In today’s world, just about everyone has a personal brand. If you have a personal profile, you have a personal brand. As a result, it is critical to cultivate your brand consciously. It already exists based on any digital footprint provided by family, friends, colleagues, and you. An AVG study states 92 percent of children under two years old have a digital footprint. https://www.cnet.com/news/study-92-of-u-s-2-year-olds-have-online-record/
A properly developed personal brand can:
- Present an individual’s name and persona as valuable products.
- Increase visibility with the target audience.
- Build a larger network.
- Give the person industry recognition.
- Help generate sales leads.
As a Consultant, Coach, Business Leader, or Entrepreneur, do you want to build your brand or continue to let others establish it for you? Not sure yet?
Entrepreneur Network partner Greg Rollett of The Ambitious Life is often asked whether it’s important to create a personal brand. His answer? “Only if you want to get paid.”
Here are five tips to cultivate your personal brand.
1. Define Your Specialization and Ideal Clients
A one-size fits all approach may be good for some. However, your personal brand should make you stand out to clients as the go-to person in your area of expertise.
What is unique about you that others cannot duplicate? Think about your experiences, skills, talents, knowledge, values, character, and your reputation
Specialization allows you to focus on the area(s) where you possess dominant expertise.
Can you craft your core values, personality traits and your story into an authentic identity that resonates with your target audience? Your answer can help you define what is unique about you.
Clients will pay a premium price when you offer something that only you have. Write a list of the things you have in common with your peers then identify how you are different. What unique experiences or skills will resonate with your target audience?
“Specialization should allow you to focus not only on the areas of your work that are more lucrative but on the ones you’re best at…. Specialization [tells] prospects exactly what you do and whom you work with, so they know right away if you’re right for them or not…. Remember, you don’t want everyone as your client, just your ideal clients.” – Peter Montoya, author of The Brand Called You. http://www.petermontoya.net/
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 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! – Susan Chritton
2. Define your brand
What do you stand for? Who are you? For clients to begin the process of trusting you and wanting to develop a relationship with you, they will need to understand what you stand for. To define your brand, you should list your core strengths, skills and expertise — things that make you stand out. You should also identify your brand values and desired contributions. All of these components are part of our personal brand.
Clients need to understand who you are. As you develop your personal brand, it is critical to be authentic and your best self. Do not try to imitate someone else or create a fake version of you. You are good enough. Here are some things to think about as you define the what makes you uniquely awesome and valuable.
What are your values?
What are your passions?
What do want to accomplish in one year and in five years? Know what you want to accomplish.
How do you want to contribute to your clients’ lives, your community, your industry, and the world?
Bottomline – Know what you want and what you offer.
Unique Value Positioning
To differentiate your brand, your target audience needs to recognize the unique advantage you bring to the table.
- How would others describe you?
- What are your valuable skills?
- What makes you different in your ability to meet a client’s needs?
- How can you bring value to the client in a way that your competition cannot?
- What are the big wins/accomplishments in your experience?
- What is your personality/ style that could resonate with clients?
- What is your reputation?
- Is there an unmet need you can meet?
3. Establish a Marketing Plan for your Personal Brand
Developing and executing a marketing plan may initially seem like one more thing for you to juggle. It can help you reach your goals sooner. Your marketing plan allows you to focus on reaching your Personal Brand goals and monitoring your results.
Your plan should outline the following:
- Understand your objectives.
- What is your vision?
- What is your Value Proposition?
- What is your relevant work experience?
- What is your desired outcome?
- Personal Brand Marketing Approach
- Define at least five channels and get them to coordinate/feed off of each other. You can utilize promotional channels, blogs, forums, and social media (LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook, and others) to get your personal brand in front of your target audience.
- Define the target audience
- Who do you already know?
- Who do you need to meet?
- How can you add value to your network?
- How do you plan to grow your network?
- Learn the language of your clients
- How do clients describe the problems? Pay attention to how they describe it. Their language may be useful in your brand’s pitch.
- Develop a relationship with the audience
- Be authentic to who you are. Everyone is already taken.
- Define your process to become a thought leader and influencer in your industry?
Developing a marketing plan is going to be essential for your business. As Jasmine Sandler, CEO of Agent-cy Online Marketing states, “This is the crux of personal branding for entrepreneurs. It is about knowing the field in which you possess the most experience, information, and passion. How will you penetrate influence through the development and delivery of thought leadership pieces? What will they look like?”
4. Develop Your Brand’s Pitch
“Messaging skills separate those with million-dollar Personal Brands from their peers walking the corporate corridors today.” – Meredith Fischer, Vice President, Marketing Communications, Pitney Bowes Inc.
An elevator pitch message communicates what the client craves in a quick, concise, and direct way. In a small window of time, your potential client will decide if they are interested in working with you. Can they see themselves in your vision? If not, they will move on. Your goal is to get them to resonate with your pitch and you.
Jack Delosa, CEO of The Entourage, says. “You need to understand your consumer better than they understand themselves. You… “why” should speak to something deep within your audience that they want, but haven’t been able to verbalize themselves…. enable people to feel like they’re a part of something because your value set aligns with their value set and it forms a common conversation. When you’re genuine and authentic to the idea, people want to be a part of it.”
Your pitch needs to explain not only that you’re valuable but why you’re the only one they should work with. In a few seconds, your pitch should:
- Explain who you are.
- Communicate your values in a way that resonates with the clients.
- Show them that only you can solve their problem.
5. Develop a strategy to increase the reputation and reach of your brand
Your personal brand’s reach is contingent upon your reputation and visibility. While your strategy can be simple to complex, it will be more effective if you are consistently engaged and authentic, while building connections and staying active in social media.
“If people know and trust you and your personal brand, they’re more likely to trust your … business… the wider your personal audience, the more prospective clients you can reach on any given day” says Sam Owens, Consulting Millionaire by age 26. https://www.entrepreneur.com/article/281150
“If you don’t have a powerful and visible personal brand, you are putting yourself at a disadvantage in almost every aspect of your professional, business and personal life.” Matt Sweetwood, over 30 years of entrepreneurial experience. https://www.entrepreneur.com/article/289278
Develop your strategy using the 20 ideas below.
- Be authentic on social media. Stand out and share your story. Dare to be different and connect. Storytelling and engagement are powerful tools that get people’s attention.
- Use your platform to share with the world what you can do. Look at using videos on social media. Get out there as the leader in your industry. Big brands cannot connect as you can. Go for it.
- Share live video. People love the live broadcasts. Big Brands do it, and you can too.
- Mobile is key. I constantly work with clients to put their platforms on mobile. Start looking at how you can get your messages in the mobile space.
- Research where your target audience hangs out. Facebook, Twitter, or another platform. Look at possible places to put ads and join communities.
- Get influencers to want to work with you.
- Consider guest bloggers.
- Work the face to face scene. Attend networking events. Have your brand pitch ready.
- Constantly improve your understanding of every platform you use or hire someone that does.
- Manage your existing contact list. Don’t get a lead and never contact them again or only call to hard sell. Clients today want a relationship. Take the time to build these relationships.
- If you decide to post on social media, use it to post power content frequently.
- Keep reading. Your audience should see you as the thought leader.
- Provide value in your messaging to your target audience.
- Identify someone you consider to be the best that motivates you and look at what they do. What are best practices for social media, business and growing their brand? earn from them to help your growth and define your style.
- Incorporate visual images in the content.
- Grow your tribe/followers with social media. Understand your target, and don’t randomly ask people to follow you. Create value-add content for your group.
- Share good, relevant content.
- Follow people that attend conferences with you and reach out to them.
- Put social media handles with either your website or top/recent link on your business cards.
- Look up lists of top hashtags hubs, influencers, magazines, and bloggers that your target audience follows. Start monitoring these venues. Create search streams in Hootsuite or Twitter and track conversations. These ideas can help you see where your community lives.
The next time you think about growing your network, increasing your industry recognition or generating sales leads, keep these tips in mind to cultivate your brand and get paid.