There’s an endless list of advice and tips, on the web, for how to do just about anything. I recently learned about how to brand yourself, as well as your business. The branding concept, itself, isn’t new but the process has evolved. Most businesses began by getting people to know who they were, where to find them, and what they offered. Customer service begets customer loyalty.
The accessibility of internet for the masses has certainly evolved the methods for creating or building a brand. Especially in the last couple of years, due to the pandemic and an increase in internet usage for just about everything from shopping to working/schooling. With new social media platforms popping up, more and more people are branding themselves and launching their own home-based businesses. I’ve narrowed the consensus of tips I’ve found to “my favorite five” for here.
1. DEFINE YOUR BRAND…
This is simply expressing who you are and what you stand for. It’s the new “first impression” people get when they “Google” your name. You are your brand. Just as my mom’s name, Gloria Pitzer, was synonymous with “The Recipe DetectiveTM”. That was how she defined her brand of investigating coveted, secret recipes for her copycat cookery concept.
Nowadays, the objective is to make yourself known to the masses through the internet; connecting directly and in almost real time, around the globe, with current and potential clients, colleagues, and friends – consistently building on these relationships.
Branding yourself not only keeps you current, which can open doors for you; but, if done right, it can also create a lasting impression. The question is: What do you want to be known for? Establishing who you are and how you come across to others are really important factors to successful branding.
Creating a personal brand is not a quick process. Goldie Chan summed it up well in her wonderful article, 10 Golden Rules of Branding (Nov. 8, 2018), as seen at Forbes.com. She wrote: “Even Oprah Winfrey began by going through several style iterations on a small local show before defining her voice into one of the most influential personal brands in the world.”
Goldie also shared some great advice from Adam Smiley Poswolsky, the author of The Breakthrough Speaker (20s & 30s Press; September 2018), who she says took “it one step further when he’s advising speakers: ‘Carve a niche, and then carve a niche within your niche. The best personal brands are very specific.’” It’s a few years old, but I recommend the read!
In the mid-1980s, Mom made a new niche within her own ground-breaking, copycat cookery concept, when she came up with her own “short-cuts” concept, as well; using mayonnaise in place of oil and eggs, for example, or a cake mix in place of the many dry ingredients in cookies.
Mom’s 3-to-5-ingredient short-cut recipes for imitating some of her imitations became a whole new sensation! When my dad found out he was diabetic, Mom revamped her recipes, again, to accommodate those watching their sugar and carb intake but still wanting to indulge in their favorite dishes.
2. BECOME AN EXPERT IN YOUR FIELD
Follow a successful example. All the greats were inspired by someone else! An effective brand can go a long way with self-promotion, loyalty, consistency, and quality. In the beginning, try to avoid being a Jack-of-all-trades and focus on your specialty, first, whatever it may be.
With experience comes expertise. Mom always wanted to be a writer and journaled daily for over 70 years. However, she believed she was directed by a higher power to write about recipes and other homemaking topics. Faithfully, she did.
3. MAKE YOURSELF KNOWN
Build a consistent online presence on various social media platforms and through your own, personal, website and/or blog. Purchasing your full name as a domain name (yourfullname.com) is a great way to do this. But it should be separate from your company’s website, including your picture, bio, email address, and links to other sites where you’re active (Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, etc.).
Mom didn’t have the advantage of the internet over 50 years ago, when she started branding herself and what she had to offer as a syndicated columnist (before she even started her Secret RecipesTM legacy). She mailed her “branding” promotions to various newspapers and magazines. Later, she branched out to radio and television “talk shows”.
FROM MOM’S MEMORIES…
As seen in…
My Cup Runneth Over and I Can’t Find My Mop (Secret RecipesTM, St. Clair, MI; Dec. 1989, pp. 38-39)
THE HAPPY COOKER
[CIRCA 1973] I ENLISTED THE HELP of the children. I was taking in ironing at the time, at about $5 a basket and sometimes I would earn as much is $50 a week. The money was supposed to supplement Paul’s paycheck, which – as soon as we found could make ends meet, discovered somebody had moved the ends.
So I took what money I could from the ironing earnings and kept the paper, ink and other supplies in stock in order to produce what was necessary to complete the newsletter. I cut the stencils on my typewriter, added the drawings and fashioned a literary ‘silk purse out of a sow’s ear’, as my dad would’ve said.
The utility room, which was in the back of the house and looked out over the yard and the long driveway to the road was a perfect position to be in when it was time for Paul to arrive home from work at the end of the day.
I would post the kids at the window to watch for Daddy so that I could be able to get everything put away and out of sight. I could not tell him what I was doing until I could assure him that it was paying for itself and that I was not going to lose money.
For nine months I mimeographed, assembled and mailed out about 100 copies a month of my newsletter, the names of the subscribers having come from letters I kept from readers of my columns and from names and addresses given in other magazines where folks were looking for recipes.
I mimeographed my own business cards and, as I have already told you, had no qualities at all about cutting them out and inserting them into cookbooks in bookstores or department stores, leaving them in phone booths, in ladies’ restrooms in restaurants or wherever I might find a likely audience. You must take every opportunity when you start out. Some ideas work. Some don’t.
We tread a rather steep path when we attempt to wish on everyone what seems a solution to our own problems. It actually takes courage to think for oneself in a world which appears to have more than its share of profits of despair. I wasn’t listening to any of them. I had my listening thoughts tuned into Angel messages that were leading me in a happier direction. I was never willing to give up. I’m still not!
[SEPTEMBER 1974] All I was doing was breaking even when Dennis Wholley, at channel 7 in Detroit, received a copy of my September newsletter of that first year of publishing. He called, though, and asked me in the family to appear on one of his broadcasts of ‘A.M. Detroit’, which we did – and which also opened up a brand-new door to opportunities I did not dream of encountering so quickly.
Of course, then, I did have to tell Paul all about the newsletter, what I had been doing and why I could not confide in him, knowing how skeptical he would have been about it. He practically agreed with me that, yes, he would’ve doubted that it would have had a future for us. Today, however, he’s willing to see it quite differently.
When I sent Dennis Wholley a copy of the newsletter, I also sent a copy to Bob Hynes, who then was host for the afternoon movie with CKLW-TV, channel 9, across the river [from Detroit] in Windsor, Ontario. There was no response immediately from CK-TV, but the day after I appeared on Dennis Wholley’s program, Bob Hynes called and asked if we could visit his show on New Year’s Eve day [December 31] (1974) and bring the entire family too.
The movie that day, I remember, was ‘Tammy and the Bachelor’ with Debbie Reynolds. His guests for the intermission was Lynn Redgrave, who was there to plug her new movie, ‘The Happy Hooker’. When I introduced myself to Miss Redgrave in the studio that day, I said, ‘It’s a pleasure to meet you, Miss Redgrave. I understand you are the happy hooker. I’m the happy cooker!’
The Dennis Wholley appearance was November 14, our daughter Lori’s [10th] birthday. We had to be at the studio an hour before airtime and the drive there was over an hour, in a blizzard… All was well, however, when we arrived at the studio. We were sharing the Wholley show with the newly elected mayor of Detroit, Coleman Young.
It was amusing, to say the least, that somebody mistook Paul for one of Mayor Young’s bodyguards because of the rather obvious bulge in the pocket of Paul’s coat. Somebody behind us, in the studio hall, whispered to someone else (and I overheard), ‘That blonde fellow is probably carrying a gun. See his pocket bulging?’
What it was, in Paul’s pocket, was the autograph book that Debbie had given her dad to have signed for her, because she had to be in school and could not go to the studio with us. Probably the rest of Pearl Beach was gathered at the post office in front of the television set to watch us that morning. It was a thrilling experience… Then several weeks later, was the appearance on Bob Hynes show…
The appearances on both of these shows brought us so many subscriptions to the newsletter and as the response increased, so did the amount of time that Paul gave me for processing the orders. He could see that I could not do it alone. Every evening and every weekend and even his two-week vacation from his job at the sign company, were given to working on the recipe orders with me.
4. GENERATE AWARENESS THROUGH NETWORKING
This can be accomplished by connecting, not competing, with other professionals in the same industry. You can also use social media networks, commenting on posts and blogs. Form relationships to grow your business and brand. Again, that’s not a new concept either but the manner in which it’s done has come a long way in the past 50 years.
Nowadays, for networking, you join and participate in virtual groups, in almost real-time; along with instant messaging and emailing. Way-back-when, Mom joined and participated in groups, live-and-in-person. Her favorite was the Michigan Federation of Press Women – of which she was a member for MANY years. Otherwise, you talked to each other through land-line phones or wrote each other, using the U.S. Postal Service (aka: “snail mail”).
5. GATHER FEEDBACK FROM THOSE WHO KNOW YOU
This can be done at work, at home, in your neighborhood and local communities – anywhere you’re active. Ask those with whom you network what they think your best attributes and core strengths are – they could be honest, creative, funny, generous, etc. Promote and grow those qualities in your brand.
‘Building a personal brand is much bigger than building a business. The only exit strategy is legacy.’ – Blake Jamieson; artist at Blake Jamieson, LLC
Think about what kind of legacy you want to leave behind – because a personal brand is a lifelong project that constantly evolves and changes like life, itself. Both, the Recipe DetectiveTM and Secret RecipesTM, were Mom’s brands, as well as her legacy. I’m proud to share them with the “new” digital generations.
For National Flour Month and National French Bread Day, here are Mom’s tips for Flour Equivalents and her secret recipe for French Bread, including her homemade Cornstarch Glaze; all of which can be found in her self-published cookbook, Top Secret Recipes al’a Carte (Secret RecipesTM, St. Clair, MI; Sept. 1979, p. 23).
P.S. Food-for-thought until we meet again, next Monday…
…12 down and 40 to go!