Marilyn’s lessons in managing your reputation

“All people see is Marilyn Monroe.  As soon as they see I’m not her, they run.”  Michelle Williams, My Week with Marilyn

It is arguable that she created one of the greatest brands of all time, it still makes around $4m pa, and was recently acquired for something like $30m.  This quote of Michelle Williams is interesting because it suggests that Marilyn was aware of the power of her brand, almost before the term was coined.

Not many of us get to make this kind of money whilst we are working for it, let alone when we have been dead 40 years!  This shows the value of reputation.  In my work as a Change Mentor, I am heavily dependent on people saying good things about me as mine is a highly personal, confidential and intangible service.

If you are in this kind of work, you are the brand.  So how do you affect what people say about you?

Well, of course there are a number of things you need to do:-

  1. The results you deliver are obviously important, but it isn’t just what you do, but how you do it.  It is the difference between driving a BMW and an ordinary car.  They both get you there but one delights you en route
  2. Your ability to tailor your service to your client’s individual needs; a premium product needs to be tailored to the user
  3. Your ability to know what they need, sometimes better than they do themselves, and to always work in their best interest
  4. Your personal values come through in this kind of relationship and they have to fit with your client, but they should also be something they can respect.  If they hear you say unflattering or indiscrete things about other clients, then why should they assume you won’t do so about them?!
  5. It can be useful to take a little control over what is said.  Sometimes a client will say something wonderful about you or your work, in your presence, if they do, not only thank them but ask for permission to quote them, or put it on your website.  Ask them to repeat it to others. Repeat these quotes to others
  6. We hear a lot about authenticity these days, but it is very important to be yourself and to do business with people who enjoy and need who you are and what you do best.  You will always be a better you than anyone else and a second best anyone else.

So unlike Marilyn, make the real you the one that you market and brand and that way you will never suffer the pressures she did of maintaining  an image.

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