secure access to the C-suite. Teradata found that marketers with executive responsibilities are almost twice as likely as others to believe that there are no barriers to interdepartmental integration.

6. Force integration. In Teradata’s study, marketers say the best way for marketing to become more intertwined with other functions is to set up integrated processes.

For some firms, these are lofty marketing ideals. But there are practical steps smaller companies can take to force different thinking and action. But there are practical steps smaller companies can take to encourage different thinking and action. One is to use research and market data strategically – know the customer better than anyone else. A second step is to stop planning functionally and start planning via a ‘communications & experience canvass.’ What does the customer need to feel, see and hear? How do we ‘behave the brand?’ Who is responsible for delivering that? What are the methods for delivery?

In short, turn the silos sideways. With this framework, suddenly a lot more people see and serve their responsibility to serve the customer – including functions such as accounting, help desk, order fulfillment and e-commerce managers, and the c-suite.

Business Marketing, Branding and Opening Doors – 5 Success Tips

Do you find yourself thinking back on your business history of working for others?

Back when I worked for the church and then as a FHA Loan Officer, it was all about excellence – reading all the latest business books and quickly gaining a reputation as the person that was going places.

It was a simpler time: do your job with dedication, anticipate future needs and take care of this before being asked.

  • The result? Business was growing 33% a year, management had me as the number one person to watch, and my own financial growth was going way up.

As an entrepreneur, things are different. Knowing all aspects of the business and doing more than a great job is required. It’s about the overall experience you provide:

  • What image does your business portray?
  • Connection: Have you identified your market and the simple elements of branding that would help you connect with them?
  • The Marketing Plan: How do you communicate your brand through online marketing, social media and direct mail?
  • Are you crafting promotional materials and creating marketing campaigns that get results?
  • Do your clients know what to expect or is each contact with you a different experience?

And – it is about understanding yourself and how you operate.

5 Success tips to implement in your business if you’re looking for success and sustainability:

  1. Develop a way to connect with your clients – branding
  2. A marketing plan– Your market wants really good content and connection- is your sales site giving that?
  3. Share your project and ask for partnership with industry celebrities
  4. Create systems, which support you: client intake system, outgoing client completion documentation, how you gather – and use – email addresses, surveys, testimonials, etc.
  5. Follow-up. Let your clients and prospective clients know you care by following-up on a regular basis – offering value, your own product/service information and affiliate offers.

How your business is perceived by others, especially your clients, begins with you. What needs to be recreated, reworked and changed to bring your business the big impact?

Working as an entrepreneur, on your own, can be an isolated feeling. Trying to find your way and answers can happen through books and online training. But, getting focused and aligned with your clients and opening promotional and marketing doors can flow much easier and more quickly with a mentor – a coaching business entrepreneur. I have certainly found that true. Let me know what you think.