Wednesday, 28 September 2011

Thoughts on personal branding

Personal branding is how you can shape others perceptions of your abilities to further your personal or professional goals. When you type an email, you’re branding yourself. If you have a conversation with a friend or family member, you’re branding yourself. How you dress, what you eat, and how you talk all contribute to your brand. Think of your brand as the summation of all the associations about you that are stored in people’s minds.

Social media changes everything

Before:                 Jobs are for life, stay loyal to the company brand.
Now:                     Loyalty is to your professional journey working with organisations that can support your aims.
Before:                 Only businesses and organisations are visible online, branding is a corporate issue.
Now:                     Social networks mean anyone who chooses to can become an online influencer. What you  say as an individual counts.

1. Get Discovered

Find your sweet spot:  The secret to a successful personal brand is knowing your strengths, who your audience is and why they will buy from you.  The digital economy benefits experts and those who can own their niche – by carving out a deep niche you can eradicate the competition.  Your niche covers:

  • Skills (provide specialist technical or service skills)
  • Service delivery (a unique methodology, a different way of purchasing or billing)
  • Values (your style of service delivery matches the values of your customers)

To succeed in your niche you need to have:

Differentiation (standing out from crowd) with
Marketability (providing something others want and need)
“Work less, earn more, love your job”

It sounds too good to be true, but by doing what you love work will be fun, you will be more motivated so you can earn more. Personal branding adds value to your job or enterprise and improves happiness - in and outside work.Focus on what you do well – be a super-hero (or heroine) within your strengths.  Outsource your weaknesses.

Use keywords to define what you do.  These are words that you can use to attract the most website visitors (Search Engine Optimisation) which also align with your brand which you can use in all your content (talks, status updates on social networks, website, brochures).

2. Make a plan

Define your audience:
-              Who is the audience for your products & services?
                (location, lifestyle, demographics, buying behaviours)
-              What are their values?
-              Create User Personas – archetypes to describe the types of customers you have and what    they  expect from your business

Know your market:
Competitors       –            Who are you losing work to currently? What can you learn (and steal) from them?
Comparators      –             Who are your peers?  Who can you share with them and learn from them?
Key influencers                 –             Who do you aspire to be? How and when could you connect with them?
                                                (Tip: social media is a great short cut to influence your influencers)

Create your personal brand statement (external):
1) Personal positioning statement: what you’re best at who you serve
2) Personal Brand statement –your brand and your audience in one sentence

First work on your ‘log copy’ versions for your website, brochure or CV: 200 words, 100 words, 50 words, 35 words, 20 words, 3 words.

Create your personal vision statement (internal):
Where do you want to be – in 1 year?  In 2 years?  In 3 years?  How do you want to be perceived in your specialism?  Financial goals?  Personal priorities?

3. Monitor your efforts

Monitoring your digital footprint:
Be aware of the ‘traces’ you leave: the internet is an evergreen cache, good and bad content takes a long time to disappear.  Create new content to bury older content.  Re-highlight great content (e.g. refreshing articles, linking to past achievements).
Don’t say anything online you wouldn’t want repeated.
Make sure you know and control the level of privacy on your networks.

Capture and consistently measure your brand against your objectives:

  • Google Alerts – records new mentions of your name/brand
  • Web Analytics – measures web traffic, particularly referral websites
  • Social Mention - – your name/brand mention in social media
  • Measure growth in users of your social networks, email list, customer database
  • Capture and redistribute positive mentions, good PR and testimonials
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