There was a time when small business was strictly professional. In fact, your customers may not even have known the person behind your business, having no communication beyond products and services offered and purchased.
Those days are long gone and that's a very good thing. In this day and age, personal branding matters. Small business owners are building personal brands all their own and having fun doing it. As cause and effect go, social media is a major reason why this is happening. As a result of brands creating Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, and LinkedIn accounts, people are getting to know the person behind the business and having open communication.
Small business owners now have a chance to build a brand that transcends being the owner of a single entity and become known as an expert, a thought leader, an industry player in your field. Most importantly, they are building brands as real human beings that people want to know, trust, learn from—and yes, buy from.
Builds another channel for people to discover your business
When you become known as an expert on a certain topic or in a certain field, you build additional channels that users, readers, and leads can stumble upon that eventually lead back to your business.
A quick example: The author of the Keap article, Eric Goldschien, looked up how to clean a cast-iron skillet. His search brought him to Brad Leone, one of the biggest personalities on the Bon Appétit YouTube channel.
Eric started watching more of Brad’s videos—his personality, knowledge, and humor in the kitchen drew Eric in. He didn’t associate Brad specifically with the Bon Appétit brand at first.
But today, he's an avid watcher and reader of all of Bon Appétit’s content. Eric became familiar with nearly every chef on the channel. And when Bon Appétit suggests a recipe, product, or other pieces of content to me, Eric was much more likely to consider and consume it as a result.
Eric knew what Bon Appétit was before he “met” Brad. But it wasn’t until he encountered Brad's personal brand that he dove into the larger company’s offerings and became a consumer. People searching for experts, advice, and help in a field may come across you and your brand before they do your business.
Establishes you as authoritative in your space
Sometimes, we ask consumers to “take a chance” on our product or service without providing them with proof that they’ll be happy with their purchase. Sure, there are free trials and free return policies, but creating a personal brand where you demonstrate your expertise is another way to demonstrate your value.
Whether you’re appearing in webinars, YouTube videos, blog posts, podcasts, or any other form of media, you’re not only building a brand but showing people that you're more than a salesperson. You’re not hawking a product—you’re an actual expert in this space. That means buying from you is buying from someone who knows the value of solving a particular problem or filling a particular void.
You’ll rarely sell a product or service that no one else is selling. If you’re able to differentiate yourself by creating a brand that resonates in the field, you’ll be a step ahead of those who are only letting their business do the talking.
Creates networking opportunities
Those who create powerful brands also create opportunities to meet new people in their field.
This isn’t just about building the number of connections you have on LinkedIn or the number of followers you have on Instagram. Connecting with a larger number of people means you’ll meet potential new hires, consultants, and people you can learn from and talk to about the challenges your business faces.
Through your brand, you may receive invitations to events or to appear on other properties (such as the websites or social media channels of related brands). You’ll get messages and questions from new fans. You’ll have more and stronger connections with people in your field and beyond.
When it comes time to build your team, or pivot into a new area, you’ll be glad that you can draw from a larger pool of people who already know and respect your work.
How to build a personal brand
There’s no one way to build a personal brand. The kind of brand you build will depend on what kind of business you run. Are you someone who can speak to the B2B community, or will you be more consumer-focused? Do you have more insights into selling a service online, or are you a brick-and-mortar guru?
The following are major tips for creating your personal brand:
- Define your brand: Identify the words, phrases, values, skills, and moods you want to be associated with your brand
- Create a platform: Don’t just rely on social media, but create a personal website where you have full control over how people consume your story
- Tell your story: Marketing is about storytelling. Go behind-the-scenes on yourself and don’t be afraid to be human
- Be consistent: A brand is not about being many things to many people. Stay brand-centric in all of your interactions across all platforms