Communicating Your Brand
Communicating your brand effectively requires consistency and a bridge between old and new clients
As an independent executive, it is now all about you and communicating your brand. Manage your brand the same way a Fortune 500 company would manage theirs. What do you want to be known for? Is your information and the look and feel across your online and offline footprint consistent? If two people meet and find out they both know you, would they both say essentially the same thing about you? What is that? What they say should be consistent with the brand you are intending to convey.
Just telling people your accomplishments may not be enough. Package your career sweet spot into a memorable example that explains to the referral partner how you work and can help clients. If you leave the guesswork up to someone else regarding how your expertise can be applied, it rarely turns out well. Make it easy and tell them.
Look at all of the time you spend networking. Consider your elevator pitch. Are you focusing on you or on how you help your clients? Tell people what you do best and the impact it has (the use of numbers is great), relating it to your career sweet spot.
Using an interim exeuctive example of Martin. Martin can simply tell people that he provides operation efficiencies and process improvements to companies. The problem is, most clients do not say, “I need someone to help me with operational efficiencies.” If we use the example of the client Martin helped with the ERP system, that client is going to discuss the headaches of how the IT department was not listening to anyone else in the company and was trying to dictate how they would operate the business. Martin needs to convey what he did with examples such as, “I helped a company implement a multi-million-dollar ERP system resulting in an annualized savings of 5 percent to their bottom line by focusing on how the technology could enable the needs of the business rather than the other way around.” The next time anyone to whom Martin has told this story hears someone complain about IT not supporting the business, they will think of Martin. They may not even mention ERP, but the fact that he helped add 5 percent to the bottom line through a successful integration of technology, keeping in mind the business’s needs first, will be far more compelling than him talking about “operational efficiencies.”
When a company is in trouble, they generally aren’t thinking, “I need a business transformation specialist.” What they are thinking is, “I need help figuring out where the issues are in my company and fixing them.” Or more specifically, “I am losing money on the plant floor daily and I can’t figure out where and how to fix it.”
Keep Your Information Consistent when Communicating your Brand
Don’t tell a networking group you are looking for your next COO role when the last four positions on your online profile were all CFO positions. It’s understandable to want to look for entirely different roles, but companies want executives who bring years of relevant experience to the table. So, make your information consistent with your history and what you want when communicating your brand. It is also confusing and frustrating when someone you meet finds nothing from your conversation reflected on your LinkedIn profile. Regardless of where you display your information, whether on LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, etc., it needs to be consistent across the board and highlight your expertise.
Build the Bridge Between Your Past and Client Needs
Don’t just list facts and data; list accomplishments, impact, and results. The challenge of listing the roles you have held and what you were responsible for is that you are asking a potential client to make the connection. As we’ve mentioned, when a potential client needs to figure out what you’ve done, what the problems were, what you did to solve them, and then draw the parallel to their situation, you are asking them to do too much work. Make it easy for them. Rather than saying “I establish processes and procedures,” share stories about another company that was in a similar situation, what you put in place, and what types of results they achieved. What problems did the processes and procedures help solve? What was the result of implementing them? As a CEO, I likely do not know at this point that I need to put processes and procedures in place. What I do know is that I have problems, and if I read about a company you worked with that had the same problems and how you solved them, I can quickly and easily relate to them.