The power and importance of your personal brand (particularly when looking to attract clients)
What do you want to be known for?
Personal brand definitions vary depending on who you’re talking to. My favourite definition however, is from Jeff Bezos, Founder of Amazon ‘your brand is what people say about you when you’re not in the room’. We all have a personal brand, whether we define it is that or not, we all have lives, skills, personalities which result in people either liking us or not liking us, wanting to work with us, or not wanting to work with us.
Over the last 10 years the Internet has changed immensely. The competition for business online is huge and the expectation from consumers is through the roof. Investing in your online personal brand is a way of ‘future proofing’ yourself as the online world continues to develop and grow. There is no denying that the experts are the ones who are winning, the ones who are sharing content and becoming known for something, and that something being of value. I recently read a statistic that said 92% of people trust recommendations from people over brands, even if they don’t know them. This statistic isn’t directly relevant here as we’re talking more about the packaging and marketing of services, however it does show that people buy from people, so why not market as a person instead of a faceless brand?
I have spent the last year reading a great deal of business and entrepreneurial books, watching YouTube videos and having conversations with those who are successful, or not yet there. The resounding thing which comes out of most of the conversations and content is that to be successful online, you need to ‘one thing’ which you’re known for. One thing you’re an expert in. That’s how you attract clients, gain a following and grow your brand and income. For me, this is what the process of personal branding is, it is identifying your skill set, what you love, what people need and what they”ll pay for and packaging it up into one brand: you. These 4 requirements are discussed in the Japanese concept Ikigai ‘the reason for being’. Read about it, it’s interesting. Your brand and your business become one and because you’re doing what you enjoy and you’re getting paid for it, you probably aren’t so worried about such a large separation.
I’m pretty sure most people are better at the things they enjoy and are happier when doing things which fit with their values and their motivations. By building your brand based on these requirements, we’re set for a far more enjoyable existence. I believe we all have the ability to find fulfilment in our work and our lives. I don’t believe that we HAVE to settle and pay our dues and get on with it until we retire and play golf all day. I want to live the live of my future dreams NOW and by building my personal brand, I’m getting closer to this.
Why is personal branding a powerful way to market and attract new clients?
Putting everything aside, all the processes, the business jargon, the fancy logos and websites, people buy from people. If you are selling a service, whether it’s Coaching, Consulting or Accounting, it involves two people working together in some sort of a relationship. Your personality is what makes you unique, it is what attracts people to you, or away from you. Personal Branding suggests you get it out there, so those who like the sound of you, come straight to you and those who don’t, stay away. It prevents wasted emails, annoying sales calls and difficult working relationships. By being you online, you’re opening yourself up to those who want to be around you. The uniqueness of you is a positive, use it! Perhaps you’ll connect with someone because you have something in common, or because they share similar values to you and they can see that online, what a world where people are coming to you because they respect you as an expert rather than you to them trying to prove yourself.
Secondly, the process of Personal Branding does the magical thing, where it forces you to define your service. You cannot be ‘known’ for too many things, it just doesn’t work. You need to be ‘known’ for one thing, maybe 2 at the most. I spent the first year of my Entrepreneurial journey and the 3 years at Accenture prior to that being known as too many different things. I was scared to be put in a box and it cost me the rise of my Accenture career and the potential for faster business growth in my own business. There is too much information online, too much noise, too many people, to stand out you need to be talking about, creating content about, sharing and discussing one thing. Your niche, which solves a problem, which people will pay for. Combine that with the uniqueness of your personality, you’ve got a business! Every time I discuss this with a client they resist me, they want to be at level 1 niche which might be ‘digital’ when actually it needs to be more like level 3 or 4 ‘digital marketing ‘, ‘growing your brand through digital marketing’ ‘growing your personal brand’. There are plenty of potential clients available if you niche, niche then niche again, it is far better to go BIG in one market, than small in many.
If there are all these benefits, why don’t we all do it?
In my opinion there are 5 reasons people aren’t focusing on growing their personal brands, let me know if you fit into any of these:
- You don’t believe me and think this is a load of rubbish – that’s absolutely fine, perhaps you’re in a job which you’re going to work for for 30 years with no risk of redundancy, company changes or changes in your life and you’re going to go up the ladder and you’re very happy that way. This is the reaction I often find comes from people who work in large companies and plan to work there a while. They see it as a waste of time because they believe they don’t need it because they’ll never need to find any other work than what they’re doing. Firstly, some people do choose to go out on their own eventually, and a strong personal brand is going to hugely help here. Secondly, even if you never want to work for yourself, recruiters in other jobs are googling you, if you don’t believe that, you’re foolish. I read another stat recently: that 95% of recruiters think that the job market is going to get more competitive, and job seekers that stand out are likely to benefit.
- Number 2, ‘why invest in my personal brand, I’m rich and will never have to work again.’ Ok cool, I’m very pleased for you and I hope it totally fulfils you and makes you happy. If it doesn’t, however, you may find you end up wanting to do something else, maybe help or educate others or maybe do some charity work. Having a brand is still going to benefit you here, unless you are happy playing Golf for the rest of your life.
- Number 3: are you proud of what you deliver? I’m reading Grant Cardone’s ‘Sell or be Sold’ and I know he’s a bit marmite (I love him) but he makes some really good points so I suggest reading the book before writing it off. Grant says that to sell a service we need to be 100% sold on it ourselves, we would use it ourselves every single time and actually we are at the point where we feel bad for our clients for not using our services, that’s how sold we are. I believe a lot of people don’t want their personal name on their service is because of this, they aren’t 100% sold. If you aren’t 100% sold GET THERE. Otherwise you’re fighting a losing battle.
- Number 4: they’re scared and lack self confidence. To grow a personal brand you’ve got to go IN. You need to be confidently speaking about your niche, you need to be making content, going on video, telling the world that THIS IS YOU. If you don’t feel you have the confidence to do this, you’re going to need to get it, because personal branding aside, you need this to advance your career. Secondly, you need to get over what people think Napoleon Hill’s ‘Think and Grow Rich’ regularly mentions that people fail because they’re scared of and listen to the opinions of others, mainly their friends and family either taking the piss in a ‘banter’ way or by telling them that it’s ‘not possible’. You have to find a way to quieten this noise. Read Think and Grow Rich and you’ll understand what I mean. Don’t let the FEAR of people keep you from achieving your goals, most of them don’t actually really care what you’re doing or how you’re doing it and if they don’t like what you’re saying, teach this ignorant, jealous person about the magic of the ‘unfollow’ button. You may be changing their life!
- ‘I haven’t got the time’ – yes you do, what you lack is the motivation, read above article again and be honest with yourself as to why.
Hannah, you’ve convinced me, I’m ready to start growing my brand, what do I do?
YAY. So, of course, I’ve got to mention my Powerful Branding programme which I am launching in the next few days. This is my 6 week programme to turn you from unknown to ready to be known to getting known and I have some spaces available! However, here is a 3 step process to follow if you want to get started alone:
- Work out who you are – what do you like, what don’t you like, what motivates you? Read Start with Why. Just read it. Every decision you’ll make from here on in will then start with your why, and it will change your life.
- Who can you serve? Ok so we know about you, now we don’t care about you anymore. It’s all about your target audience. What are their problems and what are your solutions? Write it down. If you can’t tell me the 3 glaring problems your clients are facing off the top of your head, go back and re think it (my 3 are: struggling to get clients as not able to effectively market themselves, unfulfilled by current job/business and lacking focus/direction/motivation, overwhelmed and lacking time to focus on what lights them up)
- How are you going to get your message out there? How are you going to speak CLEARLY about what you do, why you do it and who you do it for? How are you going to make it EASY to work with you because they know what you do and what you’re an expert in? What content will you create, where will it go? What will it be on? How often will you share it?
I’ve loved writing this article, and I really hope you’ve enjoyed reading it, thank you for spending the time and I look forward to seeing your personal brand growth!