Backed by more than 30 years of strategic marketing and expert copywriting, Patrice’s experience includes 25 years of high-tech corporate marketing. In her corporate career, she strategized, wrote, and managed dozens of websites, including 2 Hewlett-Packard websites with $250,000 budgets.
In addition, she has managed big-budget advertising campaigns, direct-mail programs, and $100,000 tradeshow events. One of her articles, a technical case study, was published by Fortune magazine. In her seven years as a marketing consultant, she has teamed with hundreds of solopreneurs and micro-business owners to create their brands, write their website copy, and facilitate the creation of hardworking websites and other strategic marketing tools.
David Jackson: Hi Patrice, how are you?
Patrice Rhoades-Baum: Hi David, I’m doing great!
David Jackson: Thank you for taking time out of your busy schedule to do this interview. I really appreciate it.
Patrice Rhoades-Baum: You’re very welcome. It’s a pleasure to be here. As you know, I’m passionate about educating small business owners on the importance of having an on-target brand and hardworking website to grow their business, so this is a wonderful opportunity to get on my soapbox, so to speak.
David Jackson: Speaking of soapbox, Patrice, tell my readers about your expertise. What makes you different from other branding experts?
Patrice Rhoades-Baum: My branding expertise is specifically geared to solopreneurs and micro-businesses. My process is 100% “home grown” … it grew out of my need to brand myself as a marketing consultant and solopreneur. (Of course, I drew from my 25 years of marketing experience in high-tech corporations.) My branding approach is simple and goes “straight to the heart of the matter.” It is not a compilation of ideas from other branding experts who, for the most part, focus on either corporate branding or personal branding for executives and employees.
Examples of my solopreneur clients include successful corporate consultants, professional speakers, business coaches, sales coaches, etc. Example micro-business clients include dentists, a cardiologist, high-end building companies, and so forth.
I also have significant experience strategizing websites and writing the website copy for small businesses. I love how on the website — especially the Home page — so many branding, messaging, features, and functionality all come crashing together!
Clearly, these elements need to dovetail together in an elegant, powerful way. A strategic, hardworking website is the business owner’s most important marketing and sales tool. As you know, a hardworking website goes well beyond having an online presence … it helps to position the business owner as an expert or thought leader. It invites prospects to learn more about the products and services, and empowers them to self-qualify. It enables conversion, by selling products and services directly. Very exciting!
David Jackson: Patrice, how do you define the term “brand”?
Patrice Rhoades-Baum: Unfortunately, corporate branding consultants have made the concept of “brand” extremely vague and mercurial. To a business owner, creating a brand feels like a massive undertaking, a project that will demand huge amounts of time and money. My view of branding is much simpler. I define a brand as simply a foundation to clearly communicate who you are, what you do, and the benefits (or results) your clients get. It’s that simple. Once you have a foundation with those clear concepts — who you are, what you do, what your clients get — then you can build on that foundation with a tagline, logo, and other elements that help you communicate your brand.
David Jackson: We live in a time when people are absolutely overwhelmed with information. Why is branding mportant? Doesn’t it just add more noise into the system?
Patrice Rhoades-Baum: I believe a clear, on-target brand helps you quickly tell your prospects what they get. Imagine someone lands at your website home page, David, and they see your name, your photo or video, a great tagline that essentially says “here’s what you get,” and a professionally designed logo that visually supports this key message. I call these pieces the Brand Elements, and I love how the Brand Elements dovetail to quickly tell the story. When someone lands at your website, they immediately see key messages that let them know they’re in the right place — that they’ll get the help they’re looking for. Your prospects won’t need to read 3 pages of website copy to discern whether you’re the right service provider for them. On the other hand, if your brand is confusing, if prospects can’t immediately see that they’re in the right place, then “CLICK” they’re gone!
David Jackson: Patrice, I couldn’t agree more. In your opinion, what is most misunderstood about branding?
Patrice Rhoades-Baum: That it’s hard. It’s expensive. And it’s overwhelming. With a bit of guidance, branding for a solopreneur or small business can be surprisingly fast, easy, and affordable. Oh, one more point: Many small business owners don’t think they need a brand, but this is a mistake. A clear, on-target brand empowers them to promote and grow their business.
David Jackson: Many consultants are uncomfortable promoting themselves, either because they’re introverted personalities, or some other reason. What would be your advice to those consultants?
Patrice Rhoades-Baum: Excellent question! This can be a real challenge for solopreneurs and small business owners. I live in Colorado now, but I was raised in the Midwest. I was raised to embrace humility as a wonderful personality trait. And it is. But something odd happens when you own your own business, especially if you’re a service provider. You must be able to clearly communicate the value you offer and the benefits your clients receive. You can’t beat around the bush. You can’t look down at your feet, kick the dirt, and say, “Well, gosh, gee whiz, I guess I’m pretty good at such-and-such.” No one is going to beat a path to your door if you don’t clearly promote your products or services. And if you’re not selling anything, how will you pay your bills? How will you save for retirement? How will your take that dream vacation with your spouse?
The wonderful thing about creating a clear, on-target brand is that you can easily build on it to create a clear, on-target business card, website, brochure, ad campaign, and other marketing tools. Now you can promote and grow your business.
Also, you can build on your brand to develop a clear, on-target elevator pitch. Whether you’re an introvert or extrovert, you’ll want to practice your elevator pitch so it’s flawless. And don’t script an elevator pitch that is meant to impress someone. Remember, if you’re at a networking event and someone asks, “What do you do?” your goal is to connect, not impress.
David Jackson: What are a few strategies someone can use to differentiate herself from others in the same field?
Patrice Rhoades-Baum: Many of my clients will ask about strategies to differentiate themselves from their competitors, and I tell them, “Don’t worry about it.” If you’re a corporate media trainer, you have competitors. If you’re a sales trainer, you have competitors — LOTS of competitors. In my view, the best approach is to gain a crystal-clear picture of what you offer that’s unique to you. In my branding process, I like to look for that “gem,” polish it, and make it central to my client’s brand, website, and marketing materials. Instead of worrying about competitive differentiators, we make sure the gem shines and that it’s extremely attractive to prospective clients.
David Jackson: With the advent of the Internet, do you think it’s easier for a company to brand itself today or harder?
Patrice Rhoades-Baum: Well, I guess it’s a double-edged sword. Just 10 or 15 years ago, branding was simpler, almost one-dimensional. It was central to advertising, direct mail, tradeshows, and other marketing and promotional activities. Today, the Internet offers extraordinary opportunities for interactive websites, YouTube channels, pay-per-click advertising campaigns, social media marketing, and much, much more. All these opportunities make it more complex to promote your business. A clear, consistent brand is more important than ever, because you need consistent messages and a consistent, professional look-and-feel throughout all your marketing channels.
Again, I believe branding for a solopreneur and micro-business owner can be fast, simple, and affordable. The fact that the Internet exists doesn’t make any difference when we’re drilling down to your core concepts: who you are, what you do, what your clients get.
David Jackson: I’ve always felt that pictures of the people behind the company were an important part of branding, especially for small businesses. But there are a lot of small business owners that, for whatever reason, choose not to show their face to the public. I think that’s a mistake. What are your thoughts on that?
Patrice Rhoades-Baum: I agree with you, David. If you are a solopreneur or own a very small business, I believe your photo is an extremely important Brand Element because YOU are your business. Remember the saying, “A picture’s worth a thousand words”? Your picture can convey trust, confidence, and much more. As a point of clarification, you must hire a professional photographer — don’t use a handy-dandy snapshot. Tell your photographer about your brand and discuss what you want to convey. Your photo must support your brand. For example, if you’re a sales coach who promises to turnaround lackluster sales groups, you may want a high-energy photo — you don’t want a photo that looks like a librarian.
David Jackson: Patrice, as individuals, we evolve over time. Companies evolve over time. Should a brand also evolve over time?
Patrice Rhoades-Baum: I love that you asked this question. I work with business owners who are experts in their field. In fact, many are thought leaders. These are dynamic people who don’t sit still! You can bet that, within 5 or 10 years, their businesses will be quite different. So you’re right: As they evolve, their companies will evolve, and their brand will need to evolve as well. Again, that doesn’t mean it’s a huge, expensive, time-consuming effort. When I consult with solopreneurs and micro-business owners, we strive for a branding process that is fast and affordable.
In fact, David, I’d like to extend an offer to your readers for my new product, which is hot off the press: “Nail Your Brand: A 5-Step System to Brand Your Business.” Folks can learn more about it here: http://www.brandingandwebsites.com/products.htm. With this do-it-yourself system, my audio CDs and workbook guide you through 5 simple steps to create an on-target brand for your business. This brand-new product will be priced at $495, but I’ll give your readers $200 off. They simply need to email me at Patrice@BrandingAndWebsites.com and mention your name, David Jackson, to get the discount.
David Jackson: Patrice, that’s very generous of you. I’d like to once again thank you for taking the time to do this interview.
Patrice Rhoades-Baum: It was my pleasure, David. Thank you so much!
David Jackson is a marketing consultant and the owner of Free-Marketing-Tips-Blog.com – Powerful, free marketing tips to help grow your business! free-marketing-tips-blog.com