Are You Your Own Personal Brand Manager?

Your answer to this question should be “YES!” unless, of course, you are a celebrity or any other global personality who can afford an entire marketing team to manage your image and reputation.

We should all be taking charge in creating, establishing and managing our own personal brands online and offline. Once you have begun to establish yours, managing it can be a piece of cake.

If you are active online with blogs and social networks, managing your brand can be as simple as Googling yourself and using Google Alerts to stay updated on any new mentions or publications of your name, your websites, your blogs, your articles and more. When offline, managing your brand can be as easy as carefully reviewing your performance evaluations at work and/or seeking consistent feedback from family, friends, supervisors and other career stakeholders to make sure your personal communications are being effectively transmitted and correctly received.

As I continue to surf the net for new articles about or related to this topic, I have been amazed at the number of voices against these concepts.

Here are just some of the questions and comments I have come across from such voices:

1. “People are not brands, because people are not products.”

2. “Who cares about your personal brand?”

3. “Personal branding is narcissistic.”

4. “Are you so unsure of who you are that you must reaffirm yourself via internet tools?”

5. “Why is it so important to make sure your online image appears the way you want it to?”

While I respect and understand where each of these points is coming from, I must reinforce the importance of personal brand management in response to each one.

1. It is true that people are not products. However, often we choose one product over other similar products because of its brand (a.k.a. its unique and differentiating value) and how that value fulfills our need in a given situation. This holds true for people, as well. Each person has a unique and differentiating value, or personal brand, that fulfills an organization’s need in a given situation better than other similar people.

2. We should all care about our personal brands because they combine our strengths, our personalities, our reputations, our values and our goals all into one communicable, unique and differentiating value that we bring to the table.

3. Personal branding isn’t narcissistic unless taken to the extreme. Promoting your strengths and your unique and differentiating value to your career stakeholders is healthy and important for your own self-fulfillment and achievement in life. As more and more professionals brand themselves, it is essential that you establish your own brand in order to stand out in your job search and career development.

4. Keeping track of your online reputation with simple online tools does not make you less confident. The internet is a vast and ever-evolving platform on which it is much easier to miss “fires” threatening our personal brands and reputations. Therefore, we must fight fire with fire to stay on top of everything and protect our reputations and our investment.

5. Your online image is just a part of your overall image and personal brand. If you invest time, energy and even money into your own personal development and image offline, it makes sense that you will want your online image to match.

Personal branding is simply creating, establishing and communicating a unique and memorable value and reputation, and personal brand management is the consistent upkeep and maintenance of this value in the spheres in which you choose to exist and be active, both online and offline.

Brand managers establish and protect the value that your favorite chosen brands of products deliver, so be your own personal brand manager and protect all that you have to offer!

Video Marketing: 7 Reasons You Should Post Videos to Market Your Business

The number of small businesses using video email marketing is trending upwards. Are you on the bandwagon?? If not, you should jump on it – now.

With the technology and various tools that we have at our disposal, there is no reason for any business owner to not think of posting videos online. Quality videos can do wonders for your business and bottom line.

Here are seven reasons to start adding videos to your marketing toolbox.

1. People Love Videos

It’s only natural that people love watching videos. Humans are visual creatures. Being able to deliver a message through a captivating video is a marketing homerun.

Many people would prefer to watch a well-produced video than to read a bunch of text. You’ve probably noticed many business owners using videos instead of (or in combination with) long form sales letters. The reason is because in many cases, split testing has shown higher conversion rates with video sales letters.

2. They’re Inexpensive to Make

You don’t need a big budget to produce videos; an inexpensive camera works just fine. Of course, you can also pay for a top notch expensive camera and professionally produced video, but that’s your choice. It’s not necessary.

A well done cheaply made video will beat out an expensive but mediocre video every time.

3. It’s Easy To Distribute Online Videos

Your videos can easily be posted to sites like YouTube, Vimeo, DailyMotion and others. They can also easily be shared via social media sites once they’re uploaded.

4. Videos Decrease Bounce Rates

One of the metrics that Google uses to rank webpages is bounce rate – the percentage of users who land on a webpage without viewing other pages. You want to do everything you can to reduce your website’s bounce rate.

You should add your videos to your website as well as the video sharing sites. They can help lower your bounce rate which can result in higher search engine rankings and more sales.

5. Mobile Device Users Prefer Videos

More and more people are using mobile devices to surf the web. Due to the smaller screens on handheld devices, many people prefer to watch videos rather than read a bunch of text.

6. Videos Can Boost Your Brand Credibility

Producing videos is one of the best ways to boost your brand credibility. To take things further, one of the most effective ways to popularize your brand is by producing good videos that generate buzz.

Your credibility can get a huge boost if viewers see that your videos have lots of views and shares on Facebook, Twitter, and other social media sites.

One more point: YouTube videos now occupy many top spots at the search engines. Even if your website doesn’t rank well, your videos just might. If your videos and website can both rank well, your business will gain an incredible amount of visibility and all the good stuff that can come with it.

7. Videos Allow You to Give Product or Service Demonstrations

Videos allow you to visually explain and demonstrate your products or services. This way, people can more easily see themselves using whatever it is that you have to offer.
If you’re not sold yet, consider this: viewers are many times more likely to buy whatever it is you’re selling after watching a video.

Video Is Here To Stay

The signs are clear: video marketing is not going anywhere. It will only continue to grow in popularity. The question is will you grow with it or will you be left behind?

Five Ways to Improve Learning With Performance Management

The convergence of learning and performance management creates an opportunity to diagnose and prescribe ways to better develop critical talent. By integrating learning and performance, organizations can more easily identify workforce trends in a more predictive manner, target organizational capability gaps, and enhance connections to build alignment with the business needs.Whether the integration of learning and performance is driven by the organization’s learning group or HR, both groups need to know how to take advantage of this convergence. This paper describes five ways that performance management can improve training initiatives:
Producing development plans that work
Improving leadership development programs
Making learning opportunities more visible
Aligning the training department to organizational needs
Making learning and human resources more strategic
Introduction: Integrating learning and performanceWhen it comes to retaining critical talent, managing succession plans, and giving employees the skills they need to succeed, learning management and performance management processes need to converge.Taking the paper out of the paperwork may be reason enough to automate performance management, but Human Resources (HR) can use performance management to maintain a strong workforce and manage talent to drive top-line performance and competitive advantage. With career and succession planning tools organizations can reduce employee turnover and maintain a strong, productive workforce.However, an organization also needs to complement performance management with learning management that enables workers to build competitive skills and helps align employee training and career goals with business goals. The convergence of learning and performance management can significantly help an organization get the most out its workforce by helping to:
Develop employees beyond assessments with immediate, actionable development
Retain critical talent, develop leaders, and reduce turnover
Control succession risk and reduce the cost of turnover
Align employee goals with the organization’s goals to optimize workforce productivity
Link merit-based compensation to employee performance
Automate performance and development activities and reduce administrative hassles
Whether the integration of learning and performance is driven by the organization’s training group or HR, both groups need to know how to take advantage of this convergence, and in particular, how the training group can improve training initiatives with performance management.The following are five ways that training can use performance management to help create a true talent development framework.1. Producing development plans that workMost organizations struggle to adopt development plans managed independently through the Learning Management System (LMS). When performance management is automated and tied into the learning process, organizations and employees alike are more likely to buy into the integrated development plan. The development plans align directly with the organization’s goals and are therefore linked to the company’s overall strategy. Employee engagement in prescribed learning is certain to improve when employees see how this development ties directly to their performance evaluation and merit considerations.2. Improving leadership development programsLeadership development is one of the most popular learning initiatives – and for good reason. Demographic shifts, increasing employee turnover, and increased specialization in the workplace all contribute to significant talent shortages. Performance management, equipped with career and succession planning tools, provide the diagnostics to zero in on the job functions and targeted individuals that need leadership development the most.Performance management tools help the learning group systematically develop an organization’s critical talent. They can complement generic leadership development programs by helping to account for roles, flight risk, and potential.3. Making learning opportunities more visibleIn most organizations, the LMS is just one of countless other applications employees need to use. Engaging employees to log in and look around can be a challenge.However, an unanticipated benefit realized by Learning customers who have integrated performance and learning is a significant increase in the number of individuals who sign up for optional courses.Once mandatory processes are tied directly to salary increases, LMS usage numbers start to increase. As aspiring employees focus on competency gaps and individual development plans, they spend more time developing career plans with unsolicited development opportunities.4. Aligning training more to organizational needsIn many organizations, budgets allocated for learning and development are among the first to be cut during a recession. An effective way for a training group to change this fact is to prove how training programs directly relate to organizational strategy.With integrated performance management, talent development professionals can see precisely which development is needed most. Aggregated review data, showing competency gaps and aligned strategic initiatives, highlight the areas where learning and development groups should focus. It thus becomes easier for the training group to justify the significance of talent development within the organizational strategy. Many companies that have integrated learning and performance have been able to drastically improve their ability to forecast for and anticipate formal development needs.5. Linking training and HR for strategic valueWhen learning and performance functions converge to create a true talent development framework, both functions benefit by becoming more relevant to supporting the organization’s critical strategy.Traditional organizational development activities important to the business, such as managing mandatory compliance and certifications, are improved by automated tracking and reporting. But there are other strategic areas of the business that need strong formal and informal learning. These include many pressing talent management issues: retaining critical talent, managing succession plans, and giving employees the skills they need to succeed.Truly actionable talent development is only feasible when performance management and learning management converge.Conclusion: Applying the benefits of integrated learning and performanceThe convergence of learning and performance management creates an opportunity to diagnose and prescribe ways to better develop critical talent. Strategic integration enables organizations to more easily identify workforce trends in a more predictive manner, target organizational capability gaps, and enhance connections to build alignment with the business needs. The integration enables organizations to put together actionable leadership development programs for key employees, so they’ll be better prepared for promotion.Learning management system (LMS) solutions are part of our industry-leading unified talent development software suite, which helps organizations build a complete platform for developing more competitive employee skills. Training organizations can take advantage of our complete, best-of-breed talent development solution to make their businesses better – by making the employees better.