While visiting a 19th-century craft exhibit, the clamor from the blacksmith shed drew my attention. I watched in amazement as a burly man skillfully placed six segments of a circle into a waiting hub. He then swiftly removed a red-hot rim from the forge and placed it around the spokes. In an instant, the entire device was submerged into a nearby tub of water. It produced a sizzling cloud of steam. After the blacksmith retrieved the newly formed wheel, he arranged it on a mock axle, spun it to check for flaws, and, finding none, stacked it with the others awaiting their coats of paint.
Our online marketing campaigns are constructed in a similar manner. Think of the hub as your main personal website. The spokes leading toward it are the various information streams or outposts — Facebook, Twitter, your blog, business cards you pass out — everything you do each day to promote your online product, which, as we have learned, is YOU. That’s why your personal site is the hub. It is the Internet personification of who you are — your message, your purpose.
The red-hot band that surrounds the spokes, positioning them into place, is your personal brand. Your brand seals everything together in one tight, neat package. It must be smooth, consistent, no breaks or snags. It provides the strength of your “wheel of fortune.”
Maintaining Your Wagon Wheel
Emigrants in the old west took excellent care of their wagon wheels. They soaked the wood to keep it from splintering, greased the hub to ensure the wheel turned well. And you must maintain your marketing wheel today. Broken spokes weaken the mechanism. And, like the blacksmith, we must check our wheels for balance. Too much emphasis placed on one area will leave another neglected.When the wheel is well maintained and balanced, a casual observer (reader) won’t be able to distinguish the separate parts — all they will see is an efficient marketing machine, supporting your wagon, which carries your dreams and desires.
How important is Personal Branding?
If you’ve known me long or read all the posts in this blog, you know I was dragged kicking and screaming to the personal branding iron. I thought it was stupid, unnecessary, and could see no purpose in it. I was wrong.
Your brand is your online reputation. It’s what immediately comes to mind when someone mentions your name in a forum or blog post. Before I focused on branding, I can only imagine what people thought — “Oh, she’s that scatterbrained girl . . .” That’s the impression I was giving because I have a lot of ideas, but before thinking them through to the end, I actually started them and promoted some of them online. Today I’m working to develop a reputation as a blogging advisor. Because I didn’t start off with a focused brand in the beginning, it will be harder to promote that image.
As you work toward selecting your personal brand, there are some key questions to ask yourself. These 9 questions (listed on the Personal Branding blog of Dan Schwabel) will help you keep your wheel’s spokes snugly in place. I challenge you to click this link, write down the questions, and think about each answer.
Share with us through the comments section what this exercise taught you.