Why do most personal brands fail? It’s not, as you might assume, because the brand is not good enough, or because the person who runs it is not intelligent enough. Most personal brands fail because they get absorbed into the noise—the noise created by the industry, by their competitors and even the noise brands create for themselves.
The first and hardest battle for all entrepreneurs is building a unique brand that can break through the noise. Most brands struggle to be noticed and remembered in our overly saturated digital age. But business leader and best-selling author Scott McCain explains that “mindshare precedes market share.” In other words, your brand must occupy space in someone’s mind before they will ever even consider taking out their wallet and buying your product or service.
So how does a personal brand break through the noise?
It is not just a random roll of the dice; there are straightforward tactical strategies you can use to stand out and become a leader in your field. Rory Vaden, serial eight-figure entrepreneur, New York Times best-selling author and co-founder of Brand Builders Group, outlines the step-by-step process required to create a remarkable personal brand worth talking about in his upcoming course, Building Your Brand Identity.
He offers these tips for those trying to create a personal brand worth remembering.
1.Break through the wall.
In any industry there are two groups of people: the unknown beginners and the well-established leaders. What separates the two is an invisible wall that Vaden and his colleagues coined “Sheahan’s Wall.” Most fledgling personal brands try to break through the wall by throwing everything they have at it—a YouTube channel, a coaching business, an app, you name it. But “diluted focus yields diluted results,” and most of these brands bounce right off the wall.
What yields power is focus. The sun’s rays filtered through a magnifying glass create fire. In order to break through Sheahan’s wall, you need to find your magnifying glass.
- What is the one small area you can become an expert on?
- What specific problem can you solve for others?
Identify your niche and put in the work to become an expert in it. Once you do this, all the surrounding noise will dissipate, and finally, you see that a small opening in the wall has appeared—an opening that is ready and waiting for you to walk right through.
2. Find your uniqueness.
Identifying your uniqueness as a brand is often easier said than done. Try approaching it from an extremely personal angle: “You are most powerfully positioned to serve the person you once were,” Vaden says.
Your uniqueness lives at the intersection of who you are called to be in the future and who you have been in the past.
- If you could give yourself advice 10 years ago, what would you say?
- How would you help that younger version of yourself become the person you are now?
- How can you use what you’ve learned to guide others in a similar situation?
Use your answers to these questions to find your uniqueness.
3.Prioritize your reputation.
At the heart of your personal brand is your reputation. What comes to mind when people think of you? Are you proud of that image?
In his course, Vaden leads entrepreneurs through an exercise to help identify what they’d like the essence of their reputations to be, and how to go about building trust in that reputation with their audience.
In the age of social media, you can build trust with thousands, and even millions, of people around the world without ever actually meeting them. Use your social media presence to share your life and teach people what you’ve learned. If you show up honestly and regularly, your audience will, over time, learn to trust you and your brand.
Remember that your personal brand is an extension of your reputation, and the success of your brand hinges on the trust your audience has in the reputation you’ve cultivated. Focus on building a brand you can stand behind that honors your character and integrity.
4.Strategize your content.
Often, entrepreneurs feel overwhelmed by the 24/7 nature of content creation, but you don’t need a huge production or a million followers to create great content—all you need is a little planning. You need to craft a killer content marketing strategy.
Not sure what to post? “Help, don’t sell,” Vaden says. Commit to creating useful content for your audience that adds tangible value to their lives.
Your content should center on the three E’s: is it entertaining, educational and/or encouraging? If it’s not, don’t post it.
Regular, useful content that teaches your audience is the best and fastest way to fuel your reach. One way to accomplish this is to automate your content to capitalize on your social media presence for maximum growth.
5. Monetize your brand.
You’ve identified your niche, grown your following and created a content marketing strategy, but how do you actually make a living off of your personal brand?
There are five ways to monetize your brand: the PAIDS.
- Physical products
- Ads and affiliates
- Information products
Each of these options has its strengths and weaknesses, but the key is to avoid diluting your focus by attempting all five at once. You need to act strategically when deciding which avenue to take and when to take it. For example, services like one-on-one coaching are often the fastest path to monetization but are also the least scalable. Third-party deals usually come later on in the life of a personal brand, but they are also of high monetary value.
In the beginning, focus on converting your followers into your first customers. Turn the reputation you have built into sales by leveraging social media relationships.
“The dollars are in the DMs,” Vaden says. Engage with your followers online and offer them free, useful content. In time, they will trust you so fully and find your content so useful that they will be excited to pay for access to more.
6.Commit to your calling.
What matters most when building a personal brand is that you put aside the workbooks, face your fears and take action. So many entrepreneurs are paralyzed by imposter syndrome. They think, I’m not smart enough, talented enough, or good enough. They feel afraid they won’t be successful, that their work won’t be valued and that all the strategies they’ve been taught won’t work. But they will; it just takes a little faith and a lot of time.
In his book, Take the Stairs, Vaden writes that fear is ultimately a self-centered emotion. “You never feel fear when your mission to serve is clear.” Put aside your fears of inadequacy and focus on who you are serving. Commit to the calling you feel in your heart; there is someone out there who desperately needs your help, your message and your guidance.
You started your brand to change lives—not accrue a million Instagram followers or make $1 million. Even if you help just one person, your efforts will have been worth it.
Find your uniqueness, trust the process and focus on who you serve—people need to hear what you have to say.
Photo by @titovailona/Twenty20