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The Power of Social Influence


The concept that people copy others’ actions in certain situations is important in leveraging the power of social proof in your marketing.

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4 min read

Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.

Imagine you are in a small town, away on business and are starting to get hungry. You notice there are two restaurants in the town square: One has two cars in the parking lot — you are guessing a server and the cook’s car — and the other has 20. Which one are you going with?

Your brain will most likely pick the safer option, and no matter what they’ve got on special this evening, you are going with the one that has the cars in the lot.

Why do we do this?

Social behaviorist Robert Cialdini calls this human behavior “informational social influence.” It’s the concept that people copy the actions of others in certain situations out of a desire for safety. It’s why we’ll buy something online that has more reviews than something else. It’s why we ask, “What are you wearing?” to our friends before going to a new event. It’s also why most wait for others to rise before they stand in church to sing.

We protect ourselves by choosing something others have done before us, but it’s more than an awakening of why you very well may cheer for the team you do. It is about how to leverage growth inside your company using this phenomenon.

Related: Attracting Affluent Clients on Social Media

Here are four ways to leverage informational social influence.

1. Tell stories of your customers in your marketing copy

When you are showcasing what you do/sell/offer, share stories of your own customers as examples of how what you sell delivers on what you promise. Get as specific as possible because each time you add actual numbers and specific details, it provides social proof.

2. Interview clients in your content

Feature your past and current customers in your content regularly. We run an interview each month with one of our coaching clients, giving them the spotlight and showcasing the type of people who work with us. This creates interest in what we do and helps our prospects see themselves working with us.

3. Awards

Showcase your best success stories and give your prospects something to shoot for and new customers a clear path to success. We have utilized awards successfully in our coaching program, featuring students once they hit five figures in sales, and then again at six and seven, all from an online program they created with us. It is incredibly powerful in not only giving recognition to the program, but inspiring students to take the next step on their own.

4. Grow your social following

If you go to a person’s social media page and they only have 43 followers, it doesn’t give a whole lot of confidence that they are the ultimate authority on what you’re hiring them for. The same is true for your business. People want to work with the “in-demand” choice for their niche. Having a large following and social proof increases persuasion for a prospect to take the next step with you. More followers propel post engagement that creates instant trust for new people who see your post in your newsfeed. We’ve been teaching how to quickly get followers for a long time, and it is amazing to see the quick change in online success with our students who make the change.

Related: How to Turn Your Small List Into a Big Launch

Whether you leverage multiple social influence strategies or just start with one, there is incredible power in highlighting those who have chosen to do business with you before others do. Try social influence as the ultimate leverage point in increased leads and sales.


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Don’t Make These 3 Webinar Mistakes


There’s a right way and a wrong way to do webinars. These tips help ensure you get it right.

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Brand Renegades

Discover how two entrepreneurs used unconventional business strategies to turn their startup into a multimillion-dollar company.

4 min read

Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.

As people conduct more and more business and shopping online, webinars are becoming commonplace, as they allow you to reach workers and buyers no matter where they are in the world. But although they’re relatively easy to put together and run, you’ll need to avoid some of the most common webinar mistakes to get good results.

Related: Why Webinars, Now 25 Years Old, Are More Effective for Sales Than Ever

1. Not accounting for burnout

Even the nicest people can be a little egocentric. What often happens in webinars is the speaker focuses just on themself and their own event. They forget that everybody’s doing webinars and that workers can be attending several throughout the day. They don’t pay attention to the fact that the attendees have already been sitting in their chairs in front of a screen all day or that they might not even have details about what the webinar is about. 

Therefore, you have to make everything more interesting in order to make your webinar stand out, whether it’s the email invite, the speaker you bring in or other elements. 

As an example, in my company, we’re bringing in an author and former Navy SEAL. The plan is for him to give his insights about overcoming transition periods of hardship, such as what we’ve all experienced amid the pandemic. People signing up for the webinar have been responding positively just because it’s something different. Instead of yet another product pitch that everybody’s throwing out, having a SEAL is something novel that we can use to start relationships and ensure that the webinar is effective and performs as the lead-generation platform we need it to be.

As you’re trying to think of fun ways to make the webinar more engaging, make sure you think through the flow of things. If you plan a wine tasting and the wine doesn’t get delivered to the people attending the webinar, for example,  that’s a real bummer and your attendees will likely be disappointed. You want to make sure your plan is reliable or that you’ve got a great pivot to turn to. Don’t forget to follow up, too. If you work with an author, for instance, maybe arrange for everybody to get a copy of their book after your event.

2. Letting cameras go dark

People struggle not to multitask, largely because they’re under so much pressure to do, do, do all the time. When you host a webinar, try to predict how people are going to multitask. They’re going to cheat and turn their camera off so that they can be doing other things as you speak. That’s disappointing and challenging as a speaker, because then it’s impossible to get visual feedback from their faces to see if you’re keeping them engaged. Consider using a raffle for people who keep their camera on the whole time or find other prizes and games that are going to appeal to the audience you have.

3. Not being creative and offering something helpful

Even if the people in your audience are 100% excited about your topic, they all have struggles. They’re all looking for little hacks or products that can take the edge off their stress or get them off the screen sooner. So, recognize that and give them something unique that they’ll really enjoy and use. This could be anything from cookware to putting lessons with a professional golfer. Lead with this incentive in the webinar and make sure the audience can tie it back to whatever you’re talking about or trying to sell them on. Find an option that can further your conversation, because ideally, the webinar is the start of a long-term relationship, not a one-off interaction.

Related: 8 Ways To Attract a Large Webinar Audience

Even as people start to come back to the office, we’ll likely keep interacting through technology more than we ever have in the past – which includes using webinars to teach and sell. Avoiding these common blunders can make your event more effective, so stay mindful of everything else people have to do online, prioritize active cameras and give them a hand every time you host.


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What is Authentic Marketing, and How Is It Different From Public Relations?


The two are often confused.

4 min read

Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.

Attention is sacred in today’s world. Attracting attention to your company is what helps current and future customers discover you and do business with you. As advertising loses its effectiveness, marketers are on the hunt for new ways to capture the attention of potential customers.This has given rise to a new category called authentic marketing.

So, what exactly is “authentic marketing”?

Authentic marketing is a way to reach and attract prospective customers by being genuine online and offline. This can be done by meeting users where they are via podcasts they listen to, newsletters and articles they read, events they attend and social media channels they use. Currently, there are many available channels where companies can share their journeys and insights in a way that engages people to care about what they are building.

Companies typically rely on public relations (PR) to handle communications with the rest of the world. That’s why people often confuse authentic marketing with PR. Here’s how authentic marketing is different.

Authentic marketing involves your entire team, not just the C-suite

The story of every company changes with its journey. There is always something new that employees learn as they work in their respective roles. Different teams in a company constantly learn new things about their market, product, sales process and so on. Authentic marketing allows teams to keep sharing their stories and insights as they go, positioning them as active thought leaders within their industry. Think of this as “build in public” for the rest of the world, beyond Twitter. 

PR on the other hand, is mostly about making announcements around specific events like funding, launches, and so on. These announcements and statements are crafted in a way that ensures the company’s preferred public image is maintained or strengthened. Communicating this way does not usually resonate with people since it is scripted and often rings inauthentic.

Related: Marketing Strategies to Boost Your Brand’s Authority Effectively and …

Authentic marketing amplifies your company’s vision, mission and values; it’s not about news

News occurs when something significant happens within a company or an industry. PR is all about news. One example is a company making a great hire or filing to go public. Although sharing news is great, most of it is repetitive, since the majority of people are not affected by it. 

In contrast, authentic marketing allows companies to share their culture and belief system in a way that resonates with people on an emotional level. For example, Tesla employees see the work they do as their way of moving the world to sustainable energy. The company regularly communicates its mission at events they speak at, on podcasts, every time they get in front of an audience. Companies that embrace authentic marketing are able to get the broader public to care about the problems they’re solving and — by extension — about the products they’re building.

Related: When Brands Advocate Social Causes, Authenticity Is Key

Authentic marketing is recurring

Unlike PR, which happens when there is news, authentic marketing can be leveraged multiple times every month. Teams from various parts of a company can now use authentic marketing to get people more excited about what they are building. For example, a VP, engineering and head of product at a startup can share insights on different podcasts and events during any given month. The following month, the head of people and CMO could share some stories with relevant tech newsletters and/or publications. Because authentic marketing is better with the entire team, it’s now easier to share stories from different perspectives within the company. 

The creator economy presents many new avenues for companies (and their team members) to share their journey and insights with the world. By doing so consistently, companies can build a trusted brand that keeps attracting prospective stakeholders and allows them to stand out from the competition.

Related: Why Authenticity Is the Key to Making Great Social Media Content …



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Consumers Want Video Content. Why Not Use It to Strengthen Your Personal Brand?


6 min read

Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.

Rumor has it that personal branding is set to transform marketing in 2021, but not in the way you might think. Today, the concept is more focused on humanizing business — and those behind the business. By establishing and strengthening a founder’s personal brand, there’s an opportunity to put a face and personality to a larger brand’s name. It can also help establish a sense of integrity or expertise when that founder becomes a credible spokesperson who can highlight the company’s progress and long-term victories.

Email newsletter Morning Brew has always done a great job at this. Its co-founders, Alex Lieberman and Austin Rief, are especially present on social media, Twitter in particular. The two also encourage their employees to do the same, which really elevates the sense of thought leadership coming out of the brand as a whole. With each subsequent post, they continue to weave a stronger and stronger identity that helps the brand stand out and elevate the company above the competition.

But as you move from text to video as a way of personal branding, you take your efforts to yet another level. This allows for even more personality to be married to a brand, as you’re leveraging a more engaging medium — people are simply less likely to scroll on by. Video also has a way of feeling more authentic and genuine than a 280-character tweet, which can be important. A study from Stackla found that 90% of customers mentioned authenticity as a deciding factor when it comes to which brands to support. Besides, according to Social Media Week, 78% of consumers report watching online videos each week, with 54% wanting more content in general. The audience is there, so why not leverage the demand?

Related: Personal Branding: The Key to Success in the Digital Age

Approaching video content wisely

The question, then, is this: How exactly do you create video content that moves your personal brand (and company brand) in the right direction? The following are often the best places to start. 

1. Share your brand story

The reasons people don’t use video range from lack of time to little clarity surrounding the return on investment. But among non-video marketers, one of the more common reasons is not knowing where to start — and that’s where your brand story will come in handy. It’s a logical entry point for viewers.

Put some thought into your personal brand as you begin to build out a narrative. If you’re skilled at a particular craft or field, for example, this might be a good starting point. Perhaps your business fits within a certain niche. This, too, provides a natural means for engaging with an audience.

As your brand story begins to take shape, consider storyboarding your thoughts and ideas. Think about which settings would best support your narrative and add interest. What sorts of angles should you use? Close-ups? Wide shots? Take your graphics or lighting needs into consideration. Plan out every aspect of the shoot to connect with an audience.

Related: How to Build a Brand Story That Buyers Emotionally Connect With

2. Get used to being on camera

The sole way to get comfortable on camera is to practice being in front of the camera, and the more you practice, the more natural it will feel. Given enough practice, authenticity will set in and come across to your viewers. Start off by filming a few videos, and make sure you’ve prepared some talking points.

Keep it casual and conversational by trying to imagine that you’re actually talking to an audience (people rarely enjoy canned speeches). Even if it’s an audience of one, it’ll help make the interaction feel a bit more natural. And consider your body language during the shoot. According to SOAP Presentations, effective presentations are 55% nonverbal communication.

After you’ve got a few in the can, review them. If you feel comfortable, share those files with a friend or two to gather a little feedback. Then, step in front of the camera again, keeping any tips or advice in the back of your mind.

3. Focus on authenticity

One of the key elements of building a personal brand is that it’s, well, personal. It allows people to catch a glimpse into who you are as an individual. Keeping your content genuine and authentic can be effective in conveying this. Share pieces of your actual life — not curated versions that often ring hollow. If it’s not genuine, the content doesn’t matter.

Gary Vaynerchuk has become an internet personality largely due to his authenticity on screen. He talks to the camera as if he’s talking to friends and rarely (if ever) censors what he’s saying. Even his very first video, which had no budget whatsoever, comes across as distinctly genuine, and he builds his personal narrative from there.

Related: Why Authenticity Is a Key Ingredient to Entrepreneurial Success, and How to Make Sure You Have It

4. Try going live

Although going live might feel like high stakes, livestreaming does provide the opportunity to engage with your audience in real time. It can also make your content feel less rehearsed, giving a sense of immediate gratification and allowing you to really connect with viewers in a different way.

Just make sure to do a trial run or two prior to the shoot, map out the details to ensure everything goes smoothly and consider the purpose of going live. Don’t do it just to do it. Consider why you’re employing this tactic. Is it to educate or improve sales? Above all else, don’t set it and forget it. Repurpose the content for other platforms.

Glennon Doyle has been using livestreams to grow her personal brand for a while now. It started as the result of the pandemic, as she had to cancel tons of book appearances. But now, it has grown into almost a daily experience with her morning meetings on Facebook and Instagram. She shares funny and emotional stories, highlighting the difficulties of parenting and maintaining a relationship during the pandemic. The result? She’s now a New York Times bestseller, and her new podcast topped the Apple Podcasts charts before it was officially released.

For personal branding purposes, it’s really important to put a face behind your brand, insert some personality and come off as a genuine, authentic person. That’s the foundation for creating great video content. Once you’ve mastered the above areas, you should be moving in the right direction.



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4 Ways to Build a Seven-Figure Brand and Sellable Business


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Discover how two entrepreneurs used unconventional business strategies to turn their startup into a multimillion-dollar company.

4 min read

Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.

As the world reopens, consumers are changing their mindset and adjusting back to everyday life. They are spending more on products, services, and various offers from entrepreneurs. While the growth opportunities are tremendous, a lack of clarity often derails that growth. You may have started your business around something you’re passionate about, but you need clarity on where you’re going. 

One important step to scaling a business to six, seven or even eight figures is a vision and plan for what the business will evolve into. Will you always have a solopreneur type of operation? Do you want to build a business with virtual assistants? Would you consider bringing employees on? 

If it’s your goal to build a seven-figure brand and business that you could sell someday, here are four ways to build in a way that leads to clarity and growth. 

Related: 5 Marketing and Branding Tips to Scale Your Online Business

1. Create a larger entity while using personal brand-building strategies.

To build a sellable business, you need a structure that allows the business to be sold. If your business is wholly tied to you, it will be hard to sell. 

While creating an entity (LLC, corporation, agency, etc.) helps build a sellable business, personal brand growth strategies are still essential. A great example of this is how Gary Vaynerchuk has built VaynerMedia using the reach of the personal brand he’s created. 

To build a legacy brand, first, come up with the structure and name or convert an existing business. You can then use the internet and social media to leverage exposure, content and marketing on your personal brand alongside the entity brand. You end up building two assets.

The idea of entrepreneurship is freedom and financial independence. The goal should be to build a business that can function without your constant direct involvement. Building a larger entity helps you accomplish those goals. 

2. Use a value-first approach to marketing.

It won’t take you long to scroll through the internet and experience a full-on hard rush of sales ads and messages. Too much content being published indicates you’re goes right for the sale without adding value to the consumer first. 

To build a seven-figure business that scales, don’t follow the typical approach. One way to convert more cold consumers is through value-first content. People are tired of the ads; they want real value through the content they consume every day. When you are the entrepreneur or business adding value first, you easily stand above the screams for sales.

Consumers want to know how and why your business was started and the path you’re using to grow. They want high-performance strategies, digital marketing tactics, wellness optimization tips and other how-to-based content they can use without having to first spend money with you.

Take a longer-term approach to marketing and converting consumers. It turns casual visitors into followers and eventually customers when you take a value-first first approach to digital marketing through solid content.

Related: 7 Tips to Hit 7 Figures in 2020 and Beyond

3. Make offers that have practical consumer value. 

Your business offers should be clear and based on practical value if you’re building a sellable business. That value could be through software, services, physical and digital products. 

Have product offerings for every segment of your target audience, ranging from low-tier to premium. Focus on tangible results and clear takeaways for consumers. They’ll see the value with less marketing required on your part. 

4. Consistently show up and keep adding building blocks. 

A lot of the reason why industry leaders build large audiences is that they’re consistent about showing up and adding value. Look at any prominent YouTuber, influencer or big-name entrepreneur, and you’ll see a history of consistency.

Growth starts with you being clear on your overall goals. If you’re content keeping a smaller business model, that’s okay. If it’s your goal to build a scalable and sellable business, consider how you’re doing with these four points.

You can build a business that grows beyond you having to invest all of your time and energy always working. Strategically create freedom.

Related: Gary Vaynerchuk: Entrepreneurial Success Isn’t What You Think


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Don’t Let Clickbait Ruin Your Reputation


6 min read

Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.

In a world inundated with competition, many entrepreneurs and small businesses look to marketing “tricks” to get results. It can be tempting to seek the quick, easy click-throughs that come from a catchy headline, but you always pay a hefty price for cheap thrills. If there’s nothing to back up the headline, you’re going to lose interest (and potentially the respect) of visitors and potential customers.

Of course, some marketers simply don’t care; it’s a matter of pulling in traffic at all costs. The ends justify the means. Sure, clickbait seems easy. However, that’s exactly where the problem lies. Let’s learn more about the dangers of clickbait and what you can do to reach your audience instead.

What is clickbait?

If you’re late to the game, clickbait refers to those “catchy” article headlines that are designed to get people’s attention and make them click through to the website. Many marketers and entrepreneurs like to use it because it does generate more clicks and interest, but it also drives bounce rates through the roof. 

We’ve all been victims. Think about it: Sometimes there is no question you’re about to click on a blatant clickbait piece. You’re fully aware, but curiosity wins out. You just have to know what the “little-known hack to drop 20 pounds by tomorrow night” is all about.

Related: The Future of Content Marketing: Why Clickbait Won’t Cut It

There are probably dozens of ways that these misleading headlines can ruin a solid reputation or brand, even with just a single use. As soon as a company or business posts an article with a clickbait headline, it’s basically confirming that all it wants is attention and maybe the user will get something too. 

How clickbait destroys brand reputations 

Audience disappointment

Clickbait headlines are notorious for offering all shock and no substance — that is, these headlines may evoke strong emotions, but the content behind them is usually shallow, uninteresting or misleading. Sure, you can get people excited with a flashy headline. You can also disappoint them just as quickly when they show up and see that there’s nothing substantial behind the hype.

Clickbait ruins other valuable site data

Companies that use clickbait are putting almost all of their website analytics and metrics at risk. How are you expected to get accurate tracking information and data about your website and its contents if the lead-generation tactics used aren’t reputable? 

A single clickbait title can spur hundreds of views, but it can create just as many bounces and confuse all of your data. That makes it nearly impossible to track marketing strategies and improve conversion rates because there is no accurate information available on which to base improvement or measure success.

Other ways to score clicks and drive traffic

You should never be out to trick people. A lot of marketers rely on clickbait because they are looking for a one-time gain — the fast results. They’re not concerned about whether the content actually delivers. 

When your audience members notice reckless posting, it’s a safe bet they will not be amused. They could even see your brand as spam or a company not worth investing in. A quick shot of website traffic is great, but long-term relationships are always better in business.

Here are some more valuable ways to increase click-throughs and drive traffic with your content, without having to use clickbait or other misleading tactics.

Provide value-adding information

Your biggest goal with content is to create quality information that your visitors can use. Brands that are able to create content that answers the “how” and “why” of their product or service are proving that you don’t need gimmicks to generate a lot of click-throughs. 

Educating the target audience is not only a good way to encourage higher click rates, but it also gives a brand a stronger reputation as an authority in its industry.

Related: 30+ Ultimate Headline Formulas for Tweets, Posts and Emails

Use headline-analyzer tools

When creating headlines that are powerful and attention-grabbing — without becoming clickbait —there are a number of tools out there that can assist you. A headline analyzer can take all of your content titles and score them for you, while also including tips and insight to help increase readability and sharing potential. 

These tools shouldn’t be the only way to create effective headlines, but they can be a helpful tool in the initial brainstorming process, or to help those who are just starting out with their own headline creation.

Consider listicles

Unlike clickbait, listicles are here to stay. Some marketing critics may be tired of them, but consumers love list-based and numeric headlines. Consider adding numbers to your headlines and create a list-type article to generate more interest: “X Lesser-Known Tips for Marketing Success” or “X Ways to Build a Brand Without Buying Your Audience.”

They’re not the only option for compelling content, but marketers who are struggling to figure out how to create strong headlines and content can always rely on listicles to help them make a statement.

Just say ‘no’ to clickbait 

The best content marketing takes advantage of a myriad of tools and possible content styles. It focuses on generating strong headlines with even stronger content to back up the title and giving users something valuable that they can take away. Whether that’s a little more information about the specific brand, an industry-relevant “how-to” article or just tips and insight that users can benefit from, it has to be something of value.

As it stands, the majority of consumers see clickbait headlines and immediately steer clear. Check out your social-media feeds. Scroll through and find someone who’s shared a clickbait-style title and check the comments. At least a handful of them will be social-media users leaving comments like “This is clickbait. No real substance” or “This information is useless and has nothing to do with the title.”

Related: 6 Easy Ways to Attract More Website Traffic

Most importantly, you cannot treat your potential audience like it’s not smart enough to recognize gimmicks and marketing tricks. Take the time to do content marketing right and build a brand that’s in it for the long haul.


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The Misunderstood Role of Personal Branding Within Organizations


8 min read

Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.

Thousands of books, podcasts, articles, online courses and free tips and tricks on how to create personal brands are available with a quick Google search. About two million results will pop up when searching “how to create a personal brand,” and there are just as many about why it’s important to create a personal brand. What is not as likely to pop up is how personal branding impacts organizations.

The typical thinking around personal branding relates solely to the individual. It involves the creation of a persona, most often through social media platforms, compiled of education, certifications and awards. Most business professionals will answer branding questions indicating that their backgrounds demonstrate what they have to offer — their value. While important, it is even more critical to tell the story of the impact your background allows you to have on the lives of others. In other words, it should be designed specifically to make others recognize a need to make a connection.

The added value of employee stories

While organizations invest millions of dollars creating and building their brands to advance the corporate purpose and vision, both on the inside and outside, most fail to leverage employee stories for the benefit of the company. Many company websites still contain the obligatory tabs titled “Our Team” or “Meet the Team” where they highlight the members of the company’s leadership team. However, gone are the days when the website is the only place where that information is researched by potential clients, talent and business partners.

Personal branding is all about evoking emotion in others — telling stories that can help others to survive and thrive, helping them to feel connected to your brand. Compelling stories go a long way toward building trust. 

Related: Great Storytelling is the Secret to Making Your Advertising Stand Out From the Crowd

With increased transparency the norm, the most strategic businesses offer guidelines to employees about how they represent their involvement in the company. Every time an employee speaks about the company or posts their involvement with the company online, they are contributing to the company’s story. When they are encouraged to share their personal stories by speaking on behalf of the company with clients, at conferences, in Zoom meetings or elsewhere, they build their own value as an asset and do the same for the organization as a whole. When done well, these stories have the potential of transforming others. Once the transformation is sparked, it builds credibility and authority for the employee. This leads to increased employee engagement and buy-in to the corporate vision and, eventually, to positive brand recognition for the organization. The positive personal branding of employees creates an endless stream of possibilities to attract great talent to the organization, as well.

Personal branding efforts are not a threat to the organization. No one can resist a great story. Stories help grow the business. People love stories. People remember stories. People share stories. Why? As humans, we are hardwired for stories. Stories are what generate emotional responses or connections between people. How your employees portray their involvement with your company can be as, or more influential than your marketing.

People want to do business with people. Organizations are made up of people. Word-of-mouth is generally responsible for driving $6 trillion worth of annual consumer spending — it accounts for some 13% of consumer sales. 

When leaders allow, even encourage, their people to tell great stories, they reap the benefits of a more engaged workforce. Engaged teams are more profitable. According to a 2017 Gallup study, The Right Culture: Not Just About Employee Satisfaction, teams that score in the top 20% in engagement realize a 41% reduction in absenteeism and 59% lower turnover. Engaged employees show up every day with passion, purpose, presence and energy. Employee engagement is the future of brand building. Leaders who treat employees as stakeholders of both their own and the company’s future win. Supporting an individual’s effort to create a personal brand is a vehicle of opportunity when done right. 

Balancing personal and corporate branding

The retired Chief People Officer from one of the organizations recognized as a Great Place to Work® Canada was asked about her experiences with building personal brands within an organization. The question was, “Why are employers afraid to encourage their teams to build personal brands within an organization?” Her answer? “It’s about finding the right balance between self-promotion and the company’s interests. There is a fine line between an employee promoting their individual accolades versus a representation of the work of the team and the thought leadership or IP of the company. For example, we had a high-achieving employee who continually pursued and collected awards. Early on, it was really great recognition for both the employee and the organization. However, over time it took on a life of its own and we had to take a more thoughtful and strategic approach around individual award endorsements. In this case, we finally ended up asking the employee to stop applying for awards as the accumulation had really become self-serving, misrepresentation of their skills with little to no benefit to the organization.” 

When clear expectations are established, not only for the individual but also for the organization, everyone can be more strategic about their efforts and the anticipated advantages. A Chief Technology Officer in another organization shared his overwhelming hesitation about modifying his LinkedIn profile. He loves where he works and did not want the organization to misinterpret the intention of an updated message as soliciting for a position with a competing organization. 

When communication between organizations and employees is concise and clear on strategy specific to personal branding and guidelines are established, it opens the door for employees to feel like the companies they work for are going above and beyond when it comes to meeting their professional needs. 

According to a report by Hinge Marketing, 79% of firms surveyed reported more online visibility once implementing a formal employee advocacy program. Sixty-five percent reported increased brand recognition.

Related: Why Personal Branding Must Be Your First Focus

The establishment of branding guidelines

What might a thoughtful and collaborative framework or set of guidelines look like? It’s a training manual, if you will, for building great personal brand stories within the organization that create winning opportunities for both the person and the organization.

Brand identity guidelines help employees understand how they should or should not represent the brand both inside and outside of work. By providing guidance and guidelines on acceptable behavior, employees will think twice about doing anything online if they fear it will cost them their jobs.

Include a section within the brand guide for employees’ personal brand to be developed, similar to how PWC and Deloitte do it. They use workbooks to define the organization’s brand and workshops to help the employees. They provide conversation starters. Well-designed guidelines encourage employees’ efforts by providing video and graphic assets for them to share and control the message online. Their stories involve them correctly delivering the organization’s messages.  

Shining a light on branding opportunities

Sadly, the establishment of guidelines and encouragement to blend employee stories with corporate branding is not given the attention it deserves. Invest 15 minutes going to a series of global company websites and scour the “About the Team” or “Our Team” pages. You’ll often see an obsessive focus on those profiles. Then, view the profiles of those same people on a platform like LinkedIn. You’ll rarely see a carryover of the same story or message. When you think about it, most company websites never see the traffic that a social media platform like Linkedin does, but yet so much time, money and resources are spent on the profiles on the team pages and none on the individual pages and are often not tied to the company LinkedIn profile page.

Numbers don’t lie. The average LinkedIn profile gets 222 views. Multiply that by the number of employees in your organization and the opportunity is clear. Team profile pages don’t get the views that team Linkedin individual profile pages do. 

So where should an organization align its focus? The attention should be on helping employees focus their branding efforts for the benefit of the organization while empowering them individually for the greater good

Related: Stop Chasing Customers With ‘Pick Me’ Posts and Other Desperate Tactics

Organizations need to take the time and allocate resources to doing a better job of creating guidelines and frameworks for supporting everyone in the organization to create personal brands in the right kind of way that generates a win for everyone.

Whether you’re a CEO, entrepreneur, an executive, or anyone who has a message to share, establishing a personal brand has many benefits for both you and the organization.



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6 Tips for Converting Leads Into Local Clients #LocalBusinessMarketing


6 min read

Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.

In Ultimate Guide to Local Business Marketing, Google AdWords expert Perry Marshall and lead generation expert Talor Zamir introduce you to the basic framework behind a successful local marketing campaign. In this edited excerpt, Marshall and Zamir offer 6 ideas for turning prospects into customers. Buy it now from Amazon | Barnes & Noble | iTunes or click here to buy it directly from us and SAVE 60% on this book when you use code MARKET2021 through 4/24/21.

While using Google AdWords successfully can make the phone ring, it’s up to you to convert those leads into clients. Unlike in ecommerce where the entire transaction takes place on the website, for local businesses, human interaction is required to close the deal.

These six tips can help you turn those online leads into brick-and-mortar prospects:

1. Don’t let calls go to voicemail.

This is a cardinal rule if you’re spending any money on advertising and marketing. You must not let calls go to voicemail! One of the biggest problems we see is when calls come in and nobody answers, so the call goes to voicemail or the caller is put on hold for two or three minutes.

The fact is, you don’t have an existing relationship with most people who click on your ads. This is cold traffic, and if they call and get your voicemail, most people won’t leave a voicemail. They’ll just hang up and call the advertiser in the next ad.

The same is true if you put them on hold for three minutes. They’re still sitting in front of their computer or on their mobile phone, and the temptation to just hang up and call the next person is overwhelming. Make sure you’re equipped to handle the calls and you have a system in place to do it well.

One of our clients, a dentist, uses a call center so she has a live person answering the phone 24/7. The call center is even able to schedule appointments for her. Using a call center will let you run ads all day with the confidence that any call will be answered by a live person, which will lead to higher conversion rates.

2. Hire mystery shoppers.

The acid test for your phone crew is mystery shopping. To put this to work, have someone call your business and play prospect. Make sure the mystery shopper knows how to act like your customer. Record every call. Many entrepreneurs are appalled when they find out what’s actually going on when a customer calls their business.

The thing is, you founded your business, and poured your blood, sweat, and tears into it. You know it costs $90 just to make that phone ring, and you’ve spent months building advertising systems and making mistakes. You can’t imagine someone screwing all that up and letting a customer go down the drain.

But your employees aren’t you. It’s not their $90 — it’s yours. It’s not their blood, sweat, and tears — it’s yours. They have no skin in the game, so they’re lackadaisical.

Quality control is crucial. Hire that mystery shopper and monitor what goes on. Make it known that at all times, calls are being recorded and any call may be monitored. Performance and raises should be judged by how well customers get treated on the phone.

3. Invest in sales training.

Even if it’s not be in their official job description, everyone who answers the phone in your office is a salesperson. They should have a basic understanding of sales and how to properly handle incoming calls professionally.

At the very least, buy the people who answer the phone in your office a book or two on sales. Even better is to invest in a course or even hire a sales trainer to come in and work with them. This investment can pay huge dividends down the road.

4. Use systems and scripts.

Whether those answering your phones have sales training or not, it’s a good idea to have systems in place so calls are consistently handled the way you want — no matter who answers the phone.

In most cases, you don’t want your employees winging it too much on the phone, so giving everyone a script can be helpful. Richard Jacobs, owner of Speakeasy Marketing, a firm that specializes in marketing for attorneys, has his clients’ employees use this effective script:

“Oh, Mr. Jacobs isn’t at the phone right now, but he wants to make sure he talks to you, so let me get his calendar. I see he’s available this Thursday at 11 a.m. or 2:30 p.m. and Friday between 9 a.m. and 10:30 a.m. If you get your calendar out right now, let’s schedule a time when it’s good for you.”

This script makes the person calling feel important, which will give them a good feeling about your company and doing business with you. Even more important, it sets an appointment on the spot and gets that initial commitment from your prospect right then and there.

5. Always get contact information.

Whoever answers your phone should take down every caller’s contact information, including their email address. If you don’t have their contact information, you have no way to follow up with them and the lead will go to waste.

6. Use email marketing.

When you get your prospects’ email address, you should have some sort of system where you can send out emails at least on a weekly or monthly basis to your email database on a system like MailChimp, iContact, or any other email service provider.

There are no shortage of things you can send. Maybe you have some sort of sale or special promotion going on that you could share. Or maybe it’s just a great story about one of your customers. You could send them a video, which will help develop a closer bond between you and your potential customers. You could also send a good article you’ve written or a helpful tip. Basically send things that will keep you in front of them regularly and continue to build a relationship with them, which can help generate more business and referrals in the future. If you’re not using email marketing and email follow up, you’re leaving a ton of money on the table.

Did you enjoy your book preview? Click here to grab a copy today—now 60% off when you use code MARKET2021 through 4/24/21.


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5 Proven Tips for Effectively Marketing Your First Book


5 min read

Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.

Nobody will buy a product if they don’t know it exists. Just like you would market your product or company, you will also need to market your book. While you may be reluctant to invest in extra advertising, the more sales you can achieve for your book, the more recognition you’ll get for your brand. A successful first book could even become a quality revenue stream of its own, paving the way for future writing endeavors. Fortunately, it can be accomplished in five easy steps.

1. Begin marketing months in advance

Research shows that on average, the first trailer for a movie will debut 126 days before that movie is released in theaters (disregarding Covid postponements, of course). While some movies may have their first trailer debut over a year before release, you’ll almost never see the first trailer debut a mere week before.

You should adopt a similar mindset when releasing your book. It takes time to build awareness before a release. Only famous, well-established artists with a huge audience can get away with dropping new material without any kind of advance notice. For your first book, especially, you need to start marketing early to build awareness. This is how you’ll get pre-orders and first-day sales.

Related: 7 Ways Self-Publishing Can Make You 6 Figures

2. Use results-oriented messaging

The messaging you use to market your book can make or break your sales potential. You have undoubtedly poured a lot of knowledge and insight into your book. Perhaps you’ve even come up with a unique methodology or process that can revolutionize your reader’s lives.

As exciting as this is, the “what” isn’t going to get your book flying off shelves. Instead, your messaging should be focused on the results — how what is in your book can change readers’ lives or businesses. When you can (truthfully) tell someone that your process will increase their profits by 50%, they’ll be far more interested in reading.

3. Market to your niche

As valuable as broad-ranging social media or PPC campaigns can be, business books generally have a relatively niche audience. Look for advertising opportunities that more specifically align with the subject of your book, such as placing ads on an industry blog or podcast.

Podcasts can be an especially effective way of getting the word out about your book. Fifty-two percent of podcast listeners are driving or doing something else while listening to their podcast — meaning they don’t hit fast-forward when a sponsor’s ad comes up. Many podcast listeners’ loyalty to a favorite show also carries over to sponsors. An NPR survey found that 61% of its listeners prefer buying from their sponsors.

4. Give away free content

Giving away free content may feel counterintuitive, but it can go a long way in helping readers learn about your book and start engaging with you before making a purchase. It gives readers a chance to experience your knowledge firsthand.

When they realize that you know what you’re talking about — and that your content will provide real benefits for them — they’ll want to buy your book. Whether through blog posts, videos, social media posts or email campaigns, drip-feeding content from your book is a great way to generate real excitement around its launch.

A great case study of this comes from Lysa TerKeurst, author of Made to Crave. To promote her book, she developed a 21-day challenge that formatted much of the book’s content into daily emails. Despite “giving away” roughly one-third of its content, the book sold 225,000 copies in nine months. The free sample was more than enough to get readers hooked.

5. Provide advance copies to build buzz

Giving away copies of your book may feel like you’re taking the idea of providing free content too far, but this can be crucial in building early buzz for your book. Getting positive reviews can make all the difference in getting skeptical readers to give your book a chance. 

While passing copies out to friends, family members and those in your personal network can be helpful, you’ll be best served by reaching out to industry influencers, leaders and bloggers. Industry podcasts and blogs can expose your book to a much broader audience.

Sending free copies to leaders in your niche can be a great way to generate reviews that readers will pay attention to. While not every influencer is going to take the time to read and review your book, a single review from the right person could lead to hundreds or thousands of sales. The results far outweigh the cost of giving away a few copies for free.

Make the most of your first book

As the cliche goes, you only have one chance to make a first impression. The same is true with your book. A quality book will help you build a loyal readership and gain more leads for your business.

It can provide niche authority like nothing else can. As you market your book effectively, you will be able to ensure that it has the greatest reach possible, so you can enjoy the full extent of these benefits.


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The Marketing Challenges of Finding New Franchises


Many young brands make the mistake of taking the approach that more is better.

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4 min read

Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.

The following is an excerpt from Franchise Bible: How to Buy a Franchise or Franchise Your Own Business, Ninth Edition, which will be released April 20 through Entrepreneur Press. Pre-order now via Amazon | Barnes & Noble | IndieBound | Bookshop.

Anyone familiar with the franchise industry knows that one of the most coveted acquisitions for a brand is a new franchisee. Paramount to the success and growth of a brand, franchisees represent the foundation, adding breadth and depth to the influence and reach of the brand itself.

Often referred to as the “Golden Goose,” franchisors are in constant search of the next best franchisee candidate. Good franchisors will take steps to ensure that the new franchisee is a good fit for the brand. It is important to both the franchisee and to the brand that there is a good match. Finding these candidates, however, is often easier said than done. And many young brands make the mistake of taking the approach that “more is better” and focus on the “sale” instead of the “fit,” and they often find themselves with disenchanted franchisees who no longer want to be a part of the brand any more than the franchisor wants them to be a franchisee.

Related: The Franchisor’s 10 Commandments

In short, a good franchisor will not only establish clear guidelines on the ideal candidate for their brand, but they will also control as much of the recruiting process as possible. There are two primary ways to recruit candidates for your brand:

1. Marketing and lead-generation firms. There are firms that are experienced in helping generate candidates for your brand. Like with any others method you choose, not all will be created equal. A good marketing firm should be experienced with finding candidates, should work collaboratively with your brand and your management personnel and should offer you some semblance of control over the process. Like with any marketing strategy, this should also be data-centric, have discipline and flexibility and represent your brand properly in the marketplace. Most marketing firms will operate on a subscription basis. This has mitigated risks. If they can produce good, quality candidates, it’s likely to cost you less in the long run, in comparison with the consultant commissions. However, the subscription approach usually implies you are paying as you go for marketing efforts, and depending on your sales cycle, it may take some time to recover your investment.

2. In-house systems. In the early stages of a franchisor’s development, there is probably no one more qualified to help a candidate understand the value of investing in the brand than the founder. After all, it is the passion for the product or service that the franchisee is investing in anyway. However, founders are usually busy running their business and managing the locations in some day-to-day capacity.

So, for an in-house system to work properly, the franchisor is going to need internal talent who can represent the brand with the same passion as the founder. What’s more, they will need to have both client services and sales-business acumen, and the franchisor will have to provide them with tools to properly seek out and engage candidates. These systems will likely include email efforts, calling, social media efforts like LinkedIn, mailing efforts and the like. The executives will be responsible for helping develop the system as well as keeping up with the candidates in their various stages of development. Regardless of the methods you choose, begin with the “fit” first. Making sure that your candidates are a good match for your culture and your brand is critical to the long-term success of your franchisees and, ultimately, your brand.

Related: The 10 Commandments of Franchise Ownership

Happy franchisees who are financially healthy will serve as good validators and will make your brand more valuable. In contrast, unhappy franchisees — or franchisees who are not financially successful — can cause long-term problems, or  worse yet, end up a failed owner. That isn’t good for the owner, and it’s a permanent detriment to the brand as it needs to be disclosed on your FDD. Find your match, and everyone wins.


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