Elf on the Shelf 2020 Branding Lessons Marjorie Stiegler Career Rx Episode 46

What is the Elf on the Shelf? Unless you live under a rock, you’ve probably seen this toy taking the holidays by storm for years now. But what makes it a total sensation that people love (or love to hate)? And what can it teach you about how you communicate your own professional story?

Today I have the second part of a holiday themed episode for you and we’re going to be continuing our talk about powerful branding lessons from the Elf on the Shelf children’s Christmas experience. The little guy uses some basic marketing fundamentals very, very well – and is a great illustration of how this can work for your personal brand too! I’ve got eight core tips for you – four in this episode, and four in last week’s episode.

In this episode of The Career Rx we’ll discuss:

  • The idea of “social proof” – how to get it, and what it can do for you!
  • Sparking welcomed emotions around your (personal) brand
  • Rejection and refinement are parts of success
  • Building a professional network of “influencers” (see Episode 37)

These four examples from Elf on the Shelf will help you communicate who you are and what you can do, learn how feelings play a major role in marketing (authentically), and realize you may have more to offer than you think. These are simple concepts to help explain and market your ideas or services to tell your professional story the effective way.

Success is not an overnight thing.” – Marjorie Stiegler

In this Episode:

[0:55] Check out last week’s episode (part 1 of the Holiday Edition)
[1:30] Social proof and community are key to the Elf’s success – what you can learn
[3:30] What’s your social proof? Here are some ideas.
[4:55] Anticipation – how the Elf takes holiday joy up a notch
[5:30] The emotional element of branding – 100% essential to getting the best opportunities
[7:20] It matters how others feel about working with you – communicating the experience
[8:10] Even Elf on the Shelf got rejected a few times – it’s okay!
[9:05] Laying the groundwork for that snowball effect of success
[10:10] “Influencers” – on social media, and in regular life
[11:00] Expanding your professional network and who to include

Links and Resources:

The Branding Rx 18 hours of CME, mastering digital strategies for advancing your career, building your business, and growing your professional brand

My video – Branding Lessons from the Elf on the Shelf

Episode 45 – Holiday Edition! Branding Illustrations from Elf on the Shelf (Part 1)

Episode 37 – Beyond Mentors and Sponsors: 7 Allies You Need in Your Network



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TRANSCRIPT: Episode 46 – Holiday Edition! More Branding Lessons From Elf on the Shelf (Part 2)

Hey there, welcome to The Career Rx. I’m your host, Marjorie Stiegler. This podcast is all about the important stuff. They don’t teach you in medical school, about how to treat your career, like the business it really is, and how to be strategic about your success. I’ll show you how to use modern strategies to get ahead, create your own path, and do more of what you love. Every episode is inspired by questions from listeners just like you. So be sure to subscribe and of course, send me those questions, so I can use them on a future episode. So you don’t miss anything, be sure to always check the show notes on my website. Are you ready? Let’s get into it.

Welcome back. I’m glad you’re joining me again, we’re going to talk about more lessons that you can learn about your professional branding and career acceleration from the Elf on the Shelf. It’s the Holiday Edition. On the last episode, we talked about the importance of making things very simple and memorable about building them on ideas and concepts people already know about wrapping up your work in curiosity, and avoiding any hedging language. And being sure that you just tell people, very plainly your value proposition knowing with confidence that you can deliver on it. Today, we’re going to talk about four additional tips from the Elf on the Shelf. It’s the Holiday Edition.

Okay, we’ve covered one through four, let’s get into number five, which is social proof. Social proof, if you haven’t heard this term before, in a way, it’s sort of testimonials, or maybe a little bit of peer pressure, or at least in the case of the Elf on the Shelf. This is just a very visible way to show that you are the thing that people shouldn’t want to miss out on. And how do we do that? Well, for the Elf on the Shelf, when you think about it, not only are they establishing themselves as that Christmas tradition, but there’s so much more wrapped up in the elf, you don’t want to be the only ones not doing it because your neighbors are doing it, your kids friends are doing it, everybody has this ridiculous elf, they’re showing pictures of it all over the place, people are talking about it. And that creates in and of itself a stir that you want to be sort of in-the-know.

The other thing is that when you buy the elf, there’s a book that comes with the elf and you’re invited to go to you know, you name your elf, you can go register your Elf on a website, where you can say where you live and what your elf’s name is. And suddenly, you’re part of this online web community of elves. And there’s all kinds of additional things that you can do. And now you know, you can buy accessories for the album, you just take it to a whole new level. And people of course post on social media, with their elves, and there are hashtags associated with that. So this is really building every visible community around the elf. It’s not really, it’s not just the elf, right? It’s not just the doll.

And this is where you can also make sure that you’re cultivating social proof. And this could be in the form of patient reviews. It could be awards, accolades, positive feedback, it could be logos of media outlets, or institutions where you’ve worked where you have had some affiliation assuming, of course that you have the right to use those images. So there’s all kinds of ways that you can establish social proof, you might put a speaking calendar on your website so that people can see that you do indeed have speaking engagements, for example, or if you have a book or just put these things out where people can see them. I know many of you are saying I don’t have a speaking calendar, I don’t have a book, that is true for most people. But you have some things right, there are things that you have that you can be proud of that relate to your work. So cultivate those and give some thought to how you can create some buzz around the work that you’re doing. Because you want to have that presence as the sort of not to be missed expert in whatever it is, that is the area of your work. You also want to convey to people the feeling that they will have from working with you.

So this brings me to number six, which is emotion, right? How are you going to make their lives better, easier elevated in some way? If you haven’t thought about yourself like this before, it is time to start. Because even if you just think showing up and doing a good job for your boss, like what kind of emotion does that come with? You know, from your boss’s view, or if you’re a boss, you think about it. Do you want an employee who makes you and your department shine, or anytime there’s something new and buzzworthy and innovative going on, it’s coming out of your department? And you have people in your department that get along well with each other, make each other feel supported and inspired are really dependable so you can worry about it less. Like those are feelings that your boss would love to have. And if you are part of the equation, right part of the solution that provides those that’s really valuable.

So what is how is the elf doing this? Let me I guess, more out of order here, but let me tell you what the elf is doing so the elf is very, very steeped in emotion it there is so much about the elf that is more around the activity around the elf than it is the actual elf or even the book. There’s the anticipation, “where is the elf going to show up this morning?” If you’re a child in the house, you’re wondering where his house is going to be next, right? And this adds weeks of fun build up prior to Christmas. If you are the adults in the house, you may be saying, you know what creative new things can we do with the elf. So there is this engagement, there’s this thinking, and there’s this anticipation and this joy and this fun. And basically, you are extending that Christmas season in a really tangible way, right that our short attention spans really like because instead of just counting down the days now there’s an, you know, an additional activity.

This is what all the major brands try to do when you think about it, they’re really trying to sell a way of feeling. So when you think about a brand that you love, it’s really high end, they’re trying to make you feel something. They’re either wanting you to feel, you know, luxurious, or they want you to feel like efficient and smart, or they want you to feel like you’re you know, sort of first, right, if you have the latest gadget or that you know, have the feeling of knowing what’s best. They’re all trying to give you some kind of feeling. So it is a product, sure, but that’s what changes, you know, that’s what elevates my high end things. It could be materials and craftsmanship. But a lot of it also is in an experience and in a way that the value of the brand is communicated in a way that it makes you feel when you have it. So that’s the elf and his emotion, other types of brands and their emotion. And, I think, the way that you can tie this back to, you know, what is the emotion that your colleagues or your patients or your clients or your bosses have from working with you.

And if you’re giving them that really great feeling, it’s a super important part of your professional value proposition for you to communicate that. It’s not just what you do, how you do it, and how other people feel about it. Because that’s what makes people want to buy. And again, for this audience, I don’t mean necessarily to buy a thing like to book a service with you, or to buy a product from you. Sometimes it might just be to, you know, decide to put you on a leadership committee, right or to give you a promotion, or to give you a new job that is in you know, “that’s what you’re selling, so that’s what they’re buying.”

Okay, seven, this is really an important thing to know. And the Elf on the Shelf illustrates it well. Success is not an overnight thing, right. And neither is branding, effective branding takes time, you may as well start now. If you’ve already started, you may well do some work to make it even more effective. It’s not an overnight kind of thing. It takes a little while for people to have awareness. And it takes some time for people to to really hone their own brands, right? It’s gonna take some time for you to develop this. And it will take time for you to get the word out. And for people to really build that solid awareness around it. It doesn’t happen overnight. So don’t be discouraged. Now Elf on the Shelf. This family submitted their book and their idea to many, many publishers and were rejected. But as of, let’s see, I took this quote from two years ago, that they had sold 11 million Elf on the Shelfs. So that was in 2018, I believe, I think that’s the right number. So 11 million of these. So many, many publishers like double digit publishers rejected this until it was finally accepted. And now they’ve sold, I imagine, well over 11 million now since that statistics is two years old.

So if they rejected those first couple of years, but they kept working, they were determined, they were dedicated, it shows the importance of that perseverance.

And the same should be true for you, right? It will be an evolution, it’s never a “one and done”, right? You thinking about yourself in your professional expertise is not only going to grow and change for your life, but the way in which you speak about yourself is going to change, you’re going to get better at it. You’ll get even better at it even faster if you take my course but you’ll get better at it. And that is going to change over time and then your successes will accumulate and the whole thing will snowball and really start to accelerate you on a great trajectory.

Okay, number eight. The final thing lesson from the Elf on the Shelf This shows the importance of influencers and leveraging influencers professionally. So as I mentioned Elf on the Shelf, as I understand it, was launched in 2005. But Elf on the Shelf really took off in 2007 when celebrity Jennifer Garner was photographed walking around with an Elf on the Shelf box. And then suddenly all the stores were interested, all the publishers were interested. All the people who read magazines were interested in it really, really took off. This is, you know, not an unusual story right to have some celebrity endorsement and then things really take off.

And you may be saying to yourself, “yeah, Jennifer Garner isn’t going to be talking about you or your business, or your expertise, or your academic department,” you know, obviously, you’re quite right about that, right? That’s very unlikely. She’s not gonna be talking about it.

But no matter what your career, it’s important to know that there are certain people and certain relationships, allies of yours, that you can develop to really help your career leapfrog and take off in a way that wasn’t before. We talked about this in detail in Episode 37. Talking about beyond sponsors, and mentors, the seven allies you need in your network. So I’ll let you go back and listen to that, to get more deep into these details. But realize that there are people all around you that you need to deliberately cultivate relationships with because getting your work in front of the right people, the people who have decision making authority or influence outside of your sphere, is absolutely critical to accelerating your own career. It just is, it’s time honored and true, right? It’s a little bit what you know, but it is also who you know, and there’s a lot of ways that you can be very mindful and strategic about who you know, and getting yourself in front of people who can make a difference.

Okay, that’s eight lessons from me to you about Elf on the Shelf and professional branding. I hope you enjoyed it. Before we wrap this episode, it’s worth stating again, that none of really what we’ve talked about is actually a feature of the elf. It’s just a little stuffed animal doll. There’s nothing about it, in and of its physical self, that’s really all that remarkable. It is the marketing and communication and the community around the elf that makes it a success.

So if you want to learn more about exactly how to do some of these things that I’ve alluded to here in this podcast, please do go check out my courses page, I will show you how to take little gem ideas like this and apply them to your own personal brand, your own business. It is marketing, but again, as long as it’s authentic, and it describes truly what people will get when they work with you, then this type of communication and community around your professional activities and around your business, this is the game changing factor. So come visit us at courses.marjoriestieglermd.com and let’s get to building your brand. Bye for now.

Thanks for joining me on this episode of The Career Rx. Be sure to leave me a review on Apple podcasts or whatever podcast player you’re using to listen today. And definitely send me those questions so I can answer them and give you a shout out on a future episode. Bye for now.

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