Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Two Wolves Podcast

This is a great inspirational podcast perfect for your corporate OR personal brand.

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Closing Time? What Closing Time?

According to the Enterprise Council a whopping 71% of small businesses say they forward or accept calls to their homes or mobile phones when they're not in the office. Most entrepreneurs I know, (including myself) are accessible when ever a client needs them.

When the public at large thinks about "being their own boss," I'll bet they aren't thinking about taking the job home with them 24/7. One reason I can't leave my business behind at 5 o'clock is because, many of my clients are in other time zones. The other reason is I want my clients to have the peace of mind they desire, when a question or idea surfaces and they'd like to address it on their schedule. From my brand's perspective it's all about them - NOT ME.

What is your take on this issue? Can you leave it all behind at the end of the day? I don't know how any independent business person can. I have yet to meet one actually.

Monday, March 29, 2010

How to Set Up A Podcast.

If you've noticed here at The Brand Corral, I've started putting podcasts of Branding Tips up once a week. The tips are short and sweet and hopefully useful. I put them together myself and you should too. It adds to the rich content any good blog should have. I use a simple little sound editor to record and assemble the files.

The set-up of my podcasts are a common intro and exit. The middle part I change for each podcast. So if you follow my format the first thing you want to do, is find a person with a good voice to do your intro and exit. This is the donut of the production. Then choose some distinctive music to set the tone. When you listen to my music, it is my intention to create a sound icon. I want this bit of music to be identified with The Branding Experts. It will play under the voice over and then fade out before the beginning of the tip and pick up and out at the end. Last, you just record the center part for each new podcast. This is the part that changes each time. The donut portion stays the same for consistency.

Last Saturday morning I completed 28 new podcasts, and every one is under 30 seconds each. I save them out as MP3 files and upload the lot to DivShare. In DivShare, I can change the color of the player and using an embed code, place the podcast into my blog article and that's it. Every Wednesday a new one will appear.

I hope you return to get this week's tip.

Saturday, March 27, 2010

Brand Icon Podcast

In this podcast, we explain the value of a brand icon.

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Mentor - Coach or Trusted Friend?

Wikipedia defines mentors as: "a trusted friend, counselor or teacher, usually a more experienced person. Some professions have "mentoring programs" in which newcomers are paired with more experienced people, who advise them and serve as examples as they advance. Schools sometimes offer mentoring programs to new students, or students having difficulties."

Having blogged for about four years now, I've built up quite a community of small to medium size businesses. Several people regularly read my opinions and comment back to me. You come to regard them as your online group of friends. In their comments you get a sense of who they are. My stats tell me where many are from, (at least generally).Certain ones remain anonymous but even that after a while becomes their name to me.

Others go that one step further and hire me to mentor them when they see the need. After more than 25 years working with businesses, you build quite a useful bundle of experience to share. This type of collaboration is a particular joy to me. Every bit of it comes from blogging and the trust that it builds. These relationships also inspire me. It has been suggested more than once that I should write a book on branding - something I would have scoffed at four years ago. Now, I think I have something to offer, so I am trying to organize my thoughts and proceed with that suggestion.

Where ever you are with your personal and/or corporate brand, I hope you feel comfortable at some point to allow me into your sphere. Sometimes having a mentor/coach in your hip pocket provides the leadership you desire.

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

5 Tell-Tale Signs That You're A Bookshelf Brand.

"A Bookshelf Brand" - it sounds like it might be a compliment doesn't it? We might think that our bookshelf is where we keep our important stories and reference resources. I can see how one could think that way, but I'm referring to brands that are inactive for any reason. You might be a bookshelf brand if:

1: You have no idea what your brand values are, let alone understand whether management's values compliment them or not.

2: You've actually gone through a branding process and the report is gathering dust on that bookshelf. You're a planner not a doer.

3: You're not actively marketing yourself whether that is online or off line. You allow your competition to define who you are.

4: You're not controlling your brand image. No consistency in your image is costly and confusing.

5: You have no compelling story to tell. Your brand stands for nothing and just follows the lead of the competition. Lost in a sea of sameness.

The answer - Take those books off the shelf and get your brand happening. Tell a compelling story that will resonate with customers and get them to consider you beyond price. Stop thinking about branding and start doing something about it.

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

How Would Ed Do It?

If you are no stranger to my blog (here) or my website, you will know that I offer an awful lot of free advice. I have covered every aspect of branding and shared the wisdom of others whose opinions I respect in over 232 articles I've written for this blog alone. I've written another 200 articles or more over at Small Business Branding. I guest write for a few others as well from time to time.

All of this opinion comes from over 27 years experience dealing with small to medium size businesses, in every stage of their growth. I bring a lot to the table. Developing brand images and collateral materials, establishing competitive positioning strategies, implementing online marketing by building resource web sites, email harvesters and consulting and mentoring are the big picture of what I do. I get business from referrals and through my online marketing efforts.

One of MY differentiators is that I practice what I preach. When is the last time you saw an ad for an ad agency other than a charity event? They preach quality and yet when you visit their websites, they reek of amateurism. Nothing is consistent about their brand. I don't believe they've ever taken a mirror to themselves. I was at a "recognized" brand strategy leader last night in Linkedin. I clicked back to his web presence and couldn't get over the sad brand image he was presenting. On one hand he's telling (us the readers) how we should take the high road with our brand and in the other hand he falls short with his own.

May be I'm wrong, you tell me. You've read those long sales letters that look as though they were designed by a desktop publisher. Once you've scrolled about 2 feet to the money shot, are you left with a trusting feeling or do you feel like you are being "sold" something. Good design goes a long way to building trust. Again, you tell me? I'm more than a little bias.

As much as I ache to tell you the name of the brand expert referenced above I don't see any value in it. I wish him every success. I choose to conduct my brand from a different perspective. I'd rather draw out what I think are shortcomings and direct my audience to a better direction. Professionalism consistent across all channels is the perfect strategy (I think). Consistency is trusted.

Friday, March 19, 2010

Sound Advice

We are all familiar with visual brand images, but have you ever considered audio brands as part of your image? Every brand has a visual image including their logo and color palette. These elements are often developed with a special consideration given to establishing an icon. Icons are a form of sensory trigger that immediately reminds the customer of a brand the moment they are exposed to it.

Color icons are UPS's brown, ING Direct's orange and Mac's golden arches. Audio branding is a sound. Hearing it immediately makes you think of the brand exactly the same way a visual brand works. Great audio brands include Harley's motorcycle sound, Intel's notes, and the Hockey Night in Canada theme.

You don't have to be a multi-national to take advantage of sound. Putting a few catchy guitar licks at the front end of any presentations you do and marry that with your web presence and you can start to familiarize your audience with a sound icon. With the advent of mobile marketing, a sound icon would be a very powerful introduction. Myself, I'm putting mine to use in a series of podcasts.

Join the growing list of savvy marketing and include the senses as triggers to successful marketing.

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Join Your Customers Online

Because most businesses customers are online today, marketers are switching more and more of their promotional dollars to email and web marketing. In a recent survey from Unica, 45% of marketers answered positive that they would be switching more of their dollars to online, while an additional 39% said it was somewhat important to
accomplish this.

Online channels are very attractive to experienced marketers because they are more easily tracked and the cost is minimal compared to traditional channels. Now is the time to start getting serious with building your opt-in email lists and reaching customers online.

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Results May Vary

Building businesses whether online or off, is actually a long journey. The road to your success will be wrought with hurdles and rewards. And for all the business plans and marketing strategies that you pay hard earned cash for, one thing remains true, there are no guarantees. The reason that there are no guarantees is not due to unscrupulous consultants, but rather it is due to yourself.

Where you put your priorities will have everything to do with your own personal success. How much advice you are willing to pay for, has a direct relation to how fast you reach your goals. The web is a double edged sword. That there is so much free information and advice cause ones to believe that they should be all they can be, by doing it themselves. The better way to succeed is to surround yourself with knowledge and mentors. Some things that are free can be put to great use, but it is equally important to recognize that paying a few dollars for more insightful advice is going to catapult you faster to where you want to be.

I take issue with consultants promising a "results guarantee" because it's not honest. It's one thing to advise you, but how can they in all honesty know if and how you will use that advice they peddle? As we all know, the only person who is going to make me a success, is ME. When I hire coaches, purchase ebooks, hardcopy books and generally scour the blogs looking to educate my self further, my main goal is to learn one more nugget I can use to better by efforts. It is a long-term strategy.

How I exploit a tip I'm given will differ immensely from how you might implement it. We all approach business from our own experiences. "Results may vary" is a huge understatement. Recognizing this truth will save you a great deal of money and more importantly - time.

Monday, March 15, 2010

Don't Let A Busy Streak Keep You From Your Goals.

Focus is very tough for a business person. When things slow down, and your thoughts turn to keeping the lights on. You are absolutely motivated to find some small thing you can do to increase business. You spend countless hours scouring the web for small bits of wisdom to apply to your model. You are looking for that silver bullet. I like you am always looking for opportunities and ways to better my brand.

What I refuse to do is something that I see business people do over and over. Every now and then a busy bubble takes hold and all that effort is put on the back burner. They are content to let it slide, losing any momentum they had. Good marketing is not just for the slow times, good marketing is ALL THE TIME. Your marketing wheels must always be turning. Being busy is the best time to get proactive because your head is in a great place. You are positive.

Waiting for slow times to market your brand is unrealistic. Panic is in the air and impatience is rampant. Finding time to market during busy times AND slow times will deliver consistent results. Keep your brand in front of your audience. This goes for all of your on-line and off-line marketing initiatives.

So now that your finishing this article, get out there and do something proactive to advance your brand before the end of the day. Even something as simple as bragging on Twitter moves your brand forward. Don't ever stop.

Saturday, March 13, 2010

Attitude Is 100%

A friend sent me this brilliant message this morning and I felt I had to share it with everyone.


1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 22 23 24 25 26

H-A-R-D-W-O-R-K = 8 + 1 + 18 + 4 + 23 + 15 + 18 + 11 = 98%

And: K-N-O-W-L-E-D-G-E = 11 + 14 + 15 + 23 + 12 + 5 + 4 + 7 + 5 = 96%

A-T-T-I-T-U-D-E = 1 + 20 + 20 + 9 + 20 + 21 + 4 + 5 = 100%

Therefore one can conclude with mathematical certainty that:
While Hard Work and Knowledge will get you close, Attitude will get you there!

Do we need any other proof than that! Have a great weekend!

Friday, March 12, 2010

5 Steps For Turning Your Dreaded Employee’s Performance Around

From my many years of experience in leadership positions, I observed that supervisors and managers had challenging times in dealing with performance issues of employees.  Some lost sleep worrying about the “confrontation” because they were unsure of themselves and their abilities to successfully handle the situation.  Have you ever felt that way?  Well isn’t it nice to know that misery loves company!  Haha.  Not really!  When you are not sure of your next step with that dreaded employee, your confidence level drops significantly and believe me, it shows!  You know it and so does your employee.
When dealing with performance issues, I believe first and foremost that your duty is to confront the situation.  Never let poor performance go unnoticed.  Make it private and make it positive. Performance issues at every level affects the effectiveness of your brand. Here are five steps that will give you the assured confidence you need convey your concerns in a direct and positive way.
Step One: 
State specifically what the problem is.  Keep it short and to the point.  Don’t beat around the bush.
Step Two: 
Wait for a response.  Never assume anything.  Give your employee an opportunity to explain (“the whole truth and nothing but the truth ...”).   You just might learn something that you were not aware of.
Step Three: 
Remind them of the goal.  What is the performance that is unacceptable and that must be corrected?
Step Four:
Ask for solutions.  Allow your employee an opportunity to discover solutions on their own.  This creates employee “buy-in”.  They are part of the solution and not a part of the problem now.
Step Five: 
Agree on an Action Plan.  What is the employee expected to do and what are you going to do too!
It doesn’t stop here.  You must follow-up with the employee.  If not, then the employee will think that you were just playing “boss” and that you really don’t care about them as an individual.  You need to “inspect what you expect”.
When you see a change in performance for the good, let the employee know right away and be “specific” but continue to monitor for a certain time period.  If there is no change in performance, then again, take the employee aside privately, check your own attitude first, and repeat the previous steps.  Sometimes employees leave us with no option and hence they end up firing themselves.

Guest Blogger: Rick Nicholls from Nicholls Training Group blog
Rick is a Professional Speaker, Corporate Trainer and Coach
Contact Rick at (519) 351-9503

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Brand Awareness Podcast

I hope that you enjoy this episode of audio podcasts which features a discussion on the importance of brand awareness.

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Brand As Second Skin

One ROI for a strong consumer brand is the fact that many people purchase products based on their perceived self-image. Some brands are so strong that individuals identify with them. They believe that they deliver more than the immediate use they were intended. In essence the brand speaks to them.

Does your brand speak to your customers? Is the relationship you share with them go much further than service delivery? We should all be striving to build cache with our audiences.

To many in our society, it is extremely important that their individuality be identified with their favored brands. The clothes they wear, the cars they drive and the smart devices they carry. These are the world brands they identify with. What about the brands closer to home? What financial institutions they engage, or which consultants they embrace? In every purchase decision there are brand decisions. Consumers identify with success. Nobody wants to hitch their wagon to a brand that doesn't resonate with their self-image. This is the case at every level.

Look in the mirror and see if your favored world brands don't match your local brand choices. Society views you by which brands you wear in every facet of your life. It is one way that their perception of you is built. Perception is their reality of your brand.

Sunday, March 7, 2010

Don't Obsess Over Size.

In our society there is an urge to be the biggest and the best. Both are good things (don't get me wrong). Being the best is a powerful goal and we should all strive to achieve our best effort. But the first goal - biggest - isn't necessarily what you should be stressing over. I've been involved in a number of events lately, and in every case the organizers were stressing over attendance. Will all their efforts bring out the audience numbers that will allow them to brag post event. Granted, when audience numbers directly equate to exhibitors showing, poor attendance can have a negative impact on income.

But as an attendee, I can tell you that it is not the quantity that appeals to me but the quality. Every time I discuss Branding and sales online, I am repeatedly asked for tips as to how a business can achieve fame online. How can they benefit from a sort of Oprah effect. My response is always quality over quantity.

Realistically, what are the chances of being the next Google? Even Google didn't know they'd be the next Google. I stress looking for your niche. Even if you were to capture just .000001% of the web audience you'd still be fabulously wealthy. Quality over quantity.

In a crowded networking event, competition for attention is exasperated by the shear numbers. In all those bodies, how to narrow the focus is the new challenge. Sometimes a poorly attended networking event works out much better for me. You see, I have to have a conversation with someone before they see my value to them. More times than not, low attendance puts me in front of people who are less distracted and more apt to find out who this guy, 'Ed Roach' is. I've landed several opportunities from modest audiences that large. Quality over quantity.

Successful sales people can tell you that they would prefer a few good qualified leads than hordes of prospects. Narrow your focus and go for the gold. Doing the other is akin to beating your head against a wall. Quality over quantity.

You could go to a list broker and purchase an immense number of emails to market to. But chances are good that none of these are opt-in and possibly outside of your targeted audience. Isn't it preferable to speak to an audience of several thousand interested in what you have to say businesses? Building your own niche audience is a desirable goal here.
Quality over quantity.

When you purchase services do look for the best solution, or are you impressed by the size of the competing business? If size impresses you, be aware that chances are only a small contingent of that firm will actually work on your account. You join other fish in that big pond. The smaller firm, appreciates your business more and chances are you will deal directly with the leadership of the company. If you do your due diligence and check who is vying for your business, the little fish reality will ring a bell with you. Quality over quantity.

What ever your goals, don't underestimate quality over quantity. I'd much rather work for a small number of lucrative accounts that several low paying ones. I don't work nearly as hard for the same income. It also gives me latitude to growing my business in a positive environment. Paying attention to your audience will pay dividends and allow you to benefit from the quality your brand will attract.

Saturday, March 6, 2010

Jaimy Weiler Speaks From The Heart On Her Brand

As part of my interview series with "Thought Leaders," consultant , speaker and author, Jaimy Weiler from "One Heart Waking - Business and Executive Consulting" shares her wisdom with us. Jaimy and her company "One Heart Waking" are truly unique in their delivery of effect and balanced work environments.

Ed Roach: Considering the fact that a brand is essentially your reputation and adherence to brand values is critical in maintaining a brand that resonates with customers, what have you found in your consultation with businesses are the biggest barriers to living up to these established brand values?

Jaimy Weiler: Because new business comes to me predominantly through referral, I do strive to keep my brand values consistent as I deliver my services by focusing on “bringing simplicity, integrity and clarity of purpose to business, finance and life”. This is the tag line of One Heart Waking, and living to these values is the very essence of what I deliver.

Ed Roach: I have always believed that a very positive attitude coupled with a desire to lead instead of following is a strategy that will lead to realizing your goals. How much of a role does "attitude" play in reaching goals?

Jaimy Weiler: I believe that attitude is both fundamental and essential. It is the foundation from which our actions spring. My experience, with both myself and my clients, shows me that results follow attitude and action. A positive attitude creates more positive action, which then leads to more positive results. By the same mechanism, negative attitudes most often result in negative results, or, results that come with un-desired side-effects!

Ed Roach: You have a very unique approach in guiding businesses. What would you say is the one thing that makes your clients love you? 

Jaimy Weiler: I would say that my clients sense at a deep level that I am truly ‘for’ them and the highest vision of themselves and their business. And, my confidence in what I do engenders mutual trust and respect In coming to me for traditional business consulting, which they receive, we also find the underlying and often hidden issues which may have for so long held them and/or the business back from its fullest success.

Ed Roach: When you evaluate a prospective client, what things do you watch for that would point to a good fit with your company - "One Heart Waking?"

Jaimy Weiler: The predominant characteristic that I watch for in determining whether I am a good fit for a prospective client, is their sincere and authentic desire for change. Along with this desire must be the openness and energy to implement changes which may go against the grain of past habits.

Ed Roach: What's the nicest thing a client has ever said about you?

Jaimy Weiler: The nicest thing that a client ever said to me was that I helped them to clear away the obstacles and structural problems that had kept their highest business vision in a dream state in the future. And in experiencing the newness of their increased success, were inspired to take themselves and their business colleagues to an even more fulfilling level of service and achievement.

Ed Roach: Finally Jaimy, how would you define success? (For you personally)

Jaimy Weiler: I define success as bringing the best of me forward into my life, more and more every day. Success to me is showing up, present and ready to go, adjusting and growing as life unfolds before me.

Thank you Jaimy.

For more information on Jaimy Weiler visit her website, and pick up her book, "Light Through The Heart." or email her at

Friday, March 5, 2010

Panel Networking

Networking is an important part of my marketing activities. Recently I was asked to participate in an experts' panel in the Softech Alliance Network's Dragon's Den Event. The format was that the assembled audience of roughly 250 IT business professionals passed questions forward and the assembled panel of experts answered them. It was a lot of fun.

Following the panel discussion we all mingled and people continued to corner each of us with additional questions. It was a wonderful opportunity to meet new people and generate soft leads. Every one us should do what ever we can to promote ourselves through panel opportunities such as this one and other types of speaking engagements. When I do them, my goal is typically to get as much useful information out there as possible. I don't want it to appear that I'm simply giving a commercial for myself. My brand demands that I give first.

Personally engaging an audience is a very powerful opportunity for you. The audience is often quite appreciative of your time and it's a marketing initiative I embrace.

Guanxi. Branding's Chinese Brother.

Guanxi is a Chinese word that essentially describes a deep relationship between two people usually outside of the family unit. In the business world it has great importance and if you are contemplating doing business in China, you'd be wise to investigate the practice.

Branding on the other hand is much the same. For your brand to be powerful, it too, must have a strong relationship with it's stakeholders. Branding's relationships are broader. My exposure to the concept of Guanxi was in a discussion with a consultant who spends a good deal of her time in mainland China. Her comment that. "...if you don't have Guanxi, you are pushing rope uphill." Without the branding relationship, you are not authentic and thus your brand suffers. Integrity is a cross-cultural value that is coveted by everyone.

Do you have Guanxi with your stakeholders?

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

How To Make Your CEO Brand A Leader.

What exactly is a CEO anyway? According to best selling author Warren Bennis in his book, "On Becoming A Leader," he sums it up this way:
"All leaders have four essential competencies. First, they are able to engage others by creating shared meaning. Second, all authentic leaders have a distinctive voice.The third quality is that all true leaders have integrity. But the one competence that I now realize is absolutely essential for leaders - the key competence- is adaptive capacity."

A great CEO as a leader - leads. A good many companies make decisions by consensus as if their business were a democracy, which it is not, or at least shouldn't be. If a business takes a consensus among it's stakeholders every time is makes a decision that involves which direction the company adopts to move forward, then chances are greater that the result will be mediocre at best. When it comes to matters of vision, the leader of the company should make the bold moves and inspire the stakeholders to "follow" his lead. The CEO Brand as leader uses their charisma to embolden staff to see their vision and embrace it as their own.

Poor CEO Brands look to the vision of others to help them. They follow the competition - anything rather than making a decision themselves. Great employees would be wise not to tie their wagons to this horse. Poor CEO Brands revel in their self-importance and fail to see the damage they are inflicting on the overall brand. These individuals are one step away from crashing.

A great CEO Brand stands by their convictions and surround themselves with the best talent to see their vision realized. They are true to themselves and the overall brand of the company. Stakeholders love to follow leaders and the marketplace idolizes them, ie: Steve Jobs, Walt Disney, Warren Buffet, Oprah and Donald Trump to name a few.

As a CEO Brand, which are you - a leader or a follower?

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

The Brand Copycat Podcast

This audio episode of Ed Roach's Two Cents Worth discusses why you should avoid copying the competition.

Group Love On Linkedin

A great place to get questions answered or meet plenty of potential leads and resources is Linkedin..The one frustrating thing though is that the site is deep and complicated. Many of my colleagues continually complain that they don't know how to benefit from it. Two opportunities I'd like to point out are:

ONE- join groups. These are simply groups of people with like interests. Choose groups that your target customer might be interested in. Also choose peer groups. Sometimes who you might otherwise see as competition may in reality be a great contact to team up with to go after new business. If there is a group that you can't find, you can start one yourself. Groups, like blogs allow great conversations back and forth.

TWO- as people connect to you and your connections grow, you can market directly to them. You can do this by saving your connection list out as a VCF file and importing them into your email list. You could even consider putting them into a special list or niche. Knowing they are your Linkedin names, you can fine tune your mail to their interests.

These are just two ways to benefit from Linkedin and there are more for you to enjoy as you slowly walk through it.

Monday, March 1, 2010

Personal Branding Event Strategy

Every business person gets invited repeatedly to events for everything ranging from charity fundraiser, to industry trade show, networking events and organization mixers. Many of you reading this absolutely refuse to attend for any number of good reasons. I'd like to present an option you may have failed to pick up on. That option is "personal branding." Building on the usual networking opportunities, events are perfect for building on your expert profile. Offer your expertise as a public speaker to organizers. What better way to set yourself apart. Following every speaking opportunity, members of the audience invariably ask you more questions off-stage, one-on-one.

Take the opportunity to also introduce people you know with others. This is the simple give before you get tactic. Aligning people expresses a confidence and people in the room see you as influential. To network, you don't have to be constantly spouting your elevator speech. This becomes tiring for both parties, plus it can be seen as too contrived. It is better to be seen as a generous connector. This will lead to joint opportunities and strengthen your personal brand.
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