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Original articles from Mark E. Brown.
4 Common Mistakes to Avoid on Twitter
Twitter is a powerful personal and professional branding tool — until you break one of the unwritten rules of the game. Below are four Twitter mistakes to avoid, or face a stampede of Twitter followers running out the door. 1. Constant self-promotion. It is easy to forget that Twitter is not a selling platform. Twitter is a community where people share information.

What Do They Say About You When You Leave The Room?
I was in a seminar this weekend dealing with innovative real estate investing techniques in a bad economy. During one of the breakout sessions, one of the women in our group — I will call her Joan — left the room to grab some coffee. And that is when the chatter began.

Personal Branding: How to Shoot Video That Doesn’t Suck
If you are getting ready to jump on the YouTube bandwagon to promote yourself, your business, shoot your kid’s birthday party, or make a video job application, this is a must-have, must-read. Steve Stockman blew past all the technical jargon about how to use a camera and got right down to business: how to create a video that other people will watch. According to Stockman in How to Shoot Video That Doesn't Suck, video is everywhere. Over 90 percent of American homes have some form of video camera, we upload 48 hours of video to the Web every minute, and we watch videos two billion times a day on YouTube.

4 Tips for Making Your YouTube Videos Go Viral
With over 48 hours of video uploaded on YouTube every minute, very few videos get the massive viral exposure that results in millions and millions of views. However, to even have a shot at widespread viewership, you have to be aggressive and strategic in how you post and promote your video. Of course, the main factor in having a successful YouTube video is you must have great content and it must be relevant. After that, it is up to you what happens next.

Personal Branding: 3 Secrets to Boost Your Image
In the past, I have written about numerous personal branding strategies to position you more strongly within your company or business. Today, I am exposing three secrets that are constantly overlooked by the majority of people who consciously work on their personal brand. You are in charge and these three strategies will add to your influence and success.

Self Loyalty: It’s All You Have to Worry About
People are saying that professional loyalty is dead and gone. The general thinking today is that the era of a company being loyal to you, and you to them, has long since passed. I say nothing could be further from the truth. In many ways, I think loyalty is more vital today than it’s ever been. Sure, the opportunity to work for a company for 30 years has evaporated. But was that really loyalty from either side? To me, that seems like a long, boring job and a life without much excitement or energy.

The Pioneer Advantage: Get in Early and Dominate for Years
One of the most valuable competitive brand strategies any company can undertake is what I refer to as the Pioneer Advantage. The Pioneer Advantage is what the name implies, being first to enter an emerging market or creating a new market altogether.

Trust is a Two-Way Street for Brands
In an environment where consumers trust other consumers far more than they trust the messages we communicate to them, the internal mantra of any brand manager should be “Trust is how we earn and keep our customer.” However, sometimes we fail to realize that trust is a two-way street. We want and need our customers to trust us, and we work hard to earn that trust, but many companies have difficulty trusting the customer in return.

So Your Brand's Baby is Fat and Ugly: Now What?
I just hung up the phone with Frank, a friend of mine who was crying over his company’s failed launch of a new product. His company had plotted and planned for over a year for the launch of the product, which was designed to expand his company line of water purifiers as well as expanding his brand. It was the first addition in five years to the family of water purifiers his company offers to the public, and everyone in the company was excited about this new arrival and what it would mean to the company’s fortunes. And now, after two months in the marketplace, it is clear that the product failed and failed miserably.

Is The Customer Always Right? Not Anymore.
In 1909, Harry Selfridge, founder of Selfridge’s department store chain, coined the phrase, “The customer is always right.” Since Harry plastered that fateful statement of customer rights on the front of every Selfridge cash register, thousands of businesses around the world have built their customer service platform around that statement. And in my view, it is and has been a costly mistake for every one of those companies. Why? Because fundamentally, that position makes the customer more important than the employee.

Branding 101: What Is a Brand, Anyway?
I was on a conference call last week with the Chief Marketing Officer of a $500-million-a-year retail company when she made a comment about branding that surprised me. She said that if her boss were to ask her what the definition of a brand is, she would not be able to truthfully answer the question.

Four Hush-Hush Sites To Help You Choose Domain Names
I walked into a meeting the other day at the Wynn Hotel where 20 marketing gurus were brainstorming new ideas for a website for an upcoming promotion. They were all shouting out names and then furiously typing the names into a domain registration site. Of course, it is not uncommon for a business to have multiple domain names and websites for different products or promotions.

Is Your Brand on Wikipedia?
When you type a search term into Google, chances are the results will show a Wikipedia page somewhere at the top of the search results. Recently, I was surprised to see my own Wikipedia page near the top of the thousands of search results for "Mark E. Brown." If your company is not on Wikipedia yet, you should strongly consider using this online encyclopedia as a tool to increase the credibility of your brand. You need to know that many businesses will not qualify for a Wikipedia page. To qualify for a Wikipedia article, your company must have received media attention for some accomplishment.

Give Your Client a Pink Slip
There was a time in my career when any paying client was a good client. Of course, no clients means no revenue. Without them, we simply don’t exist. Over time, I learned the hard way that some clients are so much trouble that my business is stronger without them. So what do you do when you have a client that stresses you and your employees? Give them a big, fat pink slip. Here are three of the worst clients and the best ways to give them the boot.

Should You Extend Your Brand? Ask These Questions First!
A key driver for business growth is launching new products and services. The task of launching new offerings is both costly and sometimes risky. New products usually fail and new services can take time to catch on. This is where companies usually turn to brand extension to help manage both the costs and the risks associated with a new launch. A well-known brand name transfers all the positive qualities associated with it to the consumer and increases the possibility that the consumer will try the product or service. Many times, a consumer’s awareness is transferred to new products that have a direct tie to the parent brand.

Personal Branding: 6 Time Management Secrets Worth Using, Part 2 of 2
Recently, I discussed three of the six secrets that are the cornerstone to a time management system. Below are the final three that sum up a good strategy that, when carried out, will allow you to increase your productivity and turn your time into money. I'll also reveal the single most important tactic that will set you apart from your coworkers or competitors. Here we go. First up: don't just do it; only do it if it gets you closer to your goals.

Why My Dentist Should Run Your Customer Referral Program
Sometimes I want to fire my dentist. After every visit, his chairside manner gets me so annoyed I want to have all my teeth pulled and have dentures installed. He is grumpy, has excessive ear hair, mumbles to himself and only talks to me when he has a utensil buried in my mouth.

Personal Branding: 6 Time Management Secrets Worth Using, Part 1 of 2
All of us know that time is valuable. Yet I continually hear my clients, friends, or kids tell me they wish they had more time in their day to finish something they are working on. Time is precious, but time is also profitable. Think about what could happen to your business if you could gain an extra hour or two a day. In this two-part series, I will show you how to get that extra hour or two — every day. What will happen to your business, career, or relationships with an extra hour?

Is It In Your Core?
The other day, I had to overnight two packages, each containing a book and a couple of documents. Before I could send it by UPS, I needed to stop at Office Depot to get a special envelope for the documents. When I walked in, I was thrilled to see that there was a UPS station at the printing counter. Great, I thought, I just saved myself another trip and 45 minutes on a hot afternoon.

I Know They Bother You, But…
I used to joke with my employees that our business would be perfect if we did not have to deal with customers. But, of course, customers are why we are in business and as a result, they get to dictate how well we do. Because of this position within your company the customer holds, it makes sense to revisit the foundation of your customer service regularly. I recently read “Built from SCRATCH,” the story of how Bernie Marcus and Arthur Blank built The Home Depot from nothing into a $30 billion business. They explain their philosophy of customer service as “Whatever it takes.” They will do whatever it takes to satisfy a customer within all human reason.

4 Free Tools to Help You Keep an Eye On Your Brand
I have a common name. Not a week goes by without a phone call or letter looking for the Mark Brown who skipped bail, didn’t pay his child support, or is past due on his payments for his 1991 Ford F-150 pickup. I have yet to figure out why all of my namesakes are such deadbeats. What I have come to realize is that there are dozens, if not hundreds, of Mark Browns potentially wrecking havoc on my finely tuned personal brand (of course I am sure some other Mark Brown probably thinks I am killing his reputation). Because we live in a time where there are no secrets, brand monitoring is a vital undertaking for any individual or company.

Beat Out the Big-Business Bully With a Niche
One key question I ask my clients is, “What keeps you up at night?” and for my small business clients the answer is usually the same: “I don’t know how to compete with the big guys moving in.” Unfortunately, this is a legitimate risk for just about any small-to-midsize company. Restaurants, ad agencies, banks, retailers, accounting firms, grocery stores; hardly any industry is immune from large-company competition. So what is the answer to beat back the big bad bully? Focus on a niche, even if it means changing your entire strategy.

I'm On Twitter, But What About My Brand?
I recently joined the Twitterverse and have found the fast-growing service both useful and additive. In March 2006, Twitter hit the airwaves and forever (or maybe for just a short time) changed the way an entire generation communicates. Today, just five years later, Twitter is booming.

It's Not What You Say, It's What People Hear
I learned some hard lessons about communicating with people in an earlier life when I made a living as a lobbyist. I always believed that if I had the facts on my side, and logically laid out my arguments to those I was trying to influence, that my message would win the day. What happened after I explained my finely crafted argument is that I got my head handed to me on a platter.

A Healthy 100-Year-Old Multi-Billionaire?
Matt Krantz and Jon Swartz had a great story yesterday in USA Today about IBM joining an exclusive club of companies who have lived to the ripe old age of 100. Only 486 publicly traded companies out of more than 5,000 are 100 years or older. And it gets even slimmer when you look at private firms — only 23 private companies with audited financials have made it to the century mark.

How to Become an Instant Company Hero
I have a friend who was recently hired as the Chief Marketing Office for one of the nation’s top entertainment networks. The company was thrilled to have someone of his expertise on board and he viewed the job as a move up in his career. His new bosses told him to take four to six months to get his feet on the ground and not to worry about producing any significant results before then.

Your Personal Brand: 5 Ways to Have a Fearless Conversation
There are times when I dread talking with an employee, business partner, or vendor about a topic because I know that the result will not be a good one. Even though I know that I am right (of course), anticipation of these conversations is stressful. I also know that I need to do it or the business will suffer or even worse, I will suffer personally. Over the years, I have learned the importance of these conversations, when to have them, and ways to limit the stress and apprehension over having them. Here are 5 tips to get you through these important conversations.

Car Brands — Who's Hot and Who's Not
My favorite commercial during the Super Bowl was the controversial Chrysler spot featuring Detroit native Eminem touting the redesigned 300 sedan. The tagline in the commercial, “Imported from Detroit,” was a stroke of marketing genius. I was intrigued to see what the new model would do for the beleaguered car company.

Multitasking: The Silent Productivity Killer!
I have a multitasking addiction and don’t know what to do about it. A friend of mine jumped all over me the other day for missing her birthday...for the second year in a row. Not so, I told her, I distinctly remember writing a very heartfelt email (ok, it was not an actual birthday card, but it was a start) acknowledging her special day. She was adamant in telling me that she never received it.

5 Personal Branding Mistakes to Avoid
Creating your personal brand is one of the most fun and exciting projects you will take on. But, like your corporate branding plan, your personal plan needs to be thought out and executed with strategy. I see too many people casually jump into a Twitter account or create a Facebook page without realizing those are the first steps of personal brand building. Building your brand equity is serious business and a couple of missteps will work against you. Here are 5 personal branding mistakes to avoid. 1: Tweet Anything vs. Tweet Something of Substance. The debate continues to rage on about how often to tweet.

Hey You! Your Client is About to Dump You.
I had a friend call me the other day who owns a small boutique branding shop in Atlanta. He had just found out that his firm’s second-largest client had defected, lured away by a competitor's lowball pricing. In retrospect, he said the early warning signs had been there and he just chose to ignore them. The slow economy is forcing many companies to turn their products and services into low-priced commodities.

How To Avoid a Weiner Meltdown
For the past 10 days we watched with fascination as New York Representative Anthony Weiner lied about Tweeting a lewd photograph to a Seattle woman by proclaiming that his Twitter account was hacked. On Monday, when it was reported the firebrand Wiener had been sending pictures to at least two other woman, the Representative knew his time was up.

The #1 Hidden Tactic for Getting Your Pricing Right
I spend a lot of time with my clients talking about their pricing strategy and why they usually under price themselves. The pricing discussion is one where I see grown men and woman cower in fear any time I mention the need increase pricing. Many companies lack any backbone when it comes to pricing and this usually results in a fear-based decision to lower prices.

7 Powerful Ideas to Infuse Passion Into Your Brand
Do you want to make your brand more memorable, powerful, and profitable? If so, you really have just one choice. Throw out the well-known strategies for building, leveraging, and rejuvenating brands and focus on just one litmus test for your brand: PASSION. Forget the fancy techniques for creating a brand-centered organization and go back to the basics.

Are You Loving and Leaving Them?
Day in and day out, companies work diligently to grab a prospect’s attention, keep their eyes glued to the multiple messages they emit and then compel them to make a buying decision. Once the prospect makes a purchase and becomes a customer, the company lets out a sigh of relief and repeating the sales cycle is the priority again.

Is Your Company Ready for Swimsuit Season?
We are just days away from that time of year when millions of people begin to beat a path to the beach, proudly showing off that newly tuned and toned beach body. Unfortunately for many, swimsuit season brings nothing but dread and apprehension because they just couldn’t bring themselves to put in the time and energy necessary to hit their goals. Heading into summer and the midpoint of the year, this holds true for thousands of companies around the country.


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