Gear up for 2016 – marketing your personal brand

No matter what field you are in you have probably spent January developing your plans for the year – financial, marketing, social media, training and the like; but have you taken the time to develop your personal brand marketing plan?

Imagine if we spent as much time branding and marketing ourselves as we so the products and services we sell?

When you brand yourself, you develop a reputation that precedes you and you are perceived to be more desirable and powerful. It makes sense then to develop a plan to actively market your brand. So where should you start?

Luckily the principles and techniques of marketing are a good place to start.

Firstly, you need to understand your target markets. Who are the groups of people you should be targeting to profile your brand. Think broader than your company, to your industry specialization, your network and your prospects. Once you have identified your target market, define what their key needs are and how they derive benefit from being associated with you.

Having defined your target market, it is important to think through what specifically you want to achieve for your personal brand in the target markets you have identified. These specific objectives will play a huge role in determining the strategies you employ. Objectives invariably relate to career success, business results or personal recognition.

Having developed your personal marketing objectives, you need to give consideration to the 8 p’s of personal marketing:

  1. Positioning – If you understand your target markets effectively and have determined what characteristics people find valuable, you’re in a good position to tell people what you stand for in a way that is unobtrusive. You will know you have positioned yourself effectively when you are perceived as being different and the best in your field
  2. Packaging – There is good reason for the saying “you judge a book by its cover”. Everything about you communicates something about your brand. Your image, how you present yourslef, what you talk about, who you associate with any other ‘visual’ element associated with your brand. Powerful brands understand the impact of these elements and give careful consideration to each and every aspect
  3. Promotion – There’s a saying I always use that says if you have low visibility, you have no visibility. In fact, people who market themselves understand that visibility is more important than ability. You need to determine what are the best strategies for your brand to be visible in the context of your target market/s. The ‘mix’ of  promotional methods you choose for your personal brand should  complement each other. Ways of promoting your brand include: social media platforms, speaking engagements, company newsletters, involvement with high profile associations, articles, PR, small group discussions and forums. Determine your strengths in this area and play to them rather than focusing on trying to improve your weaknesses
  4. Presence  –  When your personal brand has ‘presence’ it exudes a ‘x’ factor. There is an air about you that is captivating and appealing. People who have presence are genuinely interested in other people. They understand that in order to be perceived as ‘interesting’, they need to show interest in other people. Brands with presence command respect. They are confident. They are not afraid to let others know what makes them great in a way that is not arrogant or self-fulfilling
  5. Passion – Passion is your brand’s fuel. Great brands ooze passion. So if you want to get your brand ‘out there’, exude enthusiasm and energy in everything you do. The assumption underlying this ‘p’ is that you’re living your life’s true passion and purpose. If you’re doing a job for a job’s sake,  there’s little chance that you will be exuding passion. Purpose and passion are often different sides of the same coin.
  6. Personality – Powerful brands are authentic and true to who they are. When you expose more of who you are, you are perceived to be more ‘real’. Being in touch with who you are you are; what you stand for; your strengths; weaknesses and idiosyncrasies you become slightly vulnerable. Your target market can relate to you far better when there is congruence between what you say you are and how you come across
  7. Product and presentation –  Have you defined what you do in terms of problems you solve for your target market and solutions you put in place. Unless people understand what benefits they derive from being associated with you and why they should deal with you, there is very little sense of ‘what’s in it for me’. Once you have defined this, ensure you communicate it consistently across the different channels you are involved in. In this way, you are continuously reinforcing what you stand for and what makes you different and how your brand adds value.
  8. Proof – If you want your brand to have substance and credibility, you need continuous proof. Give substance to what you say. Use scientific proof or quantitative evidence to your arguments. Even if you take a controversial stand, you will always be perceived in a positive light if you substantiate it. Writing up appropriate case studies and collecting relevant testimonials  is great way of giving substantive evidence of your achievements and are perceived very positively by your target market.

An incredibly important over-riding ‘P’ is perception. Do you have a good understanding of how your brand comes across to others and how you are perceived relative to how you want to be perceived?  If you are in ‘touch’ with perceptions, you are able to make the necessary tweaks and adjustments to your brand as you go along.

As in marketing a product or service, you need to make time for marketing your personal brand. Marketing is not a ‘natural’ activity for most of us, so you need to make time to ensure you are able to market you brand in the best way possible as well as get appropriate visibility.

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