Business cards. Collateral materials. Websites. Blogs. Brochures. Voicemails. Phone greetings. Email addresses. Email signatures. Job titles. Company names. Taglines. Slogans. Headshots.
Blah, blah, blah.
Any entrepreneur with a modest knowledge of marketing and branding uses all this stuff.
But here’s something your MBA class won’t teach you. Here’s something you won’t read in most bestselling marketing books:
The #1 most overlooked personal branding hotspot is YOUR LANGUAGE.
Language is EVERYTHING.
Language wins business. Language changes minds. Language attracts clients. Language makes money. Language communicates presence. Language reveals brilliance.
Most of all, language differentiates you.
Let’s begin with a quick Personal Language Assessment…
1. What words govern your questions?
2. What are your favorite words to use?
3. What are your favorite questions to ask?
4. What words do you use that nobody else uses?
5. What words do NOT exist in your vocabulary?
6. What word(s) do you OWN in people’s minds?
7. What words, phrases and expressions are you known for?
8. Have you gone public with your thoughts, ideas, words and expertise?
9. What word do people have to google to make your website to come up first?
10. What’s the one word about which people will never think the same way after having met you?
Hooray! Now that you’ve gauged the equity of your words, here are eleven practices you can start TODAY to increase your Language Equity:
1. Write a LOT. (1) Writing is the basis of all wealth. (2) If you don’t write it down, it never happened. These two sentences changed my life, transformed business and earned me a LOT of money. That’s what branding your language ultimately comes back to: Writing. So, the best quickie-suggestion I can offer about writing (without soapboxing for ten pages) is that you learn to write Morning Pages. They will change your life. What did you write today?
2. Quote yourself often. Ben Franklin, Rumi and Lou Holtz have been quoted enough. It’s time for YOU to be the wise one. After all, if you don’t quote yourself, nobody else will. (And you can quote me on that!) Have some confidence in your cranium. People want to know what YOU think. I suggest publishing your own online quotation generator. As an example, check out my gorgeous new site, www.stuffscottsaid.com. Why in God’s name would you have a quote from Oprah on YOUR website?
3. Publish a LOT. The logical next step after writing a lot and quoting yourself often is publishing HEAPS of material that contain your branded language. Build your online platform using tools like blogs, videos, podcasts, articles, interviews, PDF’s, Ebooks, Twitter, Facebook, teleseminars and the like. In so doing, be sure to include regular examples of your unique branded language throughout. This will solidify your ownership of the material. Soon, people will be quoting YOU. How far do your thoughts travel?
4. Reiterate key words and phrases. In my work as a writer/speaker/coach and entrepreneur, I’m known for using expressions and themes like, “HELLO, my name is…” “Kill two stones with one bird,” to name a few. Your challenge is to identify YOUR key words and phrases.
Here’s what you do: (1) Search through your last fifty modules, articles or blog posts. (2) Identify ten recurring expressions that are unique to YOUR writing. (3) Write them on a sticky note. (4) Keep that note in front of your face daily as reminder to consistently use those key words and phrases throughout your work. Almost like a “call-back” joke in comedy. This builds predictability and consistency into your writing voice. What words and phrases are you known for?
5. Buy more domains. Once you start getting known for certain key words and phrases, I suggest registering related domains to protect the material. For example, I own www.2birds1stone.com. Now, I didn’t buy those domains with any goal in mind. BUT: He who owns the domain owns the idea. Have you registered the domain for every major idea you’ve ever had?
6. Create and share your Personal Philosophy. At the top of a piece of paper, write the following: “If everybody did EXACTLY what I said, what would the world look like?” Take some time to answer this question with 5-10 bullet points. Your answers will become the framework of your Personal Philosophy. Your way of treating people. Your manner of doing business. Your Theory of the Universe.
Eventually, once your philosophy is perfected, print it out on small laminated cards and give it to EVERYBODY. Also publish it online in an easily accessible location. People will talk. What philosophy are you known for?
7. Name it! In a 2007 interview, best-selling author Seth Godin described his writing style in this way: “That’s the secret of what I do: I notice things and give them names.” The good news is, you can do this pretty easily.
Here’s how: (1) Observe, watch, read, pluck and listen to your environment. Content is just BEGGING to be captured. Be sure to write everything down. (2) Create names, designations, acronyms and titles for the things you notice. They must be original, creative and consistent with the branding of your content and philosophies. (3) Brand those names as titles of your blog posts, article or modules, i.e., The Ultimate Dream Statement™ and The First Word Farce. What did you name this week?
8. Words you made up. When that red squiggly bar underlines one of your words that doesn’t jive with the spell checker, you have a choice. You can (1) correct it, (2) ignore it, or (3) add it to the dictionary. I suggest the latter. Especially when it’s a word you just made up. This might be one of the great pleasures of life.
For example, words like “revisitability,” “googleicious” and “Fanagement” are a few of the terms I’ve invented and added to my own dictionary. What about you? How many words have you made up?
9. Questions you ask. Consider listing your “Top Ten Questions of All Time.” Or maybe your “Three Ace-Up-My-Sleeve Killer Sales Questions.” Perhaps your “Top Twenty Questions to Ask New Customers.” Or your “Five Best Questions to Ask Strangers.” Also, be sure to have a Question Master List, including ALL your questions, organized by category. As of December 2008, my question list topped 5700. How many are in YOUR collection?
10. Things you always say. Now that you’re quoting yourself more often, here’s what I suggest. Keep a running list of ALL your best quotations, sayings, one-liners, words of wisdom and pieces of advice. Think of it as a forced savings account. (Be sure to google them first for accuracy.) Then, any time you say something brilliant – purposely or unexpectedly – add it to the list. Then share that list with your readers, clients, prospects, friends and fans. How do you build language equity?
REMEMBER: Language is everything.
It has the power to differentiate you among the gazillions of other people out there who claim to do the same thing that you do.
After all, if you don’t quote yourself, nobody else will.
And you can quote me on that!
LET ME ASK YA THIS…
How are you branding your own language?
LET ME SUGGEST THIS…
For the list called, “26 Ways to Out BRAND Your Competition,” send an email to me, and I’ll send you the list for free!
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That Guy with the Nametag
Author, Speaker, Coach, Entrepreneur
Check out Scott’s Online Quotation Database for a bite-sized education on branding success!