Consumers are overwhelmed with marketing noise from businesses and professionals fighting to grab their attention, so a personal brand helps you connect on a human level, giving clients and employers a compelling image of what to expect when they interact with you or your product. Using your brand to market yourself and build lasting relationships can yield a steady stream of growth opportunities throughout your career.
Create Your Mission Statement
When you think of branding, you probably picture big corporations with abundant capital. Companies build trust by creating a brand voice that makes consumers believe their needs are valued and understood. The brand story promises a distinct, consistent experience, and companies tailor their services and interactions to meet those expectations.
As an individual, you have the advantage of shaping your brand around your personality and passions. An effective marketing plan starts with a solid mission statement that defines what you hope to learn or gain, how you measure success and the image you want to project. If you're invigorated by the process of developing new businesses from the ground up, that passion serves as both a selling point and part of your brand story. If you enjoy the challenge and social interplay of teaching others, make it your mission to build connections through instructional roles and expert consulting.
Know Your Selling Points
People want to know their transactions have value, whether it's a hiring or purchasing decision. Think of yourself as a free agent with a nonlinear career to pinpoint your value proposition outside of a company structure, says business management guru Tom Peters. Adopt a feature-benefit model you can easily convey in person and through marketing content. For example:
1. Feature: You analyze the details. Benefit: You catch mistakes and save money for businesses.
2. Feature: You have high integrity and emotional intelligence. Benefit: Your dedication to delivering a satisfying experience yields customer loyalty and high retention rates.
Identify what makes you unique and compelling, and use those features to guide your brand. When designing content for your website, resume, business brochure and products, choose stories, testimonials, case studies and career highlights that illustrate how your skills benefit others.
Master Word-of-Mouth Marketing
Never view any marketing opportunity as too small. You are surrounded by other free agents who can identify with your contributions and reinforce your brand message as they branch off on their own career paths. Project the qualities you want to be known for at work and in your local community. Instead of telling people you're a hardworking team player, show them by volunteering for projects that annoy your colleagues. The benefits are threefold:
1. Through deeper involvement in the company, you gain more credentials for your resume.
2. You build a network of people who feel gratitude and think of you as the go-to professional.
3. You develop a consistent timeline of skill-based projects that highlight your best qualities.
Talk to people whenever you can. Accept invitations to socialize with colleagues outside of work and embrace opportunities to meet their spouses, friends and relatives, who may have professional influence in relevant industries. Meet up with other professionals at networking events and show interest in what they do. Carry and hand out business cards, and ask thoughtful questions to understand what drives each person. These things help you simultaneously expand your influence and learn about available opportunities.
Market yourself by spreading your brand of ideas. Look for opportunities that credit you with a byline, such as local newspapers and company newsletters. Host local classes and workshops to gain visibility. At work, offer to lead training sessions to demonstrate how employees can improve results for specific business tasks.
Design a Content Strategy
Attract a wide online audience by establishing yourself as a reputable source of information. Create professional profiles that showcase your brand identity and credentials, and use content to drive traffic to those profiles. Focus on a niche in which you are highly knowledgeable, and publish articles that teach, inform and inspire your readers. For example, produce blogs, reports, e-books and YouTube tutorials that help readers learn a process, solve problems or achieve goals, such as starting a business.
A personal website should provide a one-stop portal to learn about your brand, your latest published content and your most recent or exceptional work. Consider using your own name as the domain, as this gives you greater control over your reputation on the Web.
Interact With Your Audience
Delivering valuable content helps you build an audience of potential email subscribers. Email makes it easy to keep subscribers informed about free content, products, promotions, press releases and speaking engagements.
You don't have to use every social media site, but be active and engaging whenever possible. Network online by contributing to relevant discussions and responding in a helpful manner when readers comment on your articles. Set up an email alert to track personal mentions online to maintain a positive conversation about your brand.
For successful marketing, you have to be confident enough to take credit for your skills and accomplishments. Use your personal brand to build a narrative around those impressive qualities, and present yourself as a product that can make work or life easier for your audience.
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