I am about to share with you a strategy that would make a huge difference to your success as a business owner and entrepreneur. The few minutes you spend reading this information would be the best investment you would have made for your success. Guaranteed!
Do you do business with businesses or people? If you think about it, people are the building blocks of the business world. Consumers typically buy from people – even if it is online. Of course if you are buying from Amazon or other such internet stores, you do not deal with people.
However, in your business, you would need to look at a strategy that includes building your personal brand. If you focus simply on your business brand, then you are not insured against pitfalls of your business and the economy. To illustrate this point, I will talk about two business owners, Jason and Nisha.
Jason contacted me a while ago. He had a business idea and wanted help with launching it. During the course of discovery, I realized that Jason had actually built and run a very successful real estate agency in Tampa, Florida. However, this business went belly up in the most recent economic crisis and Jason had to let go of his 20 strong team, apply for a chapter 11 and found himself eye deep in personal debt. Jason was not the only one effected in the crisis. However, he found himself with nothing to show from all his years in business.
It took him over 2 years, working for someone else, to be able to stand up on his feet again and think of his next venture.
For another client, Nisha, we helped create her brand identity a few years back. Armed with a degree in interior design, Nisha had set up a business catering to affluent Long Island home owners, helping them create stunning interior designs. When the crisis hit, Nisha’s business was effected too. People stopped spending money on interior design and since Nisha’s business, just like Jason’s, was limited to a geographic area, sales simply dried up.
However, from the beginning, Nisha had done something that Jason failed to do – spent time developing her personal brand. She established herself as an authority in her field. She had a personal website where she blogged about interior design. She wrote informative articles about her field. She shared news. She made creative suggestions. She was also quite active on social media networks, connecting with and engaging audience interested or related to her focus topic.
When the crisis hit and Nisha’s business was effected, she did not have to close it down or apply for chapter 11. Her personal brand helped her continue getting projects and sales. All she had to do was adjust her service offering. She changed her business model to be non-geographic and instead targeted the whole of the United States, offering her expertise and skill to home owners remotely using communication technology such as Skype and Google Hangouts. In fact the crisis was a blessing in disguise since it forced her expand her horizons which then lead to business growth.
Imagine, now if Jason had implemented the “personal branding” strategy too. If Jason had set aside a portion of his time, effort and money towards building and nurturing his personal brand along with his business brand, then when times were tough, Jason could have started reaching out to his network and use his personal brand to continue selling properties.
Of course, I understand that this is an over simplified narrative of these two businesses and their situations. But I believe you get the point and understand the importance of factoring in an insurance for your business success.
Building a personal brand is surprisingly easy. At the very least, you would need to the following:
1) Register your personal name domain
It is critical that you register a domain of your name. Typically, a domain of your full name is ideal. If that is not available and some one else has already registered it then try and find variations and alternatives that make sense. Your personal name is as important as your brand name.
2) Invest in a personal website
Once you have secured your personal domain name, invest in getting a professional website designed and hosted with a CMS (Content Management System) system in place. This website should be a DIY (Do It Yourself) one. You should be able to manage it with out technical help from a web designer. You should be able to create new pages on the fly and publish them on to the web easily.
Your personal website is an extension of you – online. It should be separate from your business that enables you to express who are and build your online personality. I have included a few options for your website in the next point.
3) Set up a personal blog
At least once a week (and preferable more, if possible), you would need to spend some time writing on your blog. You can write about both business and non-business topics but if you do write about your business or your market sector, then you should do so from your personal perspective. Strictly speaking, I would try and limit your business articles and posts to your company blog.
There are many decent CMS options on the market such as:
WordPress.com or – You can either get a managed website on WordPress itself or you can use WordPress as the website base on your hosting. The second option is the preferred method since you own the website and can do with it as you please. Hosting on WordPress itself means you are tied to the platform and their terms and conditions.
Tumblr.com – is very easy to use platform but is more of a social network than a blog. Also it is owned by Yahoo which is not such a great thing since it is likely that Yahoo would be introducing adverts onto the platform.
Blogger.com – This platform is owned by Google and is very easy to set up and get started but quite unsophisticated when it comes to customization and enhancing the layout and look and feel.
SquareSpace.com – Quite a slick and stylish platform with some awesome features. However, it is pricey and perhaps better for a business blog.
4) Show your personality
On your personal blog, do not be afraid to let people who you are and how you think. You should try and show your world view and your personal philosophy. In the past, there used to be a myth about not being overly personal online because it would be unprofessional or not good for your business. But that is old thinking now. Your clients and customers would be happy to know your personal side. This would build trust and rapport with your prospects.
Do not worry about the portion of audience would be put off by your personality or personal views. Trying to be vague about your opinions and views would not help your personal brand. Playing safe won’t get your any where. Of course you have to be careful and politically correct and with in reasonable confines of etiquette and decency.
Remember that you can not please everyone. Once you have completed the critical process of identifying your target market, you will have a better understanding of the world view of your customer segment. You can then sift through and find out topics that resonate with them. Write about these topics and add your own twist to them.
Here is an example that I wrote on my personal blog when I watched the movie “The Wolf Of Wall Street”. I was quite impressed with that film and drew some business analogies which I wanted to share with my audience.
5) Educate People
Try to share your knowledge with your market segment. Educating people is a powerful and effective way of becoming an authority in your field. Being generous with sharing your experience that actually benefits people can go long way in ultimately drawing in clients.
Typically people think that by sharing their knowledge and experience, their service or offer would become redundant and they would not get any customers. But that is a limiting belief. Sharing your knowledge makes you the go-to person in your sector. While your competition is close mouthed and tight lipped, you will be a breath of fresh air and your target audience will soon gravitate towards you and in fact word of mouth referrals will become a norm.
Suppose your are a clothing label, you can write a post about the latest award events (such as the Oscars or Emmy) and give your own verdict and fashion tips. You can also write a post full of tips and tricks on how to be fashionable while traveling and so on. Write posts on color matching. Advice your readers on what to wear for which occasion and so on.
If you run a beauty salon or a cosmetic business, you can post articles with advice on how to take care of your skin or your hair. Offer actionable techniques on applying makeup or mascara.
Another great strategy is to answer questions on popular platforms such as Quora.com, Yahoo Answers etc. Search for hash tags that align with your field of expertise and business. Set up a daily or weekly schedule to go through the questions and see if you can answer a few. The important thing is to make sure the answers are authentic and add value. Do not simply post replies that are just a rehash of what others may have already posted. Your contribution should enhance your personal brand. Half baked or amateur answers may in fact tarnish your reputation.
6) Get on social media
The next most critical activity would be embracing social media. The present and future is all about social media. Having a strong presence on social media leads to both personal and business success. I will not go too much into the pros and cons of social media in this article but I can not emphasize enough how critical social media is to your success.
The first step is to pick one or two social media channels to focus on. Here are some pointers to which network may align with your business goals:
Google+ – By far the best social media, in my opinion, for connections and engagement. You can connect with people from your market segment as well as people who share your views and interests. It is great with one way following – unlike Facebook – which means you can follow any one and any one can follow you with out a permission based access.
The main advantage of Google+ is that it is part of the Google network and search. Google is now implementing something called the “Authorship” which enables one to be authentic and get rewarded for it. By having an authentic presence on G+, you build your authorship reputation which will then help with Google search and being found by a wider audience group.
Facebook – There is not much to say about Facebook since I am sure you already have an account and know how it works and what it is good for. Since it is a closed system with permission based connection system, it is harder to build a following. Here is another article I wrote on optimizing your Facebook campaigns.
Twitter – Every one should have a solid presence on Twitter. It helps you create connections and enable you to get followers who would enhance your personal brand. Post interesting updates about what you are doing and reading on the internet. Focus on aligning your tweets with what you want people to associate your personal brand with. Here is an in-depth post on using Twitter to improve your brand.
Pinterest – A great new social network that is actually moving at tremendous speed. Like a photo or image you see on the internet? Then pin it on pinterest. Follow power users who pin images that pique your interest. Install a pinterest browser plugin to make it easy to pin images. Make it a habit and over time it will become second nature. I wrote an article on using Pinterest for your business promotion but it is equally useful for personal brands.
7) Social Media Branding
The next step is to ensure your branding is consistent on all the social media channels. You need a professional looking personal logo, an avatar and consistent cover images and backgrounds. Ensure that all the profiles are fully fleshed out with good titles, tag lines and descriptions. Make sure the profiles are complete and that you verify these profiles with your personal blog and your business website. Establish clear authorship links to show the search engines that you are the author.
Spend time to distill your core values and create a unique and specific message style. This style has to be carried over to the status updates, the images and links you share on these networks. Be consistent and your audience will come recognize and expect your signature style.
Remember, you are a brand and hence you need to act accordingly.
8) Create Media Content
Finally, to really enhance your personal brand and take it to the next level, you need to invest in alternate media content venues such as a Youtube channel, an audio podcast or a webcast.
Put yourself out there and create videos – either personal vlogs or sector related ones and show the world who you are and get noticed. If videos are difficult to get started with, you can start a podcast where you can talk about issues that motivate and interest you. Here are some videos that I created in the past that show you how I talk about my passion – helping small business owners understand branding and marketing.
There is much more to personal branding and this post just scratches the surface. I hope this becomes a primer and helps you get on the path to greater personal and business success. It is never too late to get started and it is not as hard as you would imagine it to be. All the items listed above may seem too technical and you may consider yourself a computer newbie. But believe me when I say that once you start taking one step after another, things will become clearer and very easy.
If you would like more information about this topic, be sure to email me from our contact page or schedule a strategy call with me using the “Schedule Call” button in the left column and I will try and help you.