How to increase business while building brand loyalty and associate esteem.
What Is Personal Branding?
Personal Branding is the practice of marketing an individual by name as its own product, much in the same way you would market a company or organization. This includes that individual’s interests, hobbies, and professional associations. Every day millions of companies overlook their single-most valuable marketing opportunity. The expansive reach of their associates.
How Does Personal Branding Affect My Business?
Each associate is an extension of a company’s vision, goals, and image. Each associate has the power to influence your customers’ buying decisions. If handled properly, these associates can be a company marketing campaign all on their own. With careful cultivation of personal branding techniques within your organization, your company can see a great increase in online visibility and marketing campaign effectiveness. And in return for opening up this wonderful tool, you are also giving back to your associates by helping them build a name they can take to the bank. This alone can increase your associates loyalty to your business thus continuing the cycle of brand growth.
Where Do I Start?
Long gone are the days of blocking employees from accessing the internet in order to increase productivity. Now the internet has become a constant stream of information for both the business and the consumer. From product reviews, to forums, to direct conversations over social media networks, people all over the world are using the internet to talk about you. Isn’t it time you answered back? The internet is not your enemy, it is your endless toolbox. Begin by doing your homework. Look at what your strongest competitors are doing online. Look at what image you present for your company. Search for feedback from past customers. Get an idea of what your comprehensive image looks like on the internet, and then figure out what you want it to become.
Blogs, or online journals, are the fastest growing trend among older companies. Perhaps this is because many blogging platforms make it easy to set up and administer blogs in a very short time frame, and with little to no investment. Services like WordPress and Blogger seem to be the most common options and are extremely user friendly. The chef of a successful restaurant may maintain a blog of weekly cooking tips or recipes. A university professor may post a recap of a recent lecture. Both are unabashed at mentioning, and even linking to where they work and making the topic of their blog relevant to their industry, but at the same time the readership is natural and engaged. In each case, by associating your business name with the quality resource they create, they are strengthening the perceived value of that organizations staff, product, and services.
For more on blogging, check out 10 Steps to Starting a Successful Blog
Social Networking is a powerful, yet possibly time consuming opportunity to make a large audience comfortable with your brand. This can be a tough arena to get a foothold in, but the results of a successful social media strategy can be phenomenal. Recommendations and advice given in a conversational context through social networks is the modern day equivalent to word-of-mouth referrals and should be treated as such. It is important to allow staff to participate in conversations, and get involved in industry groups, networks and forums in order to build credibility in their knowledge of your business. DO NOT have an associate blanket a forum with commercial plugs for your business! DO encourage that they answer industry-related questions with things like “In my experience at ABC corporation, I found the solution is…” type answers. Your business becomes their calling card of authority, while they become your subtle spokesperson.
Professional networks range from individual profiles on sites like LinkedIn, to participating in forums that discuss your area of business. These networks become an invaluable resource on many occasions by giving you an insight to other competitors in your field, and a working knowledge of people and resources that are available to you. When the time comes for your business to expand, or find partnership with another organization, many associates may have half the recruiting work already done for you by simply maintaining a connection to other people in your industry, and having access to their professional background and references. This saves an enormous amount of time and effort in recruiting, and raises the comfort level candidates will have coming in to your organization.
It is crucial to any business to know how your customers feel about you. Search for your business name. You might be surprised to find negative reviews, pictures, or other bad press. If this is all that’s out there, then you’re in trouble! Answer those customers, and find a way to resolve their disappointment with your business. At the same time, use your associate branding initiative to push those negative results away from the top of the search engine listings. Issue press releases. Have a public visibility day where associates blog about what’s new in your company, or the latest trend in your industry. Either way, the more positive information you put out with your company name, the stronger your online presence will be.
The way you measure the results of personal branding efforts really depends on the type of business you have, and the way it’s run. A bakery may measure their results by the number of people who tell the baker they chose this location based on the photo gallery the individual baker had online. At the same time, a hotel may measure their success by the number of internet visitors their web-tracking software counted from the manager’s referring URL. No matter how you track the results, be sure to decide on this measurement at the onset of your campaign, and allow several months of contributing effort to expect results.
Now that you’ve got your staff on board, spend a few minutes with Courtney Eckerle at MarketingSherpa.com to learn more about Inbound Marketing: How to turn your customers into brand enthusiasts
To see some of the handy blogging tools I keep close by when I go out in the field, check out this collection on my Kit.com profile!
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