Ten step to personal brand success

Are you known for the reasons you want to be known? Do people in your market perceive you and your organization according to your brand strategy? What percentage of your target market knows who you are? What percentage has never heard of you?Consider these questions as rhetorical for now. We don’t need precise numbers for this exercise. The objective of this article is to move your name and business awareness from relative obscurity to top-of-mind awareness.There are two key metrics to branding — awareness and identity. Awareness is about how many people know of you. Identity is about how they perceive you. Both are important.You need the numbers to capture market share. More importantly, you need strategic identity so people know you for the right reasons — that you are the top specialist in … you name it. When they have a need for … your name comes to mind right away. They call you with interest and a budget. Here is a step-by-step digest of how to increase awareness and build strategic identity in your personal/professional brand. The results are fewer obstacles and lower stress in growing your business. • Articulate it clearly. There is tremendous power in word choice. Choose words that paint the picture of successful outcomes from doing business with you. Shelve the mission statement and write a clear positioning statement. What’s your brand promise, your elevator pitch? • Choose your networking groups. This is a necessity. Unless you get out in the field and start shaking hands, getting to know key players in the market, you will remain obscure. Join chambers, BNI, free open networking groups (these are on the rise), trade associations, clubs, boards, churches, community centers. There is no excuse to be a hermit. Online networking alone probably won’t work. There is no substitute for human contact and warm relationships. • Invest time on LinkedIn. This is the place where serious businesspeople network online. You need to build your profile to be 100 percent complete. Then you have to participate in the amazing discussions and content sharing. What about social media like Facebook, Twitter, blogs? The short answer is yes, yes, yes. Budget time as best you can. • Deploy email marketing. This doesn’t mean e-blasting promotional messages. It means delivering valuable information to your target market. Email newsletters work. The out-of-pocket cost ranges from totally free to upwards of $150/month, sometimes more for large corporate or enterprise-class programs. How’s your email database looking these days? • Shut up and listen! Get interested in what other people are saying and forget about your own needs when engaging in networking conversations. Be a connector when you spot a good fit. Bring referrals to other people before asking for them. This is how you become more attractive as a person. • Engage in free speech. You’re the industry expert! Show ’em what you know! Go out and speak at civic clubs, business events, luncheons, trade shows, conferences – keynotes and breakout sessions — anywhere gatherings of potential clients, vendors and partners take place. Follow up with the connections you make and answer the questions you get. • Draft relevant, value-based articles. Submit them to business editors in your industry publications online and off. Editors need content. Give it to them! Use a copywriter if you lack good editing skills. • Advertise when you can. For some, such as retailers, this is a constant necessity to keep awareness high and perceptions accurate. For others it’s a good investment in building awareness and identity for long-term growth. • Tell your business story. Contrary to some beliefs, clients do want to know the backgrounds and unique experiences of people with whom they do business. It isn’t only about nuts & bolts capabilities. Bottom lines are also affected by congruence of fit and strength of relationships. • Expect results in due course. People make the mistake of testing these methods and giving up after they fail to get new business from a short term effort. This isn’t about getting, it’s about building. Builders attract people (customers) to the edifices they create.Invest time in the steps above and, as importantly, give these initiatives time to work. Realistically, you should start seeing measurable results after several months to a full year. If you have any specific questions about how to implement these techniques, please feel free to contact me.Chuck Sink, an independent marketing consultant and writer specializing in copywriting and Web content strategies, can be reached at chuck@chucksink.com.