Personal Brand Interview: Brand Strategy Consultant Mary Petto


Mary Petto learned to appreciate the art of communication during college. Her liberal arts education enabled her to develop a knack for concentrating on the big picture and small picture simultaneously—a key ingredient to successful marketing.

After college, she worked as an editor, copywriter, and ultimately a marketing VP for Merrill Lynch and DLJ Securities. While successful at coming up with creative ways to communicate with investors about the benefits of mutual funds, Mary longed to reach out to the broader population about products more personal to them. She left financial services behind, paid her dues at an advertising agency as an account executive and began her own business as a small business marketing consultant.  She now focuses her clients’ branding strategies to resonate throughout the world of social media, optimizing campaigns for search engines and drumming up word-of-mouth interest while garnering followings at a rapid rate.

Mary Petto has also created a joint product with Brand-Yourself.com that combines her one-on-one coaching  and virtual assistance with our personal branding tools.

Here is a sampling of what we discussed:

Describe your personal brand.

The Mary Petto brand represents approachable social media assistance. It’s inexpensive, it’s informative, it’s passionate about communication, it’s fun, and it’s for hire!

Describe what you do and what kinds of clients you usually work with?

My work is three-fold: First, I deliver news often to anyone who wants to hear about what’s happening in the social networking world and how it affects your business or your brand—and I do this for free. Second, I use social networks and the arts of marketing communications and brand personality to handle businesses’ social media campaigns. I work with businesses and organizations of all sizes in this capacity. Finally, I offer training in the form of group classes or tele-seminars and in the form of one-on-one training and consulting for individuals. This gets as specific as how to fully leverage opportunities on LinkedIn and how to appropriately post updates on social networks.

Tell me about a “soup-to-nuts” campaign

A soup-to-nuts campaign plan is the strategy a business uses to fully develop its online brand. It begins with defining a brand personality, setting up profiles and fan pages, creating an active content and posting schedule, determining key words and target markets, and finally reaching out to and engaging with your target market.

Why should a business or company invest in some kind of social media platform, like a Facebook or LinkedIn account?  Do you think that one platform is more valuable than another?

There are many social networking platforms out there, and the ones that a business should focus on is a matter of their business goals and target market. While there may be crossover (and this just adds more value to your social media strategy), each one has something different to offer and has a particular culture to adapt to.

Is there such a thing as posting too much information on these social media platforms?  What is considered relevant information to publicize?  And what kind of information can be detrimental to a business or an entrepreneur?

I actually do not believe that there can be too much information offered, though the timing of the information should be thought through and you should be wary of “information overload.” Social media means that the new norm is “transparency.” So the more open you are, the more trusting your followers will be and, ultimately, the more loyal they’ll be to your brand. That being said, I highly warn everyone to not post about a topic or associate with a group that could be perceived as controversial. This is one point where transparency will not always play out right with your following.

People often say, “It’s not what you know, it’s who you know!” Is that true?

Absolutely. Look, of course you need to present yourself as an expert in your field and keep up with your industry, but if no one knows about it, how are you going to get anywhere in this world? This is why social networking really excites me. Keeping your name or your brand top-of-mind with hundreds or thousands of people is a snap when your strategy is handled correctly. The rate at which business is being conducted and referred because of this phenomenon is unprecedented. And it’s so easy; I’m baffled by skeptics and old-school decision makers who don’t get this.

What, in your opinion, do you think will be the next social media platform?  What else could they possibly come up with?

I think locally focused networking is where the platforms are moving. This is fantastic for local business as it affords small companies to really leverage opportunities in giant platforms like Twitter. “Geo-tagging” is a buzzword that will become part of our everyday web 2.0 vocabulary. Check out Foursquare as an example of this trend.

Katharine’s Thoughts…

Social Media is the new black.  Chances are, you know at least ten people who have either a Facebook, LinkedIn or Twitter account.  Or perhaps they have all three.  Social media platforms and online marketing are changing the way companies conduct business now.  Marketing tactics that may have worked for a company ten years ago may not necessarily work now.  Social media isn’t just about connecting with your friends and family – it’s about promoting a business, networking with other professionals in your industry, and finding a job through someone you know.   Gurus like Mary Petto can help entrepreneurs and businesses focus their social media angles successfully and increase their target audience.  Remember, it’s not [necessarily] what you know, it’s who you know.  I really wish my professors had told me that in college!

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