By Matt Bertram, Enterprise SEO Consultant at EWR Digital and co-host of the SEO podcast “The Unknown Secrets of Internet Marketing.”
What draws someone to a business, hooks them and builds loyalty?
It’s not always competitive prices or responsive customer service. Sure, those are critical, but a business’s real strength comes from the people behind the logo.
That’s why building a personal brand is such an important, yet often overlooked or misunderstood, part of marketing.
Did you know employees tend to have ten times more followers and eight times more engagement on their personal social media accounts than the company’s page?
People don’t trust faceless companies; they do business with people who they know, like and trust — not companies. Only one in three consumers say they trust most of the brands they buy.
Building a personal brand is the missing link for businesses to establish an emotional connection with customers. It makes the relationship, well, personal.
Six Steps To Building A Personal Brand For A Stronger Business Overall
Creating a personal brand involves several moving parts.
We must figure out why someone would trust us, compete for their attention, appeal to their emotions and earn their attention consistently — and that’s just the beginning!
Here are some of the basic principles and factors for building a personal brand that I cover in my book, Build Your Brand Mania: How to Transform Yourself Into an Authoritative Brand That Will Attract Your Ideal Customers.
I’ve helped countless businesses apply these successfully. Yes, even the ones like electrical and HVAC who thought this stuff couldn’t work in their industry.
1. Understand What Makes You Credible To Others
Credibility has two key components: trustworthiness and expertise. Each of those elements involves subjective and objective pieces. Now, what they look like in practice depends entirely on our values and the values of the people we want to reach.
We already know our own expertise. Our job is to share it with our audience in a way they find interesting and trustworthy enough to seek out our knowledge and opinion.
2. Get Into The Mind Of Your Ideal Customer
To truly build our personal brand, we must get into the mind of our customers as they are deciding to buy. We must think ahead of what our target audience is thinking and asking — specifically, online.
What questions will they search on Google? What hashtags will they search on Twitter? What news outlets do they follow?
We want to appear in these places with authoritative messages, effortlessly.
In practice, this means optimizing every social post, video, image and blog for relevant searches.
3. Stick With Topics You Know When Building A Personal Brand
People trust us when they feel we have integrity. The things we say must hold up to the actions we take and opinions we have over time.
As we think about our expertise to build a personal brand, we also must decide which topics are out of our wheelhouse.
If we start offering opinions and info on topics we don’t know inside and out, people will begin to question our expertise everywhere.
4. Become A Trusted Advisor To Create A Personal Brand
A trusted advisor puts their audience’s needs and well-being above their own.
We must uphold our integrity in every post, content and interaction. People need to feel we’re honest, transparent, authentic and passionate.
A big part of this involves separating our personal brand from our business brand. 82% of customers say they trust a company when its senior management is active on social media.
It makes sense; customers can see how leaders behave when they aren’t acting under their brand’s logo.
5. Prioritize Authentic Video When Building A Personal Brand
Your brand’s strength will build much quicker with video. The key is to create an emotional connection through video. And real emotion building begins with being authentic within your video marketing efforts.
Cisco expects video to account for 82% of all internet traffic by 2021. However, when we talk about building a personal brand, well-planned videos with high production value won’t do.
Think about it. Our peers don’t share strategic videos made by a production team with us. Seeing a high-quality video like that can set off alarm bells, making people think, “Why did they spend so much money to make this? What’s in it for them?”
Instead, we want to keep it authentic. Using our own phone to record a quick video of our opinion on the latest industry news story or how to do something does much more to build an emotional connection.
6. Always Ask ‘Why’ Before Investing In Any Activity
Too often, I see people wasting money and time on specific social media channels or Google ads because they “just need to be there.” Maybe their competition is active there, or someone told them these channels are vital.
We should always ask ourselves “why” before investing time, energy or money into anything. When we truly know why we do something, what we do and how we do it are much simpler to portray. Knowing your why is like having a personal mission statement for every brand-building opportunity you have. If we aren’t 100% certain the work will build our personal brand and connect with our audience, we shouldn’t do it.
Likewise, if something doesn’t give us results, we should stop or reevaluate it.
Building A Personal Brand Is All About Integrity And Expertise
Building a personal brand takes time. Integrity and trust don’t develop overnight. Some steps to do now are speaking before more people and creating a more authoritative voice through PR efforts such as HARO (Help a Reporter Out) outreach. This will allow you to communicate your message more clearly and engage with more people regularly.
We must prove ourselves with consistency through life’s ups and downs. Our personal brand should develop a relationship with our customers that preserves and positions us as a trusted source. It’s all about connecting with people on a personal level. The work is not always easy, and hiring a consultant will ease the pain for many.