BQ: Branding Quotient. Anyone with any marketing experience knows that branding is the lifeblood of selling a product. Think Kleenex, Band-Aid, Clorox, Evian. Branding is creating a proprietary, visual, emotional, rational, and cultural image of your product. Buyers don't perceive the above five elements of branding when they reach for a bottle of Evian water, yet the subconcious effect has grabbed them.
Sandra said anyone who sells commodities must have a strategy to survive in this cluttered marketplace. My mind engaged to her talk on two levels: 1) as a business person with a company of my own, and 2) as an author competing for dwindling publishing slots in a market glutted with submissions.
When we hear commodity, most people think of a tangible product, like widgets, flankels, and jigs. Sandra pointed to the crowd and said, "You are a commodity." It's true. We may sell a product or service, but in terms of personal branding, we are the product. Successful salespeople understand they are not only promoting their product or service, they are selling themselves.
Authors hear about platform in all of the publishing circles. I wrote about platform here. As Sandra spoke about branding, it clicked. Branding in the marketing world is the same as platform in the publishing world. Authors are a commodity; not just their books, stories, or articles. Authors who understand this early in their career: Stephen King, Nora Roberts, Tom Clancy, JK Rowling, become name brands, household words, the icon to which all their competition seeks to compare.
So we know that we are commodities. What then is our strategy for success? Here are a few of the notes I took away from Sandra's talk, peppered with my own insights:
- Create competitive differentiation. Prove why you are different.
- Go for the gut. Target the emotions and go for the gut reactions. Emotions connect.
- Be a Vulcan. Statistics impress. Look for logical points for those who identify with a purely rational approach.
- Gossip, heresay, and reputation. What do people say about you when you're not around.
- The eye of the beholder: You are what the consumer thinks you are.
Sandra gave us a peek at the VRIO model she covers in her book:
- V--Valuable. Are you valuable to your clients, readers, employers?
- R--Rare. Worker bees and hacks are a dime a dozen (so are cliches--but it works so well here). Be the diamond in a field of rhinestones.
- I--Imitate. Identify the best in your field and do what they do better.
- O--Organizational leverage. Make sure everyone in your company/team/agency understands your model and builds their strategy around it.