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Don't Fake It Until You Make It
By Dave Lorenzo

Fake it ‘till you make it.

This is a tag line that one of my former bosses was quite fond of. She would regularly represent our business as having capabilities that exceeded our ability to deliver. She never outright lied in her marketing efforts. She simply positioned us as a different kind of company – one that she thought our customers wanted to do business with. In the end she was setting us up for failure.

Your brand positioning should be based upon your capability to deliver. This is as true for your personal brand as it is for a business brand. One of the key components in positioning yourself is determining who you want to attract as a customer. Ultimately, your brand is the sum of your customers’ perceptions of you. In order to influence the perception of your potential clients, you must achieve a high level of self-awareness.

Here are a few things to keep in mind as you develop your brand:

You are what you are. Anytime you represent yourself to be something that you are not, you run the risk of losing a customer forever. You need to position yourself as different and valuable. Those qualities must be your own. You must be honest with your customers – and with yourself.

Consistency is important. Regardless of the business you are in, your customers must be able to count on you. If you want to impress your customer, don’t complete an assignment early one time – beat your deadline every time. Your client will know that you are the firm to call if she must have a critical project completed on time.

Don’t count on getting a second chance. First impressions are critical. You can’t take back something you said to a customer. Everything is on the record. You should be yourself, but always remember that your reputation takes a lifetime to build and just a few minutes to destroy.

Be Clear and Concise. Too many people use complex language in order to appear intelligent and just wind up confusing people. Often, complexity makes the speaker seem pompous and condescending. Keep every interaction and every point of contact clear and simple. Be transparent. Communicate simply and directly.

Show, don’t tell. If you explain a concept to a customer, he may understand it intellectually. But, if you tell him a story, show him a picture, or perform a demonstration, he will make an emotional connection to the event, to the experience, and to you. The more of his senses you can involve, the stronger the impression you will make. The key word here is impression. Make an impact or you’ll fade like a distant memory.

Ultimately honesty wins out in marketing. Powerful brands deliver on their brand promise every time. “Faking it” is one way to seriously hurt your chances of “making it” in the real world.

David Lorenzo has more than 20 years of business experience as a successful corporate executive, entrepreneur, strategist, author, and speaker. He has worked with and mentored some of the world’s most successful businesspeople while helping lead many large organizations to unprecedented success. His latest book is titled: Career Intensity: Business Strategy for Workplace Warriors and Entrepreneurs.

Mr. Lorenzo’s experience in starting new business enterprises and repositioning under-performing business units, along with his ability to implement innovative performance improvement solutions, makes him one of today’s most sought-after trusted advisors.

Mr. Lorenzo is a participant in the Wharton Fellows Program at the University of Pennsylvania, a management think tank that meets regularly to analyze and address timely business issues. He received his MBA from the Lubin School of Business at Pace University, and he received a Masters of Science in Strategic Communications from Columbia University in New York City.

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