Due to our interactions on a daily basis in our professional and personal life's we already have begun to develop our own brand that others identify us by whether we like it or not. However, you do have a choice on what your personal brand will look and feel like as it's broadcasted to the world."Developing a personal branding strategy can separate you from attracting average clients to high paying clients."
If you have plans to get your company in the right position in the minds of your ideal customer, then deciding firsthand how you will be perceived by them can make all the difference. Consider the following strategies that I use personally and helped countless other entrepreneurs develop their personal brand identity.
There are many people who doubt the necessity of personal branding but one must realize that in all the brands we have come to love today, we don't just think about the company but also the talented founders behind them. If you think about Apple, you would also think about the type of person Steve Jobs was. Microsoft would be Bill Gates. Facebook would be Mark Zuckerberg. This is not only applicable to giant companies but especially to tech startups where people are still gauging the value of what you have to offer.
Personal Branding At The Core
Many naysayers of personal branding would simply dismiss the effort of building up your personal brand as an awful waste of time and would even go as far as to say it can get an entrepreneur sidetracked from managing his/her core business. Personal branding is at the heart of any small business in my opinion.
As an entrepreneur by now you should know that business isn't conducted based solely on the products and services you provide, but by your character, integrity, and personal relationships you build with others. Remember people don't buy from businesses, they buy from people that they like.
People do not only buy into things for their needs and wants. They buy products that make them feel good about their purchase. Personal branding is never separate from the core business of a firm; it is part of its success. The better the owner of an online business presents himself/herself to consumers, the higher their chances are of securing loyal customers.
If your products and services are the "what" of your business, personal branding will be the "why". People want to have a reason to buy; one reason is the engagement quality between the individual behind the business and the people who choose to buy into their offerings. Personal branding gives the company a soul, and if this soul is communicated clearly, you get patronage and sustainable business growth.
The Building Blocks Of A Personal Branding Strategy
There are building blocks to personal branding that creates a structure to the development of the brand you want to communicate to your target market. Without this structure, your personal brand can end up ruining your business. Simply put you need a personal branding strategy!
- Know what your competitors are doing. Studying intently what other founders in your business or industry are doing can give you a good idea how you can be different. Differentiation is the key especially when you are in a very competitive industry. Standing out can mean everything to you when you are carving a niche market. The uniqueness of your personal brand can make or break your social network presence and the positioning of your business. Don't try to become an expert in everything but choose a niche and as you gain market share then broaden your offerings. *For example, I'm an inbound marketing consultant, but I focus on helping B2B based SaaS startups.
- Develop A Social Media Strategy. You must first ask this: who are the people I envision to buy into my business? The answer to this question will dictate which social media platform is suitable for you. For example, if your company is selling aesthetics (fashion, art, design services) then you need to reach out to people who are in a platform where visuals are king, so Pinterest or Instagram would be a great place to start getting yourself known. If you want to reach out to professionals, then LinkedIn & Twitter is a good place to start.
- Decide on the content of your branding. Once you have decided on which platform you will use for communicating your personal brand, you must create a plan for your content. What kind of information do you want to broadcast on these platforms? Perhaps you want to outline the needs you want to address. What makes your business different from others like it? Having a plan for the things you want to say is the secret to communicating clearly who and what you are. Consider curating content using Feedly & Hootsuite to gain brand awareness and stay in front of your social connections.
- Consider other channels for communicating your brand. Although most people are online now, you still need to reach others who may not be connected online or would prefer to build offline relationships. This is especially true if you're in a B2B based company. The more cash you're asking for from a purchase, the more human touch points that are required. You might want to get in touch with authoritative blogs in your industry and make pitches for guest blog posts. This can show a lot of credibility on your website! My friend Sujan Patel who's an experienced growth hacker has mastered this strategy and saw an increase in conversions from this change to his home page.
- You can also look for people or organizations that startup communities. I highly recommend Meetup.com depending on your area. I stay in Washington, D.C. and I can always find plenty of events to go to and build relationships. Also, I must mention trying to attend events where you target customer would be likely to visit. Startup events are great, but if you're not meeting the right people, it can become a waste of time. The important thing here is to identify various Meetups. Want to take it to the next level and build your personal brand. Reach out to Meetup groups with a slide deck and pitch a presentation idea that would be a win/win for the team. With a polished presentation, social media presence, and decent company (or personal) website you're off to the races!
Personal Branding Strategies For Social Media
Some social media platforms can do a lot for your personal branding. One of which is LinkedIn. This network can work best for you because it is really designed to let others know who you are professionally. It can display information like where you went to school, your line of study and expertise, your work history, your passion, and your likes, basically, everything that has to do with your professional run.
When used effectively this can create a powerful background for your current business and what you can provide to your customers. Just make sure that your LinkedIn profile is complete and detailed. When you are already on LinkedIn be sure to engage your connections with regular posts. You can also join groups that are within your personal and business interests. You can also write short articles that display your vast knowledge about something, ideally about the business of your startup company. Feel free to check out my LinkedIn profile and see how I optimized it based on my personal branding strategy.
Then there is Twitter, a powerful platform that is now gaining popularity for posting business news and developments and for simply sharing information. This makes this social channel very powerful for personal branding. It allows you to communicate what you are about by commenting on current issues that may have something to do with your line of business. You can also share your opinions on matters that move you and your new company.
Twitter can also be a great platform for starting a conversation with customers, even employees. This can be done using hashtags allowing people to get into a topic, explore possibilities, and even fire up motivation. If you have the basics down packed well consider using these Twitter advanced search tips.
I love promoting my blog posts and connecting with business professionals who can benefit from them. In the following example, I'm using Twitter advanced search to connect with other entrepreneurs in Washington, D.C. that are interested in digital marketing. It's safe to say if I shared a blog post or reached out to them my time would be more productive than mass following people I don't know.
Pinterest is also a powerful platform you might want to consider. Pinterest is ideal for communicating your various interests. The visual nature of Pinterest is what makes it unique. You can post high definition photos of your products here, or anything cool about what your business does. You can even pin your packaging and logo, even interesting and beautifully made infographics that has something to do with your personal brand or your business. Once in awhile you can also pin the beautiful places you have been to adding a more personal touch to your online persona.
Understand What You're Getting Into
Remember that when you start developing your personal branding, you have no choice but to keep on improving it to maintain engagement. To prevent overexposing yourself on social media, decide for a planned reveal of who you are and what your business is all about.
Controlling what you share in your social network profiles or even on your posts can help you to be more strategic with your personal branding. Kind of like dating, don't give it all away on the first date.
You also need to know your social network channels intimately so that you can be more efficient in communicating within its walls. Not all platforms are the same. Some would be more useful for short posts, some are into visuals, while some are suitable for personal or professional posts. Never forget that your online presence must never be a hard sell of your business. It is best to engage people with information they need.
The authenticity of your personal brand depends on the quality of your interactions with your audience and more often than not, this is not about pitching a product or service. If you find yourself strapped for time consider getting help from an experienced personal branding consultant.
Be consistent no matter what social media platform you choose to focus on. Don't disappear for indefinite periods of time because this can create an impression that you aren't actively conducting business depending on your industry.
When you start on LinkedIn, Twitter or in any other platforms, you have to solidify your presence so that your captured audience will not go away. Share some of your personal branding examples you have used to separate yourself from the competition.