Unpopular Opinion - Your Personal Brand Matters More Than Your Business Brand
A few months ago, some friends of mine posted this on their social media page.
So, people are mad that this influencer got an opportunity they would've had to study and grind to get. The grind is good, studying is fantastic, but if you don’t understand that you need more than that to make it in the 21st Century, then you’re missing a massive part of the puzzle.
Building your personal brand, becoming an influencer in your industry, is more important than the product or service you sell. People will buy almost anything from you, if they like you, trust you and aspire to be in your shoes.
Stick with me through this thought process.
You might have heard me talk about this on my daily podcast, but in this post I’m going to give more context to my claim.
When you’re launching your business, you need to spend more time building up your personal brand, rather than focusing on your business brand.
Logos, fonts etc. change over time. Most of you will want to do a complete brand re-vamp a year after launching, and that’s completely normal.
My job, as a business coach, is to make sure you focus on the best things and move forward in the best way possible. That includes keeping your costs low and making sure your eyes stay on the prize.
In this post we’re dumping that “build it and they will come” mentality and replacing it with “build YOU and they will come.”
Life is a popularity contest. That’s a fact. I’m not going to go into the way that turned out like that, and how social media came to influence the way we interact with personalities and turn them into influencers and then give them the unique opportunity to sell to us, because that would take too many words. I try to keep these posts under 1500.
The main point is this: you want people to recognise you as an expert in your field, and you want them to recognise you as an influencer in it.
The difference between an expert and an influencer is a little nuanced, but here it is.
An expert knows the territory well. They know the movers and shakers in the industry and they're the best people to connect with if you want to know what’s going on.
These guys get a lot of attention from brands that are trying to tap into the market. They don’t get brand deals, they don’t get sent free stuff, they get invited to speaking engagements.
An influencer leads the pack. They are representative of their market and know exactly what it is the market wants. They’re the first people to jump on things because they know where the market is heading.
These guys get brand deals. They’re the ones people want to be seen with because they are the physical embodiment of the market you’re trying to tap into. They are active and vocal on social media and are constantly in contact with their people, AKA your ideal customer.
What you want to achieve in this business landscape as an individual trying to launch a product or service, is to be an equal representation of both expert and influencer.
You want people to know, that you know what you’re talking about, because only then will they be able to trust you with their money.
You also want people to trust that you know what they want, so that when you finally launch your product, they buy it without having to think too much about it. They’re so sure that “you get it” that they don’t have to question it.
I remember writing in the past that customers are inherently lazy.
They don’t want to have to think about a purchase before they make it. When you’re equal parts expert and influencer, they won’t have to.
So, how do you become equal parts influencer and expert?
I’m going to give you a few tips about what you should be prioritising before you start building your business brand, and launching your product or service.
These are three key ways you can start building your personal brand today.
- Start a blog or a podcast and keep up with 2 key social media channels.
Do something to get your voice, your name and your expertise out there, and be consistent about it.
Blogs, podcasts and social media are great ways to get your personal point of view out there. They're a great way to share your knowledge and market yourself as an expert.
When it comes to elevating your output into the expert/influencer category, do the work to add in doses of your life and your own experiences. These will help you better connect with your customers.
You’re building this brand off the back of your name and your experiences. So you need to start thinking of yourself as a "product" that you’re selling to your consumers.
Your output (social media, blog or podcast) has to consistently match up with the mission and vision you have for your personal brand.
What do you want to be known for? What do you want your legacy to be? How do you plan on getting there utilising only your output.
This is about broke building. You’re leveraging your personal networks and free tools that are readily available to you via your internet connection to get people connected into what you’re doing.
This is about pre-orders.
Have you ever wondered how people release their first book and pre-orders get sold out? This is how they do it.
They create content that vibes with their ideal customer/listener and reader. They get those people to value their voice and love their personality. They get people to root for them because they’re #relatable. That’s what you’re aiming for. RELATABILITY.
When you know the problem you’re trying to solve, you're in tune with your sob story and you know your vision and your mission, you can create a narrative that your customer is going to care about and ultimately buy into.
- Book in some speaking engagements and host intimate events.
This is your opportunity to be seen, and heard.
Leverage your personal networks to find opportunities for yourself to share your expertise and personality.
Depending on your industry, speaking engagements might not be the best term. Maybe call them appearances. Get people to invite you to appear at their events, and host events of your own.
When you’re building a personal brand, you need to be intimately connected to your customers. They need to know you and have access to you easily, beyond social media. Host intimate events, tell them your story, even though they’ve already seen it on your blog.
When you’ve got a strong community of individuals that value you as an expert and as an influencer, based on the content of your output, test the waters by piloting your product or service with a small group of people that have shown themselves to be really enthusiastic followers of your personal brand.
That’s how you launch your product or service with customers ready to go. Aim for 100 people that are ready to follow you into your business endeavour based on their trust in and love for your personal brand.
- Get an endorsement.
I’m not talking about an endorsement deal in the same way you talk about in sports. This is more like a LinkedIn endorsement levelled up.
The important thing you’re going to have to work on to continue to build your personal brand, is to connect with strategic partners. These are brands that are interested in the same things you are. They’re the people that are going to approach you, or you can approach, because you have the ear of their ideal customer.
To be effective, you need to know the difference between a competitor and a strategic partner.
A competitor is someone with the same following and does the same thing (influencer/expert).
While its really difficult to find a true competitor when it comes to personal brands (score 1 for individuality), its not difficult to find people that would be deemed your competitors, when it comes to courting the attention of strategic partners.
A strategic partner wants your following, but being a business, they can’t achieve the same level of connection and authenticity that you can with your personal brand. That's why they'll collaborate with you, and endorse you. Its because you can do something they can't.
Ideally, the strategic partner you work with will have some clout in the space, be well respected and well known.
If you work with Vogue magazine a number of times, an action that shows that they value and respect your brand, when you start your own fashion magazine, your followers are going to be more inclined to believe you know what you’re talking about.
The point of personal brand related strategic partnerships is to get them to level up your brand and legitimise your future foray into the business you plan on launching.
If you’re really good at building your personal brand and connecting with your customers, you could get them to think that the business idea you had when you started this whole thing was actually their idea.
That’s all folks.
Thanks for reading,
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