According to Wikipedia, personal branding is “essentially the ongoing process of establishing a prescribed image or impression in the mind of others about an individual, group, or organization.” More often than not, it involves associating one’s name with several products. Wikipedia cites the example of Donald Trump, a celebrity real-estate giant who frequently uses his last name on his buildings (Trump Tower) and other products he endorses.
Another great example of personal branding involves Oprah Winfrey, one of the most successful TV show hosts and entrepreneurs of all time. Her show, which is named after her, is known by all. It was launched in 1986. By 2000, she became a multi-millionaire and launched a magazine called ‘O: The Oprah Magazine,’ the most successful magazine start-up in history.
Marketers McNally and Speak define personal brand as, “Your brand is a perception or emotion, maintained by somebody other than you, that describes the total experience of having a relationship with you.”
While it is true that personal branding requires that you’re always present and visible to influencers and buyers, it is not the only aspect that makes the process what it is. Of course, all big brands are out there making their presence felt, but personal branding is less about that and more about showcasing your value to one and all.
How do you this?
a. By familiarising others with yourself and your offerings, and highlighting their needs instead of yours.
b. By ensuring that they always experience the value you’re providing them with.
c. By seeing to it that they relate the value to you.
In order to achieve the above, you need to be crystal clear about 3 things: how you feel about your brand, how your brand is different from your competitors, and how it makes you appealing and pertinent to the influencers and buying-decision makers. Without knowing the answers to these questions, you may end up wasting your time and resources.
Did you know that modern customers would rather trust a well-built personal brand than what a company says about itself? Also, companies with strong personal brands tend to outperform their competitors and get higher conversion rates. Here are a few statistics that prove this:
77% of consumers are more likely to buy from a company when they hear about it from someone they trust.
Sales reps that use social media as part of their sales technique outsell 78% of their peers.
88% of consumers say they trust online reviews as much as personal recommendations.
Only 33% of buyers trust messages from a brand while almost 90% of customers trust product or service recommendations from people they know.
77% of all brand conversations on social media are people looking for advice, information or help. This is much easier to answer and interact as an individual as opposed to a company.
Employees have 10x more followers than their corporate social media accounts.
75% of people are willing to drive further in order to deal with a great salesperson.
Content shared by employees receive 8x more engagement than content shared by brand channels.
Brand messages are re-shared 24x more frequently when distributed by employees versus their company.
Leads developed through employee social marketing initiatives convert 7x more frequently than other leads.
Several organizations are making use of search engines and social media to find customers (and even employees), which is why personal branding has becomes an important component of marketing strategies. Today, there are numerous online tools that have made this easier. It is crucial that companies realize that every brand can become a distinct entity by being their own marketer.
The following points illustrate how personal branding helps:
1. It Enables You to Move from Strength to Strength
Few would disagree if I said that once you create a successful brand, you’re bound to be perceived as a natural leader by your peers, clients and customers. You will be nothing short of a thought leader and will have the power to influence people.
This has to work in your favor and open up several opportunities, which would have skipped you otherwise. Take, for example, these six Nigerian entertainers who’ve been raking in big moolah from their personal brands.
Further, being successful throughout your career will push you towards maintaining your image, making you careful in handling yourself and others. Leadership qualities are, therefore, bound to continue to develop and this can take your company to greater heights.
2. It Helps You Raise the Bar
Upping industry standards is critical. If you don’t do it, someone else will. It is, therefore, better that you do it and set the benchmark. Also, as your brand becomes increasingly accessible, it will become imperative to raise standards. Expectations will be raised and as a progressive company, you will need to live up to them.
We live in times when status quo is not an option, which is why entrepreneurs now focus on doing things differently. One of the most prominent characteristics of good leaders is that they’re never satisfied with the current state of affairs. Personal branding motivates them to raise the bar and move ahead confidently.
3. It Lets You Differentiate Yourself
In order to make customers come to you or become loyal to you, you will need to win their trust. This will come only from meeting their expectations and establishing your credentials. However, all companies are doing this, which is why it is easy to get lost in the crowd. However, personal branding can come to your rescue in such cases.
As already mentioned, personal branding is all about creating value for your customers. It is, therefore, necessary to consistently deliver on your brand promise, and go that extra mile to stand out. Positioning yourself in unique ways helps. It is necessary to go beyond the tried-and-tested methods and delight your customers by meeting their subconscious expectations.
4. It Establishes Your Expertise
The first and most important step towards establishing your expertise in your field involves knowing exactly what you want to be known for. Broad definitions won’t work here as the market is inundated with competition. It is, therefore, a better idea to pick a niche field and commit to developing yourself therein.
This way, you will stand a better chance of bridging gaps and proving that you know what you’re doing. Also, your audience and customer base will that much more focussed and relevant. The key is to specify your expertise and be known for it.
5. It Helps You Build Reputation
Reputation-building will follow naturally once you’ve achieve the previous step. Flaunting your expertise will eventually help you build your reputation. One of the most effective ways of doing so online is by harnessing the power of content marketing.
People are always looking for useful information. If they find your content valuable, they will keep returning to you and recommend you to others as a trusted source of information. You can try having your own blog or guest blogging for this.
Further, use social media as an inexpensive, yet effective way to build and manage your online reputation. Most social media platforms will display information about your company. Be mindful that you provide information which is aligned with your brand standards. Post/repost your blog articles for the benefit of your old and new followers.
6. It Connects You to Your Followers At a Deeper Level
It’s no secret that people love to hear real-life stories about how a particular brand delighted its customers. They trust such stories more than company promises and suggestions. This is where case studies come into the picture.
Presenting customers with an impactful narrative from your consumers, clients and even employees will work in your company’s favor. Apart from that, you can also connect with new audiences at industry events by publicly speaking about your area of expertise.
7. It Helps You Network and Grow
Networking is one of the most critical elements of running a business successfully. Personal branding helps you spark off your networking efforts and vice versa.
Whether it is interacting with peers from your industry, connecting with social influencers, attending meetings virtually, or participating in community discussions, all of it can help you spread the word about your skills and expertise. All this is inter-connected to a great extent and plays a huge role in the growth and development of your brand.
People with a strong personal brand know that their job doesn’t end at simply building it, but they need to keep working on maintaining it. They understand what sets them apart from the competition, and use their appeal to boost the success of the endeavours and pass on the benefits on everyone involved. This works as doing so brings them tremendous visibility and makes them a force to reckon with in the industry they operate in. In short, effective personal branding is crucial to staying relevant and becoming an industry-leader.
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Pratik Dholakiya is the Founder of Preceptist, a content marketing agency for SaaS businesses.