Are you an insurance agent, lawyer, coach, bookkeeper, virtual assistant, speaker…or do you have a business where you are selling an intangible?  Then it’s likely you know what I mean when I say there’s a fine line between building your brand and looking like an egomaniac.

To most people, intangible means invisible.  It means air.

Although you are certainly not selling air, it sure can be hard for prospects to distinguish between your intangible (read invisible) service and the similar ‘invisible service’ down the road.

Since all business owners understand that invisible is not good, the default stance taken by those selling intangibles is often this: to promote the business using ONLY themselves.  Their name, their photo, their title.  That’s it.

Even when you ARE the business, people aren’t JUST buying you – they are buying what you bring, how you make them feel, the comfort of working with a caring, knowledgeable person who knows their stuff, (insert your value proposition here).  

When/why to use your photo.
When you ARE the business, here’s when and why you SHOULD use your photo when marketing:

– if you rarely meet people in person (you sell over the phone) – your photo can make them feel more comfortable.  You are not a stranger.
– if some of your competitors are big (and people consider the firm impersonal) outfits, making a personal connection with people gives you a big competitive advantage for many purchases.
–  when networking, having a photo on your business card makes you much easier to remember, and people tell me they keep cards with photos longer (who throws away photos?).
– branding yourself (name and photo) can position you as the go-to person, with a somewhat elevated status (think mini-celebrity).  We know what Tony Robbins and Suze Orman look like, don’t we?

However, unless you are an undiscovered supermodel, your photo and name are not enough to drive sales and referrals.  Especially when you have competition (and who doesn’t?).  When we can take the ego out of our marketing, and instead deliver something that serves the client, it helps not only the client, but our company.

Here are my 4 overall tips for great branding that drives sales:

1) Define it.  What do you provide for whom, and how is it delivered and priced?  One of the most powerful tools when it comes to ‘defining it’ is a tagline.  I’ve been playing with a new one for my primary business of strategy consulting (below).
Strategy:
     Defined.
     Designed.
     Delivered.
2) Prove it.  How can you prove that you are what you say you are?
3) Look it.  It’s not enough to answer #1 and #2, when you, your business, your website, etc. don’t LOOK it. This bar is being continually raised, and it’s why my graphic designer is a very critical member of my team.
4) Deliver it/message it   Determining how we will reach our important constituents/audiences is critical.  Frequency, method, content?  Once we’ve nailed items 1-3, this item becomes an ongoing activity.

The judicious use of our names and photos in marketing can make a lot of sense.  At the same time, we can’t go wrong when we focus our content, messaging, and branding on serving the needs and desires of our prospects.  And THAT’S the difference between ego-driven marketing, and prospect-centered marketing that promotes the business owner as the perfect solution.

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