Many entrepreneurs consider their companies to be extensions of themselves – and for a good reason. When you start a business, you pour your hard work, vision and values into it. But because your company is an expression of you, who you are affects how others see it – for better or worse.
Customers, vendors and investors will look at information about you as a person when deciding whether to do business with your company. When others research you, ideally, they should discover your intelligence, knowledge and expertise in your field. They should also find that you operate with transparency, professionalism and integrity.
Communicating this information about yourself is called personal branding. We’ll explain more about using personal branding in your marketing plan and share tips for starting a personal branding campaign.
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What is personal branding?
Personal branding is marketing an individual. Several factors generate your personal brand, including your skills, job titles, experiences and personality.
You can evaluate your personal brand by checking your online presence. For example, if you Googled your name, what results would you see? Is your personal brand favorable?
Here are some significant elements of personal branding:
- A personal brand tells your story. A personal brand is a tool for sharing your story with the public. In some cases, a personal brand outshines the business. Two examples of successful personal brands are Gary Vaynerchuk and Tony Robbins.
- A personal brand is part of your marketing arsenal. Branding is a vital element of any small business marketing campaign. Most companies take branding seriously, wanting to leave a lasting impression on the customer. Personal branding, however, is often overlooked.
- A personal brand is someone’s online reputation. Most executives already have a personal brand; it’s just a question of whether or not they cultivate it. As Jeff Bezos said, “Your brand is what other people say about you when you’re not in the room.”
- A personal brand can foster company trust. Personal branding of a team member, typically the founder or owner, can boost the organization’s credibility. If customers trust the founder, they’ll be inclined to trust the company.
- A personal brand can be the face of the company. A personal brand can also serve as a face for the company, which is essential in both B2C and B2B businesses.
There are many different personal branding tactics. You can brand yourself on social media or through blogging, email marketing and public relations. Executives can choose how and where to brand themselves and reap the benefits.
When your personal online reputation is excellent, you’ll strengthen your company’s reputation, boost its credibility and make it easier for your business to build a brand community of loyal customers.
3 reasons why personal branding is essential
Personal branding brings several benefits, including boosting your company’s sales efforts, bringing in more customers and giving your business a competitive edge.
1. Personal branding increases sales.
One of the most valuable benefits of personal branding campaigns is an increase in sales. According to LinkedIn, employees who use social media activities in their sales process are 51 percent more likely to reach their sales goals, and 78 percent outsell their peers who don’t use social media.
Additionally, the B2B sales process is lengthy. According to marketing strategist Pam Moore, it typically takes five to seven impressions for someone to remember a brand. Personal branding efforts, such as posting on social media, are a nonintrusive way to help nurture and convert leads.
When you devote time to personal branding for founders and company executives, you give prospective customers a “look behind the curtain.” Effective personal branding shows positive aspects of an individual’s background and values that directly impact the business while authentically showcasing their unique personality. It humanizes the company and builds trust with customers and prospects.
If a prospective customer has a choice between your company and a competitor’s, that feeling of comfort and trust can tip the scales in your favor.
Entrepreneurs should create a branded email address that includes their business name to help build brand recognition and convey professionalism.
2. Personal branding efforts get in front of more customers.
Personal branding via social media fosters trust and believability – valuable components in purchasing. According to Nielsen’s 2021 Trust in Advertising Study, 88 percent of consumers trust family and friend recommendations more than any type of advertising.
But consumers don’t have to know someone to trust their recommendation. BrightLocal’s 2022 Local Consumer Review survey showed that 77 percent of consumers always or regularly read and trust reviews by other consumers before purchasing.
Social media users follow influential, knowledgeable, funny and informative people. When multiple people at your company engage in personal branding, your company message, filtered through each person’s personality, can reach many more people. In fact, according to PostBeyond, posts have 561 percent more reach when employees share brand messages than when just the brand posts the message, and posts by employees are reshared 24 times more frequently than when shared by companies.
The aggregate of all employees’ personal branding reflects on the company as a whole, as followers gain insights into the knowledge and values of the people who work there. Personal branding can make followers feel like they know the company’s employees, making it more likely that they’ll do business with your company instead of one they know nothing about.
To boost online awareness of your brand, build a personal brand website, start a blog and invest in online reputation management.
3. Personal branding offers a competitive edge.
Consumers are coming to expect personal branding from companies. In fact CEO Hangout found that 82 percent of people surveyed said they’re more likely to trust a company when its senior executives are active on social media, and 77 percent of consumers are more likely to buy when the CEO of the business uses social media. Consumers want input from company leadership. So businesses that ignore this may end up swallowed up by their competition.
Getting started with a personal branding campaign
Launching a robust personal branding campaign may seem daunting, but executives don’t have to do everything at once. Instead, take time and strategize. The goal of personal branding is to separate the person from the business. Determine how your online content can showcase your personality on a deeper level. Here’s how to get started.
- Target networks your customers use. Before launching a personal branding campaign, it’s essential to target the networks your customers already use by looking at their buyer personas. For example, if they rarely use Instagram, skip that platform. Research social media trends for your target audience. Social media trends change regularly, so you should stay aware to make the most of your content marketing.
- Focus on specific platforms. Focus on one or two social media networks for personal branding. The worst-case scenario is trying to maintain a presence on too many platforms and doing a terrible job on all of them. Choose one or two social networks or focus on blogging to build a follower base. Use audience insights to determine engagement levels. Don’t waste time on platforms that show minimal reach.
- Stay consistent. Continually post and keep followers updated on trends and news. It can be substantial work to get up and running, but a personal branding campaign certainly pays off in the end. Your brand should be unified online and offline. Emails, social media accounts and business cards should have consistent brand images and color schemes.
Jennifer Dublino contributed to the reporting and writing in this article.