Karen Salmansohn is the best-selling author of more than 30 books with over 1 million copies sold and founder of the popular inspirational site, NotSalmon.com. She has been a featured happiness expert on the Today show, The View, CNN, Fox News, Real Time with Bill Maher, and is an online columnist for Oprah, Psychology Today, AOL, and the Huffington Post. Karen Salmansohn her work have been covered by the New York Times, Businessweek, Chicago Tribune, L.A. Times, Philadelphia Inquirer, Time, Marie Claire, Fast Company, InStyle, Self, Elle, and the New Yorker. Karen Salmansohn has also worked as an image consultant for MTV, Nickelodeon, Oxygen Media, and L’Oreal and speaks on how to increase happiness, creativity, and productivity, most recently in the TEDx talk, “Fun Is a High Performance Fuel.”
How did you get started?
My journey to starting my Brand Honey Consulting business is zig-zag-zigging one.
First the zig: I started my career in advertising – and got awarded my first CLIO only 6 months in the business for an ad I created for Kodak. I then quickly went on to become a Senior VP award winning ad writer/creative director (at age 27) – working for places like J. Walter Thompson, McCann Erickson, Young + Rubicam, Averett, Free + Ginsberg, MTV, VH-1, Nickelodeon, Comedy Central, Lifetime, E!, CNBC, NBC, Oxygen, Lee Hunt Associates, L’Oreal, Revlon, Avon, Blue Q, Faith Popcorn, etc… One of my goofier claims to fame: I was the one who came up with the name “Croissan’wich.” It was chosen in a huge agency competition to become the official name of Burger King’s then brand-new breakfast sandwich.
I was particularly known for my top creative work for the big beauty companies including L’Oreal, Revlon and Avon. I wrote everything from ad campaigns to naming the fun names for their products. (For example, Pleasantly Plum and Well Red were 2 of my suggested lipstick names!)
Then the zag: I quit my ad gig to become an author – and I’ve actually done a lot of zagging. I’ve written/designed and published over 30 books – with major publishing houses like Random House, Chronicle and Workman. I did this by creating a specific “brand” of books: “self help for people who wouldn’t be caught dead doing self help.” My niche “brand” of books wound up becoming very successful. For example, How To Be Happy Dammit was Urban Outfitter’s best selling book for a few years in a row. And The Bounce Book was one of Target’s best sellers for a few years. Plus I’ve also attracted an audience of about 1.3 million fans on Facebook
Now for the final zig: Authors, entrepreneurs and various businesses began asking me how I became a leader in the self help field – with over 1 million books sold – about 1.3 million fans on Facebook – and many celebrity endorsements. They wanted me to help them to become leaders in their fields. And so BRAND HONEY was born.
What inspired you to start this business?
I love empowering people to live their highest potential lives – which includes encouraging people to do what they love for a living – and giving them tools to succeed at their passions.
How do you make money?
My Brand Honey Consulting Program is available at different price points. I can do a powerful 3 hour surge of Brand Honey Consulting – by phone or Skype – to help awaken people to their blindspots in their branding , narrow focus their key message /mission and create a do-able roadmap. I can also work with people for many months – helping them to take their roadmap on the road – developing their brand in greater detail and depth. I also have a VIP Day – where people spend 6 hours of action-packed creative momentum with me in my home office in downtown New York.
How long did it take for you to become profitable?
The good news about what I do: It’s pure profit – minus merchant account fees. People pay via Paypal or credit card on my site. There’s no physical product – just my time.
When you were starting out, was there ever a time you doubted it would work? If so, how did you handle that?
I’ve offered branding consulting on my site since about 2007. (used to sell Brand Honey under a different name – the Pillage and Conquer Program. ) It was a “quiet launch.” I just slipped it onto my site. Because my site offers other books and products to empower people to become their highest potential, I did not experience great doubt or fear launching a branding program. It was low risk, because the only thing I was risking was “real estate” on my website, promoting my branding consulting. The idea originated from client requests – so I had an immediate built-in customer base upon launch.
How did you get your first customer?
My first customer was someone who had read and loved my books – then came to my site to find out more about me. She was a busy mom who loved to cook gourmet meals for her family. I helped her to create a site and brand – and suggested the name “The Busy Hedonist.” She’s been thrilled with the branding. Her site has consistently received tremendous publicity and she’s garnered many prestigious writing gigs for huge publications thanks to her brand/site.
What is one marketing strategy (other than referrals) that you’re using that works really well to generate new business?
I write and design attention getting “virtual posters” – which work like print ads – except that they don’t directly advertise my branding program. They work like “brand honey” – inspiring intrigue. They “pull” people towards me, instead of “pushing” people towards me. People get curious about the “virtual posters” then visit my site – and learn more about me and my Brand Honey Program. Many of my “virtual posters” have been shared hundreds of thousands of times. Some have been shared over a million times. In fact my “virtual posters” are a strong example of what I mean by “brand honey.” They organically attract customers to naturally come to my site – without specifically promoting a product. My whole philosophy for creating “brand honey” is to do promotion which confidently attracts – instead of screams for attention.
What is the toughest decision you’ve had to make in the last few months?
I redesigned my entire site – so it’s more of a magazine and marketplace. And I created a new logo – which is a “wink” to my name NotSalmon – a quirky fish which has evolved long legs.
What’s your daily routine?
I wake up early – often at 5:30 or 6 am – so I get a head start on my day before my son wakes up. I meditate, work out a little, read the news or a book. I make the morning my own little sanctuary – because I believe mornings are your trajectory for the day. If you start off feeling happy and at peace, the whole day is aimed in a happy and peaceful direction.
What do you think it is that makes you successful?
I’m a big believer that one of the hardest things on this planet to destroy is a first impression! When you’re selling a brand, you gotta have your audience at “hello.” People have to look at your brand and immediately think, “Wow, I can trust this brand” or “Wow, this brand resonates with me.” You need to start with a WOW. In today’s crowded marketplace you either “wow” or die.
Nowadays having a great product or service is no longer enough. It’s not just what you got – it’s how you brand it! You must stand out in order to lure in!
With this in mind, I help entrepreneurs and companies to develop a “unique selling point,” so they inspire customers to feel as if they want to have what they’re having! I am strong at creating branding which confidently shows either a product or service to be both different and better. No matter what business you’re in, your greatest asset will always be your ability to communicate clearly and persuasively.
The quality of your communication = the level of your success
When you fully understand and develop out your “unique selling point,” you’re on your way to building a “fall-in-love-able” business. It’s what makes people want to be part of your “brand hive” (tribe). It’s how you can transform total strangers into super fans. And it’s how I’ve built a following of more than 1.3 million fans – all potential clients – simply by incorporating the secret sauce of what I call “brand honey.”
The more you’re remarkable, the more you’ll be marketable! In today’s crowded marketplace, you’ve especially got to be memorable, relevant and remarkable to cut through the noise – so people pay attention –and want to pay for what you’re selling.
What has been your most satisfying moment in business?
It was exciting when I reached over 1 million fans on Facebook. It’s also been thrilling to see many celebrities and big names love my books: Jon Stewart, Eminem, Seth Godin, Tony Robbins, Marissa Tomei, Amy Poehler, Giselle, Julian Lennon, Joan Rivers, Jay Leno, Goldie Hawn, Tim Ferris, Keith Ferrazzi – and then some.
What does the future hold for your business?
I’m creating more digital courses. In fact, with the success of my Brand Honey Consulting Program, I’m now working on developing a downloadable digital course around the tools I share with clients one-on-one.
What are you most excited about?
I signed a deal to create a line of inspirational jewelry – which I’m now developing. I also just launched DO IT — a revolutionary new online program to transform your eating and your life.