Manage Your Online Personal Brand To Drive Sales And Create Your Next Professional Opportunity Part 1: Setting The Stage
Do you work in a position where you sell or do business development, either for your own business or for an employer? Do you need to re-invent yourself or heighten your credibility for your next promotion or job?
Then you need to nurture your personal brand. In today’s world, where social media activity is a leading news and information resource, you need a strong online personal branding program to cultivate your image in the minds of prospects, customers and other decision makers.
Don’t shudder about yet another thing you need to do. This month, I’ll take you through easy steps to set up and manage your personal brand online.
What Exactly Is “Personal Branding?”
Personal Branding is a process whereby people and their careers are thought of as brands, which carry the perceived features and benefits of conventional products.
In the 20th century, the conventional brands were (and still are) products and services that were variously positioned to customers. For example, if you were looking for a car, you could consider Volvo, a brand that stands for safety, or Mercedes, a brand that stands for status. Every brand stands for something—one particular benefit that the buyer wants more than other benefits..
Somewhere around the turn of the millennium, publicists and agents began to promote their clients as brands: Donald Trump, Madonna and Kim Kardashian, for example, extended their “personal brand” to product sales. Beyond mere endorsers or spokespeople—the 20th century model—their names replaced conventional brand names on fashion and other products.
Donald Trump, for example, is known for his primary career, in real estate development. But he also owns/owned, or has licensed his name to:
- Services: Trump Financial (a mortgage firm), Trump Sales and Leasing (residential sales), Trump Entrepreneur Initiative (a business education company consisting of Trump Institute wealth-building weekends and the online Trump University) and GoTrump (an online travel website)
- Food: Trump Ice bottled water, Trump Vodka and Trump Steaks and Trump Restaurants (located in Trump Tower and consisting of Trump Buffet, Trump Catering, Trump Ice Cream Parlor, and Trump Bar)
- Fashion: Donald J. Trump Signature Collection (a line of menswear, men’s accessories, and watches), SUCCESS by Donald Trump (fragrance)
- Leisure: Trump Magazine, Trump Golf (clubs and courses), Trump The Game (a 1989 Board Game)
Would people be as interested in Trump-branded products and services if they were mere store brands? Of course not: Donald Trump’s reputation and cachet precede him.
People want to be associated with the success, glamour, taste, or whatever a celebrity represents, and believe that whatever the celebrity is associated with represents the attributes they stand for.
If you asked people to describe a personality in one word, Donald Trump might get “magnate.” Madonna? How about cutting-edge? Kim Kardashian? Glamour.
Similarly, you, too stand for something. You need to know what it is, and then start to enforce it at every opportunity.
You, Too Have A Personal Brand
You, too have a leading trait (a feature or benefit) that your colleagues could name in a word or two. Examples can include strategist, innovator, leader, sales star, finance wiz, whatever.
And that‘s what personal branding is about. You want people to be able to state what is valuable about you.
While you aren’t a household name like Trump or Kardashian, the Internet provides a broad canvas for you to present yourself to others. If someone wanted to learn about you—whether for professional or personal reasons—would they call 10 people for the scoop? Or would they search for you online to see what pops up?
Welcome to the age of online personal branding. You don’t have a publicist, marketing director, reporter or other third party to create your personal brand. But you can do it yourself.
You, Too Have A Personal Brand
Like running a business, nurturing a personal brand is hard work. And, like any successful business, a strong, visible, revenue-driving personal brand requires a team.
This may not seem possible at the outset. You may think, “If it is just me I am branding, why do I need a whole team?”
You are not just putting yourself out there and saying to the world, “Hey come buy from me” or “Hire me as your next director of widgets,” expecting your target audience to flock to you.
No; as with any traditional brand, the process is about understanding the competition and market demand, then creating a value proposition and related service or product, and then dripping out (to use a lead nurturing catch-phrase) information and promotions that will reach and engage your target audience over time.
- A system. It is about then having the appropriate tools and system to support a true sales process, from marketing to lead acquisition to conversion and sales (the process is the same for job hunting). It is about understanding and having a plan around what it is you are selling—whether the product is a widget or you.
- A commitment. It is about a serious commitment to a personal brand based on the validation that you are good enough to go out there and get it done.
Step 1: Know What You Are Selling
Back to the beginning:
Are you selling a product or service to clients/customers? Are you promoting a book you wrote? Are you selling your services as a consultant? Are you a senior executive of an organization where your reputation is the key to the company’s credibility?
The process starts by making sure that you know what you are selling, why, the intended audience and what you need to achieve in personal branding to meet those goals. It seems obvious, but you need to write it down.
The place to start is with a personal brand assessment. We’ll jump into all the personal brand assessment for the Social Media Age in the next section of this article. In the meantime, to understand what is involved with personal branding work, see my Personal Branding service scope details