What does it mean to self-brand? In this episode, APU business professor Dr. Kandis Boyd Wyatt talks to Tiffany Lewis about how to build your business by strategically merging your personal and professional brand. Also learn about authentic self-branding, attraction marketing, and other strategies to help market yourself and your business.
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Dr. Kandis Wyatt: Welcome to the podcast. I’m your host, Kandis Boyd Wyatt. The goal of this podcast is to highlight our local heroes in our community who are champions of important issues affecting us on a national and international scale. So, today we’re going to add to that very important discussion, regarding the importance of creating, executing, and leading a clear vision as you pursue your dreams.
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So today, my guest is Tiffany N. Lewis, who is a champion of self-branding. Tiffany provides keys to marketing and how to communicate your message. Marketing is how you let your audience know who you are and what you do. So, Tiffany’s company, More Meaningful Marketing, is geared to help you convert your prospects into loyal paying customers. So, no matter your industry, marketing is essential in today’s highly digital world. So Tiffany, welcome to the podcast and thank you for joining.
Tiffany N. Lewis: Thank you so much, Kandis. It’s such a privilege to be here and I’m really excited to talk about this topic.
Dr. Kandis Wyatt: Yes, I was really just privileged to hear about you. And I read about you in the book Overcoming Mediocrity, and you talked about your story. So, for those who may not have read the book yet, because I’m sure they’re going to want to pick up a copy, why don’t we start by having you talk about some topics that are dear to your heart, regarding self-branding and self-marketing.
Tiffany N. Lewis: Yeah, thank you so much. So that book was such a bucket list item for me. And a little bit of my background is that I worked a corporate job in their global marketing department for many years. And I figured when I was pregnant with my daughter, that life was going to keep going at the same pace and I was going to uphold the same reputation and keep traveling and love it and not a disruption at all to the way I was used to living. And, if you’re a parent, I’m sure that you can laugh about that.
So, personal branding and the way that people feel about you and the experiences and interactions they have, can change over time. And so, it’s really important to stick to your internal mission, your values, everything that you believe in because you know life can change. But the core of who you are, if you communicate that well, will stay the same and it will build a business that will produce results for you, will give you a loyal following, and will have really champions in your corner.
Dr. Kandis Wyatt: Wow, that’s great. I think everyone wants to have a champion in their corner. So, how do you communicate your personal brand?
Tiffany N. Lewis: Yeah, that’s a great question. So, this is something that I feel is so undervalued. And for me, it’s really being authentic in my own business and also merging my personal business with my professional dealings.
Because, I will tell you that merging personal and professional branding, if you are authentic about who you are in your business, people will come to expect a certain level of value from you, a certain level of humor. In my case, I’m talking about tantrums a lot right now, my daughter’s a toddler.
And so I don’t have to pretend and I joke that if you see me out on the street and I’m trying to get my daughter into her car seat and I look frustrated and I may say a choice word or two, you won’t be surprised that that’s me because that’s exactly who I portray in all of my digital marketing. If you meet me in person, you won’t be surprised.
And so I think it’s really, the first step is just getting comfortable with who you are and having that hyper level of self-awareness about yourself and what you offer.
Dr. Kandis Wyatt: Wow, I like what you said, self-awareness. So, let’s talk about the other side of the coin. Have you experienced any challenges when speaking to people about self-marketing or just self-branding?
Tiffany N. Lewis: Oh, 100%. There is a stigma and generationally and individually, to the extent that we are comfortable being vulnerable. When we think about social media, it’s a great tool to spread the word, but that can have negative impacts as well. And so, people are very cautious about what they share publicly, of course. And when it comes to sharing details about your personal life or your family, people put a guard up. But and rightly so. We feel such a big need to protect what we love.
And so, merging personal and professional branding is not an easy thing to do. So, like I said before, self-awareness and really being vulnerable to the extent that you’re comfortable with the end goal being to be more authentically you in time.
Dr. Kandis Wyatt: Yeah, I like what you said, because I think the terms self-branding and self-marketing, I think they’re relatively new terms, especially in this digital space. So, at American Public University, we have a large number of students, especially students in the School of Business. So how would you suggest we use some basic academic practices and theories to help define self-branding and be more mindful of self-marketing?
Tiffany N. Lewis: Yeah, that’s a great question. I think if you look at yourself as your business and you understand what kinds of customers and clients and audiences you want to attract, you can really take a look at strategies that can complement the way that you see yourself doing business.
And so, a really simple exercise that I’ve used with myself and many of my clients is simply creating a list, one through 10, and just writing all of the personal details that you would want someone to know about why you created your business, why your business is important, what pain point it solves. And really the kind of energy that you want to bring out in yourself and in your business. And then building a strategy around those top 10 topics, so that you’re always within a strategy, you know who you are as a brand, and you can communicate that effectively.
Dr. Kandis Wyatt: Yeah. I think that’s really crucial that you have to understand who your audience is. You’ve got to write it down and come up with a strategy. So, those are great nuggets of wisdom. In a perfect world, what type of training would be needed to make the public more aware of the importance of self-marketing?
Tiffany N. Lewis: I think today, with digital being so prominent, really understanding the impact in a positive way and in a negative way that digital marketing can have on a business. So, I would say, being really mindful of who your audience is, like I mentioned before, and understanding their behaviors when they interact with you can help you benchmark what that tone should sound like, what that message should feel like, how you’ll be perceived by those people and their behaviors.
Dr. Kandis Wyatt: So, does every person possess the skills to create and execute better self-marketing?
Tiffany N. Lewis: Absolutely. I think, like I said before, the main goal is self-awareness. Once you know who you are and don’t worry about if everyone is going to like you, even if you have a product that you feel like is for everyone, we, as people are not for everyone. I know I speak for myself what I say, right? It’s like, well, we have ideal customers for a reason, and so someone will come to me and say, “Well, my product or service can be offered to anyone.” And I’m like, “Well, do you want 10 of those customers that are really like a thorn in your side? Or do you want 10 really easy ones?” So I think yes, if you do the self-work, you strategize, you understand the message that you’re bringing, it’s definitely possible for anyone to get to a place of really meaningful marketing.
Dr. Kandis Wyatt: That’s great, and I like how you’re focusing on the customer as well. So, when it comes to self-marketing, how do you help your clients understand how to create a long-term relationship that includes self-marketing between them and their customers?
Tiffany N. Lewis: Yeah. So this flips everything we know on its head about marketing. We used to say, we would target audiences and tell them everything we wanted them to know. Well, frankly, people are selfish now, they want to know what’s in it for them. They don’t care as much about all of your wealth of knowledge, as much as they want to know how you can help them.
So, I really practice attraction marketing. So, understanding what those people need, what pain point your offering solves, and then creating messaging around that, that’s not always me, me, me.
Your personal brand can be that you like a local park in your area and you spend time there with your family. It may have nothing to do with your business, but at the core, it’s who you are and what’s important to you. And sharing those hobbies and stories are going to resonate with someone who has a similar interest as you, and it may prompt them to reach out, marketing-related or not.
Dr. Kandis Wyatt: So, you said a term that I think we want to clarify for our listeners, you said attraction marketing. So, how is attraction marketing different from self-marketing?
Tiffany N. Lewis: Yeah, that’s a great question. So, when we do our self-marketing, the goal really is to receive more inbound attention so that we’re not always cold calling, we’re not always doing outreach. So, I have this theory and what I practice with my clients is that if you merge your personal and professional brand strategically, when you market yourself in a certain way, in the most real version of yourself, you’re going to attract an audience who resonates with your message, who likes what you’re offering, who relates to you as a person. And so, all of that work that you do with self-marketing and personal branding will actually lend itself, in my experience and the experience of my clients, to gain a loyal following that doesn’t feel cold. They actually feel quite warmed up to you.
Dr. Kandis Wyatt: Yeah, that’s what I’ve learned when it comes to actually any business. I mean, it all boils down to relationships. And so, I can see how being your true, authentic self, and learning the keys to self-marketing can really help you in terms of networking and ultimately building your business. So, those are great points. So, I’m scared to say this, but I think it’s time for us to wrap up. So, what are some resources that you have used, or maybe you’ve provided in the past to help individuals become more aware of the importance of self-marketing?
Tiffany N. Lewis: Yeah, I love that. I think a really simple one that we can all relate to is when we come in contact with somebody, we may meet our favorite expert online, or meet someone in person or see them behind the scenes, and you don’t want to be that person in real life. Sometimes we’re disappointed by these people that we’ve upheld to these great standards.
And so, really just creating that version of yourself that can be the same, rough around the edges or not, just being you. You’re going to find your right tribe and they’re going to find you and it’s going to feel like your home and I think that’s so important in the world of business. Everybody wants to be reaching out all of the time and lead gen, and there are certainly times and places for those, but creating a really solid foundation, I think, yields even better results long-term.
Dr. Kandis Wyatt: Wow, I think that’s a great ending point. Tiffany, thank you so much for sharing your expertise and your perspective on self-branding and self-marketing. And thank you again for joining me for today’s podcast.
Tiffany N. Lewis: Thank you so much, Kandis. It’s been amazing.
Dr. Kandis Wyatt: This has been great. Thank you, Tiffany. And also, thank you to our listeners for joining us. So, as a reminder, you can learn more about these topics by signing up for American Public University’s newsletter. So until our next podcast, be well and be safe.