Our founder, Kevin O’Connell was interviewed by a George Washington University first year student in March of 2017. In this interview podcast, Kevin offers advice to college students about choosing careers and how your involvement on campus may align more to your career choice than your major.They also discuss how Kevin started working for himself, and how he found his passion.
If you read last week’s blog post, you know Kelly is one of the lucky ones who loves her job. At 25 years old, still in her first job out of college as the Sports Marketing Assistant at Monmouth University, she ranks happiness in her current job an 8 out of 10.
The reason her score isn't a full 10? She knows she hasn't reached her full potential. After all she is only 25. Not only does Kelly spend long days working Monmouth University, but she is currently a masters student.
Here at TNM, we have a large community of people who are inspired by our words, tips, and real world advice. We are continuing to feature some members of our greater community who are equally as inspiring through the Tell Us Your Story: Young Professional Series here on our blog. These people have found their Niche, and want to share their story with you. Our next feature is young professional Kelly Valentine who followed her passion for sports in college, and was able to continue defy the low odds and take that passion from college into her career in athletics marketing.
A brand is a product or service identified by a person's or company's name. In corporate America, we are surrounded by brands every single day. Consider Nike's globally known swoosh symbol or the classic golden arches of McDonald's logo. These are worldwide brands that are instantly recognizable anywhere across the globe. These brands are effective, as consumers are able to identify the good or service instantaneously. While your brand may not be a product or service that is marketed to the whole world, your agenda is the same: to create a brand that consumers instantly recognize.
Branding is a craft and is one that takes time. There are so many important factors to consider when creating your brand image, such as being consistent, defining your brand attributes, personalizing your brand, and being purposeful in your advertisements. Crafting your brand doesn't unfold overnight. It's a process that takes a bit of trial and error to find the pieces that do and don't fit. Consistent font types, color schemes, messaging, and consistency across all social media channels is crucial in developing your brand. Do you know what else plays a critical role? Writing.
Writing is key to amplifying your brand, as it's the foundation of your advertising. The language we use in ads, the ways in which we phrase verbiage, and word choice are very important factors in developing marketing materials. With writing being so essential, it's evident you need to tailor writing to the needs of your brand.
Here are the top five ways to use writing to amplify your brand:
- Developing a mission statement or tagline. Your good or service will need to have a mission statement of your company or a tagline for your brand. Going back to the Nike example from earlier, their tagline is "just do it". For the sake of creating a successful brand, you'll need to do the same. Write a tagline or mission statement that captures your goals in a short, professional, and simple manner. You want to pick your word choice carefully to create a string of words that flow and sound like a call to action.
- Creating a website. Developing a virtual home for your product or service is a first step for many businesses and entrepreneurs. Your goal is to sell a product, like a book, artwork, or music, or a service like graphic design or consulting. Your website should be the home for your contact information, biography, services, and links for purchasing. Your website will likely be filled with text and graphics. The text should be purposeful. Use your writing to professionally fill out the text fields of your website's template in a cohesive, strategic manner.
- Your biography. Your "about me" section of your website, Facebook page, or any other social media channel should reflect who you are. Your biography is the most read page on your website, thus it must be written well with professional verbiage. Use basic writing skills like first person narrative and a conversational style. Your bio should emphasize your passions, objectives, and/or some type of call to action that highlights what you want your consumers to get out of your page (e.g. product or service).
- Marketing materials. Using writing to create marketing materials goes together effortlessly. You'll want to cover your marketing materials with your brand by using consistent font types, colors, and your chosen tagline or mission statement. Pens, business cards, flyers, postcards, and other marketing memorabilia should have a consistent look and style. Your tagline or mission statement should be clearly reflected for that brand awareness.
- Email. Email is a fantastic tool to engage with your customers. Create a professional email address, such as Gmail or domain email (e.g. firstname.lastname@example.org or yourname@XYZcompany.com). Emailing clients and customers from your professional email address will continue to sell your brand and increase your ethos or credibility. Similarly, email is a great marketing tool because you can take advantage of the email signature feature. The email signature gives you the ability to include your tagline, social media links, and/or your chosen font/colors to reinstate your brand. Take advantage of this free feature. It goes a long way!
While utilizing your writing to amplify your brand may seem like a given, it's a technique some businesses and entrepreneurs overlook. The importance of having a solid writing foundation cannot be overstated. Your language is communicated to the world and you want to be certain it's professional, free of grammatical errors, and reflects your business in the most respectful way. Be mindful of the words you use, the verbiage you choose, and your overall phrasing. A simple misspelling or punctuation mark in the wrong spot has the power to completely change the way your tagline or mission statement is read. Remember to write the way you want others to read your biography, objective, and tagline. Check and recheck to be certain this is the brand you want to amplify. Following these simple tips should help you successfully advertise in no time!
I am a big believer in exposing college students to real-world experience. Throughout my college courses I was lucky enough to have two amazing professors that followed this belief: Ann Huser and Hart Singh.
I met Ann Huser my fall semester sophomore year when I enrolled in the “Principles of Marketing” class. This class opened my eyes to marketing and helped me decide to declare my major. Professor Huser worked for several large companies including General Foods (now Kraft Foods). Every class she would explain how what we were learning in our textbooks related to real-world experience.
The senior seminar class I took with her was one of the top 2 courses I enrolled in. We worked with Ciao Bella Gelato (with whom I also interned) to come up with a retail brand extension and campaign. When we had it all planned out, we then presented it to their Director of Marketing and Director of Sales. We learned about Ciao Bella’s competitors by visiting high end stores like Whole Foods, analyzed current market share data, and she taught us how to create a report the same way she created reports for Jell-o.
Professor Huser wasn’t just a teacher though. She became our advisor as the five of us (Mike, Sarah, Krystal, Kathryn and I) started the Marketing Mix - FDU’s first ever marketing club. We planned monthly speaking and networking events, recruited members, and wrote our own constitution. During my sophomore year, I was comfortable being a founding member and doing what was asked of me.
However, after my conversation with Ray, Nat and Sarah about my leadership potential, I had a whole new outlook on this club and my ability. Since our club was just established a little over a year earlier, several of our e-board members concluded that our current President would remain President and we would not hold elections. As an e-board member with a whole new outlook on how we could make this club even better, I couldn’t let this happen.
Instead of sending a very frustrated email to Professor Huser at 12am, I slept on it and emailed her that morning asking her to call me. That decision alone, impacted the next 6 months of my life. I discussed with her over the phone the ideas I had for the club, my leadership ability to get us there, and how we need to give other members (including myself) a chance to run for President. To this day, I know that if I emailed her rather than calmly and professionally talked to her on the phone I wouldn’t have had the same outcome. Long story, short, she agreed, organized a proper election for all e-board positions and I started my “campaigning.” Needless to say, I gave one of the best speeches of my life and became the first officially elected President for the Marketing Mix.
The second step towards student leadership was taken.
My other professor, Hart Singh, taught in the Entrepreneurship program. He was a successful entrepreneur himself creating innovative software solutions for Intuit, Quickbooks, and launching new technologies to help municipal government. Every class he ran felt like a start-up.
However, I remember the first day of his class senior year: the room was filled 15-20 seniors in the business program. Professor Singh’s aggressive syllabus and required readings alone scared off 2-3 students. He had high expectations of his students: create a business model, write and present a thorough business plan, and keep up with the weekly readings and writings. Sure enough another 3-5 students dropped out. I am so glad I decided to stay in his class because I still go back to the things he taught us everyday.
- He helped us create working cash flow models in excel (that I still use today)
- Critiqued our business plans with a fine tooth-comb.
- Stopped us in the middle of our presentations and made us start over if we used a filler, were unsure of ourselves or lost the audience.
Given the new leadership skills I was learning, and my new outlook on life, this class resonated with me on a much different level. I saw myself as a leader now, so I could envision myself as an entrepreneur one day. That’s the beauty of college. The work we do outside the classroom sets our students up for success inside the classroom.
How they inspired me:
If it wasn’t for both Professor Huser and Professor Singh I wouldn’t have grown to love marketing and entrepreneurship. Even though I didn’t go the traditional corporate marketing route, the skills I learned in their classes have been utilized every day.
What they taught me:
They taught me to challenge the expectations that people set for me, and always try to push beyond them. They also taught me how to set ambitious expectations for myself and gave me the tools to reach them as long as I am willing to put in the work.
1. If you’re passionate like me, there will be days when you want to fire off that email out of frustration. That’s ok! But, if you have something meaningful to say, hold off on sending an email. Pick up the phone or better yet, meet with the person face to face. You’ll be surprised by how positive the outcome can be.
2. When the bar has been set high, hustle. Work hard to set the bar even higher for the next person.