How to Create and Grow Your Personal Brand

Why do you need a personal brand? For the same reason washing powder is branded: to stand out from the competition. Of course, you’re not washing powder but the principle applies: to be noticed in a crowded, noisy market you must be packaged and presented in a way that inspires confidence in your customers. They must believe you can deliver better results than the competition. On a deeper level, they trust you and develop a sense of loyalty and some may even feel they have a connection with you and to make any other choice is unthinkable. That’s what your personal brand accomplishes.

Do you have a weak personal brand?

What makes a weak personal brand?

  1. Being too general in the service you offer. When it comes to branding, focus is better. Focus on delivering one service excellently rather than a tangle of disparate add-ons. It’s certainly possible to make a living as a generalist but you get paid more to be a specialist.
  2. Being too general in defining your target market. You need a clear picture of who is (and who isn’t) your client base. Catering to a broad, undefined market where “everyone” is a potential customer automatically weakens your brand as you will not be able to present one clear identity to your target audience.
  3. Failing to establish credibility. You have insufficient evidence of your ability or authority in your chosen area.
  4. Lack of consistency. Are you reliable or do you sometimes miss deadlines? Is your work of a consistently high standard or does it depend the weather? Do you reply promptly reply to questions or do you occasionally forget? Humans do not like inconsistency, it makes us feel nervous and in unsafe.

How to build a powerful personal brand

  1. Do one thing exceptionally well. Be known for being great at one thing. That’s enough. Be a specialist; be the go-to authority. That’s how experts get invited to consult with Fortune 100 companies; how they can charge $50,000 to speak at an event; how they land book deals and seven-figure business opportunities. Decide the one thing you excel at, that comes naturally to you – that should be your focus.
  2. Decide who you want to serve. Picture one person standing in front of you, your ideal customer. You need to flesh out their persona. Specifically: what is the biggest professional problem they face on a day-to-day basis? What keeps them awake at night? What are their frustrations and problems? What “magic wand” solution are they looking for? What can you do that will make their life easier? What service can you deliver that will make them look good in front of their boss/clients? How can you reach out to them? What trade magazines/websites do they subscribe to? What professional events do they attend? This is your ideal customer – who you should be targeting from now on.
  3. Create content that demonstrates your credibility. You have myriad options to establish your authority: flesh out your portfolio; write a book; give interviews; solve problems for your target market; create a course; guest blog; produce video; start a YouTube channel; start a podcast; interview fellow experts to discuss your industry; create a Facebook page to promote your work and build a following… How many of these are you doing on a consistent basis? Look at those who are ahead in your target market. Are they doing anything that you couldn’t do?
  4. Self-promotion is compulsory. You can’t be shy when trying to monetize your know-how. You’re creating great content, you need to get it out into the world. That means embracing social media marketing. Don’t roll your eyes at us. Social media marketing is like exercise – most people hate doing it and it can be a time-suck – but it’s good for you, provided you’re consistent. You may not have the time, budget or staff to deliver a full-blown social media campaign but there are some effective 80/20 principles you can use: a good place to start. There’s no avoiding it, social media marketing does require your time and effort but it’s important for raising your profile and authority. The good news is there are ways to streamline your social media marketing efforts.
  5. Become a skilled speaker and presenter. All the experts who are killing it in your industry have one thing in common. They’re comfortable in front of an audience – whether live or on camera. These experts have realised that nothing can compete with the reach, influence and information payload of live events or video. Public speaking and video presenting are skills that can be learned – there are many online resources, check out YouTube. It may come more naturally to some than others but with the right tuition and practice anyone can reach a level of competence.
  6. Be consistent. Establish yourself as someone others can rely on to get the work done, to produce the desired results. You do this by being consistent in quality; meeting deadlines; keeping communication open and ensuring your marketing collateral (e.g. business cards, logo, email footer etc) are identically applied. By being a known-quantity you make your clients feel comfortable using you and that builds trust and credibility.

Takeaway points

  1. You need a personal brand if you want to stand out in a competitive market.
  2. Do one thing exceptionally well.
  3. Have an ideal customer profile in mind.
  4. The best way to build a brand is to add value to your target audience.

Action steps

  1. Identify the target market you want to serve.
  2. Choose one of the options outlined above, “Create content that demonstrates your credibility”. We recommend writing a book that solves an important problem for your target audience.
  3. Learn how to promote your book.

Photo credit: jurvetson via Foter.com / CC BY

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