Do you like reality tv shows?
Most people do (even though they won’t admit it). Personally, I’m not a reality show-type-of-person. However, it is an undeniable fact that America loves its reality TV.
Why is that? People enjoy colorful characters. People enjoy following the lives of interesting people. People enjoy watching others do cool things and go cool places, because in some ways, it allows viewers to see themselves doing cool things as well.
So what does reality TV have to do with growing your business?
It’s 2017. The internet and (more specifically) social media have redefined successful branding as we know it. And if you want to be a major player in the game, you need to be investing in your personal brand. If you think about your personal brand as a reality show, you’ll have success.
Think about it- you’re the founder or CEO of a brand! Most people want to know what that’s like. Many people would love to own their own companies as well, but there are many reasons why they never take the leap. If you can showcase your day-to-day activities via your personal brand, people WILL follow.
Just ask people like Gary Vaynerchuk, Tai Lopez, or Kylie Jenner. All have built massive followings on social media by investing time and effort into their personal brand. Cameras are rolling 24/7, and it’s led to unprecedented intrigue and followership from a massive audience.
Sick of hearing the words “personal branding” yet?
A simple Google search for the term “Personal Branding” will turn up over 30 MILLION results! It’s become THE super-trendy buzzword in the internet marketing space, and it has people wondering what exactly it is.
Entrepreneur.com defines “personal branding” as ‘the practice of people marketing themselves and their careers as brands – the ongoing process of establishing a prescribed image or impression in the mind of others about an individual’.
You may or may not know this, but you’ve been ‘personally branding’ yourself since the day you were born. If you were a troublemaker in elementary school, Mrs. Johnson your first-grade teacher associates your brand with being an asshole. If you were an ‘A’ student in high school your peers may have branded you a geek (or most-likely-to-succeed if we’re being fair). If you were lazy during football practice- your coaches branded you a wimp.
It’s human nature- branding is all about telling people what they can expect from interacting with us. Actions speak louder than words, remember?
While you’re constantly branding yourself in everyday life, it has become very valuable to do so via the internet because you can reach people all across the world.
In turn, people are finding a ‘tribe’ of followers who interact with them daily and purchase their products and services. While your business grows organically, effective personal branding can grow alongside it and bring in people that may never have known your business was there in the first place.
In this article, we’ll take an in-depth look at personal branding: what it is, how can it help you, and how to develop a personal branding strategy to grow your business.
What is Personal Branding?
As we defined earlier, personal branding is the ongoing marketing of an individual that explains to the world who that individual is. The best personal brands in the world are those that are consistent and authentic, which allows for that brand to connect with people who have similar unique interests and talents.
In short: personal branding is what makes a person unique and illustrates what they have of value to offer the world. Personal branding is similar to branding in business, in that it is intentional. You can read more about branding in business here.
Let’s look at a hypothetical example to illustrate this:
I’m a HUGE Chicago Bulls fan. I can name you every player on their roster since I became a fan in 1997. I know every trade, every coach, every draft pick, and all the team’s statistics.
Because I love the Bulls and have access to the internet, I decide to start a blog about the Bulls to include all of the news and highlights related to the team, while also including my personal opinion of what they are doing and how I think they can improve. I began this blog strictly because I love the Bulls and would like to write about them.
Four months go by, and I start to receive emails from Bulls fans that are reading my blog. They love my opinions and analysis, and they are upset that they can’t find me on Facebook! I look at the analytics for my website and see that I’m getting over 2,000 readers per month! I also see that I rank towards the bottom of the first page of Google for “Bulls Highlights” and “Chicago Bulls Analysis”, which is feeding me tons of traffic.
I decide to make a Facebook page to appease my audience. I share my posts on my Facebook page, while using this page to comment on other pages related to the Chicago Bulls. This gets me exposure and brings even more people to my Facebook page and my blog as well.
Fast forward a few more months, and I’ve been running my blog for just over a year. I now have almost 7,000 monthly readers on my blog, so I send out a newsletter to their emails. My website traffic has made it so advertisers want to place ads on my site, which makes me money. My Facebook page has inspired many spirited discussions about the God-awful Bulls front office. My viewers call me the “United Center Sleuth” because of my ability to predict all the moves the Bulls make.
In the end, what started out as a fun blog for me turned into a money-making business thanks to a large audience of readers and advertisers who helped me monetize my website.
Ask any of my readers why they follow me, and you’ll get something like this: “I love Alex’s website because it gives such in-depth analysis and reports everything that is happening with the Bulls. I also think his posts about the front office are hilarious.”
So you see, all I did was cash-in on a passion of mine. If I only had 50 readers per month and made exactly ZERO dollars, that would be fine with me. I love the Chicago Bulls and just being able to write about them makes me happy. What I didn’t expect to happen in this scenario was that I would build up a loyal following of readers that have a unique interest (the Bulls) and are passionate about all things Bulls-related.
Even though I didn’t intend to do so, I built a personal brand as a “Chicago Bulls expert” strictly by my daily actions online.
See how that works?
That’s great, but how can it benefit me?
Investing in developing your personal brand can pay off in a major way; the opportunities that can come from these efforts are endless. How, you ask?
If you offered someone $100 to do absolutely nothing but to wake up every day, you think they’d take you up on that? I’d venture to say they would.
If you invest in your personal brand, you are gaining followership, which will attract attention from businesses and advertisers. It could land you a great job, it could land you advertisements, or it could land you consulting gigs and such. All of these things will bring you income just for being you, income you wouldn’t have seen had you not invested in your personal brand.
There’s something to be said about being a leader of men. It’s a great ego-boost, sure, but it’s also a great responsibility. Many people want to be leaders, but they often don’t take the steps necessary to do so. If your personal branding efforts are effective, you’ll build an audience that anticipates and engage in the content you create. This allows you to network and connect with people from corners of the Earth that you didn’t know existed. You become an ‘influencer’ in your industry, and that can lead to many, many opportunities.
Growth-Hacking your Business:
The term “growth hack” can be defined as the experimenting of different marketing techniques to find the quickest, most efficient way of growing a brand. When you create content for your personal brand, you should be promoting any projects or businesses you are involved in as well. Your audience may include potential customers for your business, so NOT promoting your businesses wouldn’t be maximizing your growth potential. Allowing your business audience to mesh with your personal brand’s audience is a great way to expedite business growth.
People LOVE experts. People love experts so much that professionals end up spending time and money to acquire designations that basically say, “I’m an expert!”. Because of its relatively non-existent barriers to entry, the internet has made it so that pretty much anyone can become an ‘expert’ on anything. For example, you may not have your CFP designation, but you study personal finance and write knowledgeable finance articles that your audience loves. They may approach you to help them with their finances despite your lack of professional designations or experience, simply because you have branded yourself as an expert with the content you produce.
One of my favorite books is “The Compound Effect” which talks about how little, consistent efforts ultimately turn into large results. When you do little things to help your personal brand such as creating content every day and interacting with your audience, you are building trust and credibility within your community. What will inevitably happen is that people will share your content with their networks, and that will bring you even more of an audience.
So you see, there are numerous benefits to investing in promoting your personal brand. While you already have a personal brand, it is probably underdeveloped. You need to put an emphasis on consistency to develop your brand and grow your audience.
So we’ve talked a lot about what a personal brand is, and how it can benefit you. Lastly, let’s take a look at what you need to do to develop your own personal branding strategy.
How to develop a Personal Branding strategy.
“Failing to prepare is preparing to fail.” -Benjamin Franklin.
Just like anything in life, we need to prepare thoroughly if we want to reach a desired goal. If you want to reap the benefits of a strong personal brand and grow your influence, you need to plan accordingly. Preparing your “Personal Branding Strategy” is the first step in getting you to your goals.
1. Make lists.
The first thing you’ll want to do to create your personal brand strategy is to make lists. List out your goals. List out your values. List out your interests. List out your strengths. Basically, you want to create a document that defines you as a person.
The key here is to be real with yourself. Personal brands take consistent effort over a long period of time to build. If you want to be known as an extroverted, dominant salesman but you’re actually quiet and introverted, your potential audience will see right through it.
List out everything about who you are, what you like, and what you want out of your brand. Be real, be authentic, be honest.
2. Personify these lists.
List out the attributes and characteristics that your values and strengths have. Imagine them as a person or a car. What type would they be? Which celebrity are they similar to? Doing this will give you guidance as to what you need to do to convey the message of who you are to your potential audience.
This is also where you determine your voice and tone. Gary Vaynerchuk has built his brand by being raw, authentic, and motivational. He tells it like it is and doesn’t care what you think. Neil Patel, the internet marketing guru, has built his brand with a more relaxed voice that focuses on in-depth marketing knowledge and analytics.
Personifying your values and strengths will allow you to determine exactly what your personal brand voice is.
3. Determine your goals.
If you’re investing in your personal brand, you need to have a ‘Why’. You can easily start a blog with no aspirations for the future, and you’ll be just fine. It’s when you decide to go all-in on your personal brand that you need to define your goals.
Use this step to outline TANGIBLE goals, both short-term and long-term for your brand. Examples of these would be things like, “I want to have 400 Facebook fans in 9 months”, or “I want to rank on Page 1 on Google for ‘Gardening Consultants in Maryland’ in a year”. Put realistic timelines on these goals so that you have something to work toward that gives you Purpose.
4. Content, content, content.
At this point, we’ve done enough prep work. Time to get to the nitty gritty. You have your goals, you have your voice, you know your strengths and the message you want to convey to your audience. Now it’s time to create content to push those goals forward.
This is a long-term game. You need to be creating consistent content over the course of many, many months if you want to see results and build your tribe. If you aren’t consistent, YOU WILL FAIL. That’s a guarantee.
Make sure you are creating content that is conducive to the message your brand is trying to send. If you’re a motivational speaker, you’d do well to make videos and not just write blog posts so your audience can see your intensity and feel your voice. If you are an expert gardener, take high-quality photos to include on your website and social media.
Use the correct channels to promote this content. The motivational speakers should definitely have a YouTube channel, while the gardener would be well-served using Pinterest and Instagram to promote her content. Focus on three-or-four mediums to promote your content.
5. Measure results and interact with your audience.
People like to interact with brands online because it humanizes the business. it gives a voice to what used to be seen as large, faceless corporations that were inaccessible. When your content starts building an audience for you, be sure to interact. Thank them for following, listen to feedback, and cater content to their needs.
Another thing to make sure you do is to measure results. Look at the analytics on your website, measure trends in blog readership, analyze interactivity on your social media pages. If you’re not getting the engagement or followership you’d like to, then the proof will be in the pudding. Your data will tell you waht tweaks to make, and you can then make those adjustments and measure again in a month of next quarter.
At the end of the day, ‘personal branding’ is a buzzword that really just means ‘describing your unique abilities and message’. While it takes time and effort to build a quality audience, the results are well worth the work you need to put in. The time is going to pass anyway, why not use it to tell people who you are?
The major keys to effective personal branding are an authentic voice, consistent content creation, and audience interaction. If you do these things, you will reap the benefits of a strong personal brand that will afford you many opportunities both personally and professionally for years to come. Best of luck on your personal branding journey, and as always, reach out to me at firstname.lastname@example.org to keep me posted on your progress!