If Starbucks is the first thing that pops into your mind when you want a coffee, you understand the value of branding. Whether you sell caffeinated beverages, coaching or something else, that should be your goal: becoming the best and only option when people need what you offer.
In my experience, personal branding is the best way to accomplish that. By building a following, a single person can go up against big brands. Kylie Jenner is the ultimate example. She created a $420 million beauty empire in 18 months thanks to her unbeatable personal brand. Compare that to Maybelline, a 100-year-old cosmetics company whose estimated annual revenue is less than $100 million.
My company specializes in personal branding, and here are the questions we are commonly asked — as well as our answers.
1. What is a personal brand?
Your brand is your reputation, which you build through storytelling so that your potential customers get to know, like and trust you. It’s all about the feeling others have about you.
To build a personal brand, you can share content on social media, podcasts and other platforms. You can talk about yourself, your expertise or your passions — as long as it helps your followers in some way.
2. Who needs one?
Personal branding isn’t just for social media influencers. Whether you’re a business or an entrepreneur, attention is today’s currency. In a world where everyone is vying for our short attention spans, consumers are more discerning than ever about how they spend their money. Your brand is what sets you apart so they choose you over your competition. It’s much easier to trigger emotions that drive sales when potential customers identify with a human being instead of products.
The decision to build a personal brand isn’t for everyone, however. Someone in leadership must be comfortable as the face of your company, which requires sharing personal information with a lot of people. Your marketing team can help with the execution, however.
3. What does it take to be successful?
You need to be an expert in your field. To assess your area of expertise, consider what has influenced you in the past. What have you done for the last 10 years? What do you think about on a Friday night when you’re with your friends? What do others say you do well?
Then, identify where you can close a gap in the conversation. What are people curious about? What problem can you help them solve? Clarify your message, which must hook people’s interest.
4. How do I know which platforms are best for me?
The best platforms are wherever your target audience spends their time. For example, if you develop gaming apps for Generation Z, TikTok is a good choice. If you don’t know where your ideal customer spends their time, ask them — but don’t guess.
At the same time, focus on your comfort zone. If you don’t like being on camera, a blog or podcast might be best for you. But if you want to build an empire, there’s no question: You have to be on social media.
5. What kind of content should I create?
This depends on your niche and platform because each one has its own language. For example, how-to videos would fail on TikTok, where fast and funny videos win. But that kind of longer, informational content does well on YouTube.
While more content is better, focus on relevance and quality over quantity. How much you create (and how) is up to you. Start slowly, and try different things. But if you’re covering trends, you’ll want to act fast — otherwise, someone will beat you to it.
6. What are the common mistakes you see people make?
They use social media solely to sell a product. While personal branding can be lucrative, you’re doing it for the wrong reasons if you’re just in it for the money. Consider this as an add-on to your work, and the money will come when you don’t focus on it.
This strategy is most powerful when you genuinely want to help others and share your knowledge and opinions — without expecting something in return. Your platform should be a place where followers get information and inspiration to live a better life.
7. How do you monetize your brand?
Many people give up on branding too quickly because you don’t usually see an immediate return on investment. Give it at least six months to grow your reach and reputation, which has to happen before sales.
Once you’ve established your brand, you can monetize it through activities like affiliate marketing (where you earn commission by sending your followers to others’ products), sponsored posts, paid event appearances and selling your products to your community.
With time, your brand will lead to increased awareness, influence and — ultimately — sales. If you’re in this for the long term, personal branding is the way to take your business to the next level in 2020.