You’re in the process of defining your personal brand but not sure where to start. This article should give you a process to help you define your personal brand.
Before we dig deeper, it’s important to understand that there are many different definitions of “personal branding” and many methods describing how to define your personal brand.
Here’s a few slides of some trusted personal brands and what they have to say about “a personal brand”.
Defining Your Personal Brand – Forget Technology
Forget about technology. Forget about your website. Forget about your social media channels.
Personal branding has nothing to do with these technical components. These are just delivery and engagement mechanism of your personal brand. They will follow and take on the character of your personal brand.
Instead, you may find it easier and more productive to focus on a combination of your target market, what you enjoy doing, how you can help people, your strengths, and (in relationship to your strengths and professional experience) what the market needs.
A Wide and Deep Ocean. A Narrow and Deep Well
Start with your audience.
Who is best suited for your services. Is it everyone or is it a sub section of people? Based on feedback at my workshops, the vast majority of individuals actually indicate that their target market is everyone. Even businesses that operate globally do not define their target audience as everyone.
When I first started offering my services, my target market was everyone, and it did not matter where in the world they were located. I had clients as far away as Australia, as far south as Mexico, and as far west as California. I struggled for two years just taking on all clients that approached me, regardless of location. I then realized (after 2 years), having clients spread over 12 different zones was not an ideal situation (i.w. no family time, servicing clients when I was supposed to be sleeping, spotty internet connections, etc.).
I now like to think that I’m a little wiser, and have defined the geographical location of my target audience to be local; Local within the Greater Toronto Area – only. I now get to sleep at night (same as others in my time zone), and have more time for my family.
When you decide to narrowly define your market and target audience, there may be a fear that you will lose clients and opportunities. Ask any well seasoned marketer and they will tell you that is the furthest thing from the truth. When your target market is clearly defined, especially with pin point precision, you have a better chance to benefit from your services and unique positioning. It’s your personal brand as an expert authority in your niche market that will help attract clients to you.
Your Expertise and/or What You Enjoy
If you try to be all things to all people, you will drive both yourself and your audience crazy. I found it’s best to focus in on what you enjoy doing and your expertise. Use the intersection of these two to develop a niche for your business. Yes it’s a challenge, but it will be well worth the exercise.
To illustrate, I recommend the following when determining your expertise and your enjoyments. It’s what I went through and I am very comfortable with the results:
Ask yourself the question: “What are you good at and what do you enjoy doing?” The intersection of these two items can be an eye opening exercise.
By trade trade I am a software developer. My early career I developed software applications for many Canadian companies. Mid career, I found myself in Japan, running a division within a software solutions company, where I had P&L responsibility. The last 10 years of my career have been focused around helping business with their networking and online technologies (planning, building, supporting).
I totally enjoy distilling technical gobbly gook into an easily understandable terms and bringing thought concepts to life on a computer. I am also a problem solver, and tend to find solutions to issues relatively quickly and easily. It seems to be in my blood. With this being said, would be natural for me to define my business around “Creating”, “Technology”, and “Finding Solutions”.
Also, I have worked with the Internet since its inception, and enjoy its ever-evolving technologies, tools, and methods. In fact my first exposure to the Internet was during the mid 1990’s, where there was only Compuserve – the defacto public ‘Internet’ for that time. Compuserve, by the way, is how I managed to get work in Japan. I posted a question on a “Work In Japan” bulletin board, and received an answer within 24 hours.
Finding what you enjoy doing (maybe even hobby) and what you are good at doing (perhaps your professional training) will help your cause in defining your personal brand.
A More Granular Level – The Niche
I then started to niche down from there, delving a little deeper, understanding whom most of my business encounters have been with.
- Over the last 30+ years I’ve worked with mostly small business, and feel I can relate closer to the actual psyche of the small business than the larger corporation – budgets, bureaucracy, atmosphere, responsiveness, service, philosophies, etc.
- Next I decided to find out how many small businesses existed online and put out a 1 question survey. Some of you may remember seeing the survey, but the results surprised me. The question I asked: “What location is your primary target market”? I collected 158 responses over a 7 day period, and although I believe the results are not 100% statically accurate (did not validate my audience, motives behind the results, etc.), the results indicated that 47% are global, 36% local and the remainder national based businesses. The results told me that there is a critical mass of local and global companies online. However, many local business were not using social media (at that time – mid 2000) because they either didn’t believe it worked or they just did not understand how it would benefit them.
Identifying The Frustrations
Following the above, I started to define the issues and frustrations within small businesses, and through my direct engagement experiences with individuals in small businesses I started repeatedly hearing the same things:
- “More sales. More sales. More sales”
- “Technology is moving way to fast for me to keep up. Help”
- “How do you monetize from the Internet?”
If you are curious, and asked you target audience relevant questions, you will (more than likely) start seeing patterns too. These patterns (of problems and issues) should start to form the basis of your personal brand. You just need to start pulling it all together under a cohesive unbrella.
The Concept Is Born – Putting It Together
Intersecting my target audience with my joy and cross connecting with what I’m good at, I came up with “Helping local small businesses become visible and grow their business online.”
Once you’re able to define the issues and frustrations within your market it will be like a huge weight has been lifted off your shoulders. It will also feel like someone or something has ignited a fire and burning desire within you to serve that specific community. Hopefully, you’re able to see it coming together – Technology, offer creation, client education, website design and development, content production and optimization, sales lead generation, small local businesses, etc.
I didn’t stop there. Defining the demographics plays a huge role too. Demographics can relate to age, gender, etc. and my objective was that I needed to understand who I was talking too. I needed an avatar, so that my writing, presentations, course material were addressing my avatar (my perfect customer) directly and personally.
Understanding that I’ve helped many small companies, from a technology perspective, it’s made it easier to visualize who I would be talking to. I defined my avatar as an individual, 40-50 years old male, who has probably transitioned into a generational business, local within the GTA, and more than likely needs help to transition their online technology to something that is more relevant.
I’ve just shown you the process I went through, in hopes that you can use it as a guideline for yourself. It will vary from person to person and is by no means complete. You still need to look at competitors, pricing, psychographic information, just to name a few. It should, however, give you a good launching point to get your personal brand into the market. It did for me.
Find something you totally enjoy, niche down as much as possible, find the issue within your niche, keep surveying your market, and brand your self as you’ve defined.
If you are ready to take your digital marketing to the next level, take a look how our digital marketing planning process can be used for your business.