My Story: How I Became A Brand Strategist

My Story: How I Became A Brand Strategist

I didn’t choose it, it chose me.

In 2015, I was passionate about art, music, and business.

I went to an audio engineering school in Montreal to build a network in the scene and hopefully get a job in the music scene.

Fast forward to the end of the program, we kept getting discouraged by the teachers to pursue a career in music production.

I’m guessing they resented for the most part the fact that they didn’t all succeed in their own pursuit so they decided to teach instead. It wasn’t all of them, there was a teacher that is actually in music producer that I still love to this day: Eekkoo, he’s on Deadmau5 Label Mau5strap.

Which is kinda huge.

Nevertheless, when the course was over, I gave up the dream of making music for a living because the prospect of not being able to make money fast, wasn’t appealing to me.

(I’m sure one day I’ll get back to music because its truly a passion of mine)

This is where the fun begins, I give up the music career and get a job in sales in a real estate corporation. Drastic shift I know, I was making way too much money for my age and It got to my head real fast. (I made about 80k in 6 months)

Even though the money was great, I was miserable, I dreaded getting in my car in the morning, getting to work, making sales calls, selling stuff I didn’t truly care about.

Don’t get me wrong, I was good at it, I loved to chat with entrepreneurs about how I could help them, but I didn’t LOVE selling what I had to offer.

After 6 months on the job, I gave in my resignation, the lack of purpose in the work almost drove me insane.

And that’s where my life started to shift for the better.

I felt ecstatic, I sold everything I could and moved to Australia, hopefully for 1 year.

I had no plans really, I wanted to visit and do freelance video work.

After spending Christmas in a random hostel in Tasmania alone, without cash nor friends and family around, I realized that I didn’t want to ‘’live’’ somewhere else. All I wanted to do was to be around my friends and family and work on something that would make me happy.

That was an eye-opening experience for me, it made me realize that the true nature of this trip was to open my eyes to what I really wanted in life. And that was to build a business, that I loved and work on projects I enjoyed with driven and ambitious people.

Turns out, Australia is freaking expensive and we ran out of cash after only 4 months with all my credit cards maxed.

10K in debt later, we had to come back to Canada. I had to move back in with my dad, in the basement.

I was determined because I knew I was on the right path. But so depressed at the same time.

I did not want to get back into a corporate job. That was a certainty.

So I improvised, I started driving people around with Uber while I was figuring things out.

6 months later, I started to get really bored of driving 12 hours a day.

Some random business person I drove downtown Montreal suggested that I join my local chamber of commerce, it would help me make a step forward in the business world, and that I should go to a networking event.

I thought it was a great idea, I picked one, it was the launch of my local chamber of commerce just 5 minutes away from my dad’s place.

I put on a suit, my favorite jeans and jumped in my car.

When I got to the event I quickly realized that I had no clue what I was doing there, a 22 years old Uber driver who wanted to be in business without a plan. In the end, it served me well.

When I think back about this pivotal moment in my life, I still have no idea what made me do the jump.

So here goes nothing, I aimed at chatting with people at the event without anything to pitch, and that was the right mindset because I was listening deeply.

Early in the evening, I found the most un-intimidating guy in the room. His name is Phil. Everyone wore suits and tie and this guy had a lumberjack shirt and a cap on. I’ll always remember spotting him.

That was my guy.

Turns out he owned a Gym with 5 personal trainers and couldn’t care less about what he looked like.

I chatted with him and we immediately clicked, he was passionate about entrepreneurship, he had won an award the year before within the chamber of commerce and was super keen on speaking with fellow business owners.

As you can imagine, I was excited that I found someone cool to talk with. We also shared a passion for building a brand.

We dove deep into subjects like which is the best branding strategies to deploy online using social media, content strategy in order to bring in more clients organically, entrepreneurship & how a powerful, well-executed brand strategy is working for you while you sleep.

(See a breadcrumb here?) 

The event ended and we closed the place down. After a few drinks, he invited me to visit his gym the following Monday.

Monday comes, I get back in my red car and go meet the guy at his Gym. It turned out there were multiple personal training businesses that were operating in the same gym. I was like, okay, maybe I’ll have more prospects…

Little did I know what was to come…

I meet with Phil, we start chatting and his colleague heard us from afar.

He stops us shortly to ask if I can meet with him after our meeting.

‘’I was like, sure! I’ll come to see you’’

I went back to my conversation with Phil and eventually we finish our chat without concluding a concrete business deal.

Which is fine.

He was interested in what I had to offer but didn’t quite know what he wanted at this point.  Nor did I have something to sell either still.

Eventually, we’d start working together but only a few months later.

When we were done, I went upstairs to meet with his colleague, Jacob.

We started to discuss what he needed help with and I told him my story, what I was passionate about (branding, personal branding, strategies, etc.)

At one point, I started to share that I loved the idea of helping entrepreneurs restructure their content strategies on social media (remember this was in 2016, social media was exploding and Facebook pages actually had organic reach), in order to use their brand recognition to become known in their niche.

We went straight to the point, he asked how much I would charge him to help him build a solid content strategy to achieve his dream of being the most renowned personal training business in Quebec.

Of course, I was in, I was taken by surprise because I still had nothing ‘’official’’ to sell!

We discussed what he would need me to do and I told him I’d get back to him with a one-year proposal.

When I met him for the second time I had studied what he was currently doing and spotted many opportunities. He was producing a lot of content without a strategy behind it. He knew that ‘’content’’ worked but didn’t know what would work for his brand and how to attract the clientele he was after.

So that’s how I got started, I offered him to work 10 hours a month on a consulting retainer to help him reach his dream and restructure his content & brand strategy. That was the basis for my super successful ‘’Branding Training Program’’ which’s more than 80% of my business today.

We started by evaluating who his dream client was, and focused ALL of our effort to appeal to him in any ways possible throughout his content on social media.

We built a Facebook content strategy, then we graduated to Instagram, built a podcast that led to him interview HUGE names in the industry.

He started to build info products, built multiple revenue streams to deliver valuable information to his audience and now, 5 years later, he now owns his private gym (which is huge by the way) and has more than 10 trainers under his brand to execute his vision.

That’s where it clicked. I found purpose in my work.

I got hooked immediately, from now on, I wanted to learn everything and anything about branding and content strategy.

From the psychology behind why people buy in a brand to how much colors affect a decision.

I started to consume everything I could find on branding and content strategy on YouTube and books.

Fast forward 5 years, I’m writing this with you in 2021, sharing my story.

I think the saying is true.

You don’t go into a career you love, you love something enough it becomes a career.

To me, that’s being a brand strategist.

See you soon,
Simon


My Minimalist One-Stand-Setup YouTube Studio

My Minimalist One-Stand-Setup YouTube Studio

Hey guys I’m back this week with a gear-related article, this is to help you get to create your content faster than you can imagine.

Ok, so, this is about how I turned my setup into a one-stand setup after being annoyed out of my mind having to waste 30 to 45 precious minutes each time I wanted to record a video.

Most established YouTubers have a permanent place in their homes or offices where they do record their talk-to-the-cam type of content. 

It was not my case up until now. 

When I wanted to record content at the office, I had to set up the gear and pack everything when I’d be done shooting because there would be someone waiting to use the conference room.

Bummer. I know.

So I thought to myself, let’s look on Youtube for a YouTube setup eh?

I went down this rabbit hole on YouTube and looked at different setups to finally find a great video on the Think Media channel about exactly that. 

How this guy (Nolan Molt) had squeezed all of his 3 stands set up on a single stand!! because he has a super small room to work in. #Minimalism

And let’s be honest, when he uses the setup on the video it looks super great to convey his message with a cool background.

Fair enough, it got me thinking, hey, what If I set up something similar to simply save time? 

Time is precious enough as it is, why not spend a few dollars and building something out for myself! 

Let me show you what it looks like!

Here’s the YouTube video about it: 

Ok now, let’s just go over some numbers real fast. 

Here’s what you would need to recreate this setup: 

You can swap the receivers for this: https://amzn.to/321vKeG (34$)

Excluding the camera and sound, this setup is worth a total of 1179$ You can basically use any modern camera with a wide-angle lens and a shotgun mic.

There are a few things I still would like to upgrade later one like a more diffused light and try to hook the microphone from under the camera so the back of it would ideally be pointing to a sound damping sheet or something that can remove reverberation.

I also discovered a few accidental perks while using the setup. 

First of all, I never have to disassemble it, of course, unless I want to take pictures, I can just unclip the camera and leave the rest behind. 

Which is why I built it first but I only now realize how blessed I am to save all that time! 

The other thing too is that It’s a good look.

I still think nevertheless that I should get a wider angle to get a bit more background in the frame to be as close to the camera as possible but it’s like since you’re so close to the camera, the background is almost always blurry which makes it easier to have anything in the back really. 

Of course, I am still learning about what I like in terms of set design but it’s good that it almost always already looks good from any angle. 

I already talked about the time-saving part but I think it’s very important when you want to do something creative that you don’t have any friction before doing ‘’it’’. 

To finish this up, I think this is useful for anyone not only with a small space but to have a ‘’portable’’ YouTube Studio on a stand. It’s just so freaking useful. 

I shall see ya next week? 🙂 

Cheers,
Simon


How my Consulting Business is Structured

How my Consulting Business is Structured

Hey guys!

I love to work with personal brands and teach strategies to build a brand presence online. 2021 is the year where I take a little step back from consulting and help you guys to do so. 

Today we’re going to see how I structure my consulting business, the processes my clients go through and what products I sell at every steps and why. 

Before we start, I want to give you a little bit of context.

  1. When I started I had no idea what I was doing but I knew I wanted a structured program to help my clients achieve a transformation in terms of their knowledge and habits. 
  2. I always had in mind that no clients would be working permanently with me because the goal of my program is to teach them to be autonomous. 
  3. Anything I share with you guys is subject to change the second I finish record, it’s in my nature to keep tinkering with new ideas, test new structures and always evolve the client experience along with my new knowledge.

After 4 years of trials and errors I came to realize a few things that may be useful for you if you want to start your own consulting practice. 

Let’s go.

First of let’s see how I convert prospects into clients and what usually happens when I sign them on my coaching program. 

I don’t always sell my program to everyone because its only useful if the clients has certain things done prior. 

They need to have their branding and website done ideally, of course there is exception. But I want them to focus on creating and publishing content. 

If a client comes to me with ab business Idea we will start with the Tarmac. 

The tarmac’s purpose is to define the name, brand identity, mission statement (elevator pitch), what problem the business solves to which dream clients and we figure out what the our designer will need to create as their branding and website. 

Only then, when everything is done and ready we get started with my 6 months coaching program. 

It’s important to note that this is not a cohort based program nor a group program. And that is why I only take 10 to 15 clients at anytime. 

During the program they will be accountable to me and my team in multiple ways. (Weekly check-in’ monthly meeting and by-monthly calls with me to make sure we are on track with the strategy 

  1. They will learn how to create powerful and authentic content.
  2. They will learn how to make quality content before increasing their publishing frequency. 
  3. They will learn to develop the habit of creating content in batches to save time because most of my clients are business owners, not content creators, so efficiency is super important. 
  4. They will learn to focus ont heir strengths, wether it is writing, videography, photography or graphic design, I always focus on what they CAN do before adding teaching new possible content avenues.

And many more little details that we work on individually with each clients. 

Once the program is done we move on to the Check up plan which is a monthly call with me for 30 to 45 minutes without a contract to make sure the client keep their good habits of publishing and discussing strategies and struggles they might face. 

Honesty this is where I am today, this is my business.

Simple as that. 


How I Made 500 000 $ in 3 Years as a Branding Strategist

How I Made 500 000 $ in 3 Years as a Branding Strategist

 

Today, I want to share with you three principles that are needed to make at least 500k in three years running your consulting business.

The first principle is breaking the time barrier.

That means selling value and not your time.

The second one is the law of the category & picking your niche.

And the third one is my favorite, it’s building a recurring revenue model.

It could be a yearly, monthly, daily model.

Doesn’t matter in this case.

Then, the thing that matters the most is how you build on top of at least of those principles. And that’s how you sustain your growth. At least, that’s how I did it.

So what does this mean ”applied”?

The first principles breaking design barrier means that you need to stop selling your time by the hour and you need to start selling value associated to a product (say, a 3 weeks project on Defining your target client for exemple). The cost. could be 25 hours, but if you figure out your client is willing to pay 5000$ for the ”process” that’s how you start to become really profitable, fast.

This is where you’ll see growth and more profitability because if you sell your time that means you’re worth basically the cost of your work and that’s not a way to sustain and grow a business.

So, the first thing I did is I switched from selling my time to selling a product which is currently our 6 months branding coaching program. What that did is that I got to spread the cost of the program on a monthly payment basis at first.

Now, it’s six months because I’ve optimized the teaching process and condensed a lot knowledge in six months. Also, the product ”the program” is purchasable as a one-time fee of 7500$ or as a monthly recurring fee of 1250$ per month for 6 months. (see what I did there? Implemented the 3rd principle already)

About 85% of my sales from the last 3 years came from this product recurring revenue model.

So, the second principle I wanted to share with you is the law of category.

To me it means, looking for an opportunity in the market that your skills fit the opportunity. What I found is if you go super narrow on your niche and you go hyper specific on what you want to sell to your clients you’ll find that you won’t have much competition. Peter Thiel has a saying for that and I love it: “that competition is for losers”.

I love this saying because if you aim at the pool of clients the same way everyone is aiming at them, then it’ll be difficult to separate yourself from the masses.

That’s the second principle.

If you want a more thorough definition here’s a summary of it from the book ”22 Immutable laws of marketing”.  

The law of category is super important.

Find something where there’s an opportunity in a large market where you can be different and go all in on that.

The third principle is building a recurring model.

Let’s say you’re a graphic designer or any professional that can sell their knowledge and are able to package it into a ”product”. And you want to offer a recurring model of some sort and you want to work with startups.

For exemple, think first: how can you build an offering that you know your client will need?

You ask yourself, what does a startup need?

Usually, they’ll need a logo.

They’ll need a website.

They’ll need some graphic assets to promote their brand on social media.

They’ll need maybe like prints, like packaging, business cards, etc.

Say you see this opportunity in the market and you decide to package all of the above. Then you simply figure out what you would be willing to sell it for and what your startup client would be willing to pay for.

Let’s say 4500$ or 397$ a month for 12 months.

What’s next? You set the deliverables:

Month one:

You deliver the branding assets (logo, colors, typography, etc).

Month three:

You deliver the website.

Month 5, you have another deliverable. Etc.

So, you get the idea? You wanna be spreading what you deliver on a decent enough timeframe what your customer will ”consume” that value and ideally at the same pace that you’re getting paid for your work.

Those are the 3 principles I’ve applied to go from 0 to half a million $ in revenue in 3 years.

Cheers,
Simon


How to tell if it’s a publication or an ad ?

Your ad is your content & your content is your ad.

The line is fine between a paid advertisement and posting content for fun.

There always seems to be a hidden motive behind every publication.

A good practice: use #ads, for transparency, whenever you are paid to publish content.

Alternatively, isn’t it the point of ads to be explicit, like “CLICK HERE TO BUY”?

I personally think so.

The idea here is to encourage you to share whatever you want, not whatever you think will “work on Instagram”.

I invite you to re-think your content strategy based on what you genuinely enjoy.

And that, I think, is the best form of advertising you can offer to a brand you love.

– Simon


What is Personal Branding?

What is Personal Branding ?

The creation of a personal brand consists of developing your notoriety in your industry by sharing pertinent and relevant information specific to your field of expertise.

This notoriety can be achieved through an effective use of social media, the creation of targeted content and its strategic distribution.

Nowadays, personal branding is of the utmost importance.

Today, consumers tend to trust individuals rather than companies.

And their consumption habits have changed to such an extent that they will trust an influential entity, often called an Influencer, up to 92% rather than a brand not endorsed by an Influencer.

Do you now believe in the power of personal brand influence?

– Simon


Why build a strong digital presence?

First of all, make sure your online presence is CO-HE-RENT.

People will always Google you before contacting you.

And what should they find ?

All your nicely maintained social media. 😉

NOW THAT’S IDEAL.

The reality is that most of my new clients have never “updated” their digital presence.

Ouch.

So, I’ve compiled you a list of what you should update:

  • The relevance & clarity of your texts on your website.
  • Your address & business hours on your Google My Business page & your website.
  • Uniform username on all your social platforms (ex: use @seempaq on every platform)
  • A recent profile picture (nobody wants to see your highschool picture)
  • Content that is consistent with your brand’s color palette

And that’s what I call a powerful online presence.

FIRST THINGS FIRST
A solid brand will allow you to stand out from your competition.

People will approach you for the quality of your service or products, not because you are the cheapest.

Your brand will allow you to build a solid base of profitability on which you can reap the rewards of your hard work for decades to come.

Profitability & Branding, the two go hand in hand.

I’ll tell you about my theory next week. ✌️

– Simon