Books, Branding and Brilliance: How To Brand Yourself By Association

| January 29, 2012 | Comments (198)

As a first-time author, you have several uphill battles in front of you. One of those battles is your branding. First and foremost, you are UNKNOWN! Ouch, that hurts! This can be really frustrating because you know you have something to say that’s of value, and you just know if you could get your book published it would be a huge hit! Oh very well. So the literary agents and the publishers say: “PROVE IT!”

Nevertheless, no matter how good your book idea is, your task remains. You have to figure out ways to make a name for yourself through branding, establish yourself as an expert in your field, and start to create some BUZZ so people will take notice and want to buy your book. I’m talking a lot of people want to buy your books. Yes, yes, you’re using social media, you have lots of friends on Facebook, you even have an established fan page, you tweet and you blog. OK, that’s a good start and a necessary part of the equation, but social media and blogging is not the entire picture. I’ve had new authors tell me they have a blog with lots of followers and when I check it out, they have 56 followers. That’s nice, but it won’t cut it. We are talking big numbers here, at least 5,000 or 10,000. That takes some real work. When I ask them about their email list, they don’t have one, or they have 100 people on it and they have not been in contact with them. Once again, this won’t cut it. We need numbers, big numbers.

If you’re writing a book, you’ll need to write a marketing plan and a book proposal. Ideally, this should be done before or during the book writing process. If it’s too much, hire an experienced writing coach or consultant to help you with that portion of the work while you continue writing your book. Even if you’re planning on self-publishing, you need to create a proposal because it is such a strong tool and will really help you plan your book and its launch. The marketing plan is part of the book proposal. But let’s stick with the marketing portion for this discussion.

A huge player in your marketing plan is who you know. Do you know or have connections to people who know important or famous people? If you do, you need to start writing these names down, contact them and write them into your plan. Here’s the thing, you may not be famous yourself—yet, but you may know some people who are.

Do you have connections to people who work in TV or radio? Even local TV news personalities can be of great help when you are starting out. I once ran into a local TV news personality at a sushi restaurant. I spotted her sitting at the counter by herself. Fearlessly, I went over to her and introduced myself. She was the health reporter so I immediately began telling her about the horse rescue facility my company was supporting and how they had an excellent program that helped handicapped children through equine activities. I gave her a scoop, I gave her my card, she gave me hers and guess what…we became friends.

Back at my office, I emailed her telling her what a pleasure it was to meet her that day. Then I mentioned my book to her. She came back at me with a hookup and asked me to send her my book. She passed my book to the woman that did the cooking segments. That association led me to do a TV segment with the cooking show host on that channel. I got to talk about my cookbook, The Rose Cookbook, and cook 3 different recipes while plugging my book. This never would have happened if I hadn’t taken it upon myself to introduce myself to that woman in the restaurant. I didn’t have that association until that day when I decided to go out and take it.

How about athletes or public figures? Do you know any? You have to start digging here. Go down to the next level. Who do you know that knows someone who has a radio or TV show? Do you know someone who has published a successful book? Start asking around. Are you friends with someone who is a top leader in an association that would be interested in your book? Make the connections. Do you get the idea? Yes, it takes some work, but it has to be done if you’re going to succeed with your branding and book marketing campaigns.

The key for you is—how can you associate yourself with people who are more famous than you in order to become recognized and begin to build your own brand? Dan Schawbel terms it as branding by association. And just one ‘good association’ can be pivotal for your success if you leverage it. Here is Dan’s definition:

Branding by association – Creating a linkage between two brands of unequal brand equity, to build upon the brand of lesser equity through association.

This part of branding or branding by association is what you’ll need to do continuously while you are building your own brand. There is nothing wrong with this and even people that you recognize as famous now, started out using this technique. Very successful people still use it in the form of testimonials or acknowledgements. Who wouldn’t want an acknowledgement from Jack Canfield, Tony Robbins or Jacques Pepin on their website or book cover?

Until you become a brand name yourself, you’ll need to use this technique as part of your branding arsenal. As an author who wants to be successful, you’d probably like to imagine yourself on Oprah. For the run of her incredibly successful show, that was everyone’s dream. It was like gold or the ultimate association. Rachel Ray and Dr. Phil are just two people who owe a lot of their initial success to their early associations with Oprah. Yes, her network show has ended, but she’s started her own network- OWN now, and she’s still a huge star-maker. Nothing is impossible!

If you want to be a successful author you have to continue to associate yourself with people who are more successful than you are. The same thing goes for companies. Have you worked for large companies in the past? If you have, that is a good thing. Take a look at your resume. What well-known trusted company names are on there? If you have some, they can help you build trust with your new audience because people make associations. If a large company trusted you in the past, you are probably trustworthy, so people who don’t know you feel more at ease. It’s just one of the ways they can begin to know, like and trust you.

During my corporate writing career which began in 1993, I was privileged to work at some stellar companies in the San Francisco Bay Area and Silicon Valley. One day I was looking back on the list and I realized how awesome it was. I decided to gather all the logos of the companies I had worked, for either as an employee or a consultant, and create an image. I was amazed at what I created! As early as 1998, the momentum began to build as one company would hire or contract me because of my previous associations. At one point, I simply needed to fax or email my resume and the associations I had, spoke for themselves. Do not underestimate the power of association. It is very powerful! In a way, this illustrates how I began to build strong associations, and then leveraged those associations to build more. I improved my career. The benefits were my increased earnings and the ability to get more work easily.

Is there any existing press on you? How about video? Can you get an article written about you in a local newspaper, even the neighborhood kind? Those articles can often lead to articles in more regional papers, or even national ones. And those can lead to TV or radio interviews. Don’t edit yourself out of the picture. The point is to get exposure, whether its NPR or FOX News you need to reach large audiences if you want your book to be a success. To get to that level, you have to start building to gain momentum. How about press releases, are you utilizing that tool to build your brand? Press releases are another method of getting the word out and they are read by people in the press and media who are always looking for the latest news.

Now is not the time to be shy. If you want endorsements and recommendations, you are going to have to ask for them. That’s why you need to make a list of people you know, and people you know who know people, and start drilling down and making contact. And always remember to give back. Ask yourself, what can I give to the person who helps me? Donate some books to their next event, tell them you can speak on your topic, volunteer some time for their cause, show them what you have to offer and just get into the mix!

Many authors I coach have problems with their immediate circle of family and friends. They are not supportive and are very negative. This can be very detrimental to successful writing and can actually deter your career. Remember, your success is defined by the five people who are closest to you. When you venture out into the market place to be a successful author, it is very important to spend time with people who are more successful than you, and these people should be people you can learn from. If people in your immediate circle are not supportive, you either need to lose them, or find ways to continuously counteract their negativity. This can be a daunting task because often times the negativity stems from family members.

Start thinking of ways you can surround yourself with more like-mined people to keep your energy up. Go to seminars and workshop that are of interest. Join groups in your area. Join a chamber or any type of group where people are striving to be successful. You need to go where you get energy boosts. These higher level associations will make your branding campaign easier—you may even meet some new people who can help you! I can’t tell you how many times I have attended an event and ended up meeting exactly the person I needed to meet for my particular needs at the very time.

Trust me— good things will begin to happen when you associate yourself with strong brands. Start thinking about your list of associations and ways you can bring new associations into your life. I hope you enjoyed this article. Next time I’ll be discussing the Top 10 things you can do right now to begin building associations while you write your book. The time to start is now.

Category: laura denktash, publishing

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