About 75% of the 22 million small businesses in the U.S. are owned and managed by a single individual. The typical business reflects the solo owner’s values, tastes and personality. Most importantly, the business and its owner are inseparable in the eyes of customers and prospects.
You can turn personal involvement into marketplace advantage by creating a strong, distinct Personal Brand identity.
What is a Personal Brand?
Personal branding represents a powerful personal self promotion and small business strategy. You create a Personal Brand based on your talents, skills and values. This Personal Brand identity becomes the foundation for all your marketing efforts. With a clear marketing identity, you can intentionally shape positive perceptions about you – as the symbol for your company.
Think about brands you use and recognize. Your perceptions about those brands have been shaped by consistent and persistent marketing messages. When your personal experience as a customer confirms those messages, the brand perception becomes reality.
Do you know any small businesses with a strong brand identity?
One of the most powerful small business owners tools is personal branding. Examples of individuals who created strong Personal Brands and developed them into multi-million-dollar enterprises include Oprah Winfrey, Martha Stewart, Nora Roberts, Stephen Covey, Tiger Woods and Tommy Hilfiger.
However, very few small business owners will use branding to be distinctive from their competitors. You are likely to be aware of a business owner with a strong Personal Brand ONLY if they are active in your market space or network. Most small business owners just don’t know how — and won’t make the effort — to use personal brand reputation building as an effective marketing strategy.
Personal Branding represents one of the most powerful — and under used — small business owners tools!
How can you create a strong Personal Brand?
Follow the five steps to create your Personal Brand identity. The process is adapted from Brand Me, Inc: How To Be Distinctive And Remarkable In What You Do And How You Do It, a guide for small business owners.
Step 1: Define Your Target: Everybody is NOT a potential buyer for what you have to offer. The biggest mistake you can make is being unclear about your target customer. Write a detailed description of the person who is your ideal buyer.
Step 2: Identify Your “True” Competition: Never mind who YOU think the competition is. Who does your target buyer consider when shopping for products and services like the ones you offer?
Step 3: Find Your Point of Difference: A great marketing myth is that your Brand has to be unique. You don’t have to be unique. But you must be different vs. the competition AND relevant to your target. List all the ways you are different from the people and companies your target buyer considers as alternatives. Then review the list and circle only what’s most relevant to the target customer. You should identify one to three items that qualify as your Point of Difference.
Step 4: Write Your Personal Brand Statement: This strategic statement pulls together your results from steps 1-3. Write one paragraph with three sentences that (1) describes your target buyer and what they want, (2) your true competitive frame of reference and (3) your point of difference. This statement becomes your Personal Brand Identity. It is an internal reference, not something you say or write to other people.
Step 5: Create Your Personal Brand Marketing Plan: You bring your Personal Brand to life by how you communicate verbally, in writing and visually. Your Personal Brand Statement represents the fist steps for preparing a marketing plan. Now, you have the foundation to develop a brand promotion strategy. Use your Personal Brand Statement to create, evaluate or revamp ALL your marketing materials. Your Personal Brand Statement becomes the basis for everything from your ‘elevator speech’ to your web site copy, even how you answer your phone.
Build your Personal Brand and beat the competition.
You don’t need a catchy slogan, fancy logo or clothes that match your marketing materials. And you don’t need a big marketing budget, because you only have to establish your Personal Brand within your target market space or niche. Building your Personal Brand mostly requires commitment.
Keep in mind, your Brand is established by other people’s experiences and perceptions of what you do and how you do it. Few business owners even realize they can shape other peoples’ perceptions as a marketing strategy. Few will invest time or effort. So it’s much easier than you might think to establish an advantage for your company with a distinctive Personal Brand that reflects the best YOU have to offer.