BRANDING: The Mark Example
Mark is a young man in his early thirties. He is a fashion entrepreneur and a social influencer. For those of us who struggle with the true meaning of title – social influencer, it roughly means someone who has grown his/her social media image and followership to such a level that if he makes a recommendation or, for instance, promotes a brand or cause, millions and hundreds of thousands of persons will read about it and can actually act on it. This of course immediately identifies Mark as a popular figure on social media.
Apart from being a fashion entrepreneur, Mark is a freelance model and a great networker… I will explain why.
We ran into each other at a wedding reception party. The father of the groom is a friend and I was there to support him. It was a beautiful event and just as I wanted to leave after the couple had had their first dance, a young man walked up to the groom’s father and I as we were saying our farewell. The young man had a polite smile and my first thought was that he was nicely dressed. The father of the groom introduced the young man as Mark, a very good friend of his older son and a great fan of mine. I smiled and shook the boy’s hand. He bowed respectfully and took over the conversation.
He reintroduced himself and his various business interests. It turned out he was also a trained lawyer and had read all my books on Law. In less than one minute, he had given me an abridged version of his dossier and why he was a kind of fan. They were a few things the young man did that caught my attention and gave him marks.
- He introduced himself in a manner that he felt would best project him to me. My friend had just told me the name Mark and that he was his son’s friend but Mark gave himself an introduction that I could easily identify with.
- He quickly said some personal observation to stoke my ego. “I have read all your law books and they were brilliant and easy to digest.” He mentioned a few that he said were quite helpful to him in his studies. “I have also always admired your fashion style.” This immediately portrayed the image of someone who had not just read my books but was actually interested in me.
- He brought it home with an anecdote. “I remember when you were the Vice President of Mobil Exxon, there was talk that you were the most stylish man in the whole organisation.” He said with a quirky smile.
- He then made a request. “I will like to make clothes for you.
- He made an offer immediately, before I could reject or accept his request. I have made two shirts and a traditional attire in your favourite colours. They are right here.” He said and immediately, another young man materialised at his side, carrying a pretty package. “I will take the package to your car, Sir, so that you can take a look at them at home.” Mark said.
- He padded his offer with testimonials. “I made the clothe that (he called the name of the father of the groom) is wearing. I make most of his clothes.” That impressed me because I like the man’s fashion sense.
- He was ready with a counter argument. I protested because I felt that making clothes and giving to me was like railroading me into a decision but the guy was smart. “There’s no pressure, Sir. It is already an honour to be standing here with you. If you don’t like the clothes, then I will try to make something that would interest you in the future. If you do like any, here’s my card; maybe you will patronise me.”
He stuck out his card and I found myself collecting it. Well played, young man, I thought to myself as we walked to the lobby and I phoned my driver to drive up and pick me. I told Mark that I would call him to pick up the clothes if I didn’t like them.
“I will like to get a call from you, Sir but there’s no need to return the clothes. If you don’t like them, please make somebody’s year by gifting them the clothes.” Cheeky response but nice and confident, I thought smiling.
Just then, my driver pulled up and I got into the car. Mark carefully put his attractive package in the front seat.
What impressed me about the young man, Mark were:
- He looked responsible. No matter how talented a person is, the first opinion people have about you is based on how they view you. Self branding is key. It is important to reflect the brand you are projecting. Mark was dressed in a very sharp suit and his accessories were impressive. It was easy to believe that he was in a position to sell fashion. Image is key in marketing. It is better to miss a marketing opportunity than to project the wrong image because then it would take you far longer and cost more to change a bad perception.
- He reintroduced himself. Mark did not allow me to see him only as a friend of someone, he reintroduced himself the way he wanted me to remember him. Most times our marketing approach hits rocky spots because we leave others to define our brand and product/service. If you want to reach your customers, the best person to describe who you are and what you do is you. When you feel that there is a misconception, it is your duty to rebrand yourself and your products and to reposition. There was a time that all detergents were called a particular name but some brands have since set themselves apart and given themselves an image that put them at top of mind/head recall in consumers’ minds.
- He had done his home work. Mark didn’t just know about me, he had taken time to dig into the things I did and what may put me at ease. Different people require different approaches. A good knowledge of the target audience will help you to tweak your marketing approach to hit the mark and elicit a favourable response.
- His approach was timely and not obtrusive. Mark was obviously vigilant. He came just when I was about to leave the party so it didn’t look like an undue invasion of my space. He also delayed his approach till I had spoken a few words with the father of the groom so he got the introduction he needed and he could talk with me without interrupting our conversation.
- He is talented. You can have a very beautifully designed call card, website, office space, advertisement, product package etc but if you don’t deliver on promise, your customers will begin to dwindle and even ‘de-market’ you. I liked the clothes Mark made, especially the traditional attire; the shirts were okay but not quite my style. (I returned the shirts despite Mark’s protestations though and I have patronised him and introduced him to some people).
There are so many books on marketing and branding. Don’t feel your way through, read those books and watch the videos online; get insight into other person’s strategies and adjust them to fit your need. If you find yourself still floundering, use professionals. Don’t try to do it all by yourself. Know that there are people that have been trained specifically to address your area of need, digital marketers, advertisers, PR managers etc; you will be amazed by the value they add. However, as much as you can, live and breathe your brand.
Fatherhood with Ibe
PARENTING IS A RESPONSIBILITY (2)
In the previous publication, I shared a mail from a young lady who said her husband and his family were hostile to her baby girl because they were expecting and would have preferred a baby boy. Apart from the other absurd behaviours from the husband and his family that the lady, Susan mentioned in the mail, what struck me most was the mean treatment her husband was giving his little daughter.
People are quick to talk about red flags in relationship and it is good to identify those early and take a quick decision to stay or not to. In Susan’s case, she said her husband had ticked all the green boxes. They were college sweethearts, shared the same interests and were committed to each other; in her words, marriage was the next stage and they both took it. It was a textbook case of compatibility – same career, same commitment to save the world and make strides in the judiciary and same desire to settle down. The quick turnaround in her husband’s attitude after the wedding was more to show that there’s no easy way to analyse and conclude on a relationship between two people. Changes occur all the time and one little event can change the trajectory of a relationship in a heartbeat. It could be that Susan didn’t study her spouse well enough before the marriage or it could be that in the course of their marriage the two people were adapting to other conditions that caused a negative consequence in their marital relationship.
Take a look at the problems:
First, Susan got no support when she wanted to wait a while before starting a family. It was not convenient for her to manage her career responsibilities along with a young marriage and pregnancy. She wanted to wait just a few months. Her husband reacted like a medieval male and insisted that they put their need for procreation before every other consideration.
Secondly, there was no domestic support for Susan as a corporate worker, a pregnant woman and a nursing mother. Instead of assisting with chores, the man brought in his mother and brother to add to Susan’s domestic load.
Thirdly, he treated his own child as if it was unwanted. How could he tell his wife that his attitude could be better if the child was a boy? We heard a lot about that sort of hogwash in the olden days but people are realising daily that a girl child is just as important and precious as the boy child. Infact, many men say that their daughters are their angels. There are many examples of women that are doing great things, making giant strides in their industries globally, how can any reasonable parent treat this wonderful specimen of God’s beauty and warmth as irrelevant or unwanted?
I felt upset reading Susan’s mail. Her husband is not just unduly and undeservedly autocratic and mid-level mean as a spouse, I found it appalling that he also encouraged his family members to disrespect and bully his wife. There is no reason why he should bail out emotionally on his own child on the grounds of her sex – that is preposterous and sick. Personally, I think the young man is tired of his marriage and his responsibilities in the home. I think he brought in his mother and brother to frustrate Susan and force her out of the home. He is a poor example of a husband and a poster card for what a father is definitely NOT.
Having said all that, Susan seems keen to find a solution. She may be frustrated with her marriage but she wants to change things in the interest of her baby. She asked a few direct questions:
I think my baby is the most precious gift of God to me, why doesn’t my husband feel so?
Like I wrote earlier, your husband is sick. He needs help.
Is there nothing like a rush of paternal love?
Every normal man feels a rush of protective love when he knows he is about to become a father. This love grows and grows. There are very few men that would not take a bullet for their child; the love is that huge and deep.
Do men have to work hard to create a bond with their offspring?
There are some problems that may occur emotionally and mentally that may stop a parent – male and female – from quickly cultivating a bond with their offspring. This is not a normal situation and can be treated medically.
My husband said perhaps it would have been different if our baby was a boy. Is that true?
Many men feel quite excited at the birth of sons, maybe because of traditional views subtly handed down or just because they feel excited at the prospect a having a miniature replica of themselves. However, many men also fall in love with their baby girls and become quite devoted to them for a lifetime.
Are there some emotional strings that bind men quickly to their sons but not their daughters?
Is there anything that I can do to remedy that situation?
Yes. You and your husband can go for counselling. There are registered marriage counsellors and life coaches that can help.
I wish Susan the very best and hope that she would be able to convince her husband to follow her to meet a counsellor. Based on what I have read of the man so far, I doubt that he would; even if he would, his mother and brother wouldn’t let him. There is a time to sit back and reflect deeply and for Susan and her marriage, that time is right now. I hate to have to say it but marriage is to be enjoyed not endured. Susan should do all she can to raise her little daughter in a kind and supportive environment where she feels loved and cherished.