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★Authors: Are You Ready to Develop Your Branding Platform?★

The first step in Developing the Brand of your Self is to determine your Core Competencies and craft about 3 harmonious, complementary, cohesive Stories that will serve to communicate who you are, what you are about, and where you are going (or whatever else you want to communicate) to your Target Communityin shorthand!

(Not sure what I’m talking about? Then check out my last blog entry first: http://wp.me/p12sV0-so )

In order to accomplish this task, you will need to go through 5 steps in the process:

Know Your Target Community

Develop a Relationship with Your Core Competencies

Draft Your Core Competencies in Point Form

Weed Your Competencies to Three Cores that Compel, Engage, & Resonate

Develop the Meaning of Your Core Competencies

In this blog entry, I will develop the above ideas further below, and hopefully you will have a better understanding of how to proceed with your Branding efforts by the time we are done. This blog entry is a continuation of what I have been blogging on these past couple of weeks. You might want to take a look at these posts before proceeding:

Hey First-Time Book Authors: 6 Essential Steps You MUST Take to Sell Your Book!
Authors: Know You ARE a Company – And Use it to Your ADVANTAGE!
Authors: Branding Your SELF – Crafting a Coherent, Consistent and Compelling Story
Branding is essential to any author, as it is essential to any other company

Authors must brand their Selves in order to develop a trusted, coherent and lasting Idea of their Self – in shorthand.

Ready to begin? Okay, so let’s go!

★Know Your Target Community★

In order for you to develop your Story, you need to know everything you can about your Target Community – or, your target readership. Don’t know how to do this? Then check out this blog entry from a few days ago: http://wp.me/p12sV0-r8

This is really important stuff, especially if your written words have a rather narrower appeal within your Target Community than something on the NYTimes Bestseller List. And let’s face it, if you’re going to be honest with yourself, you probably have NOT written the next “Celestine Prophecy”.

The more you know about your Target Community and their buying habits, demographics, special interests, etc, then the more easily you will be able to craft your Story about your Self.

The Story you decide to tell about your Self must go hand-in-hand with your deeply researched knowledge about your Target Community. Craft your Story with the special interests, buying habits, and demographics of your Target Community in mind. Craft a story that resonates with them.

And as you develop your blog and online presence in Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, ScoopIt – and wherever your target community resides online – you will find yourself in the envious position of developing a core following of people who are ready to engage with your Story – and your Brand – who mostly derive from your Targeted Online Community. Wow – now that’s exciting!

★Develop a Relationship with Your Core Competencies★

What do I mean by “develop a relationship”?

Well, it goes like this. Most of us are running scared. Most of us are reacting out of fear and frustration. The breakdown of the broadcast method of content delivery has been supplanted with the profusion of multiple channels of communication – creating a fractured communications landscape. And within this fractured landscape most of us exist trying to keep up with technology, idea transfer and an overwhelming sense of loss of control. Marketers and other Professionals are now tasked with heavy workloads that encompass not only the application of their particular talents and experiences, but they are also being tasked with monitoring, measuring, interpreting, and recommending courses of action – when they are unsure themselves if they are adequately trained to do so.

(For a more in-depth discussion of this phenomenon, see my post, “Corporate Cyborgs: The Rise of the Hybrid Professional” here: http://wp.me/p12sV0-rk )

So to develop a relationship with your core competencies means that you must take an honest, ruthless and deep analysis of your special talents, your unique background, your educational history, your experiential learning.

You must be absolutely honest with yourself. You’re probably going to run into some personality aspects of yourself that you are not very comfortable with. Well, that’s what happens when you live an examined life. But you must do this with incredible commitment to the process. The more honest you are with yourself, the deeper connections you will make with your core competencies.

And it is these deeper connections with your Core Competencies – or your grace-given talents, aptitudes, interests, and obsessions – that becomes the base upon which your Story arc is constructed.

So you’re good at gardening? In fact, you LOVE gardening; but your writing has absolutely nothing to do with gardening….

Well, it’s possible that there is a smallish sub-community existing within your larger Target Community who is also into gardening. So you create a ScoopIt mini-site within your larger ScoopIt account which is dedicated to the desires, interests and obsessions of your Target Community, but that reflects your interest – and those from your Target Community – in gardening. You may not have many gardening followers, but if you put a twist on this mini-site that is essentially about gardening, but the twist is that you scrutinize the gardening subject with the desires and obsessions common to your Target Community front and centre in your curating choices.

(Don’t know what I’m talking about again? Well, take a look here to better understand: http://wp.me/p12sV0-r8 )

Well, now that you’ve done a really great job of self-examination and self-scrutiny, it’s time to craft your Story and all its various elements into written point form.

★Draft Your Core Competencies in Point Form★

So you’ve learned a lot about yourself. Some of it good. Some of it difficult to swallow. This is good – you are on your way to developing an engaging Story about your Self that resonates with your Target Community.

What did you learn? What do you know how to do really well? I mean really really really well! Is it that you’ve been writing since you were six, and had your first short story published in the school newspaper at 11-years old? Well, this is something; but I’m sure you can do better…

Maybe you travel a lot, and you produce beautiful photos everywhere you visit. Now THAT might just interest some of your Target Community – especially if you develop a ScoopIt mini-site devoted to your travel photos – but populated with photos chosen specifically with your Target Community in mind.

Maybe you’ve decided that your Target Community is the night-stalking, vampire emulation community – you know, all those people who dress like vampires and have Twitter accounts like @biteyoutonight and @drainyourblooddry.  (Disclaimer: I have no idea if these are real Twitter accounts – would love someone to check them out and comment on whether they are or not!)

So the next time you travel to NYC, you make a project of photographing the urban night life and growing underground community of these vampires; maybe you could even do some research beforehand and head to the clubs and bars where they congregate? These would be amazing photos for your ScoopIt mini-site, and you could develop a great following within your Targeted Community with just this one strategy.

Okay, so that’s a great Story arc to work on, right? Now keep going. Write down as many Competencies as you were able to determine through your self-analysis. Ideally, you will come up with about 10 or so to work with.

And if you’re having trouble coming up with ideas? Well, do some meditation. No, seriously! It really works, and it’s not hard at all. It’s very simple, really, and just requires you to take about 45 minutes out of your busy schedule with the phone turned off (yes, even the cell), the secretary told not to disturb you, and when you’re not about to head to a difficult but important meeting.

Take a look at this blog entry of mine from the other day, where I explain how I was able to use meditation to develop my tagline: Exceed Excite Excel.

(You will find the blog entry here: http://wp.me/p12sV0-rW )

★Weed Your Competencies to Three Cores that Compel, Engage, & Resonate★

There’s a trick to editing video that I learned a long time ago.

Edit ruthlessly.

Yes, edit ruthlessly. Be your own toughest critic. Now is not the time to become attached to any one Competency. Now is the time to determine – based on your ongoing Target Community research – which of these Competencies will resonate with your audience the strongest. That’s right.

You must craft your Story not on what you want to be, but on what your Target Community wants you to be.

You think this is deceptive and dishonest? You think I’m giving you advice to create an unreal persona through your Branding efforts? You think I’m guiding you to “fool” your readers?

Of course not!

Remember, these are YOUR Core Competencies that YOU determined through a difficult, emotional roller coaster ride of self-examination. These Competencies are YOURS. They are determined by what you are good at, what you love to do, what your financial goals are, and anything else you can think of.

Crafting your overarching Story so that it is filtered through the lens of your Target Community is not deceptive at all. You are simply giving them content that they want to consume. Content that they will gravitate towards – and engage with. The fact that you’ve chosen Competencies that resonate with your Target Community does NOT mean that you are practicing deceptive marketing practices. Every company who is Branding themselves adequately has to go through the very same process of determining their Core Competencies and crafting their Brand through the lens of their Target Community.

It’s just Marketing. With a capitol “M”.

So by now you’ve gotten through your guilt and horror over what you’ve got to do to develop the Story of your Core Competencies. And you’ve now chosen 3 Core Competencies upon which to focus the Story of your Self.  It’s time to move on.

★Develop the Meaning of Your Core Competencies★

3 Competencies. The Core of your Story. Or rather, now, Stories. Yes, 3 of them – and now is the time to scrutinize each of these 3 competencies you have chosen and develop their Story arc through the lens of your Target Community.

What does this really mean? Well, now it is time to take each of the 3 competencies, currently in point form, and develop their meaning further by thinking of the needs, desires, habits and personality quirks of your Target Community. And it’s time to take those point form Competencies and develop them into 2 or 3 sentence Stories that work together to create a convincing, coherent and credible Idea of your Self.

Examine each Competency closely. Why did you choose it? What is it about this particular Competency that will resonate with your Target Community? How do you craft your message – the actual words, phrasing, metaphors – into a memorable Story that communicates who you are, what you stand for, and why you do the work you do – in shorthand.

(And if you don’t know what I mean by the term above, “in shorthand,” then read, “Authors: Branding Your SELF – Crafting a Coherent, Consistent and Compelling Story” through this link: http://wp.me/p12sV0-so )

This is your goal here: To craft 3 Stories that resonate – in shorthand – with your Target Community and will pull your Target Community into a community of your own using your Blog, Twitter, ScoopIt, LinkedIn, Facebook, etc.

That’s enough for today. Lot’s of homework to do, eh? Keep plugging away. You’ll be happy you did – someday.

★★★★★★★

In my next blog posting, we’ll take a closer look at some of the initial steps you can take to begin to develop your Story – or your branding platform – and locate where each of those steps contributes to your overall branding goals.

And if you have any questions/concerns about what I’ve written about today – or in the past – then please don’t hesitate to use the comments section to communicate with me.

Also, a request from Me to You:  

      If you’ve found any value in this posting,
    and you think that your other writer friends
    on Twitter or Facebook
     would find value in what I’m writing about,
     then Please do take a moment
   and use the “Share” button below.
    I would really welcome the opportunity to engage
   with as many authors who could use some guidance as possible.
 
  So, until the next time…
    (part 3 to come soon)
     I remain, your friend,
               ~darren.
 
  You can follow me on Twitter at:
     @mollymediastud
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