Personal branding: how to stand out from the pack

Giving yourself a personal brand that makes you stand out from the rest of the pack entails far more than wearing a snazzy suit. Michael Neaylon explains how to get it right, and the fatal mistakes to avoid

As an advisor, you are constantly influencing others. A personal brand can sometimes be seen as lightweight, but it’s not just about your image – as important as that is. Personal branding is also about how you manage who you are, how you lead your clients, and how effectively you partner with your associates. Truly effective personal branding is about how you’re perceived, because all brands exist in the minds of their market.
Judgment day
Let’s say you’re an advisor. You’re judged by your clients, prospects, and associates on the way you manage the sales process, the value you add to your company through expert advice and superior negotiation skills, the integrity you bring to the sales process, and how you handle expectations. Add to that the cut and style of your clothes, your promptness, your emotional and social intelligence, the car you drive, and your grooming.
Now add to that your online presence: your website and your social media profiles. They all tell a story. The more they align with who you are and the value you bring face-to-face, the more ‘on brand’ your digital channels are, the better they serve you. If any of these don’t match, however, you’ve just spent a lot of time and effort putting out mixed messages that could cost you business.
Everything we do and say, display, drive and wear, tweet, blog or video – even the company we keep – impacts on our personal brand. That has a direct impact on our bottom line. Here is the one biggest mistake I see people make with their personal brand.
It’s all about them
Yes, your social media, marketing material, website, personal appearance, character, reputation and style all play a huge part in your personal brand. But is it all about you? One place I see this in spades with clients who come to me is in their marketing copy. If your current marketing is all about you and not enough about how you can benefit your clients, here are some simple ways to remedy the situation.
1 Know your values and vision
The more aligned with these you are, the easier it is to attract your ideal clients. Is it integrity, wealth creation, reliability, or perhaps a combination of all three?
2 What does that mean for your clients?
Now you’re even clearer on what you stand for, that’s just the tip of the iceberg. No matter how clear you are, if those values aren’t ‘valued’ by your clients or colleagues, then you’ll be stranded on your own personal branding island.
So now picture your ideal client and ask yourself these questions:
• What specifically do they gain from doing business with me?
• Is it less stress? More money in their pockets? More time with their family?
• Can you be even more specific than that?
The more you know these benefits, the easier it is to capitalize on them in your marketing copy, on your website, and on social media. You can even work them into your business conversations. It makes you much easier to recommend because people know what they’re getting by doing business with you – and they know whether it’s something that matters to them or not. It’s easier to become known as the go-to person in your industry.
It’s also healthy to remind yourself of these statements as much as you can, because the first sale is often made to ourselves.
3 Ask your clients or colleagues why they like working with you
You’re often so close to your own work or appearance that you can’t see how you’re being perceived. Ask your clients why they keep coming back. You can do this casually or formally: over the phone, at the end of a meeting… wherever. Asking them to do this will also help your clients remind themselves why they keep coming back to you.
4 Leverage social media to amplify your brand
If you’re not already using social media to leverage your brand, I highly recommend you do. But as with any branding, you’re better off going deep into two or three channels than diluting your efforts across multiple networks and not gaining traction in any.
5 Stay on brand with social media
Where many people fail to gain momentum in their social media is failing to have an authentic voice in the channels they choose. If you’re new to social media, then play with it, keeping an eye on who follows you and the impact you have on the market. Follow people in your industry who have many followers or connections, and observe what they do, then infuse those practices with your own style and – most importantly – your own opinions.
This is a slightly amended version of an article written by Michael Neaylon, author of True Brand Toolkit: How to Bring in Big Money for Your Small Business. It has been shortened to make it suitable for web publishing.