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!

Home Buying 101

Whether you’re buying your first home or your 21st home, it’s never easy to find exactly the right house. Finding your dream house requires patience and persistence.Let’s be honest. Buying a house is an emotional decision, as well as a rational, financial one. Take my friend Trina, for example. Trina was house hunting one day in the early spring when her broker showed a house with daffodils blooming by the front door. Trina instantly fell in love with the house, despite the fact that it had 2 bathrooms instead of 3, and a den but only 3 bedrooms. It also had a formal dining room, not the great room that Trina really wanted. But, it had daffodils blooming by the front walk. Trina and her husband bought the house, and started expensive renovations. Five years later, they have the house they’ve always dreamed of, but at a price.”Looking back, it would have been a lot cheaper for me to find a house with all the features that we needed, and plant daffodils!” Trina says.It’s important to know exactly what you are looking for, when you buy a house. If Trina had made a list of her wants and needs before she started house hunting, she could have saved herself years of noisy, messy renovations.Before you open the real estate section of a newspaper, or contact a real estate agent, sit down with a pencil and paper and make a list of your wants and needs. If you are buying the house with someone else, have them make their own separate list. Then, compare the two.The first question you need to ask is, “What do I need in a house?” For Trina, the answer was 4 bedrooms and 3 baths in her children’s current school district. With the birth of her third son, the family had simply outgrown their current home.Your list of needs might be totally different. Maybe you need a house on one level, so that you won’t have to climb stairs. Maybe you need a big, sunny kitchen, a spacious family room, or a yard large enough for soccer. Maybe you need an area with no restrictions on having a home-based business.Next, ask yourself “What do I want in a house?” Maybe you’d love a great view, open, sunny rooms, cathedral ceilings, a fireplace, a walk-in closet or solar heating.Finally, ask yourself “What do I hate?” Make a list of the features that you will not accept in your new home. For Trina, Tudor-style architecture is high on that list. “Our old house was Tudor style. It was so dark, and the rooms were so ugly, that I soon hated it!”Now, compare your list with your partner’s. Are there items that both of you want or need? That’s a good start. Are some of your “hates” on your partner’s “wants” list? If so, you’ll need to discuss it and compromise.Finally, create a master list with all the needs, wants and hates for the two of you as a couple. This is your home buying guide.
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Crowd Marketing – How to Promote Your Business

With the emergence of the Internet and social media platforms with the audience of thousands and thousands of people, the concept of crowd marketing is seemingly a better marketing solution for a lot of companies.What is Crowd Marketing?A popular marketing technique in which a business connects to an influencer, who is in direct contact with the target market of the product that the business is marketing. The proliferation of social media networks including the Facebook, YouTube, Twitter, Google+ and many other, crowd marketing has gained increased popularity among marketers as being a cheap, effective and the easiest way to reach target consumer. Unlike many other marketing strategies, the target market reach of can be monitored in terms of measurable indicators such as likes, shares, reviews, retweets, feedbacks etc. In essence, crowd marketing techniques are focused on increasing website traffic, lifting search engine rank and strengthening the brand position. The main difference between techniques like Social Media Marketing (SMM), Search Engine Optimization (SEO) and the crowded marketing technique is that the later technique directly approaches to target consumers rather than focusing on the general public. One of the good examples of crowd marketing may be the celebrity endorsement technique. In this technique, a business identifies celebrities that already have a large fan base among the target market niche of the business; the business pays the celebrity to endorse its product among its target consumers. It is an effective way because people tend to be influenced by celebrities, their lifestyles and what they recommend. Such marketing technique is also used to approach the target market directly as long as the influencing celebrity personality, as well as his fan base among the target market population, are properly selected.Crowd Marketing TechniquesThe most popular techniques most recently rely on the social media platform and utilize the power of content marketing to enhance target market reach. Since social media has become an integral part of people’s lives, one of the most effective platforms is Facebook, which has over 1,500 million active users. Targeting Facebook as a platform to reach the target market has been popular these days. The technique is straightforward -leveraging content marketing method to attract the target market population among Facebook users. In this method, the business creates a compelling content, mostly product or brand-related videos, and finds an effective way to publish it over the Facebook that will ensure most return on investment. Usually, celebrity pages, celebrity accounts where many people keep their attention and the paid advertisement that is boosted by the Facebook to help reach increased customer base are utilized as crowd marketing technique over the Facebook. The number of likes, shares, and comments can be used as a measure of the success of the campaign. The most effective way to reach target market is to utilize the key influence of the business niche. Identifying target consumers, their behaviors and whom or what they follow can make the difference. If the key influencer of the target audience can be identified and can be used to endorse the product or brand, the success of convincing the audience about the reliability and superiority of the business goes higher.The Power of Social MediaAnother effective technique that warrants success is to use tools that help the business with key insights of the marketing as related to social and content marketing wings of crowd marketing. For example, few web applications help the business identify the target audience of a product, their key influencer, their position and location within web domain and provides with the best crowd marketing strategy starting from content recommendation to target markets locating. These tools make implementation of your marketing strategies easier and more effective.The Lego Group, children’s toy builder company, has been leveraging the concept of crowd marketing since the 90′s; it has used the Internet effectively to transform website traffic into effective customers and revenues. The key idea to engage target customers from around the world is novel and simple – it asks toy builders and idea-makers to share their ideas about new toys. These ideas are published on the website and are open to million enthusiastic audiences. Any builder can upload his unique design built out of the combination of thousands of different block pieces. The models are placed to audiences for marking and the models that get highest marks are chosen for the award. Moreover, the company uses fans’ ideas and models to build its toys from. Recently, it has created builds from the theme of the movie “Star Wars” and “Lord of the Rings”, which are the most popular builds from the company for years. The company has been adopting social media-based marketing campaign to increase its audience reach and enhance revenues. Last year, the company has earned about $4 trillion in revenue, most of which can be attributed to the crowd marketing strategy. Crowd marketing has also enabled it to become a global brand. The success of the company may be set as an example for all businesses who wish to adopt crowd marketing strategies.