Thursday, September 2, 2010

Not THAT Parissa. I Don't Make Body Wax: My Personal Brand Dilemma

Hope all is well and thanks to everyone for the great feedback on the last couple of posts.  Sometimes, it feels like I'm talking to myself (in a good way, of course), so I appreciate the conversation!  I learn a lot from you!

Blogs, by definition, are narcissistic and today is no different.  Actually, today might be worse than normal because I'm going to talk about creating my "personal brand" as well as the struggle to maintain and grow it.  I've told you before that I'm on a marketing journey to do the following: make myself a better thinker and begin to learn the whys and wherefores of social media.  I'm the perpetual student and I'm okay with that.

One of the things I did pretty early on was to do some reading.  I pored through many articles like this on Inc. to better understand what I needed to do to make my Personal Brand shine not unlike a Broadway marquee.  Articles like this one instruct one to "have a personality" (um...  I thought I had one but okay) while demonstrating my thought leadership so that I stand out from the crowd.  There are a bunch of other niblets of advice in there, too.

So off I went and Googled myself filled with naive confidence that I would, of course, be near the top of Page 1 if not the top (no need to be greedy, after all).  The result?  I wasn't even close to Page 1 let alone Page 2 of results.

You know what was #1 through (it felt like) infinity? Parissa was, of course.  But this Parissa manufacturers at home body hair removal kits...  Body sugar? She makes it.  Hot, microwaveable wax?  You're covered, no pun intended.  Do you like wax strips?  You're still fine.  Curious about Parissa's quality?  There are product reviews galore.  My reaction: AAAAAAAH!

Since I've been engaging, blogging and tweeting quite a bit, things have changed somewhat.  If you do a search now, you'll still see that my waxing friend is still the #1 suggestion and she's all over the first page of search results with occasionally my mug on the bottom.  Sometimes, my full name shows up as #5 in the list... It's only been just recently that you've not needed to type "Parissa B" to find me.

Smaller businesses like 678 Partners have to distinguish themselves based on style as well as how "present" or "findable" they can be in the online space and what tangible functions they performs.  This is a consultancy that helps senior executives identify, create and grow business opportunities so they are more competitive in the marketplace.  This is like many what many others do.  And I would be on a fool's errand if I rested my fortunes on what 678 Partners functionally does though we are decently good at it, bias set aside.

The key difference is in how we go to market, how we attract new business and how we retain business.  How we engage is sometimes a little more important than what it is we bring to the table.  To stay top of mind, we have to engender some je ne sais quoi, some X factor, some belief that we can help and that we have their interests in mind.  And, this je ne sais quoi has to be so magnetic, they'll always come back to us, they'll always tell others about it.  And yet, they'll never be able to put a finger on exactly why.

And here lies the problem of Personal Brand.  Je ne sais quoi, as we know, means "I do not know what" which is a hard thing to pull off if you subscribe to the idea of a Personal Brand.  We know that it is certainly not fluff.  It's not flashy sites, cutesy odd shaped business cards or how many people we meet at a speed networking event.  It's also not what we tangibly deliver to clients.  It's chemistry.  It's listening for the spoken and unspoken word...  as well as a host of other things.

Ultimately, we can't digitize everything.  Apple can't create apps for our personality or how we connect with people.  I know this is making me sound like a luddite but there you have it...  The best thing that could have happened to me was to realize that it's hard to compete with body wax.  I'm going to have to rely on other tools to rise to the top.

Have a great weekend!

Parissa Behnia
Idea Chef


  1. I commend you (though I'm a few months behind on reading this) for identifying what few will say out loud, let alone on their 'glossy.' And I commend you for leaving me, the reader, hanging... so, I ask, what is it about 678 that makes it different.

  2. Thanks for the comment! One of our many distinguishing characteristics is predicated upon treating people like fingerprints - every business situation is different because of the personalities attached. We often say upfront if we can't help someone but can refer to someone who can. Many businesses eager for the sale try to be all things to all people. It's not a tenable business model because sooner or later, people will figure it out.

    We're happy to talk to you further about our other distinguishing characteristics.