Marketing yourself based the products and services you sell might seem like the most logical approach in the world, but consumers do not make buying decisions based on logic. People hire professionals who they like and can relate to, not portfolios of products and/or services. To generate better results and greater profits from your branding, you’ve got to make that personal connection. Nothing achieves it more effectively than Personal Branding.
Instead of focusing on products or services, Personal Branding focuses on you—your experience, your personal flair, your position. It turns you into a “brand,” just like the brands you see in toothpaste, cologne or luxury cars.
Branding addresses the core issue of the modern marketplace: when the competitors are equal, the brand that sets itself apart in the perceptions of the buyer will be successful.
Personal Branding excels at shaping perceptions. In this article, let’s take a look at the core principles and techniques employed by the best personal marketers—techniques tailor-made for professionals.
1. Quality Look and Feel
When professionals create branding materials like websites, resumes, business cards and brochures, they often produce them as cheaply as possible. The thinking is usually “I’m saving money,” when it should be “I’m losing clients,” or, “I don’t have my ideal job/career.” Fact is, prospects and employers are swayed just as much by the quality of branding and marketing materials— as by what they say. Cheap paper, poor copy writing, mismatched graphics, bad printing and cheesy photos scream “bottom-feeder.”
The industry leaders produce every piece of branding literature with quality in mind. That means having materials professionally designed, investing in professional photography and design, and having resumes printed on thick, quality paper by a reputable printer. Your branding tools are the vanguard of the professional image that will attract the kind of clients and employer/recruiters you truly desire.
2. Compelling Content
Branding materials that focus on nothing but hard facts are the least effective, because people don’t make buying decisions based on facts. They make them based largely on emotion. A brochure full of numbers, sales data and cliché phrases like “sold more than the next guy” will intimidate and bore a prospect or employer. A branding truth: you can’t bore people into doing business with you or hiring you.
Personal Branding uses personal information—your background, your sense of humor, your life—to tell the story of an interesting human being who just happens to be a great advisor. Using a personal “hook” such as a love of sailing or a background as a pilot, leading personal marketers create self-images that generate an emotional response in their audience. Prospects see the advisor as a person with unique skills and perhaps a few common threads.
A tip: have your materials professionally written.
Positioning means defining yourself within your industry as a provider of something unique. Take cars as an example. Volvo’s position is as the “safe” car. BMW’s slogan ” The Ultimate Driving Machine” positions it as a performance car. The Honda Accord is positioned as “reliable,” while the Mazda Miata is “fun,” and Cadillac is “traditional American luxury.” Each successful brand stakes out territory that gives it a unique hold on a segment of the buyer’s mind.
Personal Branding demands positioning. That might mean building an image for yourself as a specialist in corporate coaching, or as the golfing instructor, or as the divorced woman’s psychologist. The point is, you must “package” yourself to allow the consumer to differentiate you from all your competitors. Once you’re different, you’re remembered.
4. Support and Consistency
This simply means that you can’t send out a single direct mailing and expect results. You can’t just put up a Web site, not support it, and expect e-mails to bring you clients. In a week, a top personal marketer might:
• Send out the latest in a six-piece series of direct mail cards
• Send personal brochures to callers from previous mailings
• Update personal information on his/her Web site and post a blog
• Make follow-up calls to industry-specific recruiters
• Give two speeches at local business events
• Write an article on emerging interest for your niche and post it to online article sites
Cross promotion and continual support of your branding efforts brings results that build on one another. Most of all, persistent, quality Personal Branding creates an indelible image in your market that brings you a constant flow of clients and prospective recruiters and employers, even when you’re not selling.
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Mark Montoya has been working in personal branding for more than a decade for hundreds of online and offline companies, small businesses and individual service professionals. His focus has been toward improving the way jobseekers find employment on the Internet. He has synthesized his expertise by helping job seekers obtain their ideal choice of employment over the Internet on his sites MyOnlineCareerSpace.com and MyOnlineCareerCoach.com, and through his books 101 Tips Every Job Seeker Should Know and The Ultimate Online Job Search eBook.
“It is the responsibility of the individual to reject the prospect of mediocrity and to strive for the betterment of society as a whole” ~ Mark Montoya