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Have you ever wondered how some brands seem to make all the right moves and effortlessly create great awareness around their brand?

Wonder how they are doing it?

The answer is a brand mentor!

A Brand Mentor is one who understands the importance of branding and has implemented brand strategies to enable businesses to achieve differentiation and success. Every business needs a brand mentor to help the business grow. In this post, I argue why.

Running a business is an all-consuming activity. On one hand, you have the actual production and fulfillment of your service or product and on the other, you have the challenging task of marketing, promotion and generating sales. In this post, I am referring specifically to small to medium businesses that do not have the resources and/or funds to engage professional marketing agencies or recruit in-house marketing teams.

Juggling Business and Marketing?

For most business owners and entrepreneurs, focusing on the service or product takes up most of the time. Marketing always takes a backseat and ends up being a pain in the neck. This leads half-hearted campaigns and activities that result in mediocre results. Marketing is tough and making yourself heard in this noisy world strife with competition can be daunting.

One of the best solutions for this kind of predicament is focusing on differentiating your brand. This involves the following steps:

1) Identify your core values and build a mission statement – This is a very important part of building a brand and becomes more important as the noise in the marketplace goes up. Read More
2) Build a brand story that helps you become uniqueStorytelling is at the heart of successful branding. People relate to stories more readily than to promotion and advertising. Do this if nothing else. Read More
3) Translate your brand story into a visual language – Visual language can make or break your brand. You frequently see examples of brands that have great products or services fall flat on their faces due to poor visual branding. Don’t go cheap on this one! Read More
4) Tell your brand story online and offline – Depending on the nature of your business, product, service or market segment, you may have to focus on one over the other. But, always try to find a balance. Do not ignore for the other!  Read More
5) Engage your audience in conversation – Gone are the days of the megaphone advertising. Now, engaging your audience and building a relationship with them is how you create a successful brand.  Read More

To do all these things, you would either need to educate your self and then apply your knowledge through trial and error (which can be time consuming and hard to do), or you should engage a company that can handle all these things for you (which can be expensive) or you can find a brand mentor who can help you cut the time it takes to complete the cycle.

Brand mentors are entrepreneurs who have been there and done that.

They would have acquired the knowledge and experience through trial and errors and would have successfully implemented brand strategies. Searching for, identifying and then connecting with such brand mentors would be time and effort well spent.

So, you might be wondering:

How to find the right brand mentor

I am not advocating any lazy shortcuts here. Nothing of value ever comes easy. But a brand mentor can help you with insights that would give you a massive advantage over your competition.

To find the right kind of mentor:

1) Search on social media channels such as Twitter and LinkedIn for industry influencers in your market segment – industry influencers are through leaders who add value to your segment and not simply ones who have the most following on social media. Of course, follower metrics determines who is an industry influencer and who is not, these days but do pay attention to what and how they are influencing their audience.
2) Follow their successful ventures and see if you can identify any particular strategies that they are implementing –
an in-depth study and observation of influencers that are striking it rich in their verticals would help you track down strategies that may be repurposed to your brand. If possible, you can even reach out to the person responsible for such coups and request help. Most often than not, people would be willing to at least offer some advice.
3) Engage with such influencers in a genuine way –
don’t simply send out cold requests to influencers and expect them to help you out! Engage with them first – in a genuine way. Track their messaging and try and add value by commenting, questing, sharing and spreading their message around. Once they have noticed you and your interest, you can perhaps reach out to them.
4) Let them know you appreciate their work –
be open, genuine and frank about your opinion of their work. Do not use flattery. Instead be genuine in your praise.
5) Ask questions and request advice –
do not be afraid to ask questions and request advice.

Most entrepreneurs like to help businesses. They like to share their knowledge and make a difference in somebody’s business. Appeal to this sense of giving. Even your indirect competitors can be a great source of mentorship. If you find a company selling complementary services or products, reach out to them for advice. Since you are not in direct competition most often they would be willing to offer some clear and practical advice.

If you chance upon an article that talks about a particular marketing or branding challenge that you are facing, contact the author with a good set of questions. Be mindful of their time and let them know right away that you appreciate their time and would be grateful for any advice or tips.

Podcasts are a great resource for finding mentors. I agree that not all market segments would have mentors writing articles or doing podcasts. For some industries, it would be quite difficult to find a brand mentor. You will have to improvise.

If you have any questions about this article or need some brand-related advice, get in touch with me.

Mash Bonigala

Mash B. is the Founder & CEO of SpellBrand. Since 1998, Mash has helped conscious brands differentiate themselves and AWAKEN through Brand Strategy and Brand Identity Design. Schedule a Brand Strategy Video Call with Mash.