Do you like your own brand? Do you know how to find a passionate audience that respects your brand? Do you know to market and sell your goods and services with personal branding?
If not, then you’re not alone. A lot of small businesses and franchisees don’t know how to bring their personal branding across all aspects of their business. By taking your best work and branding it with your true self, you can find your natural message and brand.
This week, we talk with author, franchise ownership advisor, and business coach, Joel Libava, to learn more about how find our own perfect brand whether it’s on your own or with the help of a branding company.
How did you become the “Franchise King?” Is this handed down generation to generation and is there a crown?
- Yes, there are a couple crowns. My main red crown which I travel with and I have my spare crown for the times that my main crown has been stolen and I have to have my other crown sent to me from the castle.
- To make a long, really really boring story short the name was not my idea. I was at a huge chamber of commerce event and the director of the chamber of commerce saw me walk in and he yelled at the top of his lungs from across the room, “hey, it’s the franchise king!” and I said, “who, me?” and we started talking and before I knew it I was talking to Jim Cooperal who’s an internet marketer here in Cleveland. He said, “dude, you gotta get a trademark on that. Get an attorney now. That is a great name.” So I did.
- It’s been trademarked for 5 or 6 years now and it works. I’m really careful because it could become a little tacky with the crown and stuff. So I don’t wear the crown, but I bring it along with me wherever I speak and wherever I go.
- It’s a great conversation piece.
You seem to be fed up with Facebook as a platform for small business. Why are you hating on Facebook?
- I kind of liked Facebook in the beginning, but then I watched what Mark Zuckerberg and his executives where doing to privacy controls and to all the things they were changing without my permission.
- When Facebook came out, my daughter who’s now eighteen, was a lot younger and I was really worried about her safety and security if she was going to get on Facebook.
- So I’ve never really liked Facebook. I use it to put cool stuff out like videos, music videos, funny stuff that I find, things about dogs, and links to the articles I write. I get a fairly decent amount of traffic so that’s why I’m on it. I’ve also been able to connect with a few friends from high school but I don’t like it because I don’t like the company.
- If I had a lot of money I wouldn’t buy stock in Facebook. I feel like they’ve really made a lot of mistakes and they don’t take my privacy seriously enough for me to like them. I guess I don’t like their attitude.
- When they come up with Facebook ads and Facebook targeting and all this stuff, it’s not like I really want to hand them a lot of money.
- First of all, Chris Brogan and a lot of people say, “you have to know, like, and trust people if you’re going to do business with them.” I kind of know who Facebook is, but I kinda don’t like them and I kinda don’t trust them so it’s really hard for me to convince franchisors to spend a lot of money on Facebook.
- Those reasons are personal, but the real business reason is because you don’t have control. If you don’t have control of things it’s really hard to remain profitable.
When you say we don’t have control as a small business or franchisor, what do you mean? Can’t I decide what I’m going to post up?
- You can decide what you’re going to post up, but Facebook decides when and where it’s going to be seen and by how many people for the most part because they keep changing things. They change the newsfeed, and they change the look of things.
- All of a sudden franchisors and brands like mine where there used to be a few hundred people seeing a post now there’s like 20 or 30 because we are not spending money on Facebook. So there’s another reason for me not to like it.
How about other platforms? Do you feel the same way for things like LinkedIn and Twitter as you do about Facebook?
- I’m okay with spending some money on social media platforms. Facebook I dislike the most because it seems like there’s the least control because they’re always changing things. Whenever they do they seem to blow it. The technology messes up.
- I think it’s okay to spend a little money, but once again for me, it’s about control. I can control my main website. I can control all the things that I have hosted. But I can’t control other platforms.
- That’s why I would say 80% of the money I spend is on my own platform. 20% of it is on other people’s and companies’ platforms, but for me it really is a lack of control and that’s why I have a problem with it.
So you’re spending more time on your website or blog. Is that because there’s a certain amount of ownership?
- That’s right, yeah. It is ownership. Except for things like the server going down, I control what’s put out there. I can write what I want. I can share to the places that I want.
- That’s why I like it. It’s mine. It’s my brand and I don’t have to rely on someone else to show off my brand maybe in a different way than I would.
But isn’t using Facebook maybe part of just doing business? Don’t I want to ultimately bring them back to my website where I can do business with them?
- Yeah, it’s integrated, right? You want to be in as many places as possible. I think it’s just how you do your budget.
- I just wouldn’t spend a lot of money on Facebook and other platforms. Of course there’s a lot of people that make their living by helping people place ads and by writing ads. I understand that, but boy, it’s gotta be frustrating because every time they think they have it down the platform changes again.
- Look at Twitter which is my absolute favorite social media platform. For me it really works. Now they’ve changed all the image sizes, so what does that do? Because we don’t control the platform, we have to figure out what the right sizes are, and then we have to get those sizes going and it’s more time away from our own platforms.
Then how do you feel about Google+?
- Man, it has been the strangest journey for me and I know for a lot of people as well. I guess that I’m maybe a creature of habit, but I go on Twitter first. It’s Twitter and email and sometimes at the same time.
- I had Google+ up there, but I don’t go to it first and I always threaten to. I don’t know. It’s okay. The images are really nice. I don’t know, Rich. It’s a tough one.
- I think that if Google maybe came to the table 6 or 9 months earlier I would be on it more and it would be a little more of an automatic. But I think they came to it so late.
- They brought a social media network on board and online so late that I think that’s part of the problem. Our attention has been focused elsewhere for so long.
Should people running a franchise be thinking about social media and marketing any differently than a small business would?
- There is a difference because for the most part franchisors are really really helping things along with social media for their franchisees. Franchisees need to be aware of it, but I don’t expect franchisees to set up a blog, write a blog post, and be on Twitter and Facebook all day because they don’t have time.
- Franchisors really need to get that thing going and help the franchisees along.
- An independent owner once again, controls their own platform and controls their own media. So they have a lot of leeway and they’re better off hiring someone local to help them along.
There are certain rules, structures, and steps for setting up and running a franchise. Do we have an opportunity as a franchisee to personally brand ourselves or do we have to say within the brand of the franchisor?
- I can see doing both. I think that one of the reasons a lot of people buy franchises is because of the brand.
- Let’s say I owned a UPS store. Why wouldn’t I want to be know as “the box guy,” or the “shipping guy,” in my own local neighborhood? Why wouldn’t I set up maybe a little site if I was allowed to, because the franchise operations manual and the franchise agreement will tell me, why couldn’t I be “the Cleveland shipping guy?” And when I went to local expos and stuff, I put on the franchisor’s logo and I’d also have mine.
- If it works and if I’m legally allowed to in the franchise agreement, then heck yeah. I think it’s a great thing.
How should we go about personal branding assuming we’re allowed to, or if we’re an entrepreneur and we can do whatever we like? How does somebody go about developing a personal brand when somebody doesn’t scream a perfect name across the room at us?
- I’ll tell you how I did it and anyone can do it this way. Whether or not someone comes up with a cool name for you, like in my case, or whether you think of something, I did it in a way that maybe isn’t recommended now. But early online, the 10-12 years I’ve been online, it was about volume for me.
- I listed my name and my brand name in as many business directories online as possible. Any new site that came on that allowed me to put my name and a link to my website, I did it.
- Then when I became a brand, when the Franchise King was registered legally as a brand and trademark, I even went on more! I spent days, weeks, months getting my name on as many websites as possible that would give me a free link and free branding.
- If you look at the search results on any major search engine for either my name or for the Franchise King, you won’t believe how many there are and how many links there are because I’d been doing it for so long.
- Now today, experts will say, “well, it’s not about volume. It’s not about the amount of links in as many places as you are. It’s about the quality.”
- You know what? I think for me, it’s about the amount because the more places you are mathematically, the more opportunities you have to be found. That’s my philosophy.
Do you go to a branding company and say, “hey, I need a good name,” or do you do some research on it to come up with something or find, “hey, this rhymes!” and be done with it?
- If you haven’t come up with anything on your own I think it would be great to work with a marketing agency.
- First of all, as you said, Rich, it’s so crowded out there now that for me to do it on my own like I have, if I would start now as opposed to ten years ago it would be a lot harder because there’s hundreds of thousands of websites being created every day. Back then there weren’t.
- I think it would pay to pay someone to help you along with branding and online strategy. I think it would be money well spent because you really do need to be in a lot of places. If you want to be well known speed is of the essence because there’s so much competition now.
Do you have anything in terms of visual branding? Should we be thinking of working with a graphic designer to create some graphic elements for branding?
- For sure. The lady that created the newest version of the Franchise King website put together a cool logo that’s on top of it. That’s what I use and it has a crown. The crown is my calling card.
- Whenever I go to a conference or attend one, someone always says, “Joel, where’s your crown, dude?” If I’m speaking somewhere, “I hope you brought your crown.”
- It is part of what I do and it is a visual for sure. There’s a lot of images with me holding the crown or with beautiful blondes standing next to me wearing the crown. It works.
So we should be thinking of as many ways to connect our branding to what we do to help us reach a broader audience and cement it without going overboard or being tacky?
- Exactly. There’s one thing that you and I did not mention. You mentioned that I wrote a book early on. Two years ago when I wrote that book a few people told me that it’s going to really change things (and it did) because it’s a nice calling card to walk in with a hardcover book. That certainly helps with branding.
- I have people that contact me several times a month, “hey, I’m reading your book. Can you give me a link to that quiz of yours? Hey, I’m reading your book. I think I’m gonna use your advisory services in about a month or so, so thanks a lot.”
- If you can get a book published with a publisher that is also very powerful.
Has the Franchise King brand help you land speaking and writing opportunities besides your book?
- Oh for sure. But I don’t know if it’s the brand as much as what I write about and that I’ve been able to because I’ve been better over the years to inject my personality into my writing. Which isn’t hard for me.
- I write and I don’t care. I just put it out there. Does that make sense? I care so much that I don’t care if I offend a franchisor or if I offend the president of the international franchisors association because I disagree. I don’t care!
- I want to make sure that I do the right thing and for me that’s protecting people that want to buy franchises and making sure that franchisors do a really really good job and award franchises to the right people.
- If I can make that happen for both sides, then franchising continues to be an amazing business model. A lot of it is how I write and also where I’ve been writing. Because if you can write in authoritative places all of a sudden people take you more seriously.
So what you’re saying is that you have to walk the walk and talk the talk and really embody whatever that personal brand is?
- You’re right. For me, Rich, and I bet it is for you too, it’s easy because I’m not a perfect human being but I try to do the right thing.
- If I’m true to myself my brand stays the same all the time because I’m not acting. I’m not faking things. Here’s me. What it is is what it is.
- I hate to give this guy publicity, but I’m going to. You know, Ted Nugent? I mean, love him or hate him you know what he stands for. I dislike the guy so much that I won’t listen to his music anymore and I used to go to concerts of his – that’s kind of what the internet did – but he has such a powerful brand. Donald Trump, love him or hate him, but you know what the dude stands for.
- So when people think of the Franchise King they know what I stand for too because I’m being true to myself.
So, the more true you are to yourself, the more you can build up a passionate audience of people who are likeminded and can really use your services and products to achieve what they want to achieve. Be your own freak.
- I agree. And I love Chris Brogan’s book and at first I didn’t like the word “freak.” I kind of was like, “oh man, I’m not a freak. I’m just different.” So I even put that in my Amazon review of his book but I understand what he’s trying to say.
- It’s so busy and so noisy out there. There’s so many marketing messages being thrown out there that you’d better be a freak. You’d better be different because that’s the only way you’re going to stand out unless you have a billion dollars.
- Get in on the early bird discounts for Agents of Change!!
- Check out Joel Libava’s The Franchise King website.
- Check out Joel Libava’s newest project Franchise Biz Directory.
- Connect with Joel Libava on Twitter.
- Check out Joel Libava’s articles at Small Business Trends.
- Buy Joel Libava’s book, Become a Franchise Owner!
- And be sure to leave a review for The Marketing Agents on iTunes.