Whether you are planning your dream company, getting it off the ground, entering your third year or twentieth, building a personal brand is essential to furthering your business goals. You’ve been working for years to brand your company and the services you offer but have you thought about how you brand yourself?
‘Personal Branding’ is the practice of marketing yourself and your career as a brand. In the article “A Brand Called You,” Tom Peters states,
“Regardless of age, regardless of position, regardless of the business we happen to be in, all of us need to understand the importance of branding. We are CEOs of our own companies: Me Inc. To be in business today, our most important job is to be head marketer for the brand called ‘You’.”
Nowhere is this truer than service-based business.
Down to Business:
In 2016, if you have a website, Google account, Facebook page, LinkedIn, Instagram, Twitter or used any other version of online social communication, you have a Personal Brand. Clients and consumers are looking to connect with a human being, so with today’s digital focus, it is important to remember that the internet is not a one-way portal to your target audience. The majority of people searching for what you have to offer will do research online before making a purchase decision. Getting your brand onto someone’s shortlist will require letting potential clients meet the brand of you. There are many resources out there to assist you with this endeavor–service providers for hire, online blogs and websites. However, the core of the work really lies with you:
- Who are you?
- How are you different from others around you?
- What is your vision for life and work?
Here are three steps to get you started:
Step 1: Understand Your Personal Brand
- What are your core values?
- What are your passions?
- What is your personality?
- What makes you stand out from the crowd?
It’s time for some self-analysis and reflection. Most likely, you thought about these when building your business plan. Revisit them–have there been changes or growth? These are the things that make you and your company unique.
- How are things going now?
- What are your goals for the future?
Being able to articulate who you are as a person and how that connects to your business is crucial to building trust and creating a human interaction in an online sea of logos and corporations.
Step 2: Set your Target
“One of the biggest mistakes that budding personal branders make is trying to appeal to everyone. Think about the game of darts: You have to aim in order to hit the board. (If you let your darts go without aiming them, you probably won’t be very popular.) If you hit the board, you score. And if your aim is very good and you hit the bull’s eye, even better!”
Setting a target audience for your marketing is just good business. You probably already do this with your company marketing, so think about this for your personal brand as well. You are a unique person catering to other unique individuals. Don’t try to market yourself to everyone; it will only lead to frustration. Think about your current clients, their needs, what they gain from your business. Use this information to help you build a target audience for your personal brand.
Step 3: Communicate Your Brand
Now that you have a target audience, how are you getting the word out about you and your company? Use your company website “About Us”section to share more about yourself, your vision and values. Share employee stories and customer testimonials to support your brand. Do you have a blog, social media presence? Be unified across your channels. In person, you can shake hands, impress and influence people. Online, it is your photo, vision statement, and personal story that clients use to learn about you. If you have employees, think about how they can also support your brand. When your employees share positive workplace comments, support company events, or just give a shout out to your company on their own social media they are helping to share your brand in an authentic way that will resonate for potential customers.
As a service-based business, YOU are your company. It is your ideas, passions and drive that have gotten your company to where it is today. Don’t be afraid to let people in on the not-so-secret you. After all, you’re pretty awesome, and who wouldn’t want to do business with awesome?
For more suggestions and support in your personal brand journey, check out the following resources:
The Complete Guide to Building Your Personal Brand This guide, written by Neil Patel and Aaron Agius will answer every question you have on the topic plus at least 4 you didn’t even think to ask. Easy-to-read with added inspirational quotes from business owners just like you!
Your Personal Brand Workbook This workbook is helpful for those who like a bit more guided instruction. While parts of the workbook are geared towards marketing oneself to find a job, the basic principles are sound for all seeking to build a personal brand.