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A Quality as Personal Brand

Jonathan Fitzgarrald and Cheryl Hodgson discuss a quality as personal brand, one your clients identify with you or niche. (Transcript provided.)

CH: We were also talking earlier about Tim O’Brien and he authored the book “The Power of Personal Branding”: I understand you studied with Tim at one point?

JF: I did, yes.

CH: I was very impressed with some of the concepts he put forth as he talks about each individual in a service brand, or a personal brand, needing to come up some quality. It could be a physical characteristic that you’re known for, or it could be perhaps a personality characteristic or an attitude whether it’s integrity or strength. A couple of examples I know he used were something like “The Iron Lady” which was Margaret Thatcher. Or Katie Couric is the girl next door. Then also Arnold Schwarzenegger’s a good one, right, because he was known as “The Terminator”.

JF: Absolutely. What these people have done – or what their handlers have done for them – is branded them so that when people think of them there’s an immediate phrase that comes to mind. For professionals in positions like ours, we want to find a characteristic or a quality that is of value to our audience that people will hire us for. Maybe we’re the most resourceful, maybe we’re the most informed, maybe we’re the most accessible or the most responsive. Whatever we think is unique and authentic to us that is of value to our target audience, we’ve got to ride that train all the way into the station and that’s how people will know us.

CH: And what have you found to be the most successful when working within your firm (with the professionals) in helping brand the individual?

JF: I think the most important is “One size fits one”. To think that you can group all kinds of people into the same bucket and get the same results out of them is an exercise in futility from the very beginning. Instead, it’s my job to sit with the lawyers that I coach individually, get to know them. A personal brand transcends what they do for a living, right?

CH: That’s exactly right.

JF: It incorporates what they do but it really transcends them.

CH: Because it’s not about what we do, it’s about who we are as a person.

JF: It’s not about our intellect per se, it’s about the emotion we evoke out of people. So drawing out people’s backgrounds, drawing out people’s experiences which are unique to them and them only, all of a sudden now you create a story for an individual that is of value to the people that they serve or the people that they want to serve. And now all of a sudden someone sees you as an Entertainment Attorney that specialises in Transactional Music matters or in high profile litigation cases. Now all of a sudden you’ve branded yourself very narrowly, very specifically in an area that when that comes up for you – that issue comes up or that problem comes up – people immediately think of you.

CH: Ok, so that’s a second way of doing it: we were talking earlier about a quality or characteristic, this might almost be branding based on a specific niche that you are known for.

JF: No question, absolutely.

CH: But then there comes the question of “Well, I’m known just for that, but I do other things”. How does a service professional combat that?

JF: We like to think we can conquer the world, right?

CH: Yes, of course.

JF: And maybe we can. Unfortunately, none of us have the resources it takes to be all things to all people. So I always coach my Attorneys to focus their marketing and line all of their marketing efforts behind one single area of practice – one specific area. That doesn’t mean you reject calls that others will provide you with other needs and services, but you put all your eggs in one basket and that’s what you market. And then you become known for that, you make a name for yourself. People think of you for that area of law. And not only will they call you for that, but once you become a trusted advisor, they’ll call you for your suggestion on where their kids should go to school and where they should vacation and all these other things because now they trust you.

(See and read Part 3 of the Brand Conversation with Jonathan Fitzgarrald.)
By Cheryl L.Hodgson

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