Grow Up And Blow Away (Your Image)

Growing up is hard to do.

Or to if I were to rip it off of a writer like E. E. Cummings, it takes courage to grow up and become who you really are. Which is why Peter Pan never did it, why Peter Pan syndrome is real, and it’s also why we don’t all get there.

5ryk4

Also, I’ve never been a large fan of this above meme, but you know what? This seems like an appropriate time to use it, after all, marketing is about communicating a message, and so I’m making a solid point with a message about dummies using a baby to be funny.

Real mature dummies. Way to devalue the importance of marketing.

Hold on a tick, timotheories, are you saying what we think you’re saying?

That’s right, we’re onto post number four in the Importance of Marketing series!

As I’ve already done a few times before, I should start us on the right track by clarifying what an image means in this instance. It could be a representation of the external, whether the form taken is that of a person or a thing. It could also be a metaphor. In most cases it usually means a physical likeness, which can be best demonstrated with a photograph, painting or sculpture.

But what about a mental representation? An idea? a conception? Especially given the weird quality that computers have which allow them to produce an image themselves. And thusly we arrive dear readers. I’m referring to your online image.

An online image is that which houses all of the internet related information available to the public about you, and it can be very unflattering. Your online image is a summation of characteristics and interactions you have with other members of the internet. Most of the interaction happens on forums, content channels, and digital vending machines, but regardless of what you do with your time online, each website builds a profile of who you are and what you do.

Which is why you should learn some basic online hygiene in order to take that road. Yes, I could teach you about branding related image elements, like your logo, mailing list, etc. But upon more reflection, it occurred to me that we can all benefit from the below first, and build up to that level of attention.

So here it is, a short(er) list of things you should do.

  1. Regularly track your Google search results. Are you competing with someone else for  name attention? What kinds of URL results come up when someone searches for you and are the results consistent with the image you want to have? Is someone else with the same name in the top results? If you set Google alerts, you can run interference on both positive and negative feedback whenever someone has something to say about you.
  2. Buy all of the necessary social media names associated with your brand. For example, I have YouTube, Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest, and Twitter locked up. Your personal URL needs to be in sync with your brand too, so look into that as well. Domain names are relatively inexpensive to acquire, and the internet is the future after all, so make a commitment now. And then make your email signature align – add all of the links.
  3. Participate in the above mentioned online social and business related groups. That also includes LinkedIn, Google+, and other ones like ZoomInfo. Your goal is to structure your profiles, replies, and posts so that you can attract your target demographic and send a professional message about your expertise. By connecting with those who already do what you want to do or are on their way too, you’ll gain access to job openings, freelance opportunities, and networking events.
  4. Blogging. I blog because I love it, but Google and other search engines love blogs too. The content is regularly updated, and as you participate in the culture, which means guest posting, commenting on other blogs with your handle, and sharing useful information. And reference other relevant blogs when you can because the community commitment makes all the difference. Of course, if you can fit your blog into a full-meal-deal website that showcases your career, achievements, and portfolio, all the better.
  5. Share your expertise. That means participating in professional associations that have physical and online forums, and take advantage of their networking opportunities. If you go to Yahoo!, Google Groups, LinkedIn, Reddit or WikiAnswers, you’ll find lots of people that’ll appreciate your help. You should also write reviews of relevant books for online publishers like Amazon and Indigo. And of course don’t forget to link it to your personal brand.

But what do you think? Did I miss anything? Do you still never wanna grow up? I know it’s scary out there, but I have a theory that if you follow the above you’ll get where you need to go on your marketing journey. I’m out of theories for now friends, but I’ll see you tomorrow with something timely.

Tim!

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