There is a big chunk of people that are interested in talking about “personal brands” and how you can market yourself as a professional in almost any field to connect with possible customers and your current customers. Personal branding is sort of like when the local car dealer shows up on TV and screams at you while wearing a funny hat and ridding an elephant and when you go to their car lots, you get to see the same yelling, screaming guy sell cars with the funny hat. Not necessarily good, but it creates a “personal brand”.
In the more serious side, personal brands are about creating an identity by which people can recognize you. The most important part of it is to take your original self, think hardly on what makes you unique and accentuate what people say they like about you. If people think you are honest and smart, use it wisely. If people think you are funny and charismatic, that’s your key. Or you may focus in one particular element of your personality, some little quirk that makes you memorable, you can laugh at yourself, be dead serious or just plain weird. The most important part of this is that you are able to project the exact same concept to everyone who meets you, anywhere you showcase yourself, like blogs, websites, social sites’ profiles, business cards and even TV ads. There a zillion tips you can find about personal branding that may or may not help, what matters the most is that when you want to make yourself a brand, you have to know who and what you represent and project it always. This also works for job hunting.
Another way of personal brand is what some major companies are doing now. Their brands are becoming “personal”. First in mind, HP… their new mantra is “the computer is personal… again” and they are going to great lengths to improve their customer care service, as a business, you can even get a personal case manager to help you on whatever needs you have from the first purchase. They are hardly alone, we are very familiar with Steve Jobs, who represents Apple and their toys. We know Mat Cutts who is one of Google’s big faces.
The concept is not new. Traditional advertisement has know for the longest time that if you have a person who represents your brand is a great way to connect with people. It is even better than having a slogan or a logo, that person becomes the brand. The big downside to that is that the person may not always be there. Companies tend to chew and spit employees, and on the other side, employees tend to go to better opportunities.* So, how can you create a “presonal brand” experience?
Social Media gives you the best tools out there for this effect. Using twitter to listen to your clients, having excellent use of email for customer service and promotion, using blogs from employees and the company to promote beliefs, products and services, have a facebook page to let people know of promotions and new products, using LinkedIn for people to connect and know the big guys of the company and even the small guys. Learning to listen as a general rule of thumb works just well.
Internet pushes harder than other marketing media to this point. With TV you mainly show and talk. With Radio you talk. With newspaper you write (which is like talking). With the internet, you HAVE to listen. If you try to use the web to push all your stuff, you will hardly be successful. People don’t come to the web to get hassled by ads. We come to find information, stay in touch and do business.
To create personal brands, companies only need to learn to listen. Chris Brogan, an excellent blogger and social media expert, says that you have to listen and make it more about others than you to actually shine through. Listen to what your customers say, good or bad, learn from it, show that you are listening and do something about it.
So, some examples of how to listen:
In twitter: Use tools that allow you to tack mentions of your brands and products as well as subject your company is interested in.
In Facebook: Have your page and when people join, invite them to provide feedback, ask them questions, offer discounts or prizes for feedback.
In your website: Promote feedback. Give prizes or enter people into a raffle if they provide feedback or comments. Ask for opinions, have polls on your website.
In general: Don’t be afraid to ask for feedback. Take the good and the bad, remove the spam and learn from it. You’ll be a better company for it.
Finally, ’cause I’m a great believer in feedback. Let me know how I’m doing, good or bad and I promise to improve as best as I can.
*I do believe that the more you empower people in your organization and make them feel important, that what they do counts, people will tend to have higher loyalty to your company. By giving them a chance to take ownership of the brand, you give them a chance to be something, to do better and to have a bigger impact, you give people a chance to be someone and part of something they can believe in. In this idea, giving people a voice to represent your company is not that crazy. They will represent it anyway, whether you like it or not.