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 | August 29, 2016
The #1 Mistake Thought Leaders Make with Branding
Good news for thought leaders: You have plenty of help to find your best brand. Swing a stick, and you’ll find 20 people to help you identify and articulate your brand. (And yep, I’m one of them.)
This is why I can spot silliness at 50 paces. I know the tricks of the trade. And here’s the biggest myth that derails the best implementation plans: Your “big idea” is within you.
Here’s how it works: Someone promises to find your big idea. They feed it back to you; your heart skips a beat. You know this is true. You are beyond excited that the marketplace will love this idea, too. So, you spend countless hours (and countless cash) coming up with a website, blog posts, product lines, etc. all based on this idea. What happens next is tragic: radio silence. Nothing. It feels like you are totally ignored.
What happened? It could be a lot of things. Based on my experience, though, the brand was doomed to fail before it began. Why? Because the focus was on you instead of on the marketplace. And the marketplace knew it.
We all know that we need to pay attention to the market: what people want and why. What challenges are out there that we can solve?
Alas, this isn’t enough. Someone needs to compare all of your alternatives with what is out there. That someone has to know what is selling at the highest price and what is being relegated to the “free” category. And that someone needs to know what words work in what market segment vs. what verbiage is considered “flavor of the month.”
And that someone is not us. Why? Because we are not objective enough to let go of the ideas we love. The ideas we think are “us”. As I tell brilliant people all the time, “The sharpest knife can’t carve its own handle.”
Finding the common themes in your work is a great first step. But there’s still work to be done. Find those themes, then compare them to what is in your marketplace. It’s not enough to know yourself; buyers expect you to know them, too.
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