A rebrand can be a crisis – or an opportunity

If you need to say it, say it in Lego. Click image for source.

If you need to say it, say it in Lego. Click image for source.

Sometimes the value of the network becomes most apparent, when you most need it.

Last week, I announced my freelance copywriting status. It was a big step for me. But before I’d done anything ‘formally’, I updated my LinkedIn. Within half an hour I had three queries, one of which has turned out to be a hot lead. This surprised me.

I then posted about it on my blog. Through the magic of Twitterfeed, it appeared on Twitter. I then announced the change more directly on Twitter, as a more tailored Tweet. This did not result in new business but stimulated a lot of interest. On the back of it I’m hoping to meet up with several contacts next week.

However, my direct emails did bring in business. That is, the emails to the people I actually happen to know, who I’ve worked with in the past and treated well, and for whom I’ve produced good copy, resulted in several more leads.

As a result of which I already have good, solid business lined up and suddenly, the pipeline is hot. This is A Good Thing.

It may sound strange that I’m telling you this – as someone who has worked in social media professionally – but sometimes the proof can be astonishingly strong when you use it yourself, for yourself.

Basically I’ve rebranded, and whereas there is risk in this, you can come away with valuable new insights. Specifically:

  • Your blog is your base. Use it to explain what you’re doing, and why. I’ll be posting much more about social media and how it can help people, but also about the art and craft of copywriting. Hopefully, if you’ll keep reading me, you’ll see how the two can fit together nicely.
  • Your blog can also be a platform for other people. My new testimonials page is already growing, and while it’s an advert, it’s one put together with the help of people I’ve worked with in the past. In return, they get exposure and, where they’ve consented, links.
  • Twitter is your advert. It’s a soundbite. Put it out there for your quick fix. The effects are short term, but it’s a broadcast announcement and even just one or two returns can be worthwhile, providing you’ve been careful about the people you follow.
  • Twitter is also your moral support. I had a lot of great, positive feedback from my tweet, and even though it didn’t result in sustained interest, it helped. Does this affect the bottom line? Is it business sense? I’d argue that good morale always translates into a healthy balance sheet, even indirectly.
  • LinkedIn is your professional saviour. It’s strange how people dismiss it – I’ve heard so many people complain that they set it up then forget about it, so what’s the point? This is true, but the same could be said of that fire escape door you can see in the corner of the office. When you need it, you really do need it. I was frankly amazed at how useful I found it, and continue to find it even today.
  • Facebook feedback was much more along the lines of ‘very interesting, let’s meet up.’ Not direct business, but socialising. Networking. The sort of thing that leads to business, even among friends.

So you can cultivate your network, simply by staying in touch, not only proving your worth as a professional but even just sharing information, insights, even the occasional joke (yes, I have shared jokes in the past). In so doing, when you really need it, your network is there, ready to help.

If I were a company, I’d feel better knowing I had a supportive network. Hang about, I am a company now. Or am I a brand? Or a real person? Help!

And if you want to tweet anything, tweet this:
A rebrand can be a crisis – or an opportunity. Brendan Cooper on the power of the network when changing direction:  http://bit.ly/dc6Oz

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9 thoughts on “A rebrand can be a crisis – or an opportunity

  1. Well done Brendan – looks like your personal brand has worked well for you. Look forward to following your adventures (especially as I’m toying with doing something similar myself).

  2. I’ve followed your blog with interest because you’re such a good commentator.

    I now look forward to following your freelance career. It may seem counter-intuitive, but there will be increasing opportunities for good freelances in the downturn.

    Fewer people on the payroll; more and more channels for low-cost communications. How else will the circle be squared?

  3. Very good point. And I hope you’re right about the freelancing thing. The idea is that companies might be looking out for people to fill in the gaps, so to speak. I’ve also been looking into ways to monetise the blog – obviously, I’d have to stop hosting on wordpress.com to do that – but it seems you probably earn just about enough to cover the cost of the hosting, which is fairly pointless. Plus, I have nightmares about backing this blog up, spending ages sorting it out, uploading everything back – and realising I’ve lost it all.

  4. Great post Brendan, glad to hear the pipeline is filling up. I’d be happy to host your blog for you FOC, ping me when you get a chance and I’ll get you set up.

  5. Pingback: Everybody’s doing it…should I be scared? « net.mentor

  6. I wouldn’t quite compare Linkedin to a fire escape door, Brendan– having it is not exactly a matter of life or death (professionally, and certainly not literally).

    I do agree, though, with your main point: leveraging your SM network as a rebranding catalyst is the smart way to go. In much the same way bloggers use their Twitter, Linked In and other SM accounts to advertise recent posts, these tools are great for dropping the job hook, snagging potential leads and networking with the folks who can get your foot in the door.

    Good on ya’ , and good luck.

  7. Couple of other thoughts on maximising your networks. First, be generous in your networking as contacts work in many directions – not just in terms of how others can help you, but how you can help them and so the world goes round. It’s the abundancy theory!

    Secondly, as a “brand”, you need to be clear about what it is that you offer and what you stand for. Although tough times do offer more opportunities, there is also more competition, so being clear what the Brendon-brand offers, particularly in terms of differentiation is key.

    Good luck in building the momentum.

  8. @Brandon – the metaphor was possibly slightly stretched, I agree! What I meant was that people tend to update LinkedIn and then forget about it, but it’s an incredibly useful network.

    @Heather – I’m trying to find my niche as someone almost-but-not-quite working in social media!

    And thanks to you both on the good luck wishes…

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