Personal Branding is a HOT topic
Within the past year or so, “personal branding” has become a hot topic. People are devoting entire seminars & webinars to the topic and so-and-so-social media guru is offering an ebook, checklist, 500 blog posts, etc. on “How to develop your personal brand.”
But I have two problems with the personal branding content I see and read- here’s the first
There’s a lot of content that is geared towards larger brands. If you’re a small business like me, that’s often not helpful.
Let’s face it- if you’re Joe Smith, small town real estate agent, what Mercedes-Benz is doing is probably not applicable to you. You can pick up a few marketing tactics, for sure, but what John Smith, small town attorney, has created is far more interesting and applicable. And that’s where I see a lack of examples.
Here’s the OTHER problem I have with a lot of the personal branding content I see and read
There’s a lot of theory floating around or “here’s how you do it it” content”, but not much “in the trenches” application that are relevant to ME and MY business.
Because if you’re a small business or even just one person, it IS pretty darn helpful to see that all the work and all the hoopla in developing a personal brand is REALLY worth the work.
This post solves these two problem
It’s going to give you tips on how to create your personal brand, as well as concrete examples from the development of my own brand- how people react, what they say, and how that helps establish me within the insurance industry.
Let’s start with my definition of personal branding
The process of differentiating yourself in your field by communicating your unique value proposition (why you’re different than everyone else and why that’s good for the customer). Your brand helps establish why people should do business with you or pay attention to you versus someone else in your industry.
The creation of my brand The Insurance Goddess
The title of this blog is what determined my brand. I knew that to get people to read about insurance, it had to be catchy and interesting. Once I had the title in place, it took a conversation with a friend who said “Carrie, you really should do something with that Insurance Goddess title. I think you could bring it to life and make it memorable.”
Once I figured out she was right, I found a costume, a seamstress and never looked back. Although I wasn’t quite prepared for the backlash from the industry, after a while I grew a thick skin and ignored it. Because I knew in my heart what I was trying to do: be memorable, humanize insurance and make it more fun and establish myself as an authority. If you sincerely believe, you’ll learn quickly you must ignore the haters. And when you believe with all your heart, eventually others that matter will too.
And guess what? It worked. Both in my community and within the insurance industry, the brand The Insurance Goddess is remembered and respected. I’m very, very proud of this accomplishment. If nothing else, it goes to show that anyone can develop a personal brand and build it. Yes, it takes time. It takes dedication. But it can be done.
How do you create YOUR brand?
I’ll be the first to say a costume is NOT for everyone. So, if you don’t go for the costume approach, what can you do?
Ask yourself the following questions:
- What are my customer’s pain points?
- What do I do to take away this pain?
- What problems do I solve?
- How do I solve these problems in ways that are different than my competitors?
- What is the one thing customers consistently say that I do well for them? (and remember, it’s OK to ask your customers for feedback. Please do so.)
I had a conversation recently with a computer guy. He’s been trying to work on his brand for a while but it still stumps him. Off the top of my head I came up with the following “brands” (note- this was brainstorming, but I think you’ll get the idea):
- Providing Now Solutions for Your Future Computer Problems
- Diagnosing Computer Problems and Providing Realistic Solutions
- Providing Realistic Tech Solutions Based on Your Budget
- Showing You the Future and Providing Realistic Solutions
- Looking Out For Your Future with Realistic, Budget-Appropriate Solutions
He told me what his talents were. If those same talents line up with why customers choose him over others, then I think he’s on the right path to developing his brand.
Here’s some recent examples of personal branding in action from my experience
- In the drive thru at our local Dairy Queen, I noticed several of the workers whispering and pointing. Eventually, the girl working the window stuck her head out and asked somewhat hesitantly, “Are you an Insurance Goddess?” I nearly fell out of the car. I recovered and replied, “Why yes I am.” And promptly handed her a business card in exchange for my food.
- When walking into the local physical therapy center, I immediately heard “Good morning Insurance Goddess!” I looked and saw a girl whose high school class I had spoken to the past spring.
Here’s some older, but no less important examples
- Many people in my community no longer call me Carrie. Instead they’ll greet me with “Hey Goddess, what’s happening?”
- When I’m at community events, people will smile and say “Look, it’s the Insurance Goddess!”
- My favorite is when I’m in my costume at a kids’ event (like the Halloween walk we participate in every year) and when the kid points to me and asks “Who’s that?”, the parent replies, “That’s The Insurance Goddess.” Often times with awe and excitement in their voice 🙂
- My favorite experience to date has been the local Relay for Life. I show up and take pictures with attendees for $1 contribution. For the past 4 years, I’ve taken my picture with the same child, he started as a baby and the mom has sought me out every year to make sure we get our picture taken. What an honor really :).
- I’ve had several customers say “You’re The Insurance Goddess. I know you’ll take good care of me.”
- When at the county fair, a lady walked by, pointed and said, “I know that costume from Facebook. You’re the Insurance Goddess!” She was just so excited.
So the elephant in the room is always ROI. Here’s my take:
This brand has established me as approachable, knowledgeable, friendly and a leader in my industry. But to those who want to know about premium, yes, I’ve written quite a bit of business as a result.
Keep sharing that brand and making it visible and it becomes memorable. You want people to connect what they need with what you offer and say “THIS is the person I want to do business with.” Simplified yes, but I think you get my point.
What’s your story? Have you developed a personal brand? Are there other tips of strategies you want to add to mine? What did I miss?
And the most important question- would you be interested in a webinar or video series that would dig deeper into this topic from an individual/small business example, including creating your brand? I’m thinking about this and curious as to interest.