Zig Ziglar said, “If people like you they will listen to you, but if they trust you, they’ll do business with you.” That’s why it’s essential that you create and maintain a strong personal brand, regardless of what you do. Here are 8 tips to help you do that:
1. Understand your industry.
This is an essential first step in any branding effort. You can’t set yourself apart from the competition if you don’t understand them from both a product perspective and in terms of their own personal brand image. What are some positive and negative appeals in your industry, and how can you use that information to differentiate yourself? Armed with those answers, you can develop ways to set yourself apart in you industry.
A good example of this is Sprint. They understand Verizon’s offerings so well, they’ve created an entire marketing strategy around the fact that they offer mobile service that’s almost as reliable as Verizon’s, but at half the cost. They’ve even gone so far as to hire Verizon’s ‘can you hear me know’ guy to pitch their service, and copy the concept and visuals from Verizon’s “drop the mic” television commercial.
2. Understand your ideal customer.
Because branding is all about appealing to prospective customers, it’s critical that you know who your ideal customer is. After all, you can’t effectively market to someone if you don’t know anything about them – their behavior patterns, motivations and goals, and relate to them as real humans. Understanding your ideal customer makes it easier to tailor your marketing efforts to the needs of different groups. Remember, not all customers are created equal.
3. Improve on something that others are already doing.
Too many people think they have to create something entirely new in order to stand out. But all you really need is a better way of doing something. On a personal level, that could mean streamlining an existing process or set of procedures at your job. In business, that could mean creating an improved version of an existing product. One example of this happens every year in the automobile industry when auto-makers introduce their new models. They’re always trying to outdo one another, so there is always something new.
4. Stay focused.
Efforts to create a strong personal brand should focus on one thing – setting yourself apart as the go-to person for whatever it is you do. If you lose that focus, your brand will become distorted in people’s minds, and you’ll have to spend valuable time and resources regaining brand clarity.
For example, if you’re a freelance writer specializing in helping businesses create content for their blog, you shouldn’t spend 75% of your time talking about making money with a YouTube channel. The importance of using a professional writer to meet their blog content needs should be the focus of all your marketing efforts from social media posts to your own website and blog content; from your personal networking to print advertising.
5. Actually be what you’re trying to portray.
It’s not enough just to say you’re an expert in this or that; you must back your claims up with some reality. In personal branding, you can’t fake it ’til you make it. For instance, you can’t claim to be a social media marketing expert just because you spend several hours a day on Facebook. You need to invest some time and money actually learning about marketing in general and social media marketing in particular.
6. Be a great conversationalist.
Sadly, this is becoming a lost art in a world that’s dominated by online interaction, but it doesn’t have to be. You can still be viewed as a great conversationalist the online world. It’s simply a matter of sincerely treating every contact, either in person or online, like they’re going to be your new best friend. In person that means making friendly eye-contact, smiling, shaking hands, and repeating their name so you remember it. Online that means engaging with people as you would your closest, most respected friend. Most importantly, always leave the person wanting a bit more of your time.
7. Expand your circle of influence.
Nothing can grow your personal brand like leveraging your circle of influence. Every person you come in contact with has their own circle of influence. When an individual becomes part of your circle of influence, that opens up their circle of influence to you. As long as your personal brand image is positive in the eyes of those in your circle of influence, you can leverage them. Usually, it’s a matter of just asking for their help. What that help looks like for you depends on your industry, but it most commonly comes in the form of referrals.
8. Leverage public speaking opportunities.
According to a report published by Statistic Brain, 74% of people have a fear of public speaking. That represents a great opportunity for the remaining 26%, or anyone who is willing to work to overcome their fear. Nothing sets you apart from the competition like getting up in front of a group of people and giving a presentation about your area of expertise. The very fact that you’re willing to do so sets you apart. You can do this through seminars and webinars. If you don’t want to host your own events, you can offer your time and expertise as a guest speaker for others who are sponsoring seminars or webinars.
An important reality of life that most people don’t even realize is that each of us is the CEO of our own company, whether we own a business or work for someone else. That’s why creating and nurturing a personal brand is something we should all be engaged in.
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