The conference room door slid open. I completed a meeting with a potential client. He represented a young financial firm ready to print a new marketing piece. His company wanted to capture more leads and stand out from their competitors.

I couldn't agree with him more...

Because most of these firms blab about how good they are, what they specialize in, why their goals are important, and include a default menu of all their plans. Their cub copywriters attempt to impress you with their college vocabulary and are involved in a diabolical scheme to control your mind through keyword dumping. If they repeat certain words enough timesit will finally sink in after the twelfth time, a light bulb goes off inside the prospect's head, and then they will take action.

That doesn't fly.

If I wanted a Pepsi and you kept suggesting Cokethat's not enough to get me to buy a Coke. But if you said FREE Coke, that's different. You've changed the emotional triggers.

Back at the office...

I stipulated I'd do the project on one condition: I would transform their corporate drivel into client benefits. (Ahem, not in those words.) I explained it would be a disservice to his company if I repeated the sterile announcements written about their company. Their response rates would stay the same and I wouldn't remain true to my brand.

My brand falls into the category of direct response marketing. I didn't want to be known for creating corporate fluff. And I'm not afraid to turn away projects that require that.

How can I turn away money? Just do what they want and get paid. Am I nuts?


I believe my reputation and brand are more important than getting paid work. If I get branded as a utility writer, then clients who want a pure, direct-response copywriter wouldn't hire me. And they are the ones who write the big checks.

That's why I didn't want to commingle my brand. I didn't want to be painted with the same brush as those utility writers. That would be costly.

Here's an illustration:

Luciano Pavarotti is known for his dynamic operatic tenor voice. If he decided to make waves into Country Western music, he'd gain some new Country Western fans, but he'd lose a greater deal of opera fans. And eventually, music fans wouldn't know what to make of him because he has tainted his brand.

What about you...

What is your brand? How do people label you? What are you known for? Are you a princess at one skill, or a pauper of many?

Do people say, "Oh, Sandra's an accountant. She's great with numbers. Her reports are always neat and timely. And she's speedy with the ten key."

Or do they say, "I saved over $2,700 with Alexi. She's a wiz at reducing taxes."

Whom would you hire to do your books?

Sandra's description is too general, and that can kill her business. Alexi's description positions her as an expert who saves money for her clients. And isn't that someone you want crunching your numbers?

If you don't have a brand, go out and build one NOW. Be specific. Don't be tempted to become branded as a solver of multiple problems. Become known as the sharpshooting solver of one major headache.

And if you already have a brandstick to your guns. People will seek you out and pay high dollars if they know you are the pre-eminent expert in your field. But if your brand is muddied: improve it by becoming known for helping people with their "blank."

Here's what you should avoid...

I met an event planner at a networking event. She knew her craft and had a lot of experience according to her website. I read her blog and found she moonlights as a pet sitter, and as a make-up sales rep.

That picture I had of her as an event planning expert was shattered. She wore too many different hats. She's diluted her brand. I don't know whether to call her for make-up advice or for dog sitting. But I'll probably end up not recommending her at all.

But you won't repeat her mistake because you'll come up with a specific brand that people will know, trust, and recommend.

Tommy Yan helps business owners and entrepreneurs make more money through direct response marketing. He publishes Tommy's Tease weekly e-zine to inspire people to succeed in business and personal growth. Get your free subscription today at

If you're a speaker, trainer, coach, or a consultantthe major challenge you face is connecting with your audience. You talk, shout, or recite your message while they are dreaming about dinner.

About the author:

Their eyes are glossy, their minds' elsewhere, and their bodies ready to bolt. You don't have a lot of time, so you've got to grab their attention fast. Or else, you'll die wrestling against audience resistance.

But it doesn't have to be this way...

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