As a small business owner, you may think you don’t have to worry too much about creating a personal brand. Those ‘brand’ things are for bigger companies, the ones with budgets that rival a professional sports team. But the truth is, as a small business owner, you can benefit from creating a personal brand. In fact, you may even benefit more than the multi-million corporations.
As a small business owner, developing a personal brand can help you and your company in the following ways.
You become an expert.
For better or worse, you are who people say you are. If you don’t take the steps to mold your own brand, someone may come along and help ‘mold’ it for you. And it may not always be positive. By creating a personal brand, you help people get to know you for exactly what you want to be known for. Being active on your blog or site community, using social media, and taking steps to own your Google 10, can all be combined to give someone a compelling picture of who you are when doing research. Customers want to associate themselves with people they trust are experts in their field. By speaking and presenting yourself as an expert, you help elevate yourself onto a new pedestal and build social capital.
You become trusted.
Well, of course, you’ll probably say. If you’re an expert, then it means people trust you! But in social media, we’re not talking about that kind of trust. We’re talking about building relationships and friend trust. We’re talking about creating a brand around yourself that allows people to feel as if they know you – that they’ll trust your recommendations and not just that you know what you’re talking about. I think this is the strongest component as to why small business owners need to create personal brands. Because it takes you from business owner to friend. People don’t necessarily buy from experts. They buy from their friends and people they trust on a personal level. Creating a brand around who you are breaks down that cold third wall and lets people feel like they already know what you’re about.
Your community becomes an information hub.
By creating a personal brand, you also strengthen your site community. If you’re an expert, then it’s assumed that your community is an authority as well. Pretty soon you become the go-to hub for your particular topic. This will help you to gain blog subscribers, attract new leads, and generate great site discussions to build your community. The more authority you can bring to your community, the more that’s going to transfer over to your services and the more people will want to do business with you.
You become part of your story.
At some point, personal branding becomes storytelling. Through your brand, you give your customers something to hold on to. You bring them into your story and, by association, make your company a whole lot more interesting in their eyes. Jonathan Fields had a great post yesterday about business, branding and the art of storytelling that I think intersects really well here. I’d encourage you to give it a read. We’re seeing more and more businesses adopt this storytelling approach to marketing. And they’re doing it because it’s incredibly impactful. People want to do business with companies they have a relationship with. When you engage them in your story, you make them invested in what you offer.
You stand out.
Creating a personal brand helps make you memorable. It makes you stand out among all the other local companies that do what you do and it gives people a reason to come to you instead. A brand that’s memorable is easier to find and recall in our brain. That’s the company we go to when we’re in a pinch and are looking for someone to fill the need. It gives you a step up against everyone else out there.
Those are a few of the reasons why I think it’s so vital for small business owners to be proactive about building their personal brands. What have been your experiences with brands, either creating your own or interacting with the brands of others?
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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