Sunday, October 15, 2017

How My Little Personal Brand is Leveraging A Shark of A Brand

What's up my peeps!  You know, the Internet is like all the world's oceans combined.  It's this living thing populated by organisms either thriving or just barely surviving within their niches.  For people that are starting to build out a business for the sake of growing their personal brand, the only move they have is to create free content.  Free content in a space like Instagram or Snapchat or whatever platform you wish to target to align with the people you want to pay attention to YOU, is the only game in town for the guppies.

The sharks in the water get all the attention of course.  Something clicked and allowed them to build a massive audience of followers and wannabes.  They may have enamored followers with their looks (Instagram) or their extremely useful/funny/entertaining videos (YouTube).  And now, these sharks make bank leveraging their chosen platform.  They're the standard of social media success for others.  For many sharks, social media wasn't their "attention" springboard or big break, rather it was their already earned reputation for being extremely successful entrepreneurs and business people.

Take the case of Daymond John from the hit ABC TV show, Shark Tank.  He and his fellow sharks (Cuban, Mr. Wonderful, Barbara, Lori) made fortunes starting businesses that sold for millions of dollars.  Then they hit social media, not because they wanted to, but because they had to.  Their personal brand demanded they participate in the shit storm we all tune into daily because we are addicts of our phones.  Just last week I finished reading Daymond John's, The Power of Broke book.  I enjoyed reading all the stories of entrepreneurs who started from broke and carved out successful businesses from often blind opportunity and sheer determination.

One of the three books I read in the last 1.5 months

I think I enjoyed Daymond's power of broke story the most, however.  And I'm not just saying that because I recently became a member of his Rise and Grind Ambassador Program.  Yeah, I got the news via email on Friday.  In The Power of Broke, Daymond shared how he hustled in other entrepreneurial ventures before FUBU, like driving around an 8-seater van on the busiest public transportation roads in New York, picking up passengers and charging them fares comparable to the prevailing bus ride fee.  I enjoyed reading how in the early stages of FUBU, he and his partner had to find unique ways of getting their clothes where they could be seen by their target customer.  This meant leveraging powerful pop culture brands like LL Cool J.  He'd give LL Cool J free shirts for his dancers to use on videos during the hip-hop golden era, when music videos had all the urban and suburban youth eyes fixated on the television.

The email I received from Daymond's people.

He also leveraged the powerful Black Entertainment Television (B.E.T) media brand, buying air time, i.e., commercials at an incredible discount compared to the major television networks.  This brings me to today's lesson.  When you're small and you need the massive attention sharks command, your best strategy is to attempt to leverage a bigger brand.  It's like an accelerator to your own brand's growth.  Nothing else, save you going viral, will bring about as fast a growth. 

It's still too early to tell what my role will be as one of the probably many Rise and Grind brand ambassadors.  What I do know is that I didn't have to pay a penny to join the club.  I was simply scrolling one day on LinkedIN and found my way to one of Daymond's posts requesting people to apply for the program.  Of course I jumped on it.  It was opportunity jumping out at me.  By the way, LinkedIN is the place to be these days.  It's the next frontier.  When you see people like Gary Vaynerchuk (another whopper of a shark) posting regularly on LinkedIn, you know you're in the right spot.

It was important for me to not have to pay anything to be able to leverage a big personal brand.  I've tried to insert my guppy brand for free into the conglomerate that is Brian Tracy International to no avail.  He had this sponsored post on Facebook running for over a month: Co-Author a Book with Brian Tracy.  I clicked on it, signed up for the Webinar and joined it, only to discover at the end that in order to be part of this you had to pay like $8K.  To me, that's just buying your way into attention.  I was hoping there was a merit based process to be part of this opportunity, but alas, not this time.

Why would big personal brands want to help little brands?  Here's the thing, you can't just ask people for help.  You have to offer something in return.  What can you offer the shark you're trying to engage?  If you are lucky enough to get this shark's attention, what will you immediately offer in return for their help?  People are willing to help, but the relationship must be reciprocal.  Many of you underestimate this highly important gesture of back scratching.  I intend to not just be an ordinary brand ambassador for Daymond John.  I intend on being the best one he's got!

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