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THE INVISIBLE BRANSON

CHAPTER 1

You Don't Need A Guitar To Be A Rockstar

Are you ready to take on a whole new level of personal and business success? Are you ready to learn how to attract new customers to your business rather than hunt for them? Are you ready to become a “rock star” in your professional niche?

Let’s get straight to the point. You’re reading this book because you want to know how to make your company grow and thrive. That’s what we want for you as well.

Today, business owners have a remarkable opportunity in the new economy to take advantage of a powerful marketing tool called personal branding. To develop a personal brand is, in summary, a process of making yourself the public face of your business.

Before the thought of exposing yourself—a mere mortal—as an advertising mechanism frightens you, let us explain what personal branding is and what it isn’t, and why personal branding can be such a powerful strategy for small business entrepreneurs in today’s global economy.

First of all, personal branding is not about creating an exaggerated or false representation of you. Nor is it not about developing a facade just to attract clients. To the contrary, great personal brands are built on the foundation of your expertise and true self—your strengths, experience, capacity, character and values. Personal branding is first and foremost a marketing tool; rather it’s the public presentation of the real you. This real youis a powerful marketing tool for producing increased sales in your business!

That said, the purpose of developing a personal brand is about growing your business into a thriving and profitable venture. And, it can help your business grow in ways you never thought possible.

Personal Branding: A Powerful Marketing Tool No One Else Can Own

The basics in business will always remain the same. For you to succeed, you must grab the attention of prospective clients. You have to let the world know that you exist and that you have the products and services they’re looking for. Any sales guru will tell you that this is the first step. Without attracting more customers you cannot increase your sales. It’s always been the case!

But a lot has changed in business and marketing. Among other factors, the Internet and globalization have opened new doors of opportunity for businesses to sell products and services globally. At the same time, globalization has also increased competition. So, the challenge for small business owners today is to figure out how to take advantage of the broader market while facing the challenge of increased competition.

The solution is to develop a strong personal brand and begin to communicate with your target market about who you are and why you do what you do—what you care most about. Everyone is competing to get a tiny piece of your customer’s mind. Your customer is bombarded with information, propaganda, e-mail spam, TV commercials, website banners, Google ads and junk mail.

The problem is this: all those traditional marketing approaches are impersonal. The customer has no connection to the company and they aren’t sure which business to trust.

Trust: The Most Important Advantage That Small Business Owners Have

At a core level, buying and selling is a relational transaction. Like any relationship, it requires trust.Traditional marketing can help get the word out about your products and services. However, the Achilles heel is that it’s ineffective in building trust between you and your clients.

So, how do you grab the attention of potential customers and build trust in a genuine and sincere way?

First and foremost we recommend that you separate yourself from your competitors by becoming the personal brand of your company. This is no different than what Sir Richard Branson has successfully achieved with the Virgin brand.

We all know that customers do business with people they trust. And, trust is built when the customer feels like they know what you stand for, why you do what you do, and have a sense that you are someone with integrity.

Customers equally trust people who are experts in their field.They trust real people with real faces.Therefore becoming a recognized authority in your business niche is a key to gaining the trust of your clients.

Let’s turn to the world of rock. Would you trust a rock star? Well, it probably depends on which one. However, whether you trust a rock star or not, most have figured out how to grab and keep the attention of their audience—their customers.

Rock stars use many personal branding techniques to attract music lovers around the world. However, their main focus is on getting attention rather than winning trust. As Gene Simmons of the rock band KISS said, “James Bond has a license to kill; rock stars have a license to be outrageous. Rock is about grabbing people’s attention.”

What we propose in this book is that you—the business entrepreneur—apply a rock star personal branding strategy to get the attention of your potential customers. But we don’t want you to stop there. We want you to use the personal branding strategies of Sir Richard Branson, the rock star entrepreneur, so that you not only attract attention to your company but also win the trust of your clients.

From the outset, let’s be clear that becoming a “rock star” in your business niche has nothing to do with going on an ego trip. Inflated egos don’t attract anybody. What we propose in this book is not about becoming someone you’re not. Becoming a rock star is simply about you promoting yourself as the authority and expert in your field. The purpose of your personal brand is to educate your customers about why they should be doing business with you—it’s simply about you sharing your story with them.

It’s about you being willing to take a stand based on what’s important to you. It’s about ensuring that your reason for becoming an entrepreneur is fully realized. It’s about putting the spotlight on your unique skills, talents and value, to ensure that you attract the right clients for the right reasons.

And, this is exactly why we have chosen to base this book on one of the most successful, most visible business achievers of our time—Sir Richard Branson.

From our observations, we believe that one of the key reasons why Sir Richard Branson has been so successful in business is because he wants to do the right thing by ordinary, every day folks. And, this is what inspires us about him and his organization.

In a nutshell, when you think of Sir Richard you think of Virgin—they are one and the same. And, this is the power of personal branding.

From our perspective, we also believe that it is possible for every entrepreneur to tap into the success strategies of people such as Branson and follow in their footsteps.

We trust that you’re starting to see the connection between rock stars, Branson and you. But let’s go a little deeper into this topic.

Your Name: The Most Important Element Of Your Brand

The importance of personal branding in today’s global economy was revealed by the international best selling authors Al Ries and Jack Trout in their book Positioning: The Battle For Your Mind.“Your name is your primary weapon in the battle for the mind,” they wrote.

Did you catch that? Your name is the key to successful marketing. This means that in order to own a piece of your customer’s mind, you need a personal brand, at least if you are going to position yourself above your competition as the most desirable option in the marketplace.

This is exactly what Walter Landor, a pioneer in branding and consumer research was also referring to when he said, “Products are created in the factory, but brands are created in the mind.”

The harsh reality is this: our customers don’t wake up thinking about us; they are busy thinking about what is important to them. And they have their own problems, challenges and concerns—just as you have yours.

To be a successful small business owner, you need to establish yourself in your customer’s mind. Which means you must first get their attention—by having realconversations with them— in order to gain their trust.

At the end of the day, your customers and prospects buy from you, not because your products or services are necessarily superior (although we hope they are), but because they feel like they know you. If people believe in what you believe in, they’ll do business with you. Human beings make decisions based on how they feel. They also do business with people they can have a great relationship with.

This book is designed to help you build your business, through personal branding. And, Sir Richard Branson is one of the best-known examples of a business leader who uses personal branding to grow his businesses. But he is by no means the only business owner to use the technique of branding himself to succeed in his business ventures.

Consider Paul Newman, in the context of his natural foods company. Or real estate mogul Donald Trump. And, of course, the technique has long been known to actors, sports stars, and celebrities, such as American television host, actress, producer, philanthropist Oprah Winfrey, golfer Greg Norman, tennis legend Andre Agassi, supermodel Elle Macpherson, musician Kylie Minogue and soccer champion David Beckham.

Another legendary self-branding success story was Victor Kiam, former owner of the Remington Razor company. Instead of featuring the razor in his ads, he featured himself. When he famously stated, “I liked it so much, I bought the company,” he made himself the face of Remington Razor and built trust with the public.

The common thread among these personal branding champions, is that they all began as ‘attention-grabbing rock stars’, however, have evolved into trustworthy, attention- grabbing rock stars.

In business, the only thing that lasts is brand recognition— because brand recognition generates trust. You can implement the rock star technique by developing brand recognition around your own name, face, personality, expertise and relevant opinions. By comparison, time and money spent on advertising your products or services is essentially wasted. Sure, it might bring you some clients in the short-term, but the surge won’t last. Old style advertising will never match the credibility factor you can gain by emulating an entrepreneur like Branson.

After many years of providing coaching and mentoring services for small businesses, we have seen first-hand great companies depend on great leaders, and great teams. In the new global economy, there is a remarkable opportunity today for small businesses to grow, to become more profitable, and to have an impact on the community. But this opportunity often requires the business owner to undergo profound personal change. In today’s world, a thriving small business depends on a thriving business owner.

Personalizing Your Business Is Key

Real personal branding, as we said, requires authenticity. It’s not about creating a facade. This is one of the key factors in Sir Richard Branson’s success story. What you see in the public arena from Branson is what you get from the Virgin Group. There is alignment and congruency between the personal values of Branson and the core values of the business.

For this reason, developing a sincere, authentic personal brand is for many small business owners a revolutionary shift in thinking. However it’s perhaps the most invigorating and exciting process that a business owner can pursue.Why? Because you will be able to ensure that your business is an authentic expression of your deepest beliefs and values. As you rise to new heights as a person, you will simultaneously lift your business to new heights.

Greatness—both personal and business—is ultimately what The Invisible Branson is about. True greatness is never inauthentic. Best- selling author Jim Collins makes it clear in his speeches and books that greatness does not depend on circumstances—the cards you have been dealt.To the contrary, greatness is possible when leaders develop a spirit and culture of discipline, first in themselves and then in their companies.

Any business owner—no matter how well your company is doing now—can grow and thrive. Running a great company is an accessible goal.

Personal branding is definitely one of the ways Sir Richard Branson has developed his business empire. What few people realize, however, is that his approach to life and business is also possible for small business owners. No entrepreneur ought to consider the concept of becoming an authority in their field—and to make money while having fun—as something beyond them.

It is not an unreachable or out-there goal. However, you do need to translate your self-belief into action.

Perhaps you’re someone who already senses the need for change and personal growth. Or you may be a business owner whose company is coasting along at a comfortable level, and you’ve been content with that for many years.

Either way, we believe that by reading this book you’ll be awakened to new and previously unimagined possibilities. We hope this book will spur you to re-examine your life and company, and to consider the pursuit of greatness.

Toward A Future With New Possibilities

For some people, the very thought of creating a personal brand can be daunting. It is much easier to create a brand for your business because the business is a “thing.” However, when it comes to doing the same for yourself, you’re suddenly way out of your comfort zone. If you think that frightening feeling can only happen to you, then do yourself a favor and read Losing My Virginity, Sir Richard Branson’s autobiography.

Even someone like Branson has his moments of doubt; but he has had the fortitude and persistence to overcome them. Like him, you need to have faith—faith in yourself and belief in the goals you are setting out to achieve.

In the next chapter we will share two case studies that demonstrate what drives and shapes the personal branding process.

One of these case studies is about William’s personal situation and how a major decision forced him to re-examine his life. This led him to abandon erroneous notions of himself and then live according to his true self—including in his business.

Prior to all the changes in my life, I (William) experienced a time of resounding frustration. I had unexpectedly come to learn that there was more inside me than I was unleashing into the world. For this reason, it does not surprise me that most entrepreneurs come up with their best work when they are faced with a fork in the road—one that always forces them to grapple with their true identity. And, I am no different.

In the next chapter, allow me to tell you why.

Read the Foreword and Chapter 2 of The Invisible Branson.

Learn more about The Invisible Partnership and The Invisible Entrepreneur books.

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