I took the plunge into video shooting and editing with Animoto and a Canon DSLR camera. Here’s my experience and how you can get professional caliber video for your business on a shoestring.
Video is de rigeur for social media these days. You need video to convert those customers you send to your website with Facebook. You also need it to tell a story that can’t be told in still photos.
For my longtime client RiverGuidess Adventures, a pioneer in the “transformational river rafting” retreat, we’d been struggling for years to convey the magic of these events and falling short. These retreats combine dance, yoga, healthy food and rafting in a very upscale and comfortable fantasy estate that is more golf course than wilderness.
Video is the best way to convey the magic of this property, the lavish catered meals and the very special vibe of the heart-opening transformation that happens on these retreats. They appeal to the lucrative and mostly untapped older Baby Boomer market and families with kids — an age group often ignored by events of this nature that tend to market only to younger Millennials.
The retreats are pricey – $580 for a long weekend. To convey this value, and help transform the image from “hippie” to upscale, we have been sending pro photographers to each trip.
But every time, something was missing. Each photographer had a different artistic and personal vision of the experience that was not always compatible with our marketing goal — to attract the affluent “transformational” consumer and shift our appeal to a slightly younger demographic.
After struggling to direct outsiders to give me the results I wanted — I finally caved in and learned how to shoot and edit video myself.
I used a Canon DSLR camera ($299 on sale at BestBuy) and a high speed 64 GB card ($200) to shoot the video. Then I blended it with photos shot by four different professional wedding and event photographers plus a few images I shot on Instagram with an iPad.
I edited the photos in iPhoto and then imported the video clips and photos into a video editing app called Animoto.
This process took me more than 48 continuous hours — and resulted in 4 minutes and 30 seconds of video. This is about the average for how long it takes to edit video — generally one day per minute of finished video — so keep this in mind if you’re getting your feet wet. It’s time consuming!
The Canon DSLR is known as the camera of choice for Indie film photographers in Hollywood, but I found it clunky and hard to use. It also did not shoot well in low light (unless you add an optional lens.)
The quality of the resulting footage was sometimes very good, though (if I can just learn to hold it still and remove the lens cap!) I still found a DLSR awkward and heavy to hold and will be looking into smaller, lighter cameras in the future.
Animoto is an app that lets you host your images in “the cloud” — this solves one of the critical difficulties with video editing, storing all those huge clips. It also makes it very easy to share the process with the client or a team as the project evolves, and it includes some fantastic ready-made templates. It’s really not more difficult than making a Powerpoint and in some ways easier. The other beauty of Animoto is that it can time your clips to the beat of the music– generating very professional and engaging results.
We added the royalty free songs from Animoto’s library of 10,000 songs. I did a keyword search for “summer” to find the uplifting song that conveys our “summercamp for grownups” theme.
Taking the plunge on the rope swing. (The woman in this photo is over 50 years old. The client wants to create an experience for older Boomers who want more comfort. We call it “glamping.”)
Animoto for Business costs $39 per month. (www.animoto.com)
Here’s how the video looks when hosted by Animoto – sharper than You Tube:
This week, a controversial Gallup poll declared that social media was all but useless, and that nobody was influenced by social media ads and it was all a bunch of hooey.
I was immediately suspicious that results from the Gallup survey were skewed by the print and TV media. Mainstream media are late to the social game and totally threatened by the amazing reach of Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest and You Tube — now reaching millions and even hundreds of millions–numbers that vastly exceed print media.
They’re also probably very threatened by Facebook advertising, which is much cheaper than print/broadcast, and reaches that oh so desirable Millennial demographic that doesn’t read or watch TV anymore.
Since I live in Facebook stats all day long, I know the truth — one post can reach more people than an article in the New York Times. Sure, Rupert Murdoch and Ted Turner are no doubt losing sleep over that.
Facebook ads, and Yelp, also, can be targeted with laser-like focus on extremely niche local demographics — something print media can’t do quite as well because print is either niche and national or broad and local . Print media and TV are rarely niche and local.
Internet radio still does a lousy job of targeting its ads to any meaningful niche. Local radio still thrives because it’s both targeted and local.
I’ve been doing PR (press relations) since the days when we used fax machines and FedEx — before the Internet existed. Back then, print media was king. Getting an article that reached 100,000 readers in a national print magazine was a big deal. I think some people are still attached to the “prestige” of Print but do not realize that they can actually reach bigger numbers with social media, with far more control over their message.
Print is still very valuable — but now more because it drives traffic to your website and gives you SEO rank in Google.
In the good old days, it was an even bigger deal to end up in a big newspaper like the New York Times and reach 1 million readers. If you got on TV you might (woo hoo) reach an aggregate of 2 million people through multiple TV news stories and a video news release after spending $250,000 on a press conference and a product launch.
Times have changed. Now you can reach just as many people in a few minutes with a single Facebook post or self syndicated blog post — or half a billion with a You Tube video.
PR IS DEAD — LONG LIVE SOCIAL MEDIA?
I’ve been saying “PR is dead, long live Social PR” for a few years now. I was a little ahead of the curve. I was also sitting around listening to the phone not ring from PR clients, and watching stories not appear in publications that were disappearing, so I was ahead of the curve and got into social media.
Now it’s clear that shift has happened.
Social media is not optional anymore. If you’re not leveraging social media to amplify your message, it’s as if you don’t exist.
Social media is now the front line of most successful marketing programs. Social media is where you distribute your message first — and later it’s picked up by the news media.
(The exception is if you are a publicly-traded company. If so, then SEC regulations require that you announce news on the newswire first, and your key media are pre-briefed under a non disclosure agreement.)
Traditional PR is still very important, but it serves a different role now–in tandem with social media. After your story appears in the news media, they use their larger networks to “syndicate” your message to their networks. You then in turn amplify the message further by syndicating their content on your networks.
Articles and reviews in mainstream media also provide credibility and great content for your website and social media to leverage, and they will boost your search rank (SEO) in Google forever.
WITH SOCIAL MEDIA, YOU MAKE YOUR OWN NEWS
Social media is the “information hub” of your marketing wheel — and your personal social networks at the “hub” that links to other social networks and communities worldwide. The press and publications are some of those networks–but no longer the primary one.
In the old days, you sent press releases to actual members of the press for distribution. Newswires were only available to the press.
Nowadays, you are the press and you syndicate your news over social media, in addition to the press. A press release on the wire now reaches everyone on the planet at once.
Here’s an example of the reach a press release typically gets now on the Internet. As days go by, this number increases, infinitely, and many of these impressions remain on the web forever. A press release mentioning a company traded on NYSE or NASDAQ would get much more impressions — this was what I got for a small business — 32,000 in two days. This doesn’t include the amplification from self syndicating this story on the client’s social networks. It would be difficult for a small business to get out the word that fast with traditional media.
SOCIAL MEDIA CONNECTS COMMUNITIES GLOBALLY
Here’s another example of that from the Unify.org campaign that illustrates how the Unify Facebook fan page links to other Fan pages and organizations, creating huge amplification for each post. (A single Unify post is often shared more than 5,000 times, reaching literally millions of people worldwide with no advertising.) Even with Facebook’s new restrictions, by utilizing this kind of networking, you can spread your message very rapidly and globally.
This strategy helped build Unify.org into one of the largest communities on Facebook. I helped write the initial strategic social media plan for Unify and was part of the core group of social media experts that helped ramp the page up. This is now one of the most viral social media communities on the planet.
As you can see in the screen shot above, it’s very possible to reach 1 million people with a single post if it’s shared, tagged and amplified with well targeted paid Facebook “boosting.”
The funny thing about social networking is…we often forget that it’s just a virtual party. It’s not about amassing tons of “fans” so you can have the biggest party — it’s about inviting the right people and serving tasty snacks and drinks.
It’s about playful banter, music and laughter.
You know what happens when you talk sex or politics at a party — dead silence.
A cocktail party is NOT the place to pull out a gigantic billboard and say HEY BUY MY PRODUCT! (Unless you are a paid sponsor with a table or booth.) And imagine if you pulled up your shirt and showed off your appendix scar?
But people do this all the time on Facebook! They forget it’s a party.
A great Fan page is an authentically engaged community where you have a conversation — even better if your tribe cares about what you have to say and shares it with their communities. At a party this is called gossip and word of mouth. On Facebook it’s called sharing and viral marketing.
Remember — a great party is not about QUANTITY it’s about QUALITY. Be selective. Invite the right people. Dress to impress — or stand out in the crowd. Serve good spirits and keep the music upbeat and the conversation as bubbly as champagne.
We are not collecting fans or contacts for Ego — we are collecting real human beings and we should care about them as much as we hope they will care about us.
Think about the real world equivalent of your Fan page. How would you interact in these different real world parties or events?
50 friends or less = backyard barbecue, workshop, a drum circle.
150 friends or less = a tribe, a retreat, a big party, wedding, etc.
1000 friends or more = a conference
2000 friends or more = industry trade show, music festival
10000 fans or more = sporting event or concert
100,000 fans or more = gigantic stadium event
1 million fans or more = broadcast on television
And here’s a great metaphor for Fan pages from #socialmediamixology:
Advertising is the awareness you pay for. And PR is the awareness you pray for.
Today, “PR” includes social media and “content marketing” — and that means “the visual stuff with words on it.” But to make people aware of your content, they need to be able to find it in Google. And this is why “organic” reach or Search Engine Optimization (SEO) is so important.
Great traffic means a lower Alexa rank. The lower your Alexa score, the more people are visiting your site, and the more “relevance” it has in the search engines like Google. (Alexa.com is the site that ranks other websites according to their popularity.) My Alexa rank continues to soar, and has surged from the top 12 million sites in the world, to the top 4 million. (I started the blog about two years ago.)
This is pretty amazing considering the fact that I am not specifically trying to drive traffic to this site, which is primarily a personal blog to promote my consulting practice.
My traffic is 100% “organic” reach — that means I get these visitors without paying for for advertising, Google Ad Words, Facebook ads, banners or link exchanges.
Here’s what I do to boost my SEO — and how you can use these techniques to boost traffic on your own site.
1. Content, content, content.
That is, just write interesting stuff. Write well. Be opinionated. Be a little controversial. Controversial, emotional, engaging content will get read and spread.
2. Teach and inform. Don’t just talk about yourself.
Create “how to” articles that teach others how to do what you do. Share information and don’t just promote yourself all the time. In fact, don’t promote yourself, ever, except in your bio and “about” section. Tell, don’t sell.
3. Use WordPress.
Build your website on WordPress — not a static website. If you already invested in a static website, add a WordPress blog tab to your site. Why? Because WordPress is very well optimized for search engines. WordPress also automatically syndicates your stories to other WordPress sites, and it also makes it very easy to tag your stories, videos and photos with juicy keywords.
4. Use lots of words on WordPress.
I know the current fad is towards “visual” websites and not a lot of words — but the fact is, Google and other search engines search for words, so use lots of them, and use the right ones.
Also make sure to write captions and search-worthy tags for every photo you use, so these photos can be found in search engines.
5. Think like a search engine.
What phrases do people search for? What questions do they ask that apply to your field or product? Answer those questions with your content.
7. Syndicate to all of your social media pages.
You can set this up in WordPress to syndicate your posts automatically when they are published so your posts go to Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, etc. Services like Networked Blogs also help amplify your reach. A new service, Thunderclap can dramatically amp up posts for cause-related content and non profits.
8. Feed your social media pages into your site.
Syndicate the content into your page — and out of it. The more it flows, the more traffic you might get. There are free widgets that make this simple to add a fan page, Instagram or Pinterest
feed to your blog.
9. Add easy to find “share this” buttons to make it simple for othersto share your content.
Sounds obvious, but you would not believe how many businesses bury these icons on the bottom of their website. Bring them to the top and make them big, easy to see and find if people are reading on a small screen mobile device.
10. Comment on other people’s blogs, especially major news sites.
Once a week or so, while reading the news, make relevant comments as an authority in your field on other blogs and news sites — particularly if they are comments on topical news of the day. This brings curious people to your page and builds links to your site. Share these stories with #hashtags that refer to the Trending Topics and news of the day.
11. Discipline yourself to post at least once a week.
The more you write, the more you post, the more you share — the higher your Google rank and relevance and the more traffic you get.
12. Send out press releases
Press releases are the most amazing traffic generator, period. Ever. You can use free press release sites if you can’t afford a professional news wire, but I recommend paying for PR Web which is highly SEO optimized.
13. Get mentioned in “real” media. (That is, do PR.)
One fantastic article in a major newspaper like the New York Times can permanently shift your business to a new level, boost page rank — and generate traffic to your website forever. Yes you will need to hire a professional PR agency (like me) to get this kind of coverage. Be patient as it can take many months, and be prepared to pay through the nose. It’s worth it.
Or try this yourself — some people naturally have a gift for PR and can do it themselves.
14. Use Pinterest to generate permanent links back to your site.
Publish your WordPress photos from your WordPress articles as Pinterest posts — and then go back in and “tag” the posts with keyword-rich phrases and URLs so the pins show up in Google. Tremendous traffic builder.
15. Make your website worth coming back to.
I know this sounds obvious, but why are you wasting your time driving traffic to a website unless it’s going to close the deal and make the sale once people arrive? Make sure you have a way to sign up subscribers to your newsletter, capture visitors’ emails and lead them to follow your Social Media pages so you can bring them back again and again.
This down time between Christmas and the first week of the New Year is a perfect opportunity to give your personal branding a lift and start the New Year with a fresh image.
Here are eight ways you can use free templates and other inexpensive tools available on the web to give your business or personal brand a lift.
1. Reinvent your name for the new year.
Is your business name unique–or is it lost in the crowd? Consider finding a new name for your business and a unique URL — an identifier that people type into the browser to find your website. Do a little research on Go Daddy or directly from WordPress, and see if your business name (or your personal name, or the name of your book) is available. If your name is generic, hard to remember or hard to spell, change it today before you…
I just designed a new banner for my Facebook, Google + and WordPress blog today — it’s a collage of photos of some of the conferences, festivals and events I’ve promoted with social media marketing.
The audiences are now the real world manifestation of the online communities we create to promote an event. The social media and the event are the same thing!
When you bring an audience together today, you are creating a community of customers and you need to maintain communication with them year round. It’s a huge commitment.
In other words, your fan page represents exactly what your product or event is — a community of real people. It can tell you their demographics, age, sex, education, where they live and even what time they are online. You can dig deeper and learn just about everything about them, personally and professionally.
This is a lot deeper than email. Think about it. “email@example.com” is about all you know a about someone on your email list. But on social media we know intimate personal details about each customer and what they look like.
With this unprecedented access to our customers comes a commitment to treat them with respect, humility and to pay attention to them. It’s not a one way message anymore, it’s a conversation.
On December 21, 2012, I had the opportunity to help coordinate one of the largest global synchronized moments in history — millions of people participating in a candlelight ceremony at dawn (5:11 am UT) to celebrate the Winter Solstice and the end of the Mayan Calendar.
We succeeded in getting more than 20 million people to watch a live streaming video broadcast for 72 hours continuously for three days.
It’s quite possible that these global events, streamed over the Internet and self organized by volunteers will soon surpass those numbers. It’s an enormous, overlooked opportunity for global brands to capture the attention of the Millennials, a fickle group that doesn’t watch TV anymore.
When have we ever had the technology to simultaneously watch the sunrise at ever sacred site in the planet before? This was that moment when it shifted.
How significant is this?
- 7.4 million people watch Oprah.
- Only 8.5 million people watched NBC Nightly News and 21 million people watched 60 Minutes in 2010 — network news has been on a gradual decline for years and these numbers are sinking.
- 113 million people in the US watched the Superbowl in 2012 — which was most watched television event in American history.
3.1 viewers saw a television PR campaign I participated in for Hewlett Packard in 1992 for the launch of their first wireless palmtop device — which was then thought to be an incredible number. This involved an astronomical budget, multiple PR agencies, a press conference at the Rainbow Room and professional b-roll.
It’s quite possible that these global events, streamed over the Internet and self organized by volunteers will soon surpass the SuperBowl. It’s an enormous, overlooked opportunity for global brands to capture the attention of the Millennials, a fickle group that doesn’t own a TV anymore–let alone watch one.
Synchronized Internet meditations and dance flash mobs like this are becoming more and more common. Recently, a group called One Billion Rising had an impressive turnout for Dance flash mobs on Valentines Day 2013 — so we can expect this trend to continue to amplify.
While a few generous individuals contributed money to sponsor the December 21 broadcast, including a technology company that supplied some of the sattelite uplink equipment, the December 21 live stream was produced on a shoestring budget by global marketing campaign standards.
The outreach happened by word of mouth over the social networks and enthusiastic volunteers, including a group backed by Hollywood veteran Michael Short, called BeThePeace, which is composed of volunteer industry professionals who have experience with events like the Superbowl and the Academy Awards. It was also assisted by World Unity 2012, Synthesis, Birth2012 and Unify.org, a group of savvy young social marketing branding experts and web developers in San Francisco. who have been creating unified events such as MedMob.
Dozens of PR teams and social marketing teams from all of the festivals collaboratively promoted the December 21 event with their Fan pages and email lists encouraging viral sharing.
Celebrities such as Ashton Kutcher, Beyonce, Russell Simmons used their huge Twitter and Facebook networks to Tweet about #Unify and the events taking place worldwide.
The next global event will be Earth Day on April 20, 2013. The Earth Day festivals, which have been taking place globally for 40 years, now attract a global attendance of 1 billion people in 196 countries. That’s 1/7 of the planet! While not everyone at every EarthDay will be coaxed into dancing and doing yoga — the potential for large numbers are extraordinary.
It’s important for brands to recognized that dance, yoga or meditation flash mobs leveraged for advertising must be authentic — the Millennials can see right through hype and do not like to be “marketed” to.
Samsung got ridiculed by the media when they had a fake dance flash mob in New York’s Times Square to launch the new Samsung Galaxy phone. Reporters called the fake flash mob “cheezy” and “embarrassing.”
Says Adil Kassim, who is one of the masterminds behind #Unify and the upcoming Earth Day yoga and dance flash mob: “Brands want to associate with stuff that matters.”
And Millennials want to associate themselves with brands that matter.
Please share the graphic below on your Fan pages and help get out the word:
The success of the December 21, 2012 broadcast surprised us. I remember standing in Chichen Itza in the modest room where a team of about 10 extremely hard working volunteers (who barely slept during the weekend) running the show on a few monitors and laptops and struggling with the bandwidth issues in Mexico, managed the epicenter of the broadcast.
We were thinking, well, maybe 20 thousand people are watching. When we heard the numbers – 20 MILLION? We were astonished. 20 million people watching a candle ceremony? This is proof that simple, genuine, spiritual and unifying events can draw more viewers than sports, news or Hollywood blockbuster films.
This broadcast was live streamed on multiple websites, including Barbara Marx Hubbard‘s Birth 2012, The Shift Network, Unify.org and WorldUnity2012.com, simultaneously. Websites and social media outreach connected these ceremonies at festivals all over the world.
Viewers participated in a synchronized candle ceremony at sunrise — starting at The Uplift Festival at Ayers Rock in Australia, and moving across the planet in waves of synchronized meditation ceremonies, to events in Maui, HI, the Synthesis 2012 festival in Chichen Itza, Mexico, the Stonehenge festival in England, Newgrange monument for the Ireland 2012 festival in Ireland, the Pyramids of Giza in Egypt for a festival produced by the Do Lab of Los Angeles, then Jerusalem and Mt. Fuji in Japan.
The event didn’t feature any big rock stars — but New Age speakers like Rev. Michael Beckwith of the Agape Church in Los Angeles, author Barbara Marx Hubbard and ceremonies with Mayan and Indigenous elders. The peak viewership moment came when the author of “The Four Agreements,” Don Miguel Ruiz, gave a humble speech while sitting on the edge of the stage in Chichen Itza and swinging his legs back and forth. (Ruiz’ book was on the New York Times bestseller list for more than 7 years.)
A synchronized moment of dance on the beach in Santa Cruz, CA, captured by photographer Marianne Grace:
Synchronized Internet meditations and friendly dance flash mobs are becoming more and more common. We can expect this trend to continue to amplify and draw ever greater numbers, offering a tremendous potential for sustainable brands and global technology companies to sponsor these events for unprecedented global visibility at a fraction of the cost of traditional network television advertising.
If a sponsor would like to leverage the next global unified moment to get out the word about their brand at every Earth Day in the world — reaching up to 1 billion people — please contact: firstname.lastname@example.org
Everyone loves it when they make the “news” and the local paper writes about their business.
Now, with Facebook, You Tube, Twitter and other online communities, or your blog, you’re making the news and telling your own story.
And your fans and customers respond in a conversation.
I call it “Social PR.”
Instead of filtering your message through reporters and “experts” — you’re communicating directly to a community.
It’s like PR in warp speed.
Instead of a cycle of a days or weeks — your news gets spread in seconds. It’s like sending out a press release five times a day, each one just 140 characters.
This massive, global, two-way conversation is called Social Media. It’s here to stay, my friend. And it’s turning the world upside down.
Facebook now reaches 1 billion of the most influential, affluent and connected people on Earth — in 70 languages. And 70% of Facebook users are outside the US. (Today it’s estimated that 2 billion people, more or less 1/3 of the planet, have access to the Internet.)
Now the numbers are so massive that social media can no longer be ignored.
Hey, social media is the media.
Social media is now also the best way to reach and influence the “mainstream” media.
Social media now gives you unprecedented, direct and immediate access to celebrities, Venture Capitalists, investors, reporters, CEOs, politicians and influential people of all kinds.
If you’re not using Social Media to promote your business, you’re missing out on a huge opportunity to find new customers, fans and relationships.
Social media is the most effective marketing and web traffic building tool – ever. It is increasingly the most important, customer facing marketing tool in your arsenal.
WHO READS THE NEWSPAPER?
Today, with the rapid disappearance and shrinking of “mainstream” media, (like newspapers and magazines) you can’t rely on press coverage and ad campaigns to announce your product or ideas anymore. Most millennials do not read newspapers — the audience for print is not just aging, it’s dying. The new generation cut it’s teeth on cellphones and computers.
WHO WATCHES TV?
Nobody under 70 it seems to me–they watch shows on social media, like YouTube, Vimeo or pay per view like Netflix. And they discover what to watch from friends on social media.
WHO READS EMAIL NEWSLETTERS?
Most people are too overloaded and ignore them. Email gets stuck in the spam filter. If you get a 2% response rate you’re lucky. Why bother? If you’re customer is over 50, I recommend email marketing. If you want to stay in touch with your existing customers, email is a good adjunct to a social media Fan page or group. Otherwise it’s a waste of time.
JUNK MAIL AKA SNAIL MAIL?
Paper is almost obsolete. The majority of our shopping and commerce now happens online. When’s the last time you learned about something new in the postal mail?
BILLBOARDS, POSTCARDS, BROCHURES?
Face to face, personal “social networking” is more effective than ever as a way to cut through the clutter. And it’s an excellent way to drive your customers to your website, Facebook fan page or sign up for your email newsletter to stay in touch. Billboards, trade shows, festivals, speaking enagagements, events — all great ways to get photographed, video taped and then spread around on the social media.
TRENDSETTERS AND EARLY ADOPTERS ARE ON SOCIAL MEDIA
In order to influence and seed consumers and “early adopters” who will be the first to sign on to a beta programs, try a new product or embrace revolutionary ideas, it’s critical to reach them through, and be seen and heard on the “emerging media” or “social media”.
This is where the trendsetters, hipsters, cutting edge early adopters and most technologically agile people have historically hung out, talk about what’s new, and spread ideas to their friends and colleagues. This isn’t new — it’s been going on since the eighties when “chat rooms” like the Well pioneered what evolved into today’s Internet and social media.
Social media is where the mainstream media get their story ideas and learn what’s new.
These social communities are now as important as newspaper, TV or radio coverage and can be highly targeted.
“Social media” includes:
- Your website (hopefully a blog loaded with “Social Share” buttons, links and automated, syndicated feeds to Twitter and Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn, YouTube — and not an old, 1990s-style, static website) is the hub of this integrated social media strategy.
- social networks (Facebook, Twitter, Foursquare, Pinterest, Google +, WhatsApp, Instagram.)
- vertical, niche social networks for your market (ie for LOHAS they include: Architects of a New Dawn, Waccobb.net, Children of the Light, WiserEarth.)
- Yahoo Groups, Google Groups (these closed email lists can spread your product, workshop, event or idea to highly targeted niches. They are powerful for music festivals, conferences, events, yoga, dance and workshop promotion.)
- Facebook and LinkedIn groups – in high tech, these groups of early adopters and enthusiasts are critical to the success of a new product. For other businesses, such as Fashion, Design or Green, specific networking groups are highly influential, and often have their own social pages.Related articles
“Umbrella branding” is a strategy that huge multinational businesses use — it’s the umbrella that covers all of their smaller brands. For example, GE is really a defense contractor when you get down to it, but their brand focuses on light bulbs: “We bring good things to light.” GE’s umbrella branding tags include: “GE: Brilliant Machines,” for their hospital equipment and “GE: Imagination at Work” for industrial equipment.
Or consider Hewlett-Packard, (HP). Did you know HP makes LED light bulbs for cars, components and about 10,000 other products?
I know, because I worked for HP for several years and sat in meetings where we wrestled with this problem. Every one of those 10,000 product managers with a product at HP wants a press release and a press tour for their product, but only a few, select, “front runners” and stars get chosen to represent the overall brand. In other words, the products that are most interesting get the PR. When we think of HP, we usually think of the front runner products like: “Ink Jet Printers.” Or: “Innovation in the historic HP garage.” This was condensed ino one word, the HP brand: “Invent.” This is the HP umbrella brand.
Now if HP and GE can’t afford to be all things to all people in their branding, you, Joe Schumuckatelli from Pocatello, Idaho sure as heck can’t afford multiple brands.
But small businesses and start-ups almost always try to have multiple product lines, spin off new stores, create new catchy taglines for all of their offerings, address multiple markets and even have multiple websites and logos. What a mess.
If you can’t remember all of your brands, products and taglines — do you think the customer can?
In my personal experience, any business brand (or personal brand) trying to be too many things is doomed to failure. I have see this in the high tech industry where start-ups with less than $1 million in funding will attempt to brand multiple products and serve both the B2B market and the consumer right out of the gate–confusing the investors, press and customers alike.
To create a personal umbrella brand, the first step is to ask yourself:
What makes me tick? What is at the core of every major step I’ve ever taken in my life?
It will help to get feedback from friends, clients and family and step outside yourself to ask this question. Tap deeply in to your core life purpose.
When you clarify your life purpose and articulate it in a mission statement, you are on the way to creating a Personal Umbrella Brand that will work for your focus for years to come, even when it changes.
To start creating your Umbrella Brand, answer this question:
“Who is My Dream Client or Perfect Customer – and What Makes Them Excited?”
Case Study: A corporate organizational management consultant who now also does personal organizing and “downsizing” for individuals and small businesses.
Her business mission: “I create organizational strategies from Fortune 500 to the home office.”
Or, in a personal branding mission statement, “I simplify your business. I simplify your life.”
Focus your brand strategy on your website for better SEO:
In your website, build your overall brand that ties it all together as your summary statement, making sure to use key words that people will search for in Google when they want to find you. This “elevator statement” is the most important thing you’ll do so give it time and bounce it off friends and clients. These key words create Search Engine Optimization or “SEO,” so use them often in articles on your website.
Use pull down menus on your website to create sub-categories for specific lines of business.
If your businesses are wildly disparate, you should build a separate brand, website and Fan page community for each business — but trust me, this will seriously tax your time and focus unless you are Richard Branson or Jane Fonda and can afford teams of people to manage all of this for you.
(I got to visit Jane Fonda’s office once many years ago, and asked: “Jane, you’re incredible. You have exercise videos, produce films, run non profit organizations, raise a family — how do you do it all? And she said something so honest I’ll remember it for the rest of my life: “Are you kidding? I’m rich! I can hire people to do all these things for me.”)
So if you have the fame and resources of Jane Fonda, go ahead and build multiple brands. Otherwise, focus your personal brand.
Focus your bio on LinkedIn:
For many of us, especially if we’ve been working for two decades, our LinkedIn profile is all over the map. What do all these jobs add to? What is the ultimate focus that ties all this life experience together into your life purpose? Find the key words that clients or employers are searching for, and build those key words into your personal brand.
If your signature line or title says you have six careers, which one do I hire you for today in 2013? Which one is your primary revenue stream? Nobody is an expert in 6 things. Focus your personal brand.
When I see 5 careers in a LinkedIn profile, email signature line or Twitter bio I think: “She is less than 20% at each of these things.” I want to hire the person who is 100%, don’t you? Focus your personal brand.
I don’t want a floor wax that’s also a dessert topping — I want an eco non toxic wax for hardwood floors.
I don’t want a dentist who is also an auto mechanic — I want a cosmetic dentist with an office within walking distance from my house.
Use a clear mission statement in your signature line, and if you have multiple lines of business, add a separate URL for each one. Build a separate email address for each business–it’s free in Gmail.
Focus your personal pages on Facebook and Pinterest for hobbies that build your personal brand:
Most of us want more meaning in our life, and turning a passion or hobby into a business is everyone’s dream. Before you pour your time into building brands for all of your passions, though, ask yourself:
What is my business — and what are my passions?
Yes, like most people with a life outside of work, I’ve done a lot of things that I’ve been paid to do — this includes being a backup singer on some CDs, art curator, remodeling and flipping houses, stage manager and emcee for the Green Festival, art model, on stage storytelling performer, vegetarian caterer, producing events and yoga conferences, journalist, aromatherapist, writing a book about my “Eat, Pray, Love” journey in the south of France, etc. etc.
I took a stab at starting businesses in all of these areas but generally, I ended up investing more than I earned …therefore they are hobbies. My business is promoting things. I have found a happy medium that feeds my soul by promoting things that are my passions — technology that helps people collaborate, events that teach healthy lifestyles, solar energy and green ideas.
My passions, aka hobbies, however, don’t belong on my LinkedIn profile, my professional website or my email signature line unless I want to look like a flaky new age dilettante.
(Here’s an actual Flaky New Age Dilettante Twitter Profile: “Shamanic journeyer+travel.art.yoga junkie+wellness warrior+DJ+social alchemist. Some say l am an expert in Marketing, & Campaign Management.” Uh, yeah, not for personal branding I hope.)
I do get a lot of clients from the people I met while doing my hobbies, and they feed my soul, so I indulge in my hobbies on my personal Facebook page and Pinterest or by taking on volunteer roles or “pro bono” clients in these niches and highlighting them on LinkedIn in the volunteer section at the end of my profile.
Focus your thought leadership niche:
Examine your market niche and do research on the competition. For example, for one of my clients, a green talk radio host, she has discovered that there are no competitors at all for women representing the ecological and green movement. The door is wide open for her to take a thought leadership position and own that category as an author and media personality and we’re working on that together. For my business, I did a search in Twitter and noticed there are 181,000 social media gurus. But very few focus on the LOHAS, green or sustainable market — that niche is wide open for thought leadership.
Focus your photo and banner.
Choose your best portrait photo and use it consistently everywhere — it’s your brand. Same hairstyle, same eyeglasses, same hat or hair color. Think of celebrities that stand out eternally – Marilin Monroe and her platinum hair, Elvis and his sideburns, John Lennon and his round glasses, Groucho Marx with his big nose, moustache and glasses, Larry King and his suspenders — each has a style so distinctive that they are easily parodied. Find a unique look that defines your personal brand. One easy way to do this is to choose a consistent background for your photos — such as a redwood forest, ocean or city skyline or to wear a consistent color. Hire a designer to create a banner for every social and web page or use a cover maker – and make sure it is one in a million unique. (No cheesy stock photos.)
Focus your regional market.
Even though the Internet is “global,” few businesses really are. If your clients are from a specific geographical region, put that in your mission statement and build listings on Yelp, Yahoo, Google, and other local listing services to ensure you show up in local searches.
It’s easier to be a big fish in a small pond — so consider focusing your brand to a region with the least number of competitors, or even moving to a region you can own and dominate. That region is a keyword that is crucial to your SEO for your website, LinkedIn and your Twitter bio–be specific so customers can find you.
Focus and build thought leadership with content — and real world examples.
Thought leadership is a commitment to leading a category and curating content in that category until you are synonymous with that category. (Tim Ferris owns the “4 Day Work Week.” Don Miguel Ruiz owns “The Four Agreements.” What do you own?) Yes, it’s tedious. Yes, it’s not as much fun as being a dilettante — but it helps you stand out and build authoritiy, page rank and SEO.
Brand focus builds authority and trust
Another client is a river rafting guide and also a massage therapist. I convinced her to drop the massage therapy from her river rafting website and build a new site for that sideline. It’s distracting to think of the relaxation of a massage and the adrenaline rush experience of river rafting under the same brand.
Her new brand tagline is: “Life is a river — dance with it!” This reflects her personal passion in dance, and the fact that every river trip has live or DJ dance music, making them very different than mainstream river rafting trips. Other tag lines that spin off this theme will include: “Life is a river, flow with it!” and “Life is a river, dive in!”) The new card and website emphasize “flow” with curving fonts. There are hundreds of Esctatic Dance events and hundreds of river rafting trips — but she owns “Dance with the River”.
When you focus your brand, you will find that not only will your credibility with clients improve, but your SEO, website traffic, Klout and Peer Index scores will soar because these scores reflect the consistency of posting on a single topic area and building thought leadership in that category.
As your Klout improves, clients and customers will call, and you will be getting inquiries from the news media looking for authorities to quote in their stories, and speaking engagements.
When you focus your brand, you won’t have to search for clients — they’ll finally be able to find you!