Use Your Personal Brand to Grow Your Business
I have received many questions about personal branding from various clients.
How can a small business build its reputation and become more attractive to customers?
Here are some concrete examples. Below, I summarize simple personal branding strategies that respond perfectly to current customer demands and can be put into practice by companies with limited resources.
First, why personal branding?
Your customers want to see what you are beyond the corporate image of your business.
Today's customers are becoming more demanding as the internet allows them to have control over the entire purchase (from the moment they start looking for a specific product/service until it's purchased).
With a compelling digital presence, you can influence them to want your offer, rather than that of the competition.
A strong personal brand is like a magnet for your potential customers. Why? Because beyond the B2B (sell to companies) or B2C (sell to clients) of your business, it's important to have the H2H (Human-to-Human) dimension.
Your potential clients will be able to associate a human face with the services or products you offer.
Think of Richard Branson and Virgin. Steve Jobs and Apple. Mark Zuckerberg and Facebook. Elon Musk and Tesla. And the list can continue.
How can you build this human face of your business when you don't have the resources of Apple, Facebook or Virgin?
Here are two tactics, each with few examples:
Tactic 1 - Blog as a personal branding tool
Your company probably has a website. It's a good idea to use a personal blog too.
Why a blog? This way, you can communicate with your audience (your potential clients) from the point of view of your personal expertise, or the most experienced employee on your team!
The secret is to associate a smiling face with this expertise.
A trainer or management consultant can use his or her personal blog to share specific solutions to the most important issues of potential customers.
Articles such as:
- "5 Mistakes You Want to Avoid When Performing an Analysis of Training Needs"
- "How do you choose the right performance management system for your business?"
- "7 Secrets to Encourage Your Team to Proactively Engage in Annual Performance Reviews"
By addressing topics of great interest to managers, HR specialists and internal trainers, the training company builds a reputation among a relevant audience.
This audience includes both "consumers" (course participants) and decision-makers who'll acquire the services offered by the training company (HR directors, managers, or business associates if we're talking about a smaller company).
An accounting company can proceed similarly by cultivating the image of the most experienced accountant in the firm. By educating potential customers through articles about the new tax code or how to legally streamline tax-reduction activities, the company can attract more ideal customers.
The same logic also works for a shoe store. The store owner can build a relationship with potential customers by positioning him- or herself as a clothing expert and teaching readers how to choose the right shoe for various outfits and occasions.
What does a personal blog offer in addition to a traditional company presentation site? The blog presents a human face with which the audience can easily build a link.
It's exactly that H2H dimension that makes us more attractive to potential customers.
Tactic 2 - Facebook as a personal branding tool
Using Facebook as a tool in a personal branding strategy involves creating an author page or businessperson page.
For companies that are already using personal blogging tactics, Facebook can be an additional channel that enhances the audience for content published on the blog.
Materials published on a trainer's blog, including articles addressed to managers, human resources and internal trainers, will promote the personal profile of the trainer.
A possible strategy: Each weekly article is promoted through 3 different Facebook posts that create interest in the article. This will increase the audience for the article. Page fans will find out about the article and redistribute the material to other friends in their personal network.
"Intellectual" affairs, such as training or consulting, can use Facebook as a stand-alone channel. The atmosphere of the courses will be conveyed by images of the happy students at the end of the course or during an interactive activity, and perhaps a picture with a flipchart scheme.
These images tell you more about the company's services than a presentation brochure or a presentation page on the site. Another important advantage is that participants can be tagged (with their prior consent) so the news about the company's courses will be propagated on Facebook "from friend to friend".
Facebook can also be used as a stand-alone channel by traditional businesses.
For the owner of the shoe store, the Facebook personal page can be a showcase for suggestions for matching different shoe designs to different outfits. The owner positions him- or herself as a fashion expert, and clients will start looking at the owner as someone who can teach them how to choose the right shoes for their style. The go-to expert! Where do you think these customers will go when they decide to buy the next pair of shoes?
In general, Facebook can work well for visually interesting businesses. Facebook remains the number-one option, as networks dedicated to visual content such as Pinterest or Instagram have not yet got a special edge in Romania. (In Romania there are 8 million Facebook accounts, compared to just 70 thousand Instagram accounts).
No matter which strategy you choose, there are a few things that I recommend you pay attention to.
Ensure you have a magnetic personal brand that attracts your ideal clients, so more sales come your way.
7 practical tips for developing and managing your online personal brand
- Decide in which ways you will create value for your audience
- Do not talk about yourself; talk about those who read, listen or watch
- Find a personal tone of voice and join groups online
- Create a memorable slogan to express your mission as an expert for the audience relevant to your business
- Take care of your online channels by posting regularly (Facebook, LinkedIn, Google+, etc.)
- Set up Google alerts to automatically notify you each time your name appears online (articles, blogs, videos, etc.)
- Be passionate about making your audience’s life better