Build a Brand, Build Knowledge and Build Influence
The last few weeks have been a whirlwind. I launched my book, Two Ears, One Mouth and A Big Heart into the public arena which was followed this week by Your Time Matters (YTM) winning the Most Influential Brand Award at the National Business Brilliance Awards.
Have you ever been nominated for an Award? I am grateful for the opportunity to learn and grow through the entire experience.
Following the nomination we started the process by completing a questionnaire that would be judged by a panel. It was an excellent opportunity to really reflect and review how YTM has evolved and how we have focused on building a brand that makes a difference to others by building relationships, building knowledge and building business through our journey -past, present and future.
The timing for the submission was actually not ideal as we were leaving on a week long holiday and the closing date was while we were away. Now, I could have decided to forego the opportunity, but I believe that every opportunity is worth taking and with my book launch approaching, it was also an opportunity that I could not overlook. I buckled down at the kitchen bench and started to put my thoughts together. I am so glad that I did. Having spent the past 18 months putting my book together I had spent a lot of time reflecting, and this was an opportunity to consolidate my beliefs and thoughts further and I had the evidence to prove it.
What does ‘brand’ really mean
The survey focussed on what the term ‘brand’ really meant to me, my business and my clients. It was an indepth questionnaire, and has proved to be a very useful document as I plan now for the future and while I am only sharing only a part of my responses, it just may prompt you to pause and review your own business and how you show up in the market place.
Behind the scenes core messages
I wrote that
“Branding is the behind the scenes core messages that sets YTM apart and is integral to our business. It is what draw others to work with us when they understand the breadth and depth of why we do what we do; and how we can impress on others the importance of taking the opportunity to learn, grow and achieve to impact the lives of those around us.
Branding encourages our clients to become part of a supportive network and make a difference to the lives of others through real connection.
YTM’s Brand sets us apart and is strictly unique as we focus on the individuals needs and hope that when someone hears or sees “YTM” or Your Time Matters they know we value their time and provide support to help them with strategies to grow their business and to learn, grow and achieve. We know we all lead full lives and our clients time is precious so we aim to help them make the most of it.
Our Brand allows helps us to stand out from traditional and transactional networking groups and be recognised for the value we provide to business owners, professionals and teams seeking to build bigger and better businesses as we encourage them to create sustainable relationships with suppliers, clients, referrers and friends and build the business they desire.
Define Your Brand
To define our brand, YTM, I visualised a car.
This was probably one of the most valuable questions and I had been asked it several years back, but now I was quite clear on my repsonse. YTM is like an Audi- a quality car with various models and sharing similar features.
An Audi like YTM, is known for being well above average, provides a welcoming comfortable interior, quality detailing to make the passengers relax and enjoy the experience , not matter the model, and provides an exceptional product to suit both the individual or the larger group with ample room to move and adjust to different situations and a customer experience, similar to Lindt chocolate rather than Home Brand and, far from ordinary.
Mission and Purpose
Our mission and purpose was another segment of the survey. YTM brings business professionals (men and women together in one space) with opportunities to tap into rich resources:—essential knowledge, substantial connections, and a powerful and dynamic community that supports them as they learn about themselves and others, grow their confidence, business and network while achieving whatever matters to them.
We know that no one achieves anything alone and support is at hand through YTM as we expand horizons, break down homogenous barriers in the workforce and encourage diverse networking experiences .
Know your ideal client
Our ideal client is a business owner or professional, generally but not exclusively providing services in the B2B space who values real and authentic relationships, has a desire to continually learn , willingness to share experience and knowledge. Our ideal client understands the value of diverse perspectives and seeks to make a difference to others, focussing on “giving to gain” rather than driven by "what's in it for me"... and values being part of a community where they can generate leads, explore opportunities and have access to knowledge, experience and support.
I was able to illustrate this by sharing how one of our members, travels from Foster in Gippsland to attend our monthly events.
We recognise that our ideal clients’ value and need support as running a small business can be very challenging and isolating. The access to knowledge, support and other likeminded people who share common experiences, helps our clients recognise they are not alone, that support is available if they know where to look for it and that through investing time in building strong relationships, they can grow both personally and professionally.
Unique and authentic brand
Our brand is unique and authentic because offering more than traditional networking events. Our focus is on
· Building sustainable relationships, not mere transactions
· Learning about self and others, and recognising through the conversations YTM facilitates that on occasions others share similar feelings of isolation, overwhelm, frustration
· Growing personally and professionally as you expand your network and learn from diverse perspectives
· Gain knowledge and fill gaps by reviewing your systems and processes
· Achieving what matters to you through professional development
· Enrichment and transformation of thinking as your business evolves overtime
· How you can help others….not what’s in it for me approach
· Three facilitated formats providing structure to make the most of the time invested when attending events that motivate, inspire and energise
· Tested tools that build confidence , clarify values and determine impact on client
· Understanding how others feel having walked in their shoes
· YTM has the ability and connections to initiate the right connection and solve the problem at hand.
We bring our brand’s personality to life by using real photos of our team and event participants, members and experiences on our website and throughout social media, combining both personal and professional lives
• Individual Icons have been designed as representative of each event format- showing our unique approach and appealing to individual learning styles.
• Colours and fonts as per style guide – unisex, vibrant colouring, welcoming and open font
• Authentic and real conversations through video interviews with attendees, testimonials, tips on business and networking and introduction of speakers illustrates our collaborative approach to business building.
• Articles and blogs encompass insights across a range of business related issues, strategies and insights that help others learn, grow and achieve in order to build business and network.
Our brand promise is based on authenticity and honesty. We are always here to support our community.
Our regular participants know that they will have better and deeper conversations through our ability to create network synergy for business professionals, groups and teams by initiating purposeful action that accelerate personal and business growth.
We listen carefully to the needs of our community and ask relevant questions to identify the connections that would be most beneficial to each individual business’s growth. We orchestrate introductions, “matching” our audience appropriately and also help to identify the best way forward based on individual needs.
There is no cookie cutter approach or rigid agenda to follow or comply with at YTM. Relationships are organic.
We ask specific questions and gather relevant information to better understand our client’s needs on registration and encourage face to face interaction, yet blend online communication to nurture and develop relationships.
We stay regularly in touch with our clients through phone calls, email marketing and face to face sessions, both 1:1 or through monthly events.
In completing the survey I reflected on how we have evolved and have in place systems and processes to monitor that our brand promise is continuously achieved and delivered. Nothing happens overnight…it takes time, consistency and a great deal of effort.
The future for our brand
We will continue to promote and position our brand to get in front of your ideal client by looking to build relationships with organisations (eg local councils, associations, networking organisations, conference organisers) who seek assistance from a speaker and/or facilitator to educate on the power and purpose of networking and to initiate conversations within the group to foster relationships and expand connections. We are always keen to have conversations with diverse business owners to explore and learn how YTM can help make a difference through our expertise and will continue to build our brand awareness of our ability to foresee synergies and to deepen conversations through podcasting and seeking opportunities to be interviewed to share our knowledge and experience and help build awareness. Networking as an effective marketing tool for business, but is also a life skills that everyone needs to develop to grow personally and professionally.
Our Brand In One Word
Asked to describe our brand in one word I chose- Transformational and when YTM was announced as the winner of the Most Influential Brand, I was proud that others saw YTM has worthy and that while we do what we do because we love it, others felt we deserved recognition…that was truly amazing. Perhaps we can change the way people view networking…we certainly will keep on trying to focus on relationships rather than transactions and to make a difference to as many people as possible.
Think About Your Brand and Influence
There were several other sections to the application, but I think they may have to be Part 2 in the future because I know your time matters. Happy to share the other questions with you if you are interested.
I encourage you to set aside some time in the near future and think about your brand and how you can and do influence others. I have since realised and connected the fact that one of the chapters in my book is entitled “Evolve and Inspire” and having completed the process of applying for this Award, reviewing our development and our brand, I see that we are a brand that has evolved and hope it continues to inspire.