As a business owner, one of your biggest assets is your image in the community. Whether your target audience consists of SMBs in small towns or larger organizations with locations spread across the planet, people are more likely to purchase goods and services from those they know and trust. Creating that type of brand recognition is not hard with a plan.
First, you need to define the objective. A personal brand is built around you — often around various elements of your personality, your lifestyle, and your interests. For MSP owners, your professional image is tied closely with that of your business. That situation creates positives and negatives; the latter often rearing its head when you look to sell.
A business brand, on the other hand, is the character of an organization or the image it represents to clients, potential customers, and the community. That persona can take years to build and, if not adequately protected, extraordinarily little time to destroy. Your team must do everything possible to safeguard both your personal and business brand.
A Familiar Experience
One of my recent experiences with branding provides an excellent example for the channel. First, off let’s talk about timing. Earlier this year, I started a Facebook group called “The Channel Sports Guys,” a platform for Solutions Providers, MSPs, and other channel professionals to come together and share their thoughts and opinions on various sports activities. Of course, this was right before the pandemic.
The community posts include sports predictions, opinion polls, a weekly Poker tournament, and discussions around other related interests. My Facebook group is mostly a place where fans can vent on or gloat about wins, scores, and headlines. Everything was going great until that ugly period in March when sports essentially came to a stop.
So, the direction of The Channel Sports Guys had to shift, and dare I say, we responded well and started adding more reflective questions such as “What is the Mount Rushmore of Philadelphia Sports?” Similar posts using different cities improved engagement. The responses were fun to read, and the member count continued to rise. We asked about the greatest sports movies and documentaries which yielded some interesting suggestions and discussions.
Pretty much anything goes in the group except one clear and non-negotiable rule: no selling is allowed. Perpetrators will be thrown into “Facebook Attica.” However, what I found over the past few months is that my efforts to avoid selling or “sales-y” communications in this forum help me engage with more prospects.
It is all about creating and building your brand.
Recognition Opens Doors
In January, I was at an industry conference in January having a drink with a couple of MSPs where someone looked at my name badge and said, “Hey, you are the Channel Sports Guy!” We had a conversation, and two weeks later, we had them signed as partners. While being in the right place at the right time created the opportunity, my brand brought recognition and opened the door to what became a real business opportunity. Those connections are paramount to sales success in the IT industry.
My personal brand is being the guy who you can approach to talk about sports. I turned a passion for certain pasttimes into a community that knows my face and name. While I don’t remember much from my job experiences in 2003, there was one exception: one of my strongest competitors was an older gentleman who always wore a bowtie. Okay, I actually do not recall if he was truly a noble man, but I do recollect the tie. Upon reflection, I realize that was his personal brand, providing instant recognition with prospects that would allow him to forge deeper relationships and open the door to new opportunities. The bowtie became an identifiable trademark for my competitor and his company.
Make Your Passion Part of the Brand
So, where do you start? First and foremost, the process has to be natural. Your brand can’t be something that you turn on and off or change regularly; it lives and thrives through consistency. Don’t be seen as the bowtie guy at one conference and then the “happy-face” necktie person at the next show.
Second, make sure your brand (personal and business) is visible and continuously seen by your target customers. Position yourself prominently in the community and engage in genuine conversations with everyone you encounter. Associate your brand with charitable causes and service and be true to your company’s mission statement.
Are you ready to go? Search deep for the things you love doing and instill some of that passion in your branding. Who knows, maybe one day, you’ll send me an invitation to join your new Facebook group, “The Channel Movies Guys.” To that, I will say, “Well played.”
Author Matt Scully is channel chief at Mailprotector. Read more guest blogs from Mailprotector here.