HANK PHILLIPPI RYAN: I met Chris Tieri from the podium. She was in the audience. I’d finished my speech, and asked—Any questions? Expecting, you know, something about my writing process, or schedule, or adding fiction to my resume. I recognized an eager hand—you can tell by the expression, an intelligent person with something she really wanted to know. I pointed to her, the well-dressed woman in the third row. “Yes?” I said.
The importance of honing your personal brand as a writer
By Chris Tieri
• Outline your goals for the future. What are you hoping to achieve as an author? Go nuts, list as many as you can think of. Then, prioritize them and pick the top three.
• Figure out your “why.” What is your higher purpose for doing what you do? I love Simon Sinek’s book, , and recommend finding the time to read it or to watch his famous talk. Finish the sentence, “I get up every morning so that…” Then ask yourself why that is important, and ask it again. Ask why until you uncover your true purpose. You’ll know it when you feel it.
• Next, find your most unique attribute. What are your claims of distinction that make you different from everyone else? Similar to the goals exercise, write down all the unique attributes and experiences you might have that make you distinctive. Then, cross out the ones that you can’t prove (Hank’s investigative reporting background is a stellar distinction that makes her an authority in the mystery genre). You are shooting for three to four final words or phrases.
• Understand who your audience is and know what it takes to delight them. Develop an audience persona by compiling any available data about your readers (demographic or anecdotal) and create name for them — you can even add stock photography so you have a visual image of your reader, or write a little bio or story about them. That way, when you are writing, speaking, marketing – you’ll be reminded of exactly who you are talking to.
• Finally, write a brand statement that captures all of the above in three sentences or less. Write it in the third person and include your purpose, your attributes, and your audience (leave your goals out). Try a couple of different versions to see what strikes you. The final version isn’t something you need to use verbatim (in marketing or on your blog), but it should serve as a beacon for everything you do. Your brand statement should represent the experience you want your audience to take away when they interact with you, your books, or your communications materials. As a final step, bring out your goals and ask yourself – does it seem like this person (this brand) will be able to reach these goals?
Maribeth Kuzmeski, a colleague of mine and author of many business books including The Connectors, has built her consulting firm, Red Zone Marketing, and her personal brand around developing strategies that help companies win all the business they want. I imagine that Maribeth’s brand statement might go something like this: With a drive to coach others to success, Maribeth Kuzmeski combines her passion for football, winning, and story telling to engage and motivate her audience of CEOs, management, marketing, and sales teams. She practices, teaches, and supports leadership whether it’s developing strategies to help her audience win all the business they desire, or through her 501c3, Red Zone Leadership Foundation which helps advance leadership skills and support today’s youth toward becoming tomorrow’s successful leaders.
Whether your’e creating marketing materials for a book signing, a blog, social media or speaking purposes, with your brand statement as your guide, you will ensure a unique, consistent, and authentic experience for your readers.
A special thanks to Hank Phillippi Ryan, who epitomizes a great brand herself, and for giving me the opportunity to share my branding expertise with a whole new audience!
HANK: Aw. Okay, I know this sounds…difficult. But if you start thinking about it, it’s amazing. Like making a mission statement for yourself. Have you thought about branding at all? It’s also pretty fascinating—I know, for instance, when I go to a Rhys Bowen event, how she’ll look, and behave, and present herself. If she showed up in jeans and a poncho—we’d all think—whoa. Off brand.
If I decided to write science fiction. Or hot sex. Off brand, right? (And impossible…)
And it could also help authors decide what events to participate in, right? How bookmarks should look? And author photos?
And meanwhile readers—what’s the most effective author brand you’ve ever seen? (Sandra Brown? Charlaine Harris? Lee Child? Nora Roberts?) Do you think it matters in author world? Does it matter to you?
Chris will be here today to answer questions…anyone?
Christine Tieri is president and certified brand strategist of idea agency located in Central New England. Her expertise in brand development and deployment is captured on her blog . Please visit.