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About Vickie Sullivan

Vickie Sullivan is internationally recognized as the top market strategist for thought leaders, professional speakers and B2B professional service firms. Specializing in brand and message strategies in crowded markets, she has helped thousands of talented people outsmart their competition since 1987.

Written by: Vickie Sullivan  |  September 28, 2010

Are You In Hot Water?

Here’s a chicken or the egg question I heard recently:  Let’s say you are just starting in the “selling what I know” business and have a limited budget.  Is it better to invest first in a strong brand, knowing that you will have less for marketing tools or to invest first in marketing tools and work on the brand later?

The answer:  it depends on how willing you are to bet on yourself.  For those who are scared, it feels safer to “just get out there” and hope for the best.  Why?  Because it’s less confrontive to invest a little bit of money, step back and say “ta da!  Look at that pretty web site”.  If the market ignores you, you haven’t lost your nest egg (yet).  You have enough money to pay for another website, or hire a publicist for three months.  If that doesn’t work, you still have enough money to pay living expenses while you write a book filled with strategic gibberish.  You can go on like that for a year or so before you run out of money.  Then you can sigh and say “well, I tried” and get a job.  This is how experts go broke $1,000 at a time.

Remember the old story about frogs in boiling water?  They died because they didn’t jump out in time.  The water wasn’t hot enough until it was too late.  Newbies (and those veterans at a crossroads) put themselves in hot water all the time.

If you are not scared, you’ll make the bold move and bet on your brand.  Yes, it is intangible, and no, you won’t step back and say “ta da”.  What you have is a secret weapon — that can be used for free.

Think about it:  when you know how to describe your work, you can change how you talk to buyers.  And that changes the buyers’ reaction to you.  Those conversations didn’t cost you money; only your time.  That’s how you build a business — one client at a time.  When you get one or two clients, then you update the marketing tools — using new money.  Sound good?  Here’s the dark side:  this works only if you have the guts to place that first bet.  On your brand instead of marketing tools.

Many of us are at a crossroads.  The market has changed and we know we must change with it.  How we make that change depends on how much confidence we have in our work.


About Vickie Sullivan

Vickie Sullivan is internationally recognized as the top market strategist for thought leaders, professional speakers and B2B professional service firms. Specializing in brand and message strategies in crowded markets, she has helped thousands of talented people outsmart their competition since 1987.