The O Factor: Personal Branding

Oprah_WinfreyNow more than ever, developing a strong personal brand is crucial to your success in many fields.

It will allow you to establish yourself, and your credibility as an industry expert, long before you meet with a new prospect or walk into a meeting.

Whether negative, positive, or neutral, your personal brand will create an impression of you to others. And to establish or reestablish your brand, using the ‘Queen of Talk’ for your model can help you develop a powerful image.

Oprah Winfrey is considered by many to be one of the most trusted people in America. Whether she is endorsing a product, conducting an interview, or requesting support for a charitable organization, the “Oprah Effect” ensures that people will listen and are more likely to respond.

But why is an endorsement from Oprah far more effective than one from any other personality or representative? It is because she has established such a strong Personal Brand based on knowledge, compassion, honesty, credibility, and transparency. You will never see Oprah on a magazine cover after suffering a drunken night of partying, nor will you see her pay for an interview or receive direct revenues from a product she endorses (of course, show advertisers may be swayed by favorable product mentions, but this is handled in the same way as any editorial or news media).

So how do you create your own ‘Oprah Effect’? In this time of immediate, and public, access to information, photos, videos, personal details, and relationships with others, it is absolutely crucial that you maintain your Personal Brand in every aspect of your life. No, this doesn’t mean that you need to be perfect, but it does mean you need to be honest and open. The resume details you upload to LinkedIn should accurately and honestly describe your professional status, the messaging you send on Twitter should be factual and valuable for your readers (not spammy or sales-y), and the photos/videos you publicly upload to Facebook should be the type you wouldn’t be embarrassed to show to a roomful of your colleagues (otherwise, change the settings to private or setup private categories – for more tips on how to do this, click here).

Your Personal Brand, if developed and utilized correctly, has the ability to position you for amazing opportunities you may not even know exist. However if not handled correctly, it can also close those doors for you before you’ve even had a chance.

Just yesterday, Oprah conducted a virtually unbelievable interview with Mackenzie Phillips, infamous for drug use and dishonesty, during which a shocking family secret was revealed. In any other format, this could very easily be dismissed as a lie or at least an exaggeration of the truth, however because people trust Oprah, and her research into guests, this was understood as the truth by her audience and the media at large. The power of a brand this strong cannot be easily undermined.

– Melissa Albano, Grapevine Consulting

Feel the Burn: Part 2

So at this point you’ve read ‘Feel the Burn’ Part 1, and now you’re looking for the meatier sections? Here are a few more reasons why your marketing consultant should behave like a great fitness coach (the ‘Biggest Loser’ kind, not the creepy Richard Simmons type <shudder>. )

Customized Programs

At your first consultation with a trainer, they will typically ask you a number of questions regarding your activity level, lifestyle, and eating habits. They will check your height/weight, and ask about your goals. Then they will develop a custom program based on your needs. For instance, the training schedules for someone looking to lose 100 pounds, someone training for a marathon, and someone trying to tone up for a big event will be vastly different. And generally so will their schedules and budgets.

A successful marketing consultant will provide you a customized program in much the same way. There is no solution that fits in a box, between the pages of a book, or in a video. A corporate B2C company and a private B2B service provider will need vastly different campaigns, even though they may be using many of the same tools and techniques. Just as one organization is never identical to another, successful marketing programs cannot be built on the same cookie-cutter templates. If you want to see real results, do yourself a favor and hire the marketing company that refuses to provide you a custom proposal until they’ve met with you, learned about your business, and completely analyzed your objectives. The extra time and energy will be well worth it in the long run.

Goal Setting

Let’s face it, sometimes even the most successful entrepreneur or athlete needs someone waiting in the wings to monitor his progress. It’s the reason why programs such as Weight Watchers are so effective: when you have to answer to someone about your progress, you are far more likely to skip that extra slice of pie, and make time for the early morning Spinning class.

Your marketing consultant should work with you to outline goals, and schedule times to monitor progress and results. And it is not enough to simply monitor results, you should know why each project was successful or unsuccessful, and what you can do to improve results for the next campaign.

Stay tuned for the last segment of ‘Feel the Burn’ – simply subscribe to this blog via the RSS feed on our website at to receive automatic updates.

Feel the Burn

Sure, you can run your organization’s social media campaigns without any help.  And you can exercise on your own without any training or support as well.  But here are 6 reasons it may be a good idea for you to enlist the help of a trainer or consultant to push your efforts to that next level.

personal trainer


Over the years most of us have purchased our own weights, cardio machines, and training videos. They get used a few times, then stored away to collect dust in some dark corner of the basement. Every few months we may take them out and try again or purchase the next exercise craze item.

Meanwhile, a personal trainer will have an array of equipment at their disposal for you to use, and rather than purchasing and storing it all on your own, it comes free with your membership.

It is the same way with the tools you may need to start a marketing or web design program.  The consultant or agency you work with will already have many of the necessary design, implementation, and tracking tools needed to setup your campaign, and therefore you will not need to purchase or maintain them, or learn how to use them.

Which brings us to the next topic:


There are countless webinars, workshops, and tutorials on social media marketing to help you build an online campaign, just as there are thousands of books, magazines, blogs and videos to show you the correct way to strength train or learn a new sport. Don’t get me wrong, this is a great way to try out new techniques, and work out on your own.

However, just as with online marketing, the tutorials will only take you so far. Once you reach that plateau (or sometimes if you need a hand at the very beginning) a trained professional can teach you how to reach that next level.

A few things to look for in a Marketing Consultants’ background: education in business/marketing, case studies and examples of results generated by previous campaigns, a strong online profile on multiple social media sites, and excellent testimonials & recommendations.

To receive the remaining 2 segments of this post, please subscribe to the Grapevine Consulting blog feed using the RSS subscribe button at the top right of this page.

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