How do you value your position in the marketplace? What should you charge for your products and services? These and other significant questions were examined by guest experts Dave Crane, UN broadcaster, speaker, mentor and Tim Fare-Mathews, Co-founder of First and Ten Productions, with the discussions being moderated by Dariush Soudi, CEO, Be Unique Group, Entrepreneurs Committee, Capital Club Dubai.
DS: What are the continuous changes and consistencies required in how you brand and position yourself?
TFM: How you position yourself is really centered around framing and offering unique value to your clients. And focusing on the quality of your ideas and services is probably one of the most important things.
DC: Many people are prolific on social media for click bait but don’t often talk about what they do for a living. It is important to be consistent in posting interesting things about your services and products, your testimonies from clients and about who could be your potential prospects.
DS: What do you feel about telling your own story?
DC: I realized that everything I’ve done up to now is itself a huge selling point which I’ve been ignoring. Understanding how to move from the ‘imposter syndrome’ to industry icon is valuable. By not really telling my own story but saying what is expected of me, I was being an ‘imposter’, worrying that I would not be good or interesting enough, or that my flaws would be found out. And I’ve learnt that if you dig deep, are honest and relatable with your pain, and can help others, then people want to listen. Don’t be scared to speak about who you are or what’s going on, but make sure that it ends up with something that people can extract value from, for themselves or their business.
TFM: When you start a business, it’s the norm to just think about how to brand it online, but we don’t really position ourselves correctly. However, it is with personal branding that partnerships are made and where real networking happens. Sharing your story is a fantastic way for you to build rapport with people.
One of the things that you should try to do is accentuate why you stand out from others. Not only from your own personal branding perspective but also why your business is remarkable. Focus on what is unique about you and how you can harness success for your clients. One of the best things you can do is to build rapport with your clients, share your stories and they will become your best marketeers.
DS: When you’re pitching and positioning yourself in the marketplace, what percentage should be selling and how much should be educating?
DC: Make sure that you have a residual income that can be repeated and grown through referrals (selling). And stay relevant and relatable to your audience through the digital platforms (educating).
TFM: The book Jab Jab Jab Right Hook by Gary Vaynerchuk teaches, “Jabs are the value you provide your customers with the content you put out, the good things you do to convey your appreciation. And the right hook is the ask – it’s when you go in for the sale, ask for a subscribe, ask for a donation.”
Educating or creating value is two-thirds and one-third is selling, but it’s very important that you take time to build a rapport and get to know your clients, your audience. Having said that, some people offer too much value and are not well prepared with a clear call to action, even something as simple as providing a click link to bio, tagging the right people, leveraging partnerships, creating a webpage that’s optimized for sales, etc.
Audience Question: How do I get my message out there if I’m an introvert?
DC: Are you introverted about your relationship to people or introverted about your relationship with your work? Because we’re buying your work. We don’t need to know you as a personality. Your customers just need to see evidence that when they work with you, you can deliver. Show what you have done for your customers and then ask them to testify about your work.
Audience Question: For those of us who do not like social media, can we spend most of your time focusing on the referral side of the business rather than social media?
DS: It takes time to get referrals and needs to be done face-to-face. To reach the masses, you have to go online. You reach is far greater through social media, whereas referral marketing is only with people you know and is limited to how much you can grow.
TFM: Social media can seem like a failed revenue stream to many, and in a way, it’s just a cog in a wheel, though a vital one. For instance, your shop sells the product, but your shop window attracts your customers, and this is how social media works. It puts you into prospects’ vision. If you are hesitant, you don’t have to do this from a personal brand point of view, and just remember that prolific beats being perfect. And it doesn’t matter what you post as long as you act. Share insights, share news, share industry information that your customers might find valuable. Go out of your way to share your methodologies, case studies and testimonials.
DS: Whether you like it or not, people check your social media platforms before making decisions, so make sure they are getting the right information.
DC: It is dangerous to ignore social media. You need to have your foot in the door and at least do something. And then leave it there for a while, until you get used to it, and then add something more.
Audience Question: How do you know what will be considered a valuable or useful post?
DC: Granted that there is a lot of clutter out there, so think about what you want to say, why and to whom. Be authentic, talk about your product, your service, your customers. See what is going on in your business and then amplify it.
DS: At some point, you have to stop caring too much and accept that you can’t get your prospects straight away. Focus on the bigger picture. Larger the numbers, greater the sales.
Audience Question: I love to sell but I hate to network. How do you sell without networking or how do you grow into a networker from a sales background?
DS: Networking is about meeting as many people as possible in the shortest possible time. Make it like ‘speed dating’, swap cards and plan to connect later. You don’t have to have long conversations during networking, but you can be creative. For example, an IT guy walked around with a plastic tortoise, creating curiosity, which he turned into an opportunity by then replacing the tortoise with a rabbit, saying, “This is what I can do to your IT system if you hire me, turning you from a tortoise to a rabbit.” He would then ask for your card, picked up the tortoise and rabbit and moved on. People remembered this.
DC: During networking events, you can talk to people about the challenges without giving the solutions away. Don’t tell them how to fix their problems – for this they have to hire you.
DS: Talk less about yourself and ask lots of questions to the others. Prepare at least 25 relevant open questions, and then you will have enough information to be able to pitch solutions. Don’t sell to the room, but instead get to know people and understand their values, problems and positions.
TFM: During networking, build rapport with people, whether they become a client or not. There is always something of value to learn, ideas to glean and connections for the future.
Audience Question: What are your thoughts on whether it should be your brand or yourself who should be in front of the camera?
DS: If you are able to tell your story, how and why your brand emerged, it is more effective and trustworthy.
DC: I’m a real advocate for putting your face on stuff because I think that what it comes down to is the algorithm that makes people relate to you, and if you hide behind a logo, then anybody could own that logo. If you have your face out there and then you allow yourself to be in that social media stream so we can see who you are, what your values are, that relationship with you and so on, it’s really important to be able to grow who you are. Tell people the optimized version of you, the one that they want to be related to because obviously when you get to a really high level, then your stock is related to what you put out there. Ultimately, people do business with people.
Audience Question: What are your thoughts on what is the optimal content development for the new digital media platforms and how do you compare each one?
TFM: You need to see every platform differently like different channels with different target markets. And people consume content differently. Long format content is not dead, and it’s not true that everything needs to be 15 seconds. People watch tutorials on YouTube, and Joe Rogan’s podcast are incredibly successful as videoed, detailed in depth chats with experts. You can develop and derive different content value on each platform. YouTube certainly will be longer format. Instagram, TikTok and Facebook will be shorter. LinkedIn would be a lot more corporate. But you’d have to look at the trends.
Audience Question: How do you balance between the value you create for your personal brand and the company brand?
DS: Right from the outset, your clients need to know that they are going to be working with your team, your company, as much as they trust and want you involved in their journey.
DC: Even as you position yourself as an industry icon, always communicate with the right pronoun – ‘we’, ‘our team’, ‘we will’. Many corporates would prefer to work with the company rather than the person, and even if you are a startup and have a small team, position yourself as a corporate would.