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What do business magnate Sir Richard Branson, SEO and social media marketing guru Neil Patel, and best-selling author Mark Manson have in common?
A solid personal brand.
What is personal branding?
Personal branding has become a crucial part of success for anyone with a skill or service to offer the world—the modern-day entrepreneur, merger & acquisition consultant, author, artist, independent contractor, sales and marketing professional, or self-employed freelancer. Through personal branding, renowned experts can set themselves apart from others in their field.
Personal branding is the practice of marketing yourself and your career as a brand. It encompasses your reputation, expertise, skills, personality, values, and attitudes among a multitude of other things. It is the image that other people see or think of when hearing your name.
Why is personal branding important?
Nowadays, even large companies no longer solely rely on their corporate brand. Instead, they also hinge on an individual’s personal brand (usually their founder or CEO) to build their image and reputation.
Individuals who build their business around their area of expertise like authors, speakers, coaches, or freelancers also make use of personal branding strategies to distinguish themselves from would-be competitors and to attract clients. The reality is, nowadays, without a powerful personal brand, even experts will find themselves struggling to grow or even maintain their business.
Below are seven clear and actionable personal branding tips and strategies you can follow to kick-start your branding strategy.
Find your niche and build your expertise
The first and biggest step to creating your personal brand strategy is finding your expertise. Whatever industry you’re in, you’ll want to shine in a particular niche within that industry. There’s a common misconception that it’s better to be broad about your specialization for you to capture a larger market. Perhaps this might have worked for some at the start, but in the long run, those who go on to be successful are those who have found that one specialized field they can excel at.
Take Pat Flynn‘s example. From the broad industry of online entrepreneurship and digital marketing, he found his niche as an expert in creating passive income. This can be done in any field or industry. Finding your niche will help unlock two important questions: who your target market is and what your unique selling proposition will be.
Have a consistent visual brand identity (that’s tied to your personality)
Your brand identity is often the first impression your potential customers will have of you. It includes your choices on what to name your business, logo design, color palette, graphics, and even photos you choose to share on your blog, website, or social media.
It even encompasses the way you dress for success. It can be hard to understand why it’s important to build consistent visual brand identity or even to have one at all, but visuals play an important role when it comes to differentiation, recall, and even perception of quality.
- Develop a strong value proposition
After finding your niche, the next step is to position yourself within it. Research your competition and figure out what sets you apart. Some questions you can ask to determine your USP or unique selling proposition are:
- What specific problems are you trying to solve?
- What are the skills you have, and what can you offer to your audience?
- Why should your audience care about what you have to say?
- What new insights or solutions are you offering?
- What are you passionate about? What do you stand for?
Create your content and social strategy
If you’re seeking to establish yourself as an industry expert, content marketing is going to be your best friend.
Remember, content marketing gets three times more leads than paid search advertising, yet costs 62% less than traditional marketing.
Content marketing is also what’s going to help your website rank. Focus on creating long, in-depth articles (1000 words or more) that answer a question or problem within your niche. You can search for top keywords or search queries using free tools like AnswerthePublic or Ubersuggest.
Make sure to stay on top of social media trends and topics relevant to your industry. Offer your audience useful content like infographics or free ebooks.
Figure out your modes of communication
Ask yourself: where can I engage with people from my target audience? Then be there for them. Let them find you where they already hang out. Take advantage of the social media platforms available to you and engage with them by replying to their comments on your posts or any feedback they leave on your social media page.
Consider investing in an official website for your brand. Or, you can start with publishing on platforms such as Medium. What’s important is that you have a platform for sharing your expertise and allowing people to find you.
Seek out mentors and build your network
Building a successful personal brand doesn’t happen overnight, and neither does it happen alone. A study found that 80% of CEOs said they have had a mentor help them in their respective careers.
Mentors can be a great asset when you’re just starting out on building your personal brand. The right mentor can show you how they achieved success and how to avoid common pitfalls or mistakes, and, very importantly, introduce you to more experts and mentors you can learn from.
If there’s one key thing to remember when creating your personal brand, it’s to be authentic. A personal brand isn’t a persona or a facade to put on in front of an audience. People have a way of finding out if a person is being genuine or not. Your personal brand should be just that: personal to you. Consider your brand as an extension of all the good things about your personality, values, skills, and expertise.
Moreover, becoming an expert in your industry won’t happen overnight. As they say, there is no shortcut to success. You’ll need to put in countless hours of hard work, create lots of useful content, experiment with different techniques and tools, and above all, be yourself.
Author: Barbara Davidson