The real importance of your personal brand

Michael Neaylon, speaker, author and consultant specialising in sales, marketing and branding for service professionals, explains how a personal brand is about more than just you.

We all have a personal brand, whether we’re working for others or ourselves. As with many aspects of branding, a personal brand can sometimes be seen as lightweight. 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. Equally importantly, truly effective personal branding is about how you’re perceived, because all brands exist in the minds of their market.

Everything we do and say, display, drive and wear, tweet, blog or video, even the company we keep, impacts our personal brand. That has a direct impact on our bottom line - whether we assess that by the amount of sales we make, the influence we wield or the career milestones we achieve.  

Here is the one biggest mistake I see people make with their personal brand: It’s all about them.

One place I see this with clients that come to me is in their marketing copy. Look at yours right now. Is it about your clients and the results you achieve for them? Is it superfluous or does it purposely position you as trusted adviser to your prospects and clients alike?

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 your 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?

In fact, three is a number I often ask people to give, as one is rarely enough, and any more than three dilutes our impact and focus.

If you could define your three main values what would they be?

  1. 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 because 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 capitalise on them in your copy, on your website, and in your social media. You can even work them into your business conversations.

It makes you much easier to buy and recommend because people know what they’re getting by doing business with you. Even more than that, 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 or office; not only for what you do, but also the way in which you do it.

It’s also healthy to remind yourself of these statements as much as you can, because for all of us in sales (whether that’s selling products, services or an idea), the first sale is often made to ourselves. 

3. Ask your clients or colleagues why they like working with you

This is vital 360-degree feedback on your brand. You’re often so close to your own work or appearance 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. The beauty is that the sheer exercise of asking them to do this will also help your clients remind themselves why they keep coming back to you.

You can also reread your referrals and testimonials. There will undoubtedly be words and phrases that keep coming up again and again. Highlight the words that reinforce your brand and importantly the benefits it brings to your clients.