Let’s face it, nobody wakes up in the morning thinking, “Hmmm, I need a personal brand today!”
Most people’s feelings are more along the lines of, “Why should I bother investing in my personal brand, surely people know from my CV / LinkedIn profile why I’m good!”
I have this conversation time and time again with people who are so used to being part of a corporate branding machine – where frankly we blend into the background and follow a set of brand rules.
Don’t get me wrong, this can be rather safe and fulfilling… I should know. I worked with some amazing brands in my corporate days, including the Financial Times (think pink, clever and lots of pink champagne), The Institute of Directors (think suits, a rich history and world-leading director training) and the Association of Colleges (think further education, funding cuts and resilient and inspirational college staff).
I was an ambitious marketer (I still am!) and saw championing my company’s brand as part of my job description. I relished being part of their brand and fitting in – as much as you can ever fit in when you’re tall, blond and German (think more direct than anyone else in the room!)
Four years ago everything changed for me. I took voluntary redundancy and was suddenly ‘out there’ without a 30-page brand book to follow, to tell me how to sound, what was OK to comment on and how to look (OK, I’m exaggerating a bit now!)
Looking back, it was only when I started investing in my personal brand that things started to happen for me and my business Lollipop Social.
So, if you’re still in doubt, read on as I share what I believe are the key benefits to developing your personal brand.
Makes you dig deep and define your ‘why’
One of the first steps in developing a personal brand is defining your values and what you stand for. You want to end up with a personal brand which is truly you and which appeals to your audience.
Your ‘why’ is what makes you tick – what gets you out of bed. Because let’s face it, creating and running your own business is no walk in the park. There are many highs and lows involved in operating out of your comfort zone on a daily basis.
Knowing why you do what you do – and reminding yourself of it – helps you deal with these peaks and troughs.
It’s really empowering and energising to identify your why and to use it as part of your story.Your ‘why’ is what makes you tick – what gets you out of bed. Because let’s face it, creating and running your own business is no walk in the park. Knowing why you do what you do helps you deal with these peaks and troughs. #Youpreneur Click To Tweet
Helps you get to know your audience and how to relate to them
Personal branding can never be done in isolation.
The reality is that you’re investing in it to grow your business, to make more money. Your branding has to resonate with the kind of people you want to work with.
A powerful personal brand is as much about your audience as it is about you. Ask yourself who your audience are. What are their hopes, dreams and attitudes?
What are they interested in and how can you position yourself as a solution to the challenges they face?
This insight will help you to create content that provides them with real value, attracting them intrinsically to you and your brand.
Go as far as creating your personal brand for the one person you want to work with. Think carefully about what you enjoy. What can you get paid well for? Where can you find the need for what you’re offering?
Makes selling ‘you’ easier
If you can’t pitch yourself confidently, who is going to believe in you and part with their cash to work with you?
Now, I consider myself an adopted Brit having lived here since 1995, and it’s true that we don’t like talking about why we’re better than everyone else.
But the important thing to remember is that a personal brand defines why we are different from everyone else, and this will really help you feel more confident in selling your services.
Many entrepreneurs struggle with imposter syndrome, which leads them to undercharge for their services. Developing your personal brand will nurture your pipeline and your ability to sell more – and most importantly – at the right price!
Builds relationships with the people you enjoy working with
People buy from people. How can you connect with the right people if you blend into the background on social or are too corporate in your communications?
It’s natural to feel nervous about sharing your vulnerable side and imperfections, but the reality is that people are drawn to relatable people – and to their imperfections.
When I was younger, I worked so hard on softening my German accent and rather direct style of conveying my messages. Now, I lean into my flaws and play on them. So what if I can’t pronounce words starting with a ‘v’ or ‘w’ very well? It makes me unique! As part of my personal brand I use the odd German word and my Eastern German upbringing as part of my storytelling.
Because I don’t pretend to be someone I’m not, people trust me. When you watch one of my videos, you’ll find me just as I am when you meet me in person.
To me that matters. And it builds sales. I might not appeal to people who take themselves too seriously, but that’s fine because I like to have fun when I’m working with clients.
Being honest about who you are helps you attract your tribe – it’s a win-win situation!
Makes you more memorable to your audience
There are rarely any brand new and groundbreaking concepts. We all have a similar message, but you as the messenger – you’re truly unique.
A personal brand will help you unleash your creativity as a messenger and help you own that message.
Today’s marketplace is super busy. For example, if you Google ‘marketing consultant in Cambridge’, you’ll find over 20 million results.
This is even more reason not to blend in and be vanilla. You’ve got to give the right people every reason to like and remember you, and personal branding is your shortcut to this.
A memorable personal brand increases the likelihood of referrals from fellow entrepreneurs as they remember you too.
I hadn’t appreciated how much of my business would come from referrals from fellow entrepreneurs. It’s such a great acquisition channel and if you don’t nurture your personal brand, you will never tap in its potential.
“When I think of social media consultants (I know several), your brand is the one that stands out the most. That means you’ll naturally stand out if someone asks me for a recommendation. This is the essence of why it’s important to build a personal brand: you get a better chance to become someone’s favorite”.
Allows you to show your personality
A well defined personal brand pushes your personality to the forefront – the most energizing and effective way to convey your message.
For example, if you’re big on empathy this will shine through and attract people who prefer a supportive approach.
A great example of this is Lyndsay Cambridge and Youpreneur member Martin Huntbach who recently launched their online membership Make Your Mark Online. During free website reviews in their Facebook group, their understanding of how people can feel embarrassed about their own website comes across immediately. Both Lyndsay and Martin have authentic personal brands which resonate with their target market.
Take Andrew and Pete as another example. Their entertaining and ‘unboring’ take on teaching people about content marketing attracts those who prefer a sense of humor when learning new things and feel drawn to them.
Your tone of voice is your personality on paper in digital communications, so make sure it’s packed with personality. All too often I see people turn too formal on LinkedIn, on their About Page and on their websites.
Instead, amplify your messaging with your personality to avoid blending into the background. Standing out is a good thing!
Makes you and your business more relatable and builds trust
A logo alone doesn’t build trust. Getting to know the person who is offering the service does.
I was recently interviewed by Youpreneur member Alex Curtis, for his Lead Generation for Financial Services Podcast and we concluded that when it comes to trusting someone with our life’s savings, trust is instrumental to the buying decision, like it is with many other purchases.
How will you build trust? A strong online presence? Yes. Consistency? Yes. But showing yourself, giving your audience a window into your world with a consistent personal brand builds trust over time. So when that person has a need for the kind of service you offer, not only will you be top of mind, but you’ll also have their trust.
People simply don’t want perfection, they want relatable
Boost your impact on social media and make sure everything is consistent: the visual approach, tone of voice, content.
When I started to position myself as a marketing consultant from London, I just wanted to hide away and I was afraid to be judged.
On a recent podcast interview with Lee Jackson I really opened up about this. My original website had a green and purple laptop on it – I simply didn’t want to stand out.
Not a viable approach when you need to build your brand and an audience. So I faced my fears (still do) and I invested in myself. Conferences, courses, coaching and a lot of brand development.
My content about the struggles I faced and how you can overcome them resonated with people which gave me more courage to share my story and to share marketing and personal branding tips for social media in my own unique way. For example my vlog is called WUNDERBAR The Marketing Efficiency Show.
And since I did my branding homework and invested in my visuals and content marketing, amazing things have happened.
- My dream of relaunching my speaking career after becoming a mum has become a reality
- My content attracts my target audience: website traffic grew by 200% over a year and social media referrals increased by 150% over a year
- In the space of 2 years, my profile on social media has exploded and I have loved every minute of it.
- I’ll be launching my own coaching programme Wunderstars this spring to help people face their social media fears and get better results online, FAST
Be patient and the hard work will pay off.
What’s next in YOUR brand building journey?
If I can do it, you can achieve the same. Just take the first step and start today. Ask yourself what makes you different? What is your WHY? Share your story. Your audience will respect and like you for it.
And, if there is an event which has the ability to turbocharge your thinking on personal brand building in one weekend it’s the Youpreneur Summit. Don’t miss out on your ticket for 2019.
I’ve attended twice and loved every minute of it!
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Nicole Osborne is a marketing consultant based in London and the founder of Lollipop Social. Nicole helps entrepreneurs get sweeter marketing and social media results. Originally from Eastern Germany, Nicole works with entrepreneurs and small businesses to increase their influence and visibility on social media with stand-out personal brands and engaging content marketing.