When I moved to Boise, I wanted to hit the career reset button. I had worked for six years as a middle school French teacher, and I didn’t intend to resume that. I thought I would just be happy to stay home with my daughter (who was one year old at the time) but after about a year, I started getting the itch to go back to work.
With no idea where to start, I spent a few days browsing Craigslist until I found a woman who said she was an entrepreneur looking for help promoting her business with social media and blogging.
I can do that, I thought to myself, and sent her an email. I got an interview and then spent three days cramming for it, learning how to use social media to grow a business. A few days later, she called to offer me the job. Then she referred me to a friend of hers who also needed social media assistance, and I landed that job as well.
So then I got a little cocky. Just because I had managed to land two clients in the span of two weeks, I thought I was a real hotshot. I was overconfidently riding on skills that I had just learned and barely implemented. To make matters worse, I didn't know what a brand was, and I certainly didn't know what mine was. While riding my "new client high", I didn't stop to think how unprofessional that might look to potential clients.
While shopping downtown one afternoon, I approached the owner of one of my favorite boutiques and offered them my services. I thought it was a great idea because they didn’t have many followers and their hashtags were a mess, which I told them, naturally.
By the way, this might seem obvious but never try to win over a potential client by insulting them.
When the owner asked if I had a business card, I said no. She asked what my business’s name was or if I had a website, and again, I had to say no. Then she said she’d call me, and I was elated. I was so sure I had landed a new client that I bought Champagne on the way home.
When my husband saw the Champagne in the fridge and asked what it was for, I told him I had landed the downtown boutique as a new client! He was very excited for me. Until I told him what exactly had happened.
“It doesn’t sound like you have a new client,” he said, giving me the side-eye. Turns out, he was right.
Even though I saw myself as a budding professional who had useful skills and knowledge to share, and I sensed that helping small businesses grow using social media was a viable niche (which it is), my brand and my approach were all wrong, and actually deterred clients. You would think I would have put this together and stopped buying champagne every time I met with a new client but, sadly, that would take a while. Two more times, to be frank. My husband and I have since dubbed my preemptive champagne purchasing habit as “the Champagne curse” and I never buy Champagne when I have a deal on the line.
Just like Rome, brands aren't built in a day— mine took years. But I have since worked to define my brand well, and my digital marketing business now has a wait list for new clients.
Do you know what your brand is? Does it help people understand you? How does it make them feel? Is it building momentum?
If you don’t know, you might want to check back here next week where I’ll go into a list of indicators that your brand is building momentum, and what you can do if it’s not.
And if you just want to know now— shoot me an email! I love hearing from readers, and answering questions.