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 as I wanted to build a network 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 guess 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 though. There was a teacher that is actually a music producer that I still love to this day: Eekkoo, he’s on the Deadmau5 Label Mau5trap.

Which is kinda huge.

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

(That being said, I’m sure one day I’ll get back to music because it’s truly a passion of mine.)

And that’s where the fun began: I gave up the prospect of a music career and got a job in sales for 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 six months. Not bad for a music producer who redirected his career, heh?)

Even though the money was great, I was miserable. I dreaded getting in my car in the morning, getting to work, making sales calls and 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 six 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 one year.

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

After spending Christmas alone in a random hostel in Tasmania, without cash nor friends or 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 to work on something that would make me truly happy.

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

As it turned out, this Australian adventure was freaking expensive and I ran out of cash after only four months with all my credit cards maxed out.

10K in debt later, I had to come back to Canada… and move to my dad’s basement. The Australian dream was over. But my dream to become a great businessman was far from being over.

I was determined because I knew I was on the right path. But, truth be told, I was also very depressed at the same time.

I didn’t want to go back to a corporate job. That was a certainty.

So I improvised and started driving people around as a Uber driver while I was trying to figure things out.

Six months later, I started to get really bored driving people around 12 hours a day.

Then, one night, some random business person I drove downtown Montreal suggested that I should join my local chamber of commerce. He said that it would help me take a step forward in the business world and that I should go to a networking event.

I thought it was a great idea and so I picked one such event: it was the launch of my local chamber of commerce, just five minutes away from my dad’s place.

I put on a suit and my favorite pair of jeans then I jumped in my car. But this time, it wasn’t to drive some strangers around town. I was indeed driving myself straight to a new business adventure!

When I got to the event, I quickly realized that I had no clue what I was doing there. I was, after all, a 22-year-old Uber driver who wanted to do some business, without any concrete plan! Looking back, I can see that, in the end, it served me well.

When I think about this pivotal moment in my life, I still have no idea what made me do the jump. I guess that, sometimes, you just have to follow your intuition and give it a shot.

So here goes nothing. I was simply chatting with people at the event without anything to pitch, and that, it seems, 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 was Phil. While everyone was wearing the typical suits and ties, this guy had a lumberjack shirt and a cap on. I’ll always remember spotting him. He definitely stood out of the crowd!

That was my guy.

It turned out that he owned a gym and was hiring five personal trainers; he 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 pretty excited that I had found someone cool to talk with. Sooner than later, we found out that we both shared a passion for building a brand.

We delved deep into topics such as the best branding strategies to deploy online using social media, content strategy to attract more customers organically, entrepreneurship, and how powerful and well-executed branding works for you while you sleep.

(See a breadcrumb here?) 

As the evening was unfolding, and after a few drinks, he invited me to visit his gym the following Monday. The event finally ended and we closed the place down. 

Then Monday came in, I got back in my red car and went to meet Phil at his gym. It turned out there were multiple personal training businesses that were operating in the same building. I remember telling myself : “Okay, maybe I’ll even find some more prospects…”

Little did I know what was to come…

So, I met with Phil and we started chatting when, all of a sudden, his colleague heard us from afar.

He came by and stopped us shortly to ask me if I could meet with him after my talk with Phil.

I said promptly: “Sure! I’ll come and meet you with pleasure.’’

I went back to my conversation with Phil and, eventually, we finished our chat without concluding any concrete business deal.

Which was fine.

He was interested in what I had to offer, but he didn’t quite know what he wanted at this point in time… and nor did I have anything yet to sell either.

(Eventually, we started working together, but that was only a few months later.)

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

Right away, we started discussing what it was exactly that he needed help with. I also told him my story and what I was passionate about (branding, especially personal branding, strategies, etc.).

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

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

Of course, I was in. But, obviously, I was taken by surprise since I still had nothing ‘’official’’ to sell!

We discussed what he needed 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 any strategy behind it all. He knew that ‘’content’’ worked, but he didn’t know what would specifically work for his brand and how to attract the clientele he was after.

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

We started by assessing who his dream client was and focused ALL of our efforts to appeal to this very client in every way possible throughout his content on social media.

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

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

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

I got hooked immediately. From then on, I wanted to learn everything and anything about branding and content strategy: from the psychology behind why people buy a certain brand, to how much colors affect a decision.

I started to absorb everything I could find related to branding and content strategy, on YouTube as well as in books.

Five years later, here I am writing this blog in 2021, sharing my story and passing on some of my hard-earned knowledge to you.

I think the saying is true:

“You don’t go into a career you love; you love something enough that it becomes a career.”

To me, THAT is 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