Brand Shark

25June 2014

LandShark Santa Barbara
It’s the don’t miss attraction when you visit Santa Barbara

Creating your personal brand is more important than ever. Whether you are an aspiring entrepreneur, climbing the corporate ladder or simply trying to hang on the rung you’re currently on, a strong personal brand improves your chances of success.

You already have a personal brand. The only question is whether you have created one that communicates your message or have a muddle message that doesn’t clearly communicate who you are.

Recently, I had an experience that brought that lesson into focus. Last week, I travelled to Santa Barbara for a Platinum Mastermind Retreat with Connie Ragen Green. The retreat was held in downtown Santa Barbara. In addition to the intense focus on business, we also had time to explore the city and absorb some great marketing lessons.

For me, the lesson was revealed while riding the Land Shark. The Land Shark is a Hydra Terra, a tour bus that is designed for land or sea. After an entertaining tour of downtown, the driver goes out into the harbor, where you can get practically nose to nose with a sea lion. There’s also a panoramic view of the city.

The sea lions are cute, but the real star of the show is Maddie, the tour guide. Maddie is local music teacher, stand-up comedian and tour guide who emcee’s the Land Shark tour of Santa Barbara. She delivers a 90 minute monologue, incorporating the colorful history of the city with fun facts and tips about where to get an amazing ice cream cone and who has the best happy hour.

So, what does this have to do with brand? It’s a great example of how to create a memorable personal brand.

From the very first time you see Maddie, you know who she is. She’s cute, funny, and loves to entertain her audience. In the beginning of the tour, she mentioned that she’s a teacher, so I assumed she teaches history because of her obvious enthusiasm for the history of the city.

At the end of the tour, as we were saying goodbye, I asked what subject she teaches. She played the slide trombone as part of the tour, so I wasn’t too surprised that she teaches trombone. Maddie is also part of a comedy act that entertains at a local spot, the Brewhouse. As if that’s not enough, she is also the “voice” of the Santa Barbara airport.

From checking out her Facebook page, I see that she really is someone who loves all things Santa Barbara. There she is, in her red Summer Solstice costume, playing a purple trombone. Maddie has a passion for sharing her enthusiasm for what the city has to offer, and helping us, her guests, get the most out of our visit. I learn that she is involved with several arts organizations and a worthwhile charity, too.

One of the local spots she highlights on her tour is McConnell’s Ice Cream. McConnell’s serves delicious ice-cream in a variety of flavors. After disembarking from the Land Shark, many passengers visit McConnell’s. On my second trip for a scoop of Salty Caramel Chip, I overheard other customers discussing the Land Shark. Their server commented that they are getting lots of customers who learn about their shop on the Land Shark. As consumers, we act on a recommendation from someone we know, like and trust!

At the end of the tour, almost everyone has a comment or question for Maddie, and a tip as well.

As a marketer who has approached the discipline from all angles – as a student, as an employee of large and small businesses, and as a small business owner, I always enjoy observing great marketing in action.

Here are my top three take-aways from the experience:

1.) Excellence is the start of a powerful brand, whether personal or business.
2.) If we approach our livelihood with passion and purpose, people will know, like and trust who we are.
3.) We are communicating our personal brand in everything we do. Are we enthusiastic and engaging, or just going through the motions?

3 Replies to “Brand Shark”

  1. Great points, Kimberly! Maddie is an awesome tour guide and a shining example of an ambassador for the LandShark brand. I love that we can learn business and marketing lessons everywhere we go. Thanks for shining the spotlight on some of the many lessons, so we can learn with you.

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