Personal Branding: The Lighthouse Branding Model

More and more people are talking about the importance of personal branding, both in career searching and in career development. Effective personal branding not only makes you stand out from the crowd to employers and recruiters, it can also increase your job security by communicating your value as a leader and team player to your organization.

What is personal branding?

Personal branding is the process of identifying the unique and differentiating value that you bring to an organization, team and/or project and communicating it in a professionally memorable and consistent manner in all of your actions, both online and offline, to all current and prospective stakeholders in your career.

The Lighthouse Personal Branding Model

The lighthouse is a great model for breaking down the branding process into four key steps: the foundation, the beacon, the tower and the beam.

Foundation:

Your foundation is your unarguable strengths and experience in your chosen area. To identify your own foundation, write down the strengths that differentiate you from the rest and ask your friends, family and colleagues/managers to do the same for you. Identify the top three to five overlapping strengths that support the career direction you want to pursue.

Beacon:

Your beacon is the memorable and consistent communication of your strengths and experience. Now that you have identified your foundation, it’s time to create your beacon by finding a word or phrase that represents these strengths and can become your brand. Develop a short pitch that can follow your brand, describing your strengths in more detail. Ensure that your word or phrase is versatile and can change with your direction.

Tower:

Simply put, your tower is your visibility, reach and presentation, both online and offline, which support the beacon. This is really everything you do to proactively build your personal brand. The higher you build your tower with your efforts, the more visible you will be to potential career stakeholders. Here are some ways to proactively build your brand and credibility in front of your target audience:

Create a LinkedIn profile and follow the suggested steps to complete your profile 100 percent, making sure you include your personal brand and pitch in your subtitle and summary sections.

Create a Google account and profile for improved search engine optimization.

Include your personal brand on your resume, cover letter, business cards, email signature, voicemail message and across your other social networks, such as Twitter and Facebook.

Consider creating a personal website/blog site where you can house all of your information, including experience, education, skills, honors, entrepreneurial efforts and more.

Start your own blog with a unique point of view on your industry/area of interest.

Contribute value in your book or product reviews, your tweets, your comments on other blog posts, your own blog articles or articles for print publications, your discussions in LinkedIn Groups and your advice via LinkedIn Answers or other forums.

Start a company full-time or on the side with relevant and valuable products/services/resources for the industry.

Publish and offer print and/or electronic publications.

Get quoted in the media by joining HARO (Help a Reporter Out) and contributing advice, experiences and insights to writers and journalists seeking expert sources.
Beam:

Your beam is your career direction and more active personal branding and career search strategy. It involves you gaining and projecting a strong understanding of where you want to go, what you want to pursue and how you will pursue it. First, you need to determine what functional area, geography and industries/companies you want to target. Then, you need to actively network your brand with potential career stakeholders. Here are some ways to start:

Join associations or networking groups within your industry and attend events to meet new contacts and build your target network. Be sure to share your personal brand with those new contacts.

Conduct informational interviews with target network contacts (whether or not you’re seeking a job) and share your personal brand with them in your introductions.

Find ways to bring fellow industry thought leaders together on a project or at an event.

Find ways to contribute to the projects or events of fellow industry experts.

Get recommended on LinkedIn and display testimonials from customers, clients and partners
Personal Application

I used this model to help develop my own personal brand during my MBA career search. Having identified my foundation to be my endless energy, out-of-the-box creativity, relationship building and problem solving, I looked for a word that could pull all of those strengths together into one memorable brand message. The beacon I chose was “generator” as I generate energy, creativity, relationships and solutions to problems. I was pursuing a career in marketing and brand management, and therefore, I became a brand and marketing generator. I proactively built my tower by incorporating my brand directly into my online profiles, my resumes and my entrepreneurial efforts. I then took a more active approach, targeting the “beam” by incorporating my personal brand in my interview responses, networking introductions and informational interview outreach. It was this process that helped me successfully secure my current employment, and this model continues to help guide all of my professional and entrepreneurial ventures.

Breaking Down Sales and Marketing

Revisiting the Sales and Marketing ConversationBack in October 2015 we shared an article called “5 Ways Marketing Departments Help Salespeople Catch Butterflies.” Recently a tenfold article was shared with us, titled “What is the Meaning of Sales & Marketing and Their Advantages?” and, I have to say, it does a pretty awesome job of breaking down the differences, responsibilities, and links between sales and marketing roles. Why revisit this now? Because it has never been more apparent that the relationship between sales and marketing is still just as misunderstood as ever, especially with advances in marketing technology.Setting the Record StraightMany in the business world, especially those who rely on sales and marketing for success, don’t actually have a concrete grasp on exactly what sales and marketing are. Yes, the two are linked, but they are not one and the same. Sales departments rely on marketing; marketing departments and strategies exist to feed sales (notice I didn’t say “make” sales). You wouldn’t engage in marketing if you had nothing to sell, and your sales strategy would be much less informed and successful if not for your marketing efforts. Yes, many old-school salespeople (or go-getter small business entrepreneurs) are quite capable of drumming up business on their own, and may even have some tried-and-true marketing tactics up their sleeve – but few have the time, skill, or technological resources to effectively capitalize on the true potential of their market.A common mistake made by older, more established businesses is to assume that salespeople are skilled at marketing and that marketing people are skilled at making sales. In some cases this may be true, but certainly not across the board. While trying to conserve capital, many of these companies will attempt to combine their sales and marketing departments, essentially tasking their employees with two job descriptions, and that’s usually a bad move. It’s no accident that more recently established companies, tech giants, and organizations that employ a large number of millennials are killing it with their marketing efforts.Breaking It DownAs the tenfold article explains, some of the key responsibilities of a sales team include:

Follow Up

Relationship Building

Closing

Retention

The mark of a great salesperson is the ability to cultivate a personal relationship. Many consumers who have stayed loyal to the same brand, dealership, or salon for years will say that they appreciate the personal attention they receive there. It is not a marketing employee’s responsibility to follow up with a salesperson’s existing customer once the lead has been handed off, nor is it their responsibility to convert a lead to a sale, “close the deal,” or make sure the client remains a client for many years. Short of having an outstanding relationship with a skilled salesperson, product quality and excellent overall experience are the main things that will bolster client retention.On the marketing side, primary efforts are:

Awareness

Engagement

Conversion (from anonymous to known)

Retention

It is not a salesperson’s job to generate awareness or buzz about their brand, product or service. If they are expected to use their energy to make sales by nurturing leads and relationships, then how can they also be expected to have the time to do the leg-work up front that brings those leads to the table in the first place?The marketing department creates awareness, builds engagement by creating information that will invite audience members to take action, and targets and tracks engagement by motivating audience members to provide contact information or initiate a free trial or consultation (converting them from a cold prospect to a known lead or potential buyer). It is important to note here that the retention function of a marketing department doesn’t really overlap the retention efforts of a sales team.On the sales side, client retention refers more to the salesperson’s efforts to use the client relationship to continually check in with the client, attempt to engage them in further discussions about additional products or services they may be interested in, and seek referrals to the client’s friends and family members. On the marketing side, however, retention refers to maintaining a higher level of consistent engagement (through targeted marketing based on buying preferences, interests and history) so that the customer relationship doesn’t end at the initial purchase. Those email newsletters you receive after becoming a customer somewhere are not random – they have a purpose and are often tailored to things you’ve viewed or expressed interest in. A sales team simply doesn’t have the insights, time, or often the resources to execute these types of strategic campaigns.The Fine-Tuned Coexistence Of It AllThe ideal sales and marketing relationship is a symbiotic one. Marketers and salespeople work together to determine what consumers need and how to deliver it. Sales and marketing should motivate, inspire and feed one other. They should collaborate and coexist. In the hierarchy of the business food chain, sales and marketing should not be seen as rivals or equals, but counterparts. One truly cannot exist without the other, but their skill sets are not the same – especially today, where advances in technology require the modern marketer to have a very specific, honed, and competitive set of skills that most sales people simply do not need to have.For this reason many marketers are introverted, analytical, and deep-thinking individuals. Whether they’re crunching numbers and analyzing data, compiling reports on trends and conversion rates, or writing awesome ads and creating beautiful websites and collateral material, they are required to intensely focus on what works, what doesn’t, and adjust their creative efforts accordingly. Usually a marketing department will have creatives, analysts, and more tech-oriented people (who dive into the numbers and algorithms behind advanced marketing tools).In contrast though, many salespeople are extroverts – they light up a room, they have excellent “people skills,” can easily relate to others, and have the ability to pick up on social cues that might actually help them close a sale. Oftentimes salespeople have a broader focus, preferring to spend their days with appointments and meetings – activities that build relationships – rather than sitting behind a desk doing what a marketing department does best. For this reason, many salespeople have administrative assistants to help them with follow-up, paperwork, appointment setting, phone calls, proposals, and calendar management. This type of functional assistant role is less widespread in the marketing realm.Share Your ThoughtsBe sure to read the full article (and let us know how it compares to our post ) for additional insights on the relationship between sales and marketing teams. Join the conversation: in your experience, what have been some key components of a successful sales and marketing partnership?

Paying Utilities For REO Properties

I Want to List REO’s, but How Much will it Cost?I’ve written in the past about how to list REO’s for banks, but what many agents overlook are the related expenses that go along with carrying many REO listings.Listing REO’s can be very rewarding, but many agents neglect to plan ahead and understand that they will be paying utilities for REO properties that they have listed.This HUB will detail exactly what you can expect and give you some tricks and tips on how to not get in over your head as you start paying utilities for REO properties.What Types of Bills WIll I have to Pay for My REO Listings?Read this twice: It’s not just utilities and its not just while you have the REO property listed!It is incredibly important to understand the lifestyle of a REO listing as you start to budget paying utilities for REO properties. Most REO listings start out as “an assignment.” This means that the bank or asset manager have decided that you will list the property. However, many times the property is in no condition to be listed.To get the assignment ready to be put on the market, you may have to have one or more of the following services performed:
Trash Out (all debris, junk and left over belongings removed and hauled away)
Cleaning
Water shut off / Winterization
Pipe Repair
Lawn / Snow MaintenanceObviously these services are not free. What many agents fail to realize is that the banks expect you to pay for these services up front. Yes they will reimburse you, but it can take anywhere from 30 to 120 days.Once the REO Property Becomes a Listing…Once your REO assignment becomes a listing, most of the major costs have been paid for (trash outs, pipe repair, etc). Hopefully your client will reimburse you quickly.Now is when you need to make sure you are current on the REO listing’s gas, water and electric bill. In colder climates, If the heat gets turned off, the pipes will freeze and your home will never sell. If you have no electricity, buyers can’t view the home.Also, don’t forget that if you don’t stay current paying utilities for REO properties, they can become a lien on the home. If there is a lien on a REO listing that you are trying to sell, it can delay a closing substantially. That means you’re waiting even longer for your money.Tips for Paying Utilities for REO PropertiesNow that I’ve scared you out of the business, let me try and give you some tips for paying utilities for REO properties. This could save you thousands of dollars and help you avoid the huge cash drain that getting into the REO business can create.

Know Your Contractors: I can not stress this enough. If you have a good relationship with your services you can save a substantial amount of money for the services. If your contractors know they will get all of your business, their rates will be lower. If their rates are lower, you have less money that you are waiting to be reimbursed for.

Negotiate with Your Contractors: As you get into this business, you’ll be contacted by many service providers in every industry trying to earn your business. That’s great for your cash flow situation! Set up agreements with them that you will pay them immediately AFTER THE BANK SENDS YOU A CHECK. Even if its only $100, once you get up to 30 or 40 listings, that money adds up. If they won’t wait for the bank to pay you, offer to pay them half up front and half once you are reimbursed. As you get started listing REO’s and paying utilities for REO properties, don’t make the mistake of thinking you can carry the costs because “it’s only one listing.” Take a long term approach and think about every transaction multiplied by 40 listings.

Talk to your local bank: Many banks will be more apt to make a small business loan if you explain that the money will only be used for paying utilities for REO properties. If you can show them your client list, many banks will take that into consideration when factoring in risks. When they are lending against big name lending institutions and know that you will be reimbursed, its much easier for them to justify loaning you the money than if you were using it for marketing or business expansion.
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