By Neil Patel
I’ve used a lot of different digital marketing tactics over the years.
SEO has been the main one.
Content marketing comes a close second.
But I’ve also used social media marketing, influencer marketing, video marketing, pay per click advertising, affiliate marketing, email marketing….
If it’s “digital” and “marketing,” I’ve probably done it.
But there’s one form of marketing that doesn’t fit neatly into the “digital” category.
It’s a mashup of personal, professional, digital, social, content, and whatever else.
It’s personal branding.
Personal branding is huge.
In fact, if you expect to succeed in any way in today’s socially-connected and digitally-driven world, you have to build your personal brand.
Personal branding isn’t just for celebrities.
It’s not just for big-shot entrepreneurs.
It’s not just for wantrepreneurs.
It’s not just for selfie-obsessed egotists.
It’s for everybody!
An article in Elite Daily puts it like this:
We often think about branding as something done only by large corporations, but everyone has a personal brand.
You may fill a back-office role in a massive agency, but you still need personal branding.
You may be an introvert who avoids other humans, but you still need personal branding.
If I were to pick one form of marketing that has been crucial to my personal development, professional success, and level of achievement, I’d have to say it’s personal branding.
In fact, I can point to a number of occasions when my personal brand has provided me with clients.
Over the years, I’ve learned several super helpful tips for cultivating my personal brand to build my client base.
My new audiences have not always grown quickly. It takes years to create credibility and grow your influence.
Personal branding is hard that way. You can’t simply pull out a few tactics, throw some money at it, and expect it to work.
Thankfully, however, there are some tried-and-true tactics that will give you a real edge. Some of them are really basic, e.g., being honest and authentic.
Others are creative, e.g., investing in strong visuals.
But all of them work. Give them a try. Take some time, and your personal brand can become a source of clients, just as it has with me.
The tips that follow are slanted towards content. Along with your personal brand building, you should also be using content marketing for your growth.
Tip #1: Show you’re an expert
The number one method for demonstrating your expertise is through rock-solid, long-form, super-helpful content.
Content wins the day. It’s just that simple.
You have to set yourself apart in an online space, where you are competing with other brands for the attention of your new customers.
To do this, show you are an expert in your field.
You can do this by establishing your credibility through talking about the clients you have worked with and the years you have been in the industry.
But you can also communicate this more creatively through tip sheets and Buzzfeed-like lists, which can give your audience information that matters in their lives.
Obviously, showing you’re an expert means two things:
Don’t let number two trip you up.
Have you ever heard the phrase “fake it till you make it?”
There’s some truth to that. If you don’t feel like an expert, don’t sweat it. Just act like one.
Pretty soon, you’ll become one (even if you don’t feel it). Then, you can show you’re one.
Tip #2: Appeal to Millennials
You can’t leave Millennials out of the mix when you are building your personal brand to leverage a new audience.
Want to know why?
Millennials will be the number one demographic that sees and responds to your personal brand.
One of the most important changes you can make in your branding communication is the social platforms you use and the kinds of content you create.
Why? Because Millennials are the socially connected generation.
Use popular social networks such as Instagram and Snapchat to market your personal brand.
In addition, create content such as videos to grab the attention of your audience and market your expertise.
Tip #3: Be authentic and transparent
One of the most important things you can do as you market your personal brand is to remain authentic and transparent.
Case in point is entrepreneur and coach Leigh Louey-Gung, who created a strong business for himself through a process of radical honesty.
Leigh was passionate about helping other entrepreneurs and created Secure Thoughts to help educate them about maintaining privacy on the web.
We are marketers at the end of the day, and you are crafting a specific narrative about yourself.
Remember, you always have to come through on your promises and back up what you say to your audience.
If you don’t, they will have no problem walking away.
Many of the clients I serve today came to me because they were scammed by some other agency.
I was able to maintain my integrity, keep my promises, and give them results.
Tip #4: Invest in strong visuals
I hate to say it, but if someone sees low quality photos on your site, they will subconsciously perceive you as not trustworthy or as unprofessional.
Get ahead of the game by having professional photos of yourself taken for your website.
Your photos and website may be your new customer’s first impression of you!
When I’m looking for a new hire, I can’t help but base my impression of them on their LinkedIn photo.
I’m trying very hard not to be biased against a blurry or drunken party profile pic, but it’s hard!
One of the best ways to get clients through your personal branding is simply to look the part!
Tip #5: Incentivize your target audience
One of the fastest ways you can use your personal brand to build your target audience is by giving something away.
And I don’t mean just anything. If you can give away a great product related to your personal brand, you have a greater chance of attracting a new audience.
Entrepreneur Magazine, for example, highlights the case study of a women’s boutique that gave away a kimono in order to attract new customers.
This strategy works really well for building a personal brand.
Let’s say you’re building a personal brand as a copywriter.
Attract customers by asking them to enter a contest by submitting their email addresses. The prize could be free copywriting for a week or copywriting for a special project.
Simple? Sure. But effective? Absolutely.
Tip #6: Be known for something different
Have you noticed a lot of people’s Twitter bios sound the same?
Social marketing guru. Coffee aficionado. Cat lover.
If you’re not intentional, your effort at personal branding might not be making you known.
Sounds familiar, right?
There are ways to set yourself apart, but it might feel uncomfortable.
For example, I learned (by accident) that wearing sunglasses (even at night) allowed me to build my personal brand.
(You can read more about why I wear them here.)
The people who do really well at personal branding, always have one thing they’re well known for.
It might be weird. It might be uncomfortable. But it makes them memorable!
What about face-to-face networking and personal brand building?
You need to have a business card on hand that sets you apart. Think creatively, but make sure your card is simple and provides the information a new client needs.
Try a card, for example, that’s made of a smooth paper, has a non-standard shape, or is a die-cut. These cards are more interesting and can leave a bigger impression.
Tip #7: Form strong online relationships with influencers who can help
Even though we call it personal branding, it’s really not 100% personal.
Basically, you can’t do this on your own. And you shouldn’t even try.
Personal branding is all about connecting with others, serving others, helping others, getting to know others, learning from others, adding value to others.
If you view personal branding as a form of marketing (which it is), you have to remember what the heart of marketing is.
What’s the heart of marketing?
No, it’s not shouting your message to the masses.
It’s giving value to the right people!
Some of my best clients started out as friends of friends.
For example, early in my career, I met an individual at a conference. To be honest, his personal demeanor and grooming left a lot to be desired.
Most people ignored the guy. I spent some time with him and helped him out, doing what I could.
Eventually, he introduced me to more clients!
I didn’t realize it when I helped him the first time, but this guy was connected! And through him, I earned many more clients.
Over time, your relationships will help boost your personal brand and lead to a growing audience.
You may not be able to become BFFs with Tim Ferriss in your first few days of personal branding. Over time, however, you’ll build the right connections with the right audience and get the right clients.
Experiment with these seven pro tips for leveraging your personal brand to find a larger, more committed target audience.
As marketers, we have to be willing to take a few risks and to be creative in our approach.
You can use these tips to cultivate and attract your audience, but you’ll need to deliver on your content promises.
Your customers won’t be pleased in the long run if you’re not giving them new valuable information applicable to their lives or products that can make a difference for them personally.
If you’re ready to start building your audience and to attract new customers, use the tips in this article—they’ve worked for me as I’ve built my personal brand.
You’ll be on your way to charting a new path for your company and creating energy around your products and services.
Are you ready for an overhaul of your personal brand?