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Five hot tips to build your brand

Here's how to improve the recognition of your brand. People won't buy from you if they don't know you.

It Takes a Good Product and a Team.

Good recognition starts with organizing a fabulous set of products and services that provide real value to your target market. What does your market need? How do you solve its biggest problems? If you are an association, do you make sure your benefits of membership solve your members' challenges? Are your meetings interesting? For example, one organization I help with its Marketing, on a probono basis, is the Institute of Management Consultants. In the Colorado IMC Chapter, we brainstorm on interesting meeting topics at our quarterly board retreats and then each board member is assigned a meeting to coordinate. You don't have to do it alone!

Build a Marketing Plan. Determine what you want to accomplish with your marketing effort. The IMC Colorado established these objectives:
• attract and retain a growing number of diverse and competent members who actively participate in IMC
• increase the understanding of what the Management Consulting profession is and its value.
• promote IMC Colorado and its values, expertise, methods, membership categories, and our unique climate of "safety" for consultants to share their concerns and seek help and advice from peers.
• build appreciation and awareness of our members' unique expertise.

What are your objectives? If you don't know what you want to accomplish, you will not achieve success.

Next identify who is your target audience; IMC's top targets are people who hire us and those who join us. Define what is your message to communicate. Determine strategies and tactics to deliver this message. Assign team members to execute. Establish clear metrics for success. Check in regularly about progress toward your goals. The plan does not have to be long, it just needs to be clear and to be used. Where is your plan?

Connect with Media. Issue a media release with your news at least one month, if you have news. If you don't have news to announce, go make some. Use a catchy title that is in line with the interests of your target audience. Send it to the business media in your area. Create your media list, however don't stop there. Find out about online calendars and submit your event directly. Also there are websites offering free media release distribution; submit to http://www.prlog.org/ and other sites. With the IMC Colorado, we doubled attendance at our kick-off September meeting because the Denver Post ran a brief about our event on the front page of its business section.

Use Social Media. Get the word out through blogs and micro blogs, such as Twitter. IMC Colorado, for example, has a LinkedIn group. We ask our presenters to post the event in their social media channels as well. One speaker created a video about our upcoming program and posted it at www.YouTube.com which we linked to in our meeting announcements. How can you more effectively use social media to spread the word?

Spread via Word of Mouth. Ask your happy customers to spread the word about your products and services or better yet ask them to open the door to someone who needs what you offer. At IMC Colorado, we ask members to bring at least one colleague or client to each meeting. Board members have a prospect list of ideal members and call these consultants to invite them to IMC meetings.

Utilize your Website. Do you update your website regularly? For example, the new revised www.IMCusa.org website has such great power! After our marketing chair crafts the message, our webmaster then posts it on the IMC website and ensures enticing notices are sent out at least three or four times before each meeting. It is easy to build the email distribution list with features on this website. We make sure we ask at online registration, how did you hear about the event?

Believe it is possible to build your brand and then take action to make it happen. The business results will follow.

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Theresa M. Szczurek

Theresa M. Szczurek, Ph.D., co-founder and CEO of Radish Systems, is a serial technology entrepreneur. The story of her last start-up, which sold for more than $40 million in less than six years, is included, along with her strategies for success, in the Amazon-bestseller Pursuit of Passionate Purpose: Success Strategies for a Rewarding Personal and Business Life. www.RadishSystems.com, www.radishsprouts.typepad.com and @TheresaSzczurek on twitter.

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