Creating YOUR Advantage 
 Leaders Earn What They are Worth
In this Issue
Build Your Brand and Earn What You are Worth
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April, 2008

     Money, money, money....we love it, we want it and yet we hate it. 
     With tax day behind us, some of us might be rejoicing to get more of it back and yet others are crying over the big check that had to be written. 
      Are you earning what you are worth?  Ever wonder why big companies spend all that money to build brands? Money is the answer.  Big brands bring in bigger bucks! 
     How do you build your brand to earn what you are worth?  First, don't follow the pack...and don't make these other common mistakes.
ps.  Check out how authentic leadership skills can help build your brand to earn more of what you are worth!
Build Your Brand and Earn What You are Worth
...but don't expect to follow the pack to find it! 
      You might find yourself saying "I am not a leader" or "I am not a marketer."  I hear this a lot.  The truth is, you can't NOT be a leader and you can't NOT be a marketer if you are trying to earn what you are worth in today's over-cluttered, hyper-competitive marketplace, regardless of the business you are in.  Whether you are an entrepreneur or you work in a large organization, developing your brand will help you earn what you are worth.
    When you find a brand that has great appeal, it usually is crystal clear.  Clarity has strong appeal. It does less, in order to say more about itself.  Brands become great when they strip away all the layers of meaningless and unfocused "noise."  The narrower the focus and the tighter the message, the greatest of impact and the higher the price.
     There is some counter-intuitive logic in branding, just as there is with leadership. 
     When people ask me how I define leadership,  I respond by saying  "It is exactly the opposite from what most people think it is."   When it comes to developing a great brand, the same is is not what most people think.  It is for this reason, that people make many mistakes when attempting to develop their own brand to command a premium price for their services.
     Mistake #1:  You are too focused on the competition
     While knowing who your competition is and what they are doing is important data to have, it is not where you go to define your brand.  The common mistake people make in trying to define their brand is to look exclusively towards others; what they are doing, how they are doing things and where they source business. 
     This type of focus creates a reactive mind set which leads you to take the wrong actions.  Your actions begin to look and feel too much like the competition.  Building a brand should separate you from the competition, not emulate it.  Knowing about the competition is only important as a means to guide you into the areas that are not being effectively addressed by them.  The reason brands command premium pricing is because brands are not "me-too." 
Turn it around:  Watch the amount of focus that you give to your competition.  It is best to develop your own game plan based on your strengths and where the competition isn't playing, than to over emphasize what they are doing.  Chances are that your competitors' actions might not suit you and your brand.  Just because the competition does it, doesn't mean it is right for your brand.
Mistake #2:  You change your product/service to meet  a potential customers' needs/wants.
     Knowing who your target is and what their needs are is critical to build a successful brand.  You need to know what your target wants.  You have to know what the market needs.   However, a common mistake that most people make is completely changing their offering or their approach depending on what a potential customer wants.  Don't make this mistake. 
     Define your target by fully knowing your strengths and your offer. You can't separate the two.  Once you change your product/service without considering the "essence" of your brand, the actions that you take will be at odds with the brand you are building.  These actions will cause misalignment and will add residual "noise" that make your branding efforts counter-productive.  You can't earn what your worth, if you don't know your own "sweet spot".
Turn it around:   Turn down business and pass it on to others that have an offer that better meets the needs of the client.  While you may think this sounds crazy for the short term, brands are build over the long term.  Turning down an immediate opportunity for the benefit of building a long-term brand that is authentic and clear, will more than make up for the lost in short-term income.  Great brands don't grab at a million things, they do a couple things within their personal strike zone.  
Mistake #3:  You think everyone can use your product/service 
     Everyone is not a potential customer.  In fact, successful brands focus on the 20% that generate 80% of the profit. The biggest destroyer of your branding efforts will be the word "Yes".  Once you begin to do all things for all people, you no longer have a brand that can command a premium. A brand is not interchangeable with another, which is why brands earn what they are worth
     One of the most challenging parts of branding is selecting the target.  Nobody ever wants to give up a potential market. However, the best brands have made the toughest choices and stuck to them.  Branding efforts are not inclusive, they are exclusive.  Brands sacrifice large markets of opportunity to be like a beacon in one.  When you do this successfully, your market grows because clarity is appealing.
Turn it around:  Practice narrowing your focus.  Do less in order to provide more value.  Force yourself to pick one target and stick to it.  Build your communication and your focus around this one target. Don't get off the track.  Turn things away that don't support this focus. 
Mistake #4:  You rest on your success
     We can all reach a plateau from time to time.  You have worked hard to get where you are and you stop reassessing your brand.  This is death for a brand.  Customers, like bosses and the marketplace are ever-changing.  A brand is a living thing and is never stagnant.  You have to continuously redefine your offering relative to your changing strengths coupled with the feedback and impact on the market. 
      This is particularly crucial for anyone who is in a leading position.  Maybe you are #1 in the marketplace, or you are a #1 producer for your company.  This is the time when most of us don't want to change a thing,  because it has worked and gotten us where we are.  However, this is precisely when recreating and reassessing your brand is essential to keep it sustainable for the long-run. 
Turn it around:  Leadership is a form of branding.  The two are so connected because they have the same underlying principles.  When you lead you employ the correct branding techniques and it takes leadership to build a sustainable brand.  Both leadership and branding have the foundation of authenticity.  So just when you think you have it all figured out, start listening more to yourself and less to others.  Uncover your growing strengths and passions in order to lead your way forward to earning what you are worth today and in the future. 
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All the best,
Laura Lopez
Laura Lopez & Company
(713) 864-4633
toll free outside of Texas 1-800-861-4633