You might be the most brilliant financial advisor, career coach or home-based designer out there, but how will your market know it? Do you blog about investing? Do you share career tips with your social media followers? Do you offer advice in a select group or private forums?
Of course you do. But that’s not enough.
In order to be seen as the expert you are – especially by consumers and potentially any media you’re trying to woo – you have to dig deeper, and not just with your content and advice.
You have to also “look the part.”
Now, that doesn’t mean you have to spend a fortune on professional head shots (although you should have a selection of high-resolution photos available to use at your disposal), but it does mean you need a clear, consistent, quality visual brand.
1. Get a professional website makeover
Your website and blog are often the first thing a client, collaborator, reporter, producer or other media pro is going to see. What story does yours tell?
If your site is old, and still sports that logo you created in PowerPoint, it might be time for a makeover.
Just as you can’t command top dollar as a coach if you’re still “making do” with a free Wix website, you won’t attract the attention of top media outlets if you don’t look the part of an expert. Invest in:
- A quality theme or – if you can swing it – a custom-branded website
- A professionally designed logo
- A well-written media page featuring several high-resolution head shots
With these pieces in place, your audience will instantly know he or she is in the right place.
2. Invest in your image
Once you get your website in order, it’s time to turn your attention to your most important visual attribute: your image.
Your image showcases your strengths as well as your weaknesses so it’s imperative that in that 1/10th of the second it takes to make an impression you’re showcasing the best of you.
As brilliant as your website may be, if there’s a disconnect between what you look like and who you purport to be your credibility will suffer and your income can be impacted by as little as 8 percent or as much as 20 percent. Once you’ve made a poor or less than impressive impression, studies suggest regaining trust and believability is excessively difficult.
What can you do?
Be sure your clothes aren’t ill-fitted or outdated. It communicates a lack of confidence, knowledge and awareness. Also, discover which colors look best on you and are closely aligned to your brand colors used on your website and other marketing materials. This doesn’t mean you can only wear your brand colors; however, wearing comparable colors creates a psychological connection in the mind of your potential customers.
Most importantly, gain clarity on your authentic style and don’t attempt to dress in a manner that’s not true to you, your brand or your essence. It will be painfully obvious to everyone around that you’re trying to be something or someone you’re not.
3. Use professional writers and editors
Even an active, engaging blog filled with great advice will look unprofessional if it’s riddled with spelling and grammar errors.
We’re not all natural-born writers, so if you struggle to convey your message in text, invest in a great writer or editor. He or she will make you look like the expert you are, and leave no doubt about your competence to your audience.
The key is to find someone who gets you and can help your voice shine through. Again, if your website or blog reads one, your appearance another, and you show up in yet another iteration of yourself, it will quickly become obvious that you have nothing of substance to offer. After all, if you lack clarity and consistency with your own visual brand what expertise can you possible offer to someone else?
When it comes to building a business, attracting clients or gaining the media attention you deserve, it pays to take a look at your business from an outsider’s perspective. Are you presenting yourself in the most consistent professional light? Does your message match your visual branding? Value judgments are made daily based upon visual assessments. When you get this right, business will flock to you, rather than you chasing it.
Dr. Carol Parker Walsh, a certified image professional and owner of Camas-based Evolve Image Consulting, is the expert behind the Vancouver Business Journal’s advice column: Dress Code. These columns specialize in strategies for success by developing a strong positive and professional image. Walsh can be reached at evolvingyourimage.com.