Will we ever be the same again? Businesses are being transformed at this time of the Coronavirus and the economic challenges we now face. This transformation has happened quickly out of necessity and the need for survival however it’s likely to leave a lasting legacy on how we live our lives and run our businesses.
This crisis has created the space for us to reconsider our values and who we really are on a personal level.
For small business owners and entrepreneurs who are currently adapting, it’s time to consider your business operations, your values and your personal brand. What we learn in these challenging times can help set us up for the new world that will emerge after this crisis.
It’s time for us to put humans first in business, to reveal our own personality as the leaders of our brands and how that relates to how we do business. Your brand is not your logo; it’s so much more than a cute icon, font and colors. It’s not even about the clever slogan you use. Your brand is a representation of who you are. For small business owners and entrepreneurs your personal brand and your business brand must work cohesively together.
In this article we will look at your personal brand and how you can use it as a representation of who you are, or who you are becoming. Crisis can often change us, and we have the power to decide who we become.
As we conclude 2020 and start to plan for 2021, it’s the perfect time to assess your personal brand. Much of the planning can be done, even during the pandemic. Working on a personal branding project can be a great way to enjoy life in lockdown. Even personal branding photo-shoots are likely to be okay in your region since they can be done while maintaining social distancing.
We’ve seen an influx of individuals who have become unemployed and are now using their downtime to kick-start an online business leveraging their own personal interests and personal identities.
Below are seven questions to ask yourself when planning your personal branding.
Consider who you are and what you want to be known for. Create a list of all the attributes that should make up your personal brand. Consider how you may be able to communicate those attributes visually through your image. You’ll likely have an intuitive understanding of what you want your personal brand to be however, by listing your goals you’ll be better equipped to communicate your desired message.
Your image is a key component of your personal brand. You’ll probably use your photography on your social media profiles, your website, and any media opportunities that present themselves. It’s worth considering the various formats and styles you may need and have them ready to go. In some instances, a square image will be required and in others, a landscape or portrait may be suitable. If you’re using your photo on your website in a banner you may find it crops differently from device to device. Consider what type of imagery will work across multiple platforms. Put together a list of images you’ll need to ensure you capture everything at your photoshoot.
You probably have an intuitive understanding of what style of photography will best suit your personal brand. Create for yourself a mood board by taking clippings of sample images you like that you can then show your photographer. That will give your photographer a clear understanding of where you want to go visually whether it be highly corporate or casual. In your mood board, you can include anything you think may be helpful, even samples of color swatches or lifestyle images that reflect something about who you are or want to be.
Image Source: Science Direct
For some, a highly professional office setting may best suit them. For others, a natural outdoors or urban setting might best communicate the right message. Don’t choose something just because it looks nice, be deliberate about your message be creative. For example, there may be clever ways to bring the outdoors inside to communicate a specific message about who you are.
What you wear will say a lot about your personal brand. Your clothing can often make or break your success. Should it be highly professional, edgy, casual, modern, or fun? There are many different looks you could go for so consider how they may best represent your personal brand. If you operate a business with a logo, you may want to use the colors from that logo if they also suit you. What props may also suit your message? I recently saw a business coach who works in time management, in all his speaking engagements he has a pocket watch displayed. Accessories can be a great way to reinforce your message.
For those that wear makeup on a daily basis, it may be worth getting some professional tips and advice specific to your complexion and desired look. When it comes to photography, the makeup techniques may be slightly different from what you would normally wear so get the experts involved and check the images are suitable before you complete the photoshoot. For those that don’t usually wear makeup (men, I’m talking to you), don’t be concerned about makeup for photoshoots and trust the experts to guide you. Your hairstyle should also be done in a way that is consistent with what you commonly wear so you maintain consistency with your message. When it’s done well, it will look natural and effortless.
Your words and your presentation are critical factors for your personal brand. You may have your selfie pout down pat however that might not be quite right for your personal brand. Take a look at your mood board and practice a few poses in the mirror so they feel natural. Practice the way you speak by recording yourself presenting and listen back to how it sounds. You can also search through YouTube to find other business people and entrepreneurs who come across in a way in which you’d also like to be perceived. Practice their presentation style as a full-dress rehearsal in the mirror to see how you can make it work for you.
We trust these questions will help you enhance your personal branding. Of course, to make the most of your brand you need to be seen. By having your personal branding on point, you’ll be ready to take your digital presence to the next level. Digital marketing is a powerful way to get yourself noticed by the right people. Whether it be SEO, social media management, or support with advertising campaigns, we’d love to help you. Contact us today!
Being self-employed isn’t a rarity any more. We can work remotely, from home, and stay connected with our teams, clients or employers. If you’re your own boss, that means no employers, which can give you an extra layer of confidence, but don’t let that deceive you: being self-employed means you actually have to pay more attention to business management, while digital marketing can make or break your business.
Working at a home office and having to answer only to yourself can be great if you know how to do it right. This means you need to know how to manage your time, keep up with deadlines, stay in touch with customers, but also keep constantly developing your business. This is why digital marketing is especially important. If you want a strong brand, if you want your business to thrive, you need to develop flawless digital marketing skills.
Developing such skills isn’t easy, but once you’ve got that covered, you’re on the right track to establishing a strong brand, including brand loyalty and customer relations. Learning digital marketing should be a step-by-step process, and it should include much more than just going through a couple of social media tutorials.
Yes, social media is a crucial part of digital marketing, but you also need to know about the importance of having a great landing page, developing a personal brand, customer engagement and connecting with influencers.
Let’s look into what self-employed professionals really need to know about digital marketing.
Every business needs a home page. If you’re self-employed, you need a website that showcases your business, what you do and who you are. This is why having a landing page is considered the first and most important step in digital marketing.
What is a landing page, anyway? It’s your main web page, the one people come to after clicking an ad for your business. It should feature a simple, responsive design, a layout that is easy to navigate, and it should instantly convey what your business is all about.
Ask yourself the simplest, most important questions about your business, and think first of your target audience – your customers. Let’s say you’ve just discovered a company and you’re visiting its site for the first time. What do you want to know? Your landing page should provide such answers.
Your landing page needs to explain your business and feature content that makes people stick around, come back, buy your products and services. Don’t rush, conduct research, go through tutorials and discover the best ways to design the perfect business landing page.
Of course, you don’t have to go for the total DIY approach. Hire someone to design your landing page, if your budget allows you.
We’re taking about digital marketing, so it’s obvious that you need digital tools. Apps and online services included. This is especially important when you’re self-employed, as you’re more inclined to do tasks by yourself, and apps can most certainly help you work more efficiently, and with less stress.
There are specialized apps for pretty much everything, while self-employed professionals can choose between a wide selection of helpful digital tools that can handle anything from time management, team management, taxes, documentation to payments and data protection.
Social media can be used to your advantage, but if you don’t know how to use it right, it could very well destroy your business. Be wise, patient, take time to develop skills, test out methods, stick to what works.
There are many social media platforms out there, too many for you to use all of them, so pick the ones that are most relevant to your business. Facebook, Twitter and Instagram are necessary in most cases, while you should also consider LinkedIn for B2B communicating, Reddit, if you want to promote your business to a large audience – or a niche audience, by using a specific sub-Reddit – Tumblr, Pinterest and many more.
Showcase your work. Talk to your audience, ask for their opinions, humbly accept criticism, give freebies. Most importantly, and this is something you should never disregard: be constant. In order to use social media for digital marketing, you need to use it regularly. Stay in your clients newsfeed, every day.
You might think this isn’t important for digital marketing, but it really is. Basically, to do digital marketing the right way you need a proper office, and if you’re self-employed, you’re most likely working at a home office.
Take your home office seriously. It’s your HQ, the home of your company, the place where you develop your brand. Taking it seriously means that it needs to be set up like a proper office, and this implies no clutter or messiness. That’s the only way you can stay productive.
Make sure you’re home office isn’t taking anything away from the rest of your home, and it isn’t imposing on anyone’s personal space. You need a quiet spot with plenty of natural light and sufficient sources of electricity. A big enough desk, a comfortable chair, and have all necessary tools and items easily accessible. Add some personal items to make it feel homey, add plants to give the area some much needed life and greenery.
Finally, don’t forget office management. Take care of your office space, keep it neat and tidy, make yourself a regular home maintenance plan if necessary and don’t get lazy. You can’t run a proper business if you’re working in a mess.
You are your own brand, remember that, and you want your brand to be strong. You can’t be strong unless you don’t reach out to your audience and engage. How? By providing great content, special offers and discounts, limited time deals and sales, and don’t be scared to introduce yourself to customers, take part in comments and discussions.
Not just customers, but peers as well. Use your landing page and social media outlets to branch out, but, as was implied before, don’t spread yourself too thin, you could lose focus.
Q&A sessions are a great way to stay in touch with your audience. Share stories. Include a blog on your landing page and invite guests to write for you, and offer to write for them as well. Offer newsletters and free tutorials. Give something extra with each purchase. All this will help you develop a brand that is long lasting and profitable.
Reaching out will help you establish an online presence, which is one of the cornerstones of running a successful business.
Here’s an example of a great brand:
If you’re going to use social media, then it’s important that you reach out and develop a relationship with influencers.
In case you don’t know who influencers are, let’s explain. Basically, they are individuals, professionals in their respective industries, that have a large and/or strong following. Your task? Find those influencers who are related to your business, get to know them, build a working relationship and help each other out with mutual promotion.
What can influencers do? Talk about your brand, your products, and what makes them great. They are your communicators, your brand ambassadors, your agents of native advertising. Of course, in order to connect with influencers, make sure your relationship is beneficial to everyone involved.
If you’re a self-employed creative professional, you need to use digital marketing to not only promote your brand, but introduce it to new customers, build client relations, engage with your audience and help your business grow. It’s not an easy task, but if you take it one step at a time, you’ll go as far as you want to.
About the author
Heather Redding is an avid reader, freelance writer, coffee snob and a tech enthusiast from Aurora, Illinois. When she is not working, Heather enjoys swimming and hanging out with her friends.
According to an IBM CEO study, 71 percent of CEOs cite human capital as the leading source of economic value. This indicates that people are what drives economic value and business growth and not a logo or elevator speech. In today’s competitive market, it’s crucial to be more than just a job title. Consider how the names Steve Jobs, Richard Branson and Warren Buffet are as recognizable as their businesses.
Although you may not be running the next Virgin or Apple, even the smallest business owners can create a name for themselves online. Step out from behind your business and put a face to your work by creating a personal brand. This helps you stand out from the crowd in the job market, builds a stronger network and commands industry recognition as an expert in your field. Here’s how to get started:
What type of audience and customer do you want to attract? Sharing your values online helps identify what you and your company stand for and gives people a reason to support you. For example, CD Baby founder Derek Sivers’ personal brand values include minimalism and sharing what he learns. As he develops new projects and businesses, his followers already know they will also encompass his personal values.
If your personal values include being environmentally-conscious with a focus on reducing your carbon footprint, share how that translates into your work. Tell your audience about the green packaging and shipping you use. Or share how your jewelry store purchases diamonds only from ethical sources. Include a selfie of your own ethically-sourced engagement ring.
Remember to think through the full scope of what you’re sharing. If you’re deeply committed to a specific cause, remember not everyone feels the same way. Share this information if you want to attract like-minded clients, but keep it on the quiet side if you’re looking to attract a more diverse business base.
Remember the word “personal” in personal branding. Simply talking about yourself, your business and your products isn’t really the point. Be vulnerable and talk about your trials and tribulations, such as the mistakes you made while building your business or a personal struggle you had that lead to a new direction. Showing you’re a normal human being who is susceptible to hardships helps form trust. But there is a line. Oversharing on every detail of your life or complaining turns off customers and stalls your business.
Building trust and staying transparent also develops a more vested client and customer base. Take the time to ask for feedback on your products and services to get a better idea of what your clients need and want. Then, share some of that information online to keep your customers in the loop and illustrate your commitment to their patronage.
The Harvard Business Review recommends turning weaknesses into a compelling narrative by focusing on value. For example, if your business struggled selling hand-blown glass and you lost interest in the art, focus on how your experience informed your next step. Talk about how your knowledge of the industry and polling customers made you realize selling glassblowing supplies, unique artisan gifts and coffee table books created a more cohesive experience for your customers. Whatever your narrative is, focus on how its value trickles down to the benefit of your customers instead of making it all about you.