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3 Personal Branding Traps To Avoid

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3 Personal Branding Traps To Avoid

What we post, how we respond, and whose podcast we choose to be a guest on contribute to our personal brand. In fact, anything we do that can be posted online has an impact. Yet, how easy is it to read a post that excites or infuriates us, and before we know it, we hit “return” to a comment we can’t take back?

Consistent branding is attributed to business growth and increased revenue by at least 10%. Consistency extends to brand values, images, and messaging on all social channels, podcasts, other speaking engagements, and print. Even though statistics show that 85% of organizations have brand guidelines, only 30% follow those consistently.

Your personal brand is essential for career growth, whether working in a corporate environment or building your own business. It’s your calling card — who you are, what you do, your values, and how you express them. Good personal branding begins with being authentically who you are, using style, personality, persistence, and distinction. It’s easy to remember these “rules” when building your website, updating your social sites, or marketing your products or services because you’re devoting your full attention to these tasks as you’re doing them. But when you’re responding to someone else’s rant, it can be easy to make an off-handed comment that potentially damages your brand. Two other often overlooked branding mistakes include choosing non-congruent market affiliations or speaking engagements.

Here are some dos and don’ts to these three oft-overlooked mistakes in personal branding:

1. Comment mindfully or not at all on other’s social media posts.

One way to build brand exposure is to comment on what other people are talking about, especially influencers who align with your brand. But before hitting “return” on the keyboard, ask yourself if you’re helping or hurting your brand.

  1. Never forget the importance of inclusivity. Your comments must feel inclusive. A McKinsey study found that two out of three people shared that social values helped shape their shopping choices. These consumers base their buying decisions on social media, friends’ recommendations, and personal stories from bands they like and trust.
  2. Respond to posts that align with your brand. Avoid the temptation to tap the “like” button. Instead, write a response. Your name and photo are attached whenever you respond to someone else’s posts, so make it count. Following companies you would like to work for has been a common LinkedIn strategy for many years. In 2012, LinkedIn announced a new feature that allows recruiters to build a pipeline of warm leads from professionals who follow their business page. Today, LinkedIn Recruiter has search filters that let recruiters search for qualified prospects based on potential candidates’ profile visits, engagement metrics, and expressed interest in similar roles at other companies. Engagement on LinkedIn has become a powerful tool prospects can use to land a corporate position. This same strategy also works on Instagram, Facebook, or other social platforms for building a personal brand. Engaging on social media is one of the primary goals of creating a brand community, but keep your comments positive or neutral.

If your comment is not inclusive or you’re posting or liking outside your brand personality, think twice. That’s not saying you can’t like puppy videos or feel-good stories. It’s just important to think about substance over quantity when commenting or giving a thumbs up.

2. Use affiliate marketing to build your brand.

Affiliate marketing is a great way to make extra money. It can also be used to build brand awareness — whether you’re an affiliate or offer affiliate marketing to others. Affiliate marketing comes in three types: unattached, related, and involved.

  • Unattached affiliate marketing is exactly as it sounds: You’re unattached to the product or service you’re marketing. This type of affiliate marketing can earn you some extra spending money. Still, it likely won’t attract raving fans for your personal brand.
  • Related affiliate marketing implies a connection between the affiliate and the product or service. Usually, the products or services are related to your brand or niche. If you’re a podcaster, you might form an affiliate relationship with a microphone brand, or if you’re a life coach or counselor, your e-commerce shop might be filled with self-help books linked to an Amazon affiliate account.
  • Involved affiliate marketing relationships form based on a deeper connection with the products or services. The affiliate uses this product and makes recommendations based on their personal experience. In exchange for using the product and posting about your experience, you will earn a commission on sales.

When building your brand, you can also offer affiliate programs for your products or services. This can be a great way to sell ebooks — provide a commission for influencers who read and promote your book. This serves two purposes: selling copies of your new ebook and promoting your brand. Influencers charge anywhere from $10 to $10,000 per post or video. If you can entice a nano influencer, someone with 1000 to 10,000 followers, to promote your book or other product and, by extension, your brand through affiliate marketing, it’s a win-win.

3. Choose speaking engagements to reinforce your brand.

As a former career coach, expert TEDx speechwriter, and TEDx stage booker, I can attest that public speaking will change your endgame. My own experience speaking at TEDxBerkeley put me on the map. But you need a plan. You can’t chase every speaking engagement hoping one will “stick” or go viral.

Choose speaking opportunities that align with your brand, content, and your point of view. Here are proven tips based on years of experience on how to use public speaking to reinforce your brand:

  1. Learn who the target audience is before saying, “Yes.” It might be tempting to book every speaking engagement you’re asked to do, but this can be a big mistake. Your time has value … even when you’re just getting started. Find speaking opportunities that align with your brand and target the same people you do. If you don’t know, ask the organizer. Politely decline if it’s not a match. But don’t leave without giving the organizer a summary of who you are, your brand, and what you’re looking for so they can watch for opportunities where you might be the perfect fit.
  2. Identify the thought leaders in your industry. One of the best ways to discover new speaking opportunities is to watch what others are doing and where. The movers in any industry are not taking one-off speaking engagements. They’re asked to speak at high-quality events. Identify who the leaders are in your industry and follow them on social media. Attend events where they’re speaking and introduce yourself. I got my first TEDx talk through a chance meeting with a TEDx speaker. Turn conversations into an opportunity.
  3. Follow your clients. A surefire way to find speaking engagements that target your audience is to learn which events they’re attending. Follow your most loyal clients on social media. Talk with them and ask them which events they like or don’t like. Grab a coffee with your favorite clients and ask if there’s an event they will attend where you would be the perfect speaker. Your clients may be able to make an introduction.

Small- to medium-sized events are a great way to get your feet wet. As a bonus, you get to mingle with potential new clients.

Public speaking is one of the best ways to get your name and brand out there. It builds awareness and boosts your reputation as an expert. Just as with email marketing, landing pages, and social posts, include a call-to-action (CTA). Your CTA doesn’t have to be a bright orange “click here” rectangle on a website. But give attendees a way to find you.

Your online footprint, responses, and affiliations shape your brand identity. That’s why engaging mindfully, choosing your partners carefully, and aligning speaking engagements that foster a robust brand image are important. Remember, your brand isn’t just what you say but also how you say it and where you choose to be heard.

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How Keeping Things Simple Helps Your Company Innovate and Grow

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How Keeping Things Simple Helps Your Company Innovate and Grow

Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.

According to Steve Jobs, “Simple can be harder than complex: You have to work hard to get your thinking clean to make it simple.” It seems obvious that keeping things simple will help your business succeed. And yet, it’s surprisingly difficult to do it.

If simplicity is this challenging, you need to be intentional to make it happen. That’s why many successful companies actively prioritize it as a value. Ikea’s focus on simplicity comes across in its designs, catalog, store experience and more. One of Nike’s 11 management maxims is “simplify and go,” focusing teams on moving fast to adapt to new technologies and fashions.

I believe that simplicity is a driver for genius innovation. In fact, my journey as an entrepreneur began with an idea to simplify a complex and bureaucratic process. Today, the success of that idea has created new challenges. We serve millions of customers across over 100 countries, with many different needs — to meet them all, we’d need a ton of different features. So, we have to find the simplest ideas that will improve the experience for the largest number of users.

Related: Here’s Why You Should Embrace Simplicity as a Strategy (and 3 Ways to Do It)

Simplifying innovation is a recipe for success

Some people think that to be an entrepreneur, you have to bring groundbreaking technological innovation to the world. But actually, there’s a lot of room to innovate on top of new technologies, simplifying them and packaging them for specific use cases.

If you think of two of the technology giants of our times, Google and Apple, neither of them invented their core technologies. Apple wasn’t the first company to create a home computer or cellphone, Google wasn’t the first company to develop a search engine. They made existing innovations simpler and more user-friendly, and it was a recipe for success.

This is particularly relevant right now in the middle of a revolution fueled by generative AI. There are definitely huge opportunities in creating new AI-driven technologies, but there are even more opportunities in finding ways to package these technologies into user-friendly software for specific use cases.

To do this, first master the tech, and then put yourself in the shoes of your potential user. Try to understand what is really useful about the innovation and what barriers people might face when trying to use it.

The key is to find a way to simplify the technology, making it easier for your target users to understand and adopt it. Do this, and you’re onto a winner.

Work smarter by simplifying communication

Another part of any business where simplification is super important is communications and processes. As companies grow, it becomes harder to get people on the same page or ensure continuity between departments. Poor communication creates misunderstandings, which can lead to mistakes. The more people involved in a project, the more likely it is that workflows will become complicated. This all slows things down, wastes time and restricts your ability to make an impact on the business.

Let’s start with communication. Using a single, simple language across the company is crucial for people to be able to understand each other. For example, try to use less jargon and fewer three-letter acronyms, or make sure to explain them if you do. By creating organized archives of historical documents and plans, you help onboard new people and anyone can find important information fast when they need it.

Create a culture of transparency where different departments share their plans with each other. Create frameworks to facilitate this, like quarterly reviews or roadmap deployments. It’s not possible for employees to be actively involved in everything going on in the company, but by helping everyone take part passively, you’re making sure they’re on the same page and can facilitate ideas and collaborations across teams.

When you do have to communicate, encourage your teams to do it in the most straightforward way possible. By simplifying communication and making it easy to understand, discussions are more focused and decisions are made faster.

Related: The Key to Effectively Communicating Important Messages Is All About Simplicity

Put simplicity at the heart of your product

A simplification mindset can also be applied to product development. By making small incremental changes, sometimes with test groups of users, you can use the inspect and adapt methodology to understand their adoption, as well as any issues, and innovate further accordingly. Every so often, you can combine all these small changes into a large product update that you roll out for everyone.

For example: A company added a lot of extra value to its product with new features and releases. In theory, this was great for the users, but some found the UI overwhelming and new pricing options confusing. To use a metaphor, some people are happy to be given ingredients to make their own meal, but most would prefer the chef do the cooking so they can enjoy the final result.

Having understood this through their feedback, the company introduced a change to its UI that helped users get the end result they wanted, without having to work hard to achieve it themselves. By simplifying, the company maximized the impact of the value of all the new additions to the product.

Related: Keep It Simple: Why Simplicity Is Key To Making Your Brand Win

Richard Branson once said: “Any fool can make something complicated. It is hard to keep things simple.” Simplicity won’t come about by accident — you need to be intentional. You have to call it out and make it a focus for the whole company. You need to put it at the heart of everything. And when you succeed, the impact will be huge.

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How to Claim Money in Disney’s $9.5M ‘Dream Key’ Settlement

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How to Claim Money in Disney's $9.5M 'Dream Key' Settlement

If you bought a Disney Dream Key pass from August 25 to October 25, 2021, you could receive part of a $9.5 million settlement.

Disney has settled a class action lawsuit filed in November 2021 in California district court over how it marketed its $1,400 Dream Key pass, a program that allows customers to pay a flat rate to go to Disneyland and California Adventures theme parks whenever they want throughout the year.

The settlement website shows that payments to qualified class members were sent either by check or through a digital payment on June 14.

Related: Parents With Young Children Are Taking on ‘Disney-Related’ Debt for Trips to Theme Parks, According to a New Report

Unless a class member excludes themselves from the settlement payout, they give up any right to sue Disney over the same claims in the lawsuit.

Disneyland. Photo by Barry King/WireImage

According to the plaintiff, Jenale Nielsen, Disney advertised the Dream Key Pass as a way to enter Disneyland without any restrictions. When she bought the pass and tried to make a reservation, however, she found that Disney had blocked out many days, including all weekends in November 2021.

“Given that Disney had advertised and promised that there would be no ‘blockouts’ for Dream Key holders, Ms. Nielsen was surprised,” the filing stated.

Nielsen looked at Disney’s website and found that it still had passes available for sale on the days it had barred Dream Pass holders, so the blocks weren’t caused by tickets being sold out.

Related: A Fifth Walt Disney World Theme Park Could Be Coming Soon — Here’s What We Know

The filing called the Dream Key a “second class ticket” to Disney’s parks and said that Nielsen “was deceived by and relied upon” Disney’s “false and deceptive advertising.”

1718664962 482 How to Claim Money in Disneys 95M Dream Key SettlementLocked Disneyland during the pandemic. Photo by Jeff Gritchen/MediaNews Group/Orange County Register via Getty Images

Disney denied all of Nielsen’s claims as well as any wrongdoing or liability.

Nielsen received $5,000 as part of the settlement and 100,000 others affected will receive around $67.41 from Disney.

Related: Disney World Concession Prices Have Gone Up 60% Over the Past Decade — Including Two Fan Favorite Sweet Treats That Have Skyrocketed in Price

For reference, a standard Disneyland theme park ticket starts at $96 to $194 per day.

Disney has now made changes to its Magic Key Pass advertising. The Dream Key is no longer available to purchase. In its place, the highest tier is now the Inspire Key, priced at $1,649 and labeled as subject to “applicable pass blockout dates.”

The Magic Key calendar at the time of writing had availability open for almost all days in July, August, and September for Inspire Key holders.

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Stay Focused with These JBL Headphones for $25

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Stay Focused with These JBL Headphones for $25

Disclosure: Our goal is to feature products and services that we think you’ll find interesting and useful. If you purchase them, Entrepreneur may get a small share of the revenue from the sale from our commerce partners.

With so many calls and meetings taking place remotely these days, serious entrepreneurs and business leaders need reliable headphone options for blocking out distractions and zoning in on work. For those who are on the hunt for a highly capable piece of tech that’s also affordable, this deal is worth checking out.

For a limited time only, these new, open-box JBL Tune 510BT Wireless On-Ear Headphones are on sale for only $24.99 (reg. $49). An open-box deal typically means the product was excess inventory from store shelves, and it also means that these headphones have been inspected and verified to work like new.

So, with impressive savings on a fully capable pair of 2021 headphones, you can count on powerful and deep bass when listening to music. It also features quick switches to make switching from listening to a tune while you get through busy work to taking an unexpected and important call from a prospective client seamless.

These on-ear headphones also support Siri and Hey Google. With these tools, you can activate hands-free calling with a simple request and control sound settings and other functions with voice commands. They also offer a quick five-minute recharge feature that gives you two additional hours of music, which is great when you’re in a bind.

Busy entrepreneurs need the freedom to take calls while keeping their hands on their keyboards. Make your access to calls and meetings a lot better with these JBL Tune on-ear headphones.

During a special limited-time sale, these open-box JBL Tune 510BT Wireless On-Ear Headphones are on sale for only $24.99 (reg. $49).

StackSocial prices subject to change.

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