…Is who I am as a person my company’s brand?
For many small business owners and solopreneurs, when people think of their business, their mind immediately goes to the person and that person’s attributes become the attributes assigned to the business as well.
If you are truly a consultant or solopreneur, that’s probably okay as long as you infuse those attributes with a strong elevator speech or key phrase. You don’t want to just be known as Bob the straight shooter. But it might be just fine to be known as Bob, the straight shooter who helps you cut reduce your health care costs.
So how do you purposefully weave your personal brand (how people think of you the person) with what it is you do? Here are a few ideas:
Write, write, write: Whether its a blog, a column or articles you submit to online ezines, you want to link your name to your area of expertise. The key to this strategy is you have to maintain a laser like focus. If you’re the bomb when it comes to eliminating bedbugs, then stay on topic. Teach me what a bedbug is, why I don’t want them in my home, how hotels and colleges have to deal with the problem and how specially trained dogs can detect bedbugs. Write profusely and keep your focus narrow.
Speak: Offer to speak at industry conferences, do break out sessions for your local association or college. Be the person who is so knowledgeable that not only are they good at what they do but they can make it accessible and interesting to an audience.
Say no: If you’re the best wedding gown designer on the east coast, when someone asks you to design their new restaurant’s uniforms, you need to politely decline. Even if you’d love to have the money and the job would be a cake walk. The best heart surgeons don’t repair broken bones. Even though they could.
Be purposeful: It’s not enough to be known for your subject matter expertise. If you want to be known for being accessible or for being expedient or funny or whatever — think how you can weave those attributes into your daily work. Some of it will come naturally. If you are funny, it stands to reason that working with you, people would see and appreciate your humor. But how could you spotlight even more? Think of your client touch points. How could you be sure to include a dash of your humor into your invoices, voicemail and website?
I think it’s pretty tough when you’re a one man band to not have your personality color your company’s brand. After all, when they hire your accounting firm, if you are the accounting firm — they’re going to get to know you and be exposed to who you are as a person.
Rather than fight to separate who you are from what you do — carefully mesh them together to strengthen the argument of why they should hire you over a competitor.
Whether you’re in a company of one or one thousand — people hire people. Why not use that to your advantage?
Hat tip to Jane Chin for asking the question that triggered this post.
Thank you, Drew! People hire people – absolutely.
My key take-away from this is to use my “person as brand” to my advantage. For many years I felt like I may not be “doing it right” because I’ve done too many different things. Yet through these different things, one trait always comes through — I see trends and patterns and themes that many people miss (and for those of us seers of patterns, we almost need to be exposed to a diversity of experiences to be able to see patterns) — and I can share from personal experience.
I used to feel bad about not doggedly specializing in something for 20 years so that I can easily answer that “what do you do” question. But now I’m going to look at this differently. My unique value to clients comes from a diversity of life and work experiences.
I think you do specialize in something — the ability to see patterns and themes that most people can’t see AND the know how to maximize on those patterns. Seems like a very marketable skill to me!
It is as if you are reading my mind. This is great advice and so succinct that I need to remember every bullet point you mention. The advice sounds so simple, but I know from experience how hard it is to follow. Thanks for the reminders and for sharing the resources. In a crowded marketplace, it is so important to remember your tips. As one publisher told me, “You can’t find a section in a bookstore called “Books for Everyone.”
Now that’s a great quote! I’ve always thought of it as….you don’t need to be sort of important to everyone…just absolutely priceless to a few.
Very interesting, Drew.
For several years I worked in the radio world, starting out on air, then moving into sales and management. But I was gaining a reputation as a marketing idea guy that went beyond the confines of what our radio stations offered.
Starting 5 years ago, I was being asked to give presentations, write articles and do speaking engagements on small and medium size business marketing which was well outside the scope of my paid position as a radio advertising sales guy.
This happened because, I was following the principles that you outlined in this article.
It also happened because you didn’t allow your job title to define who you were/are. I think one of the biggest dangers to building a brand for ourselves is that we let our present situation put artificial boundaries around who/what we can be.
If you work solo, you are the Brand, if you work within a corporate structure that has their own brand. You remain your own brand within that structure or culture. Example, a furniture salesman, will be successful, if he gets the client to like him. Perhaps he is patient, listens and determines there needs and or desires and satisfys them. Your knowledge skill and how you SELL yourself to others….thats branding.