What started as an experiment or what she calls her “pandemic project” turned out to be one of the best decisions she has made in 2020, as Jennette explains why she started “Your Brand, Your Story” in June 2020.
With a lot of traditional business owners left uncertain on how to pivot and take advantage of the benefits of digital technology, Jennette educates them about the concept of personal branding and the power of having a personal brand story, as well as how platforms other than social media can help them elevate their brand.
Enter podcasting. The rest is history. I caught up with Jen recently to know more about her story.
A queen of podcasting, that’s what I see who you are Jen every time I hear the word podcast. And I’ve been your avid fan since the first episode. I want to know more about why empowering people through their own stories is making you so excited but first things first though, who is Jennette Cajucom as a person and professional?
I am first and foremost an advocate of humanness and authenticity, That being said, I believe in the power of human connection especially when it comes to establishing trust in today’s digital world.
As I’ve explored digital marketing and branding for the last 12 years, and I’ve come to the point of “niching down” to what matters to me most, and that’s the power of including the human narrative in one’s personal brand through meaningful storytelling.
Professionally, I’ve seen firsthand how traditional business owners have been called out for their old pushy practices; how it suddenly has become ineffective to promote a brand as being “the best,” or “most awarded” or “most recognized.”
For the last 4 years or so, I have spent much of my time making traditional business owners realize that strategies to attract digitally empowered consumers requires one to be human and authentic. For the most part I’ve been immersing myself into helping them craft a brand that’s meaningful to their target audience: one that’s also human and authentic.
Because a brand that’s meaningful earns trust, and when there’s trust, there’s conversion.
Your Brand, Your Story. That’s a brilliant line right there. Tell me, what’s the story behind that tagline?
When the pandemic hit early last year, I decided to run a free group coaching program on personal branding basics and thought leadership on Facebook. It also included 1-on-1 coaching sessions which allowed me to know the people in the group on a deeper level – sentiments, struggles and all. Some of them have created social media pages, websites, while others have yet to start creating one.
It was during this program when I would repeatedly remind members of the group that their true personal brand is their story. Towards the end of the program though, I discovered that not all business owners, freelancers and professionals are willing to put themselves online to create awareness about their personal brand.
While the content of the coaching program provided clarity on how they could craft their personal brand, a majority of them had self-limiting beliefs as to how powerful and meaningful their personal brand could be. On top of that, not all of them felt they had the gift of gab to weave words and craft their own personal brand story.
Hence the idea of a podcast that will allow them to authentically and just freely share their back stories, their thoughts, their experiences by just speaking into a microphone, record it without having to reveal their video came to life. The name, “Your Brand, Your Story,” obviously came from what I had repeatedly told them that just lingered even after the group coaching program was completed.
I’ve always believed that every brand – personal brand, that is – has a story to tell. It’s beyond our logo, beyond our color schemes, beyond our website, or even the pretty social media accounts that we create.
Bottomline, our brand is formed because of our story. Logos, and other external aesthetics merely reflect and represent that story.
Now, let’s get into the story of podcasting and unleashing brands through stories. Can you share with me why you are so pumped up about these stuff?
You can probably say that the “pumped up” feeling was born out of a mix of excitement with a tinge of frustration haha.
Perhaps it’s because, by default, I believe that every person with experience has an amazing story to share that other people in the same journey should read about, watch, and listen to.
Sporadically though, I would get questions and concerns like “What should I share? I don’t think my story is that interesting,” “I don’t want to drag my family into this,” or “People might criticize me.”
It was the challenge that got me all powered up, as these concerns were all preconceived notions that hindered them to elevate themselves as a brand.
This wall of preconceived notions eventually shattered as they realized that they should focus on the better “what-if.”
That, perhaps, was a great milestone for me as it was for them.
How do you actually bring out a story out of a personal brand?
The process is pretty simple but requires introspection.
When we’re talking about our own personal brand story, we need to set aside first the things about ourselves that we want to broadcast to others – i.e., our awards, titles, achievements, and the like – and instead dig deep and recall that origin story that made us the person that we are today.
A good strategy is to recall a problem that we end up solving initially for ourselves or for our immediate circle, that we eventually learn is greatly affecting many.
Now, this is probably one if not the most effective way to get our personal brand story to resonate with our target audience. Why? Because people are interested in listening, watching, reading those stories that share a similar journey, that share the same pain points.
By crafting our story with our target audience in mind, we get to stray away from the usual storytelling framework that we’ve been used to – one that’s merely based on our own timeline (i.e., from the time we were born, to the time we went to school, to the time we became adults, and so on).
In essence, involving our target audience’s pain points that we can relate to and solve it at the same time makes our brand more memorable, more important.
Besides podcasting as the main approach, is there any other approach you’re adopting when you create content?
Establishing one’s thought leadership on online publications and content distribution channels.
These days, it can easily be done online. We have a lot of high ranking and high traffic platforms where business owners, freelancers and professionals can share insights from the industries or business sectors they want to be known for. Marketing in Asia, for one, is a great platform to start.
It’s a simple concept of show and tell.
It is always a good idea to back up our social media profiles where we indicate that we have xx years of experience in a particular field or that we have been in a particular business for xx years.
By giving value through content that discusses pain points and solutions about your particular industry, you immediately get your target audience “experience” your brand and establish yourself as an authority through your tips, insights, and experiences.
Building content is one of the greatest ways to market brands, products and services yet the ROI isn’t immediate most of the time. And it’s not just tiring sometimes, but also takes a lot of stamina. What makes you keep on going when it comes to this?
I’d like to start with the premise that creating content that’s universal to your target audience would eventually pave the way to attract more people with the same interest.
For Your Brand, Your Story, we’re all about stories and conversations of humanness and authenticity. This theme helps us go beyond than just the superficial when it comes to interviewing our guests.
By asking questions other than their accomplishments – things like what their struggles were back in the day, what makes them vulnerable, what lenses they are looking through when it comes to life in general – makes them more relatable to listeners; it reminds them that when stripped off of their titles, the guests are still human beings at the end of the day. These kinds of conversations empower them, inspire them and give them hope, and when your goal is something along these lines, it just makes you keep going.
How do you describe your journey as an entrepreneur so far Jen?
I would say it is so far full of meaningful connections, relationship building and new learnings. As I got to learn more about my listeners, guests, it gave me great opportunities on how to understand them and serve them better.
Do you believe growing content through podcasting works today and in the future?
With big brands in the podcasting industry like Spotify, Google Podcasts, Amazon investing their time and money to growing their businesses are clear indications that the best is yet to come.
Spotify alone has recently acquired Anchor and Gimlet. On the other hand, Google Podcasts has added playable podcasts to their search results. Amazon, as well, joined the podcasting bandwagon last year. These clearly tell you that if they are investing their time and money in podcasts and podcast technology, it means that small podcasters like me should see the same vision as well.
Personally though, I also see podcasting as something that will grow really big as more and more podcasters, listeners and guests discover that it is a more “intimate” approach in reaching out to their target market.
If a personal brand wants to create a story, how should they start the journey impactfully?
I would say start off with the right foot. By that, I mean to not attach one’s personal brand with merely the awards received, designation or titles, or even accomplishments. Connection is KEY to a personal brand that wants to make an impact and attract a particular market. More than crafting a story to impress or stand out, it is also important to consider to inspire and empower.
How are you thriving in this new normal at the moment?
Whenever I listen to other people’s stories, I always get to learn about their struggles and pain points. In most cases, I am asked on how to address these pain points especially when they need digital strategies. This, in turn, becomes an opportunity for me and my team.
What was the biggest challenge you faced in 2020 especially during the pandemic and what are you hoping for in 2021?
My ways of reaching out to my target market has always been a combination of offline and online strategies. During the outbreak of the pandemic, following the cancellation of quite a number of speaking engagements, I was forced to focus on pure online.
Now that a year of the global health crisis has passed, after learning all that I have to learn about this new normal as well as my target audience, I am looking forward to a more stable, more adjusted entrepreneurial journey that ultimately provides a pleasant experience for my clientele.
I know that you’ve been very active on social media especially on Facebook and LinkedIn. I also know that you’re so into running interviews as well. Is this one of your strategies to build your personal branding?
As you can see though, I don’t really make too much effort on growing my following on social media. I simply consistently share content that would matter to them and that speaks about what I stand for at the same time – content that would inspire, educate and empower them.
I am more after getting them “experience” me, my brand (through the value that I give in my content), even before they have interacted with me either through chat, email or a call.
It’s really more about them, and less about me.
At Marketing In Asia, we are grateful to have you as one of our Editors. It has been close to 3 years now. Can you share with me how the journey has been for you so far?
Fruitful and meaningful.
MIA has paved the way for me to expand my network, build meaningful connections, and establish my brand.
MIA has given me the platform to make creative possibilities happen, in terms of reaching out to more Filipinos who want to further grow their brand and to put them in the Asian spotlight.
As I am an advocate of anything that’s collaborative, win-win, as well as initiatives that pay forward, MIA made that all happen for me. Your Brand, Your Story podcast alone, is a great example. With YBYS podcast being powered by MIA, the setup has allowed me to easily reach out to people and have even received numerous requests from people to be interviewed. This allows me to pay forward what has been extended to me, knowing that a single podcast episode gets a guest to establish his or her brand story in multiple podcast and social media platforms. Not to mention that all YBYS episodes are also published on MIA.
Anything else you’d like to share with the readers Jen before we end this exclusive interview?
As the majority of the people around the world are now more digitally empowered than ever, making cutting through the digital noise more difficult than before, it’s high time to intentionally put ourselves out there, establish our brand by telling our stories as human beings who want to seriously help. At the end of the day, what will help us establish connection with the people (or opportunities) we want to attract is not merely our recognitions and awards, titles or designations, certifications or achievements, but our humanness and authenticity.
How to contact you Jen?
I can be reached via email: firstname.lastname@example.org or through my website’s contact form: jencajucom.asia, and also via LinkedIn. They can also reach out by attending Marketing In Asia’s 2nd MIAMeet Online Hangout on March 13 at 4pm, GMT+8 through this link here.