Who Owns Your Brand?
Let me ask you this. What is your most valuable asset? Now, most people will say, “Mm, it’s my house or my car,” and some of you may say, “It’s my health.” Your health is an incredibly valuable asset, but in business I think your most valuable asset is your reputation. The question I have to ask you is, are you just living on your reputation, or are you managing your reputation? When was the last time that you Googled yourself? What you should do is Google your name and Google your business. Even better yet, set up Google Alerts, so that every time your name or your business is mentioned on Google, you get an email that says, “Hey, you’ve been mentioned.” It’s really great. Sometimes when I’m doing podcasts or getting interviews my name will all of a sudden pop up.
What happens when it shows up in a negative way? Now, I’ve been hired by a handful of different people, including lawyers and public officials, to help them manage their reputation online. What they’re usually trying to do is remove something with a negative connotation. There may be a story sitting at the top of a Google search that has some very negative connotations to it and it doesn’t necessarily have to be true or factual. It could be something that is completely bogus, but trying to get it eradicated from Google is like trying to get the US government to actually pass a law. It is tough. The best way to deal with this is to push down those negative things so that they’re not showing up right at the top of the page by creating more positive stuff.
Content For Brand Management
The way we generally do this is we create a blog, and then we start blogging and trying to create engagement on social media. The funny thing about it is that most of the people I’ve worked with start out with great intentions, and then they just stop. They give up. Why do they give up? Because they don’t feel like they can get there, but the truth is if you’re consistently putting out great information that is more important than the negative stuff, it will eventually push the negative down. Again, I ask, have you Googled yourself? Have you Googled your business? Do it. Go check it out, but don’t just look at the first page, make sure to look at the second, the third, the fourth, and the fifth. See what is in there that’s way down the line. You need to be in charge of your own reputation. It’s your business and your livelihood, so you should take this seriously.
One of my favorite stories from the recent presidential campaign is that Jeb Bush, the brother of George Bush and the son of George H. Bush, let his domain name, jebbush.com, expire. What happened? Somebody saw it, and they happened to be with the Trump campaign, and they bought jebbush.com and pointed it to, guess what, trump.com. You don’t want that to happen to you. Now, there are certain rules and regulations. You cannot purchase, a domain like, “cokesucks,” because it’s a brand name, and you can’t purchase “donaldtrumpsucks,” well, maybe you can, but there are certain rules and regulations that you’ve got to follow.
Own Your Media
To be very clear, one thing that you need to do is own your media. What do I mean by “owning your media”? That means you should personally register your domain names. You should personally register your web hosting, because then you control the outcomes. Now, the one thing I want to talk to you about, too, is registering domain names that are specific to you, and maybe even your children. I bought brianbasilico.com. If you have kids, you should maybe think about buying their domain names so that you can get control of that, so nobody does that later. It’s $14 a year, it’s not that expensive, but when it comes to reputation management, it’s huge. Go to GoDaddy, Namecheap, or whatever you want to use, and register the names of yourself, your business, your kids, and whatever else you want to protect.
Trust, But Don’t Delegate
I was giving a speech at a conference, and there was someone there who was a web developer, and as I said “you need to own your own domain names” to the audience, she raised her hand and stood up and said, “You know, there are some good organizations out there, like ours, who can buy domain names for people who don’t understand how to do that.” You know what? I somewhat agree and understand that not everybody is technically savvy enough to get that done, but what you should do is hire somebody to help you get it done for you, because I’ve seen this happen numerous times. Life happens, and bad things happen to good people. One of my clients let somebody else register their domain name and manage the hosting, and then that person died. Now, I don’t wish that upon anybody, but my client had no way of getting control of the name again. They tried and tried and had no clue how to get it back.
Now, what if somebody gets incapacitated, just basically says, “I quit, I’m out of the business,” and your domain falls to the wayside, and you have no way of controlling it? That’s why you need to manage your own destiny. Now, I have a friend, and she lovingly calls herself “the Imelda Marcos of domain names.” If you don’t know who Imelda Marcos is, she was the wife of a dictator from the Philippines and she was notorious because she loved shoes. She had closets upon closets filled with shoes, and that’s the way that some people treat domain names. Sometimes it makes sense to buy them and let them go, but it also makes sense to go in and look to see what’s available.
Own Your Domains
An example of this is when I started my business 16 years ago, I tried to get “b2binteractivemarketing,” which is the name of my business, but it was not available. Well, over the course of the years, I used b2b-im.com, and that worked fine. I built the brand on it, had business cards made and did everything with that name, but then one day, all of a sudden, I found the domain “b2binteractivemarketing” was available, so I snatched it up. I went to GoDaddy and purchased it, and now I own it and I point it to b2b-im.com. One of the things about domain names is you can have a main one and you can have another one pointing to it, and that’s the thing that you want to do is to control that domain so that you control it, because if somebody typed in your business name and it pointed to a competitor, that would be bad, right? Go into GoDaddy, go into some tool, and search to see if the domain is available. If it is, spend the $10, $15 or $20 per year, whatever it is, so that you can control your own destiny and names.
Own Your Hosting
Now, when it comes to web hosting, most people are just not technically savvy enough to manage web hosting, so they say, “I want nothing to do with it, I’m going to let my web provider deal with that.” Bad idea. What you should do is go buy the hosting. They should be able to guide you through the process of what it takes to get the hosting in your name. That way, when the bill comes up, and it’s going to be outdated, you’re getting the emails that say “you need to pay this, otherwise your website is going down.” I cannot tell you the number of times I’ve seen people let other people purchase the hosting for them, and again, the email gets away, and then all of a sudden, the website goes down, and you literally have maybe a week or two weeks before all the files disappear. What happens then? You’ve lost it all, and you have to start from scratch. Even if you’ve spent $1,000, $2,000 or $3,000, it all goes away.
Take control of your reputation; own your media. You may love, trust and respect your vendors, but make it your business to own your business, your brand, domains, and hosting. I used to think it was in my clients’ best interest to manage it for them and then I realized, it was in their best interest for me to teach them how to manage it! Hey, you can always pay them if you need help, but you can’t help yourself if they won’t or can’t help you!
I would love to hear your thoughts and comments and maybe some other limiting beliefs you have overcome!