Elevate Your Brand through Personal Style with Kaarin Huffman

Can what you wear influence whether you land a client, get hired, negotiate a favorable contract or if an audience believes you are credible and trustworthy?

You bet.

Brand extends beyond just your logo or colors to what YOU project when you walk into a room, lead a meeting or take the stage.

Now, some of you may get a little huffy about “judging a book by its cover,” but please watch this amazing interview! You will learn that if you want to project a certain image, but more importantly, CONVEY YOUR UNIQUE TALENTS AND VIBE to the world, you must understand the “psychology of style.”

It helps to understand how our brains are hard-wired to make snap decisions  – even before we say a word.

Today I’m interviewing image consultant Kaarin Huffman. Kaarin has worked with many professionals and thought leaders to help them convey a consistent personal brand through how they dress. And she has studied the psychology of style and how it can impact everything from getting a good deal on a car to closing a sale.

You’ll want to take notes on the fascinating research Kaarin has to share. I learned so much!

“Image consulting is about intentionally expressing your personal values, strengths and brand through what you wear. It’s not about being something you’re not.” (TWEET THIS!)

If you want to elevate your brand from the moment you walk into the room, and land that client, get a good deal or make yourself memorable, please click below to watch the video interview!

YouTube video

Highlights include:

* Why “dressing to your brand” is not about being judged on your looks alone (2:25)

* How to link your brand to your personal style (6:28)

* Why you need to forget what you think it means to “dress professionally” (10:14)

* The two things you’re being assessed on when you walk into a room (14:57)

* The psychology of style: What “enclothed cognition” means to your performance and results. (15:50)

*What to wear to establish credibility…or get a great deal on a car! (16:56)

*Practical tips on how to dress to boost your brand (21:56)

*The Red Sneaker effect and when you have to be careful with style! (30:20)

“The psychology of style is not just for execs or those with money. These little subtle cues are available to everyone who seeks success” (Tweet This!)

Any gems you picked up that you will put into practice? What was the biggest surprise to you? Would love to know!

Learn more about Kaarin at her website and connect with her on LinkedIn. She’s also written some great articles there on using personal style and color to communicate your brand.

5 Ways to Make Marketing More Enjoyable

5.24.165ways to Make Marketing Fun (Blog)

I adore business owners that say they hate promotion. It’s super cute.

This comes in other forms as well: I hate sales, I hate networking, I hate marketing.  hate writing.

Why so much hate?

If this is you, let me comfort you a little bit. It’s not that you “hate” any of those things. Truly. Please save hate for things like reconciling your books or filling out government forms.

I believe that what you actually hate is the way you think it has to be done. Somewhere along the way, you associated cheesy spokespeople, ego-centric self promoters and jargon-filled web copy as “marketing.”

If you are trying to send any sort of message to the world, be it attracting customers or promoting a book or asking for donations, then you are a marketer.

You should be the most excited person in the world to share your story and your value. If not you, then who?

If talking about and promoting your work doesn’t light you up, then why should your audience care? (TWEET THIS!)

So let’s banish all of your old notions about what promotion “should” be, shall we? Here are 5 spicy ways to make marketing more fun:

  1. Make friends, don’t “network”: If you go a BBQ and you don’t know anyone, isn’t it fun to stumble upon an interesting person or someone you want to get to know better over coffee? You’re meeting them casually, letting mutual interests guide the conversation, and you can see if you click….or not. The truth is that we do business with people we like. Not everyone is going to appreciate that snarky sense of humor but then c’mon over to my house, because I’ll love you! If you want people to know about your business, you have to…you know, be around people! Offline AND online. Instead of tensing yourself up into a stress ball the next time you have to” attend a networking event, think of it like a block party. Who do you like talking to? Who is interesting? Who did you exchange knowing grins with when you made that sarcastic crack about the boring speaker? Give yourself the challenge of meeting one (just ONE!) interesting or cool person at your next function or in your LinkedIn group or wherever and see where it takes you.

Read: The 11 Laws of Likability by Michelle Lederman and I’m at a Networking Event—Now What??? By Sandy Jones-Kaminski

  1. Write Love Letters, Not Sales Pages: Maybe you’d rather dance on hot coals than write….anything. Or perhaps you’re a little less extreme and would just rather not write “sales copy.” Again, you may hate this because you’re conditioned to think it has to sound like a cheesy infomercial or that you simply must have tons of BUY NOW!!! arrows all over a 9-mile long page. Not true. The best sales pages are those that speak to the benefits the potential buyer gets, of course, but they are also personal and approachable. No one wants to be sold to, but everyone wants to be wooed! Approach your next sales page like a love letter: I know you crave x, y, and z, Maria, and this is why you’ll love what I made for you!” Think about how you convince your friends to read a new book or try a new restaurant that you love. You’re excited, not robotic. You talk about all the reasons they would like it. You immediately text them the link so they don’t even have to make an effort. Treat your sales copy like your next juicy recommendation to a friend and see how much more you enjoy writing it!

Do: Need more inspiration to get your writing juices flowing? Try this creative tip from Melissa Cassera. And here’s a fabulous template from Alexandra Franzen if you need one. Oh, and total thanks to verbalizing this concept goes to my friends and collaborators Alex and Melissa (I never titled it anything as eloquent!)

  1. Automate Where You Can: Rather than dying a slow death every day, batch and automate as much as you can for the week (or month, if you can be that on top of things.). If you can set it and forget it, it’s a lot less painful. I know a few successful solopreneurs that batch all their blog posts by locking themselves in a hotel for a weekend and cranking out content for the next six months. Then they just schedule the blog posts, all the associated social media posts to drive traffic and BAM, simply check in on comments when it goes live. If they even use Comments. Some folks choose not to do this.

Try: BufferApp, Hootsuite, Missing Lettr.

  1. Take an Improv Class or Join Toastmasters: If you have something to share with the world, you have to be able to tell them about it. No getting around it. If public speaking–whether giving a simple elevator pitch, running a small workshop or presenting a keynote to thousands­–horrifies you as much as the thought of a world without wine (GASP!), face your fear. Part of your anxiety comes from lack of practice or fear of the unexpected. Like anything else, the more you do something, the better you will get at it. Sharpen your skills and make a game out of it! Take a local improv class to get comfortable with thinking on the fly (and to get comfortable in your own body, which could be something adding to your angst.) And have fun doing it! I, personally, adore public speaking because there is no greater honor quite like enlightening and inspiring a person right in front of you and to see their eyes light up! When you attack your fear head-on, you will not only defeat the bully, you may find this is a wonderful and fulfilling way to spread your message.

Do: Type “Find an improv class” into Google. Join a local Toastmasters chapter.

Read: The Introvert Entrepreneur by Beth Buelow. And these 10 tips to improve your public speaking skills.

  1. When all else fails, outsource: OK, so there might be some ongoing marketing tasks that you really do loathe. That’s fine. You can always outsource tasks that bring you no joy or on which your time would be better spent elsewhere. Look to a virtual assistant (VA), intern, agency, consultant or perhaps even a new hire. You can find great inexpensive resources on sites such as Upwork, Fiverr and 99Designs­ but you need to be very selective and clear on what you want in these places, as they attract all levels of talent. Some specific folks I turn to are Worldwide101 for my VA, Virtually Savvy for social media management, Hey Eleanor for copywriting, and Tiny Blue Orange for website management. For interns, contact your local college or university to find business, marketing or communications students who are looking for internship opportunities.

Image Credit via Flickr

3 Ways to Build Your Thought Leader Brand

9.30 building thought leadership brand (blog)

If you’re a consultant of any persuasion, you have probably heard this ad naseum:

You have to establish yourself as a thought leader.

Let’s break down what this really means, why thought leadership matters and how you can build a thought leader brand.

Thought Leadership Defined

Thought leadership is simply establishing yourself as the expert on your chosen profession, not just on the products or services you sell. It means people come to you for your thoughts or take on things that happen in your industry. If you’re a dog training expert, you might be asked to comment on a recent dog fighting bust and how those dogs will be rehabilitated. If you’re a health and wellness thought leader, reporters might seek you out for your opinion on the latest Hollywood fitness craze. If you’re a financial expert, people may clamor to hear how you interpret the proposed changes to international tax laws.

A brand built around thought leadership has lots of legs. (Tweet this!)

Why Does Thought Leadership Matter?

People want to hear from thought leaders. You can score lots of brand awareness by being quoted in the press, speaking at conferences or authoring a book. Maybe your particular service or product will grow stale or fall out of fashion: if you’re a thought leader in your overall area of expertise, you can constantly evolve, create ancillary products or services, and build longevity.

When brand news breaks, I am honored to be asked for my opinion. People have come to me and asked for my perspectives on news such as the Susan Komen debacle or the Lance Armstrong brand wreck. But things didn’t start out that way…

How to Build Your Thought Leadership Street Cred

If you want to be a thought leader, you first need to consider what you want to be known for – and if you truly have expertise in that arena. Hmmm..that sounds an awful lot like your brand strategy, doesn’t it?

(I’m going to assume here that you want to establish yourself as a thought leader in an area in which you truly have experience, wisdom and value to share. If you’re trying to establish thought leadership as a marketing gimmick to “get rich quick” – and believe me, there are many people out there who will try to take your money to show you how you can present yourself as an expert in ANY area you like – I think you might be reading the wrong blog.)
OK, so you can totally position yourself as a thought leader in customer service/innovation/money management/wellness. Fab. Now how do you go about building up that brand?

Here are 4 ways to brand yourself as a thought leader:

  1. Create Insightful Content, Not Just Sales Pages: Maintaining a valuable and consistent blog, starting a podcast interview series, creating sassy videos or even writing industry insight white papers on a regular basis allow you to present your point of view. It’s like being the editor of your own magazine or TV show without the pesky gatekeepers. Plus, creating all this useful content gives you something interesting to share in social media. PLUS, it provides constantly updated content on your site so you show up well in organic search. Meaning, when reporters are looking for people; to interview on your chosen topic or clients are looking for the best of the best in an area they need, your content will be fresh, timely and relevant. Thought leaders always have their finger on the pulse and if you are never putting new, rich content out into the world, no one will remember your name.
  2. Write Contributed Articles: Approach the online and offline publications in your space and offer to write a contributed article on a specific topic. Media outlets are starving for good, free content right now and as long as you don’t pitch but provide insightful content, they are happy to run expert work. Having press clips you can promote on your site – and media logos you can cite in an “As seen in…” section are vital for a thought leadership brand. Side benefit: If you do Tip #1, you can repurpose blog posts or other content to use as a media pitch. Time saver!
  3.  Book Speaking Engagements: I know, I know…”Easier said than done, Maria!” Well, we all gotta start somewhere. I started out offering to speak everywhere to everyone with no expectation of pay. While this is not something I particularly agree with on an ongoing basis (organizations making money off of events should pay the people providing the content and creating the draw for said events), you do have to build thought leadership slowly. Get people talking. Make connections. Weigh the benefits you’ll get. While I don’t often do free speaking engagements anymore, I do make exceptions if the exposure is huge or the potential for paid work is REAL and present. One free speaking engagement I did last year gave me amazing exposure AND led to someone in the audience hiring me to speak for my regular fee. Fine-tune your perspective and presentations during these “freebie” engagements. Once you establish the thought leadership, you will not only be able to command speaker fees, but you’ll have presentations already created that you can simply tweak and reuse.

TIP: You don’t have to advertise that you don’t charge a fee at first. Come up with a fair fee you would like to get paid, invoice the organization for that amount but zero it out so they understand the value of what they are getting for your brilliance. Then, if they recommend you elsewhere they can say, “Well, her fee is x but she’s willing to negotiate.” And pretty soon, organizations will expect to start paying that fee and you can begging charging for your time.

What is your area of thought leadership? What has worked for you in building that thought leadership? Please share in the Comments below.

Photo credit: Nina Matthews Photography on Flickr