The Marketer’s Guide to Establishing a Strong Personal Brand

The Marketer’s Guide to Establishing a Strong Personal Brand

Ling Wong

Imagine instead of sending out a few dozen resumes to hunt for your next gig as a marketer, you were approached by reputable recruiters or HR departments of well- respected companies inviting you to discuss opportunities.

This scenario is not just a “dream come true” – it represents the advancement of your career and the development of your thought leadership.

It’s not too good to be true.

What’s the catch?

Well, it doesn’t happen overnight. You have to do the work… starting today by building a strong personal brand.

A personal brand isn’t about “tooting your own horn,” or self-promotion. It’s an essential component in becoming a leader in your industry or area of expertise.

A strong personal brand can help you become known to those in your industry, boost your confidence, increase your credibility, and showcase your unique combination of experiences, skills, and talents.

When you position yourself correctly in front of the right people, opportunities will come knocking on your door.

As a marketer, you probably know (at least!) a thing or two about branding. Now let’s whip out your marketing chops and get to work:

1. Get Clear On Your Positioning

Before your implement any strategy or tactic, you need to establish a personal brand message so you can be consistent across all communication channels and touch points.

You need to define what you want to be known for and position yourself in a way that increases your credibility, authority, and visibility in that specific area of expertise.

As a marketer, you understand the importance of defining a niche for a product or service. The same concept applies as you develop your personal brand.

Simply calling yourself a “marketer” is not enough – it’s too general. You need to get specific and communicate how you’re different and relevant.

Your Specialty

Within the broad discipline of marketing, what’s your focus? Here are a few examples:

  • You can consider the industry that your skills apply to – e.g. marketing for B2B enterprises, startups, or non-profit organizations.
  • You can hone in on a particular area of practice – e.g. social media marketing, email marketing, inbound marketing, or content marketing.
  • You can consider the audience you market to – e.g. baby boomers, Millennials, or C-suite executives.

Your Professional Experiences

Many marketers have a different background before entering the field of marketing. That means they possess a unique combination of professional experiences they can draw from to inform their work.

What’s your unique combination of skillset and experiences, and how do they influence your career as a marketer?

E.g. if you spent your “former life” in coding and tech, you may be able to design and implement innovative marketing strategies cost-effectively just by combining and customizing a few off-the-shelf software.

Your Values and Perspectives

In this increasingly crowded field, there are many approaches and philosophies toward marketing.

Hiring someone who has a different approach than how a brand’s message needs to be communicated could undermine the success of an entire campaign.

Clients and employers want to know your point of view, so they can determine if you are a good fit.

Moreover, it’s beneficial for your career development to situate yourself in a supportive professional environment.

This is more than the matter of getting hired. If you want to build a sustainable personal brand that grows over time, you need to put yourself in environments where you can consistently excel so you can build a strong portfolio.

After you get clear on your positioning, you can write up various versions of your “professional summary.” E.g. an extensive one for your website’s about page, a medium-length version for the professional summary on sites such as LinkedIn or for use as author bio when you publish, and a short one for social media profiles such as Twitter.

When you have these written up, you can use them in a variety of touch points. Not only you don’t have to reinvent the wheel every time but you’ll also keep your messaging consistent across all channels.

2. Establish Your Online Presence

What do most people do when they want to find out more about a person?

They do an online search.

When you Google yourself, what are the top search results? Are they presenting you in a favorable light, or do you get a hodgepodge of unflattering photos from your college days?

It’s critical that you create a consistent and professional image for your online presence. This could very well be the first impression most people have of you.

A Professional Headshot

Your photo is likely to be the first thing people see in your online profiles so it’s critical that you project an image that’s professional and trustworthy.

Invest in having your headshot taken by a professionally. Don’t grab a photo with you holding a drink at a bar, crop out your friend (leaving half her arm visible in the frame) and call it a day.

A professional headshot doesn’t mean you have to be stiff. In fact, you want to look relaxed and friendly while keeping it simple.

Your Website

One of the best ways to curate your online presence is to have your own website. It can also double duty as your blog, providing a platform for you to publish content, which will help you establish credibility and thought leadership.

Your website needs a consistent brand image – from the color palette, tone and voice all the way to the organization of the content. It should tell a story about your experiences, talents and unique positioning.

It doesn’t mean your website has to be complicated. In fact, most professionals could benefit from keeping the content focused and simple.

Your Social Media Profiles

If you do a Google search of your name, you’ll most likely find that many of the top results are links to your social media profiles.

Social media, when used strategically, can be a powerful engine in promoting your personal brand.

It’s important that your social media profiles are complete and in alignment with your personal brand message.

If possible, use a consistent name on all channels.

Use the same photo across all platforms, develop a consistent look and feel, and base your bio or about section on the professional summary you’ve developed in step 1.

Make sure you’re connecting with the right folks on social media – your updates will show up on their feeds so it’s a great opportunity to showcase your knowledge and experience to the right people.

Post updates relevant to your expertise regularly on your most valued social profiles so you show up consistently in front of your network and stay top of mind.

Your Online “Portfolio”

There are many sites, such as branded.me, that provide users with a one-page “website” to showcase their professional credentials, experiences, education, work samples, case studies, and publications – with the added advantage of having the discoverability of a social media network.

You can leverage these platforms to create an “extended” version of your resume that paints a more colorful picture of your experience and personality to distinguish you from others in your field.

3. Become a Thought Leader

Your personal brand is only as good as the audience you can get in front of, and your ability to create a positive impression.

Remember in step 1 we got clear on your unique perspective and expertise? Now we’ll put that to work by turning them into content that positions you as a thought leader.

Publish Regularly

As a marketer, you’re no stranger to content marketing. It’s one of the best ways to build a brand and establish your expert status online by becoming known as a trusted source of information in your field.

Block out time to write regularly on your blog, and get in front of a larger audience by leveraging or re-publishing the content on platforms such as Medium or LinkedIn Pulse.

Guest Post On Other Sites

Another way to reach a larger audience that otherwise might not have heard of you is to guest post on other blogs.

Make sure to identify sites that share a similar audience as you do so you can get in front of the right people.

You also want to include an author bio (leverage the summary you write in step 1) with a link to your website and/or social media profiles, so you can further connect with this audience.

To take your guest blogging effort to the next level, write for authority sites that have a high level of credibility in your field.

Speak At Industry Events

Some people are better speakers than they are as writers. If that’s you, you may want to focus your personal branding efforts on getting opportunities to speak at events.

Speaking at events is a great way to build your credibility and position you as a thought leader.

When you speak at events, also leverage the opportunity to network with industry leaders who may be able to open up more opportunities for you.

Personal branding is a “long game” – it takes some consistent effort. When you pick up the momentum and become known in your field, the results will be well worth the investment in time and energy.

How does your personal brand measure up? What action steps are you going to take to power it up?

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