Personal branding: can it increase sales and is it worth the effort?

By September 12, 2012 Marketing, Sales 2 Comments

By golly yes!

I hate to put this to you but your career is over, and I think you know it. Gone are the days when you had one too. Your grandparents did and most of them could work a ‘job for life,’ but these days you’ll either have a job or a business. In the US, the Department of Labor estimates that in fact you’ll have between 10-14 jobs by the time you’re 38 years old. And, here in the UK we can expect similar statistics. According to the Office for National Statistics, 8.2% of the economically active population is unemployed and is rising year-on-year.  In a double-dip recession, this means one thing – intensified competition for fewer jobs.

So, if everything is moving in this way, how can you create security, and most importantly an income? The answer lies in creating your unique personal brand, your network, your experiences and your passion. In the future your most valuable asset will be the number of people you know and the relationship you have with them. You will be defined by whether you’re liked, trusted and ‘your take on things.’

From now on, whether you’re working a job or have a business, you need to start to see yourself as a brand that others need to find out about. You need to get your head around the fact that you won’t be known for the company you work for, instead you’ll be known for the people you’re connected to and the ideas you’re immersed in. When you do this, you’ll become what Daniel Priestly calls a ‘key person of influence,’ opportunities will flock to you and you’ll earn more!

Starting today you are a brand

The concept of a personal brand has been in existence since 1937, when Napolean Hill wrote his motivational book, Think and Grow Rich. Since then many authors have written about it including Tom Peters who popularised the idea of having an individual brand in an article published by Fast Business in 1997. He wrote, “You’re not defined by your job title and you’re not confined by your job description… Starting today you are a brand.”

[box]You’re not defined by your job title & you’re not confined by your job description. Starting today you are a brand. – Tom Peters TWEET THIS[/box]

As I mentioned earlier, this concept is as important for anyone working a job, seeking a job, or in business. The fact remains that we all need to stand out from the crowd and effective personal branding could make the difference between exceeding long-term career objectives and failing to meet the most basic professional development goals.

With everyone Googling everything, what makes you think they won’t Google you? These days if Google thinks you are a nobody – you are a nobody! When people Google your name (as they will) it must come up on the first page. Ideally you should own that first page with your name plastered all over it. Online marketing activities especially social media play a key part in this. You need to be visible on Linkedin, You Tube, Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest and your website. You need to have articles, blogs and press coverage. You need to have a professional, relevant presence.

Getting started

Brand-building activities include creating an online and offline presence. Ideally you should be working all angels, and this means public speaking engagements, networking and online blogging. Here’s my advice that can be put into a 4 stage system:

Step 1. Identify your unique selling point (USP)

You’ll need a niche and as this is a big topic it won’t be covered here. After that you’ll need to consider what you want to achieve as a brand and how you’d like to be seen by the audience you’re targeting. Furthermore, you’ll need to think about what makes you different from your peers and how you can effectively communicate your strengths. Concentrate on positioning yourself as a separate entity, with a specific skill set and expertise, rather than part of the wider business brand. Be specific with your personal branding i.e don’t position yourself as a yourself as a marketing expert, instead position yourself as a marketing expert for creatives  living in London. By doing it this way, you immediately extend your reach and quickly become ‘top of mind’, which makes finding new contacts and business opportunities more achievable.

Step 2. Create your brand

You’ll need to invest in some good photographs of yourself. If you’re going to be seen as an expert, this is vital. Having a professional headshot makes you stand out from the crowd. You’ll be instantly seen as a professional and someone to be taken seriously. A professional headshot is like your shop window and it’s often the first port of call for an engagement. People can also see a real person behind the brand which is useful as ‘people buy from people.’ Always have – always will!

Once you have your headshots, you’ll need to ensure consistency and align your brand identity across every document that you allow your audience to access.

Step 3. Communicate your brand

Online social media platforms like LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook, You Tube, Pinterest and Instagram represent a fantastic way to engage people with your brand. They also present increased opportunities to meet like-minded individuals, network and grow your business (list, followers, fans, tribe etc.)

Ensure every section of your biography is completed in as much detail as you can with links to your websites and contact details. Make sure to write in the first person too as this makes you feel more accessible and connects you to your audience. Have a strong headline, almost ‘elevator pitch’ in style, which communicates exactly what you do, clearly and concisely. Add your personality as this is what differentiates you from others.

For your website and blog you’ll need to create content and you may also want to write a book/s. However, for networking and speaking engagements, you’ll need business cards and a biography.

Step 4. Maintain your brand

Maintaining your brand or public image is an ongoing process and requires discipline and attention to detail. Online profiles should be kept up-to-date, and any content you generate e.g. blogs, articles, Tweets etc.– should be relevant and carefully considered. Take care to select topics you have a genuine interest in. If you’re using Twitter, aim for a combination of personal messages, resource sharing and re-tweeting any interesting opinions offered by your peers.

Always engage with your audience and get back to them as soon as possible if they’ve commented, re-tweeted, shared your content or left you a message. So many miss this aspect. Social media communication is about being social, interacting and engagement. It’s not push marketing!

Finally, take ownership of your brand. If you don’t others will by using their own words and experiences – whether they’re positive or not.

In the comments below, tell me how you’re doing with your own personal branding and what your biggest frustration or challenge is with regards to being known as an expert, authority or ‘go-to-person’ in your niche and industry. Let me know how you’re being seen and what top tips you have for promoting yourself. Let me know what action you’ll take as a result of reading this post too. I’d love to hear.

Access Free Resources for social media guides.

Thank you, as always for reading and contributing here. If you found this useful, please share it with your friends!

With love and gratitude – as always,

 

 

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JaneFrankland

Jane Frankland is a successful cyber security entrepreneur, consultant and speaker who has had a diverse career encompassing art and design; business development; and operations. Having held directorships and senior executive positions within her own companies and at several large PLCs, she now provides agile, forward thinking organisations with strategic business development solutions. Right now she is writing a book on gender diversity in cyber security and is focused on increasing the numbers of women in the profession.

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2 Comments

  • Sergio says:

    Hello Jane,
    Very clarifying article. I work as a professional since my 18’s (I’m 43). I have an IT degree, but I have several business running in different areas (sports marketing, tourism, IT advisor, domotics). I can’t find a way to present myself as a multifaceted professional. I dont like the term entrepreneur, and I don’t like to people get confused in the various things I can do. In my country, words like entrepreneur, consultant, expert, I-can-do-everything… are “burned” or not credible. So I ended creating a profile in about.me, with links to my websites and interests. Any advices?
    Thank you very much, and congrats for your business.

    • Sergio, thanks for your comment. Is there any way you can roll all of your businesses under one brand? If there isn’t my advice is to opt for a personal brand, as you have done and to market yourself that way. I would call yourself a multi-faceted entrepreneur or business man. Sometimes we all need to get over ourselves or out of our own way in order to move forward. I totally get what you’re saying, but this is my advice. There is no shame in calling yourself an entrepreneur and I do worry that you’re spreading yourself too thin by having several businesses running in different areas at the same time. However, if the business model is working, then stick with it. Good luck and let me know how you get on.

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