BBO.SHOW #32 – Determine how your business shows up, corporate vs personal branding, shaping your story, plus more
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Harms: We’ve been talking about these four components which underlie building an audience and the components are the content that you produce.
The second thing is messaging.
Messaging is what we’re talking about in this section.
How do you come across?
How do you show up in front of the audience and all the amazing things that come with that.
Thirdly, that is when the platform reveals itself to us in regards to which is the best platform to use and present our message on and then finally we talk about time and consistency and how long it takes to build an audience.
You should now have a list of keywords in an excel sheet, google sheet, you have a list of keywords that you can start to talk to your audience about because these are people’s problems that they have and they’ve shared online.
They should roughly be ranked in the order of highest impact and highest impact comes from where there is a high demand, but low supply.
What are we now focusing on now?
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Kyle: We’re going to be covering the messaging and it is quite a broad term, but basically it’s about how we’re going to go about presenting ourselves to the world.
We know what it is we’re going to be talking about because we did our keyword research, we did key phrase research; we have this list.
This list of topics people are genuinely already interested in, we’ve done a lot of the hard work. The question now is how do we speak to that space?
How do we get the information to them?
How do we answer their questions, solve their problems?
Previously it was what, now we move on to how.
You should have a list of 30 to 40, maybe a 1,000 key phrases and key words that become the basis of your content moving forward, now we need to make a couple of big choices.
There are two main choices we’re going to be looking at.
The first one is our brand and specifically is it going to be a corporate or a personal brand?
Basically do we want a professional corporate image, or do we want it to be based on ourselves or our team, or on the people who make up our company?
This is a big split and how we do branding nowadays online.
The second thing we’re going to talk about is your story.
Whether you are presenting your business as a corporation as a company or whether you are presenting your business as yourself and your team and the people you work with.
You’re going to need a story, the story of your company is what allows us to get people’s attention, to make them more likely to actually stick with us while we give them information.
Both of these elements brand and story you already have one.
If you are in business you already have a brand and a story is just what people think about you, what they think your brand is, what they think your story is.
Regardless of whether you want a brand regardless of whether you want a story in place there is already one, all we’re going to be doing is acknowledging that fact and helping to shape our brand and story moving forward.
Harms: This is now what makes you different when you show up in the world and your business whether it’s corporate or personal brand.
By having your own unique story this is how your business will show up in its own way, in a way that’s different to somebody else doing something similar, or a large company doing something similar.
Or you may have a large budget and you may be a medium-sized company so this is what makes you different to somebody who is a smaller personal brand doing something different.
It’s very important to hone in on these two choices and determine what the outcome would be for you as a person within these two choices, and that’s what we’re going to explore today.
Many people may say, you’re providing lots of systems and processes, but you know if everybody’s plugging into the system and process, what makes us different?
Because yes we have a list, we have the platform in which we’re going to speak to our audience and start to build our audience off.
We know exactly what we’re going to talk to our audience about and how we do that is you can have a formulaic approach against it, but it is very much what positions you differently.
You can now be yourself and provide your creative input and all the amazing things that come as being a human and a personal brand or a corporate brand.
We can focus that energy based on what people want to hear versus skipping that step and actually just being ourselves completely free online but without any single focus.
That may feel enjoyable but you’re not doing building a sustainable business. We’re completely disregarding business functions, business, marketing, sales, we’re disregarding all of that, because we’ve completely removed focus away from things.
Kyle let’s kick off brand.
Kyle: With brand I want to throw in a quick apology as it does sound corporate.
When we talk about brands I understand there might be a bit of push back from people thinking that’s not really what we do.
I think regardless of your emotional reaction or what you think about your company’s brand it doesn’t really matter because the truth of the matter is you have a brand, whether you like it or not, whether you have consciously thought about it or not your company and yourself online have a brand.
A brand is not just the logo, website header it’s not just those things, it is more basic than that. It’s really how do people refer to your business?
How do people talk about your business?
It is not about you and your company, it’s about the people out there.
How did they refer to you and your company?
Harms: When somebody thinks about your market niche or your specific niche industry are you one of the brands that appears at the top of the list?
Kyle: We call that top of mind awareness, which is very important.
If you think trainers Nike and Adidas are going to show up immediately, they are top of mind.
There are hundreds of other companies that make trainers, but if it’s Nike and Adidas the majority of people think about first they’re the ones with the strongest brand.
Harms: Niche would be barefoot shoes or barefoot running.
If you asked me there are two brands that pop to mind. One is vivo barefoot which and then the other one is Vibram five fingers and I don’t actually know any others.
Kyle: This is what your brand isn’t just your logos and your colours and your website, those brand assets, they are the part of building the brand.
But really all your brand is what people think of you, what they think of automatically when they think of your brand or your niche and whether you like it or not that is going to happen.
Harms: The main question is how are you going to be represented to your audience and customers in which bucket and Kyle what are those two buckets?
Corporate or personal
Kyle: The two widest buckets here are corporate or company and personal.
It’s going to depend a lot on your market, your niche but we can give some general recommendations.
It’s also going to depend on you as well.
Harms: What we are really determining at this stage is what will be the face of your business?
Is the brand of your company based on the products and services, or is it based on you as a person, your partners, your team?
It will very much vary depending on what choice you make.
Corporate versus personal or corporate or personal, will be the distinction here between the two choices that we have.
We suggest that you start with one of those.
Kyle: By default, most companies out there will use corporate.
Most companies when you think of them you think about their products and services, that’s what their brand is.
A really good example is British airways, we think British airways.
What do you think of automatically?
You’re thinking of colours, red, white, blue. They have got the uniforms that they wear, maybe the logo.
They’ve got lots of advertising around Gatwick and Heathrow here in London. There might be some ideas you associate with them like reliability, that’s something they are always trying to push.
But apart from that, they’re quite faceless, there is not much personality in that brand.
It is mainly the colours, logo, uniform and maybe a few abstract ideas around the idea of British airways.
If you compare that to someone like Virgin airways what do you think of?
Richard Branson’s face immediately pops up.
After that, you’re probably thinking of red as they have red uniforms, red planes, red is very much their colour.
But before anything it’s Richard Branson.
He has made himself the face of Virgin airways, plus most of the other companies he has run.
He’s gone with the personal brand approach for the Virgin group, whereas a company like British airways is faceless.
Harms: What’s interesting here is most businesses, even an individual typically will start by going corporate and one of the possible reasons for this is maybe it’s a human instinct is that we want to look bigger than we are for the most part.
By having and spending lots of capital in advance on a website, business card and trust me I have done it when I started building a property portfolio.
There was a big push to look bigger than you are and you can do this via websites, logos, branding.
What we’re not saying is this is the wrong thing to do, it’s probably quite wise for certain niches especially in areas such as b2b.
Why? Because it’s just safer.
It’s what everybody else does and we don’t want to get ridiculed, laughed at or immediately thought of as a very small company which can be a problem within b2b.
Where appearance and a certain appearance is quite important and that’s fine if you’re in the b2b industry then actually one of your choices may be attending closer towards the corporate style of the brand and that’s understandable.
It may or may not be right for you, your products and services, but it very much depends on those factors that we’ve discussed.
What’s the flipside of corporate?
Kyle: The flipside is personal is using the people who make up the company, using them as the face of the business.
British airways the face of the business is their logos, colours they’re relatively faceless.
That’s the image they’re putting forward, and that’s fine.
The face you think of when you see Virgin airlines is Richard Branson. That’s an example of a personal brand, driving a business forward.
For newer businesses and especially for online businesses we often recommend you go down the route of using a personal brand rather than a corporate brand.
People do business with people I think is fine.
Maybe that’s more relevant for b2b but we will give a few more reasons why a personal brand is much stronger, especially for new businesses and online businesses.
Harms: Nowadays, people don’t just do business with people as we know, amazon has changed the landscape there.
But if we look at an example where people may be due do business with people in the same sense that people would choose Virgin because of Richard Branson, is the same reason potentially, people are buying Tesla’s because of Elon Musk and the identity he has created there.
Instead a few reasons why personal branding is recommended
Harms: Let’s now focus on a few reasons why personal branding is recommended by us and the first point from day one there is an existing asset, and that existing asset is you.
Whereas if you think about a corporate entity and if you want to get really granular with it let’s set up a limited company, which is a trading company and great there’s this box there’s no assets in it, nothing.
It is just this empty vessel at the moment, whereas if we go back to the personal branding there is an existing asset, it’s you.
Your knowledge, the way you’ve shown up within your industry for many years, decades or even a short time and you’ve made such an impact in the industry that you are an asset.
That’s the first thing is you are an asset versus setting up a corporation or a corporate identity or brand which doesn’t quite have in place that asset that already exists within you.
What else do we have?
Kyle: Connected to this is the fact there is speed.
If you are using an existing asset which is yourself or your team or your background, your experience, everything you’re bringing to the table, you already have something to start with.
You can get moving a lot faster if you’ve started up a new limited company and you need to brand it generally; this requires bringing in consultants.
That’s fine all well and good, but it takes time and instead you can start with something that you already have, you need to go through the process of working out what your values and your mission are, but that’s coming from here rather than from this empty box.
Harms: Following on from that speed is one thing but with the need of dropping all the things that corporations have to do we can also say money.
We can distance ourselves from all of the typical costs associated with setting up a corp as such, versus a personal brand.
Everything from the website, accounting, anything from the setting up the limited companies in a certain structure so that the entity is separate.
All of those things will be relevant, but this is the first thing we think about nowadays, unfortunately, when we’re starting a business is all of those costs.
The business cards.
Yes, it seemed like a minute cost, but that £90 to £100 on a good quality set of business cards.
Maybe you are going to pay a consultant to come in all of this is a cost, whereas if we start focusing on you first and working through this process as a personal brand and knowing that you are more important than a website or a logo and that you yourself can actually start to build an audience without any of that to start with, then, we’re saving a lot of money.
Instead we’re replacing that for time or sweat equity.
That’s another advantage we get to save money.
Kyle: Again, these are mainly advantages for new or early-stage businesses.
If you’re already a medium or large enterprise it’s going to be less relevant but we’re talking to people early on in their journey.
The next one is connected.
People do business with people is fine but what is the mechanism behind that?
I think a more useful phrase is we do business with people that we know, like and trust.
Daniel Priestley has written a book called key person of influence which is really about this, it’s about being known, liked and being trusted. That is what allows us to transact with somebody in the market.
This is much easier to do as a person to know, like and trust a person is much easier than to know, like and trust a corporate entity or a logo.
Even on the most basic level, if you’re on social media for example, let’s say on twitter talking to a twitter account that has the logo as their profile image is much more nonhuman than talking to an actual person with a picture of their face.
This is really basic stuff but we can communicate better with people than with a logo on a psychological level.
This allows us to build up our authority as an expert.
We have talked about this in great detail basically building a whole business system around your expertise, your personal expertise online.
This is a very powerful way to get people to know, like and trust you, and it’s a very powerful way to build up an audience, to build a tribe and to generate income online.
It’s easier to become an expert, it’s easy to become an authority as an individual than it is as a corporation.
Harms: If think about all of those things we’ve just spoken about existing assets, speed the fact that you can save costs, you are in a position in the market in a place that people like, know and trust you and now attach all of those benefits to the amazing power of social media which will help you accelerate all of these items.
We then start to identify and start to when we discover the platforms and social media we start to really see that social media and its power is very much geared to the individual and their story, not the brand and the corporation.
The brand and corporation is left spending millions of pounds on their advertising in their commercials, and moving that from television to social media being a faceless brand, whereas we can then turn up on social media, accelerate all this process and also we now stand a chance with competing with these brands.
Especially if we are in their macro market space but we’ve carved out a specific niche that we are dealing in.
That’s where it becomes extremely powerful, even if you look at a platform like LinkedIn, specifically where it’s a business social network, it’s still about the people.
It’s not companies that are annoyingly direct messaging you saying, hey, I think we can do business.
It is people, either within an entity or business or its people who have their own businesses.
They are the people directly reaching out.
Kyle: That’s the appeal of LinkedIn really.
Instead of me talking to Coca-Cola, I can talk to Sophie head of marketing at Coca-Cola, a specific person inside a corporate entity.
That is really the power of LinkedIn in particular.
Harms: What this allows us to do is complete and even compete on a corporate level.
Yes, you may be pitched against Coca-Cola and their massive corporate budgets, but by playing in the field of LinkedIn and social media, Facebook and YouTube, or wherever we are playing in the same field here.
That’s a good thing to just bear in mind we’re playing in the same field now.
Kyle: Whereas with traditional media so commercials, tv ads, sticking adverts on the side of a bus, billboards, et cetera that is very much the domain of the brand, not necessarily the personal brand.
That’s where the corporate brands live.
They have the money they can spend and they can be visible there.
Thankfully for us the newer forms of media, social media being one of them are actually cheaper and more effective, we get a lot more visibility about our data.
It’s about individuals communicating with individuals on social media through email through all of these new channels.
We have a much more level playing field.
We don’t need to play on the big boys corporate playing field where we will lose unless we can spend, instead we play them on our home turf, which is online using a personal brand.
We can actually outmanoeuvre them.
Harms: Let’s loop this back to our actual audience building strategy, the focus of this guide because if we bring this back to the reality of things yes, we are talking about abstract concepts here which is corporate brand, personal brand which one has a better advantage?
Remember, we are armed with a whole list of questions which are people’s genuine problems that they’ve either written into the online world spoken into the online world, or recorded videos about the online world.
I have a problem, I need a solution.
Here’s a question to think about, who do you think they are more likely to listen to in regards to providing a solution?
Is it a faceless corporate brand?
Yes, I know by saying that phrase we’re painting them in a certain picture I am aware of that.
Or is it a real person who’s gone through that scenario or gone through that problem, overcame it and is now sharing with you the solution that they used to overcome that problem.
Who’s going to have more power here?
My answer would be, when I personally go in search of a problem that I have, or I’m trying to find a solution I go to someone who is representing themselves, typically via video and walking me through how to solve a problem.
This leads us nicely onto the second part, which is the second thing that we want to discuss with you, which is the story.
The story is something which now really helps you set part. If you think setting yourself apart with a personal brand is powerful, this is the part which really does differentiate yourself.
Kyle: Whether you’re going down the corporate route or the personal brand we need to get our story straight. Remember that the brand is how people describe us, how they think of us.
We need to set the tone for that.
I’m going to paraphrase RuPaul he says if you can’t love yourself, how the hell is anyone else going to love you?
I think this is exactly the same as the story here. If we don’t know how to describe ourselves, if we don’t know what our story is, how on earth are people going to know what our story is?
We need to know it first before we put it out there otherwise we’ll just make up what they want about our brand and story.
We need to have the essence of that.
It’s going to change, we’re not talking about manufacturing it from scratch, we’re talking something authentic, but we need to know what it is before the world decides it for us here.
Harms: The question is what sort of story do we tell?
Do we tell our biography?
Are we telling the story from the moment we came into the earth to the point now?
No, we’ve got to think about the hook of the story being aligned with our goal and outcome. If you remember our goal and outcome is directly linked with solving people’s problems.
We know what problem we’re solving, we identified this in the business guide, more specifically we’ve also got a list of questions we’re talking about.
At the macro we’re solving a problem statement.
We’ve identified this problem statement.
Our story should be aligned with helping people solve that problem statement so somewhere within our story or snapshot of the description of our story must be aligned with that goal. It may be fun to take them off on one or two tangents.
But remember, every time you take away from the goal it’s harder for them to understand who you are, which goes back to what Kyle described fantastically which is if you don’t know how to describe yourself and your story concisely, then people are too busy.
People are too busy to work out what your story is.
We can’t assume people care that much so we have to make it as simple as possible for them and then as part of that story why are you qualified?
What is special about you within your story that allows you to qualify or build credibility within yourself, why are you the expert and authority that someone should trust in order to solve the problem that they have?
Because that is a big transaction of trust.
How do we approach putting our story together?
Kyle: The first point is we start with them and their problem, we’re not just talking about ourselves.
Whenever somebody goes to set down their story, the natural tendency is to talk about yourself.
We are answering their problem using our story to do that so we’re going to have two elements here.
We’re going to talk about how we have done what it is they’re trying to do; we have got the result that they are currently aimed at.
We need to prove and the second part is we are going to show them how they can do it too.
These are the two main components, and corporations use this as well.
Nike, for example, Nike itself is a faceless corporation it’s just a tick.
That’s why they spend so much money hiring sports stars, athletes, and Tiger Woods. Nike will hire faces.
They’ll hire personalities because the customers want to be faster fitter, that’s what you’re buying into Nike.
These athletes already have these attributes, they are already stronger, they’re faster, they are better at sports than most of the customers buying Nike.
The link here is okay, these athletes have done it so I will be able to share these attributes somehow by purchasing the product that these athletes are now representing. It’s not the fact that they’ve trained, it’s the shoe.
That’s what Nike is relying on it’s linkage between the athletes and their ability and the customer wanting to have those abilities.
The problem is I want to be faster and stronger. The solution is the shoes, but it comes through the story of the athletes.
Harms: With audiences getting smarter, with people getting smarter, with people getting more conscious it is not just enough now to say I am great. I am Nike, we’ve got great athletes you should buy stuff from us.
It’s just not good enough to do that.
Companies like Nike have realised this, because the reality is if you do it in that mechanism, and personal brands will face this as well, not just corporations.
If you do it that way it makes us look arrogant and a bit of an annoying person when you look at me, I am the master of this field.
It doesn’t work, it may have worked in the past, but this third element is essential.
Kyle what is this third element which really cracks the code and is the next level above this not so subtle, obvious, blatant thing which the customer knows they can’t be Lebron James or Cristiano Ronaldo.
What is the third element which actually cracks the code?
This is even MORE powerful with personal branding
Kyle: The first two elements are okay, I’ve done it. I have achieved this result; I have solved the problem that you are trying to solve.
The second, is I can show you how to do it, but the third is more subtle.
It is adding to the struggle, so it’s kind of like saying I am here now I can show you how to do it.
I know how to get you here because I went through the same process as you did. I went through struggle. I went through the pain. I had to solve the problem myself.
Nike has started to do this.
The adverts are not just the elite athletes they’ve stopped doing that. Instead, they are focusing on the process so there are lots of videos of athletes getting up at 5 am in the morning and running and going and practising their craft and that is what Nike are starting to tap into, even as a large corporation.
They’re saying the shoes are important but it’s also the blood, sweat and tears of the struggle getting somebody from A to B, getting them from their problem to the solution.
Even Nike are doing this and we want to integrate this into our story as well though.
The elements will become I’ve done this, I have achieved this result I can show you how to do this because the third element here is, once I was in your position.
Harms: This is an extremely powerful third element, especially with personal branding.
I’m glad you used Nike as an example here because they have strategically signed athletes who embody the struggle.
Their athletes embody the struggle they demonstrate the struggle to the audience all the time and they will benefit.
What we want to take it from the lesson is to really show people that you were once in their position.
It’s going to be what was your struggle and how can you incorporate that, so let’s now discuss that in mind of your story.
It is even more powerful it enhances your personal brand to another level and starts to become the core of your story.
When you think of Cristiano Ronaldo you think he is the best because he works so hard.
That’s what we want to bring into your story as well.
What was your struggle?
What was your experience which allowed you to now get you where you are?
What’s the key here Kyle?
Kyle: We have already alluded to you not just talking about yourself.
Instead, our story should be about the person who is listening obviously we are the one talking because of the medium we’re using, but we need to address their issues, it’s going to be about them.
Harms: Think about your story as very simply, we address the problem within addressing the problem we’re going to provide a solution by laying down our expertise, but we’re not talking about ourselves, we’re sharing our expertise.
Within that sharing the part of the journey which meant that this wasn’t instant for them they had to do something or overcome something to get there.
If we can do that all within a single story, then we are winning.
Let’s talk briefly about your story.
What about your story?
Kyle: We can start from the foundation of the fact you’re already producing something of value for the market that you’re addressing.
We have a unit of value which helps to solve the problem, that’s the foundation here.
Now we need to formulate a story around whatever this product or solution is based on, your personal brand as well How did you get to where you are now?
That’s going to be the first step.
Harms: There are three key considerations here when you’re forming a story. We’re not writing a biography.
The first answer is, how did you get to where you are right now?
Kyle: This is the story of your struggle, and again it needs to be related to their problems.
The problem that your potential customer is having already, you just need a few sentences about how you got to where you are now so that you are now in a position to be talking to them about their problem, from a position of I can help you.
That’s going to depend entirely on your story and your actual journey though.
Harms: I worked as a railway engineer qualified, got a degree in it, signal engineering specifically for the railway now that didn’t suit my personality, who I was and I had done it for a decade.
I’m thinking we’ve got a life here do I want to be doing this for the rest of my life?
The answer is no.
How did I get out of that?
Well actually I completely re-trained myself in a completely different field which was real estate, property investing.
How to build a property portfolio which allows enough cash to be generated from that in order to help release or replace a salary.
That was the goal, so that’s a part of my early process on how I got to here doing this show.
By forming this story it helps you sell your product better so it’s very much worthwhile spending some time and effort forming the story, because it helps sell your story without being that arrogant jerk and talking about yourself.
That’s not the purpose here within the story you are sharing with them the solution.
As part of the solution there was struggle along the way. Leaving the career of ten years having got a degree and trained in it, especially in the Asian culture I was an engineer, what a good boy.
Now, I’m like actually I don’t want to be an engineer, what a bad boy so that comes with its own struggle and that’s a part of helping you sell what you are trying to sell.
What is the second question, which is also very powerful.
Kyle: This will be, why did you build this product or this service?
What is it about what you are talking about that is particularly relevant to the people who are listening to you?
Harms: The amazing thing is this is your story; it’s not fabricated it’s all true.
I think most people don’t take the time to objectively look at the story and that is a challenge it’s not easy to do and it can take many years to finally get to a point where you’re self-aware enough, or you have the right people around you who can say, that’s the magic in your story.
And when you’re explaining why you did this or why you built this product it starts to make sense to people and that’s important.
The final question is what set of actions and decisions lead you to right now in sharing and talking about this to your audience?
What was the final part of the jigsaw puzzle which meant that I had to share this with the audience.
The product is one thing, but there was an important reason why you had to share that with the audience.
Kyle: If your product or service is genuinely valuable there is almost like a moral imperative to get it to people to help them solve the product.
You need to really believe in your product and therefore your product actually has to be good, because if it can actually solve people’s problems, if you’ve actually been through all the stages and now you can help people you really should be doing so.
Because otherwise you’re leaving them with that same problem, whether it’s weight loss football.
Harms: Those are the set of questions to help you start forming your story and it’s important that we’re not making this stuff up.
Kyle: You can’t just make stuff up, because what one that is fraudulent and two you’ll get found out, three it’s also just morally not the right thing to do.
You won’t have your heart behind the project and it’s not going to be a sustainable business.
So just use your actual story and actual events.
How did you get to where you are now?
Why did you build this product and what set of actions and decisions led you to this point right now talking to your audience?
If you can answer those genuinely then all we’re doing is shaping the story into a way that’s easy for you to deliver and easy for people to consume.
That’s where the storytelling comes in, we’re not talking about fabricating or making things up.
Harms: We live in an online world now so just be true to your story and this leads to the final point which is we appreciate it is tricky to tell your own story and to start to form your own story objectively because you may feel uncomfortable.
You may feel arrogant or you may think even by forming my story I’m just talking about myself and it makes me feel a bit weird.
We’ve identified what we’re going to be saying, and to determine what we’re going to be saying we really need to focus on how we’re going to be representing or showing up in the world in the term of a brand.
Which is are we going to select a corporate brand which may be right or wrong for you or our personal preference, which is a personal brand assuming that you’re kicking off this idea as a new concept venture.
A personal brand or corporate that was number one, then how do we get this message across and differentiate ourselves from the competition and be different?
That very much comes from our story.
Now we focus on the story whether you’re doing a personal corporate brand up to you and then we’ve got a story we’re forming based on very much solving the person’s problem, but also determining if there was a struggle.
It wasn’t always the way it is now, and you had to do a certain set of actions or steps to get you there, and you’re going to be helping them explore those actions and steps.
In the same breath you show them that you’ve done this, you can show them how you do this and the fact that once upon a time you were also in their position.
That’s extremely powerful within the storytelling scenario.
We are going to take this message that we’ve formed and that now helps us determine what format we will present the story in and then based on that format what is the platform of choice in order to get this message out to the world and start to build an audience.
What you have learned so far:
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