The What and Why of Personal Branding


Lately, everyone seems to be talking about personal branding and what it means in today's digital and marketing age. I cringe whenever I get to see any headlines or articles promoting 'Personal Branding' through social media. Every 3rd or 4th article on branding topic in my Flipboard dashboard is about personal branding - how important it is, how to capitalize, listicles on personal branding etc.

Over the last 5 years google trends on personal branding shows an interesting pattern. While there is slight increase in terms of the interest over time, it has a jagged growth. The December months sees a huge dip & so also a mid-year dip around June-July. One main reason could be that year ends and mid-year periods are usually lean period for job changes, perhaps?
As much as I don't like the whole idea of 'personal branding', this is a new reality and professionals needs to successfully engage with their audience with the available digital tools. While there are many articles on how to go about, blogging, updating linkedin/twitter profiles, cross-channel promotions, content calendar, back-linking, SEO, etc, etc.. I wanted to share my thoughts on something more strategic, the what and why about personal branding, based on my digital marketing experience & what I do for clients

Have a clear objective - Like every good marketing campaign brief, you need to have an objective for your personal branding. Example: Successfully communicate with my target audience and put forward my value proposition
Identify your target audience: Like every good branding exercise, you'll need to sharply define your target audience.. Who are they, where are they, what they do, what motivates them, what kind of content they like and engage with..etc
Fine tune your value proposition: There are many 'me-too' people out there. You need to have a sharper definition of who you are. Try and be as specific as possible and avoid fad words like - digital marketing guru, ninja, maven (does anybody remember mavens?) etc., are big no, no.  Example, don't say, I am Digital Media Guru.. A better interpretation could be, Expert in Online Advertising, A Google Adwords Certified professional.

Remember, there are many people and publishers out there competing for the same audience attention with a different or similar proposition. Overcoming this challenge and have an effective communication with your TG will need a deeper understanding of the audience. You can get this through analytical insights.

You Must Have an Owned Media. This is something I have been saying to clients from a very long time, better to live in your own house than a rented property. While the reach may not be great, you get data and analytics to build a deeper and meaningful insight about your audience. Have your own website with web analytics (Wordpress/Blogger + Google Analytics is the most safest and best option). You'll get to know what brings them to your website (keywords), what content engages them the most, why they are doing it, from where, when, etc.. All helping you to better your engagement

Understand your audience basic drives.. What is the benefit for them to follow you or engage with your content. Break it down to functional, emotional, (and societal) benefits. Also check from a larger perspective regarding what communication is being consumed in your domain through google trends, industry websites, whitepapers being published, etc., are good starting points

Lastly, try and map the 'customer experience' - what touchpoints, which platforms, at what frequency, etc.. This is where you'll realize that if you need to be active on a Twitter or on LinkedIn, or both. What role will Quora have or is a Facebook page necessary?

Summing up, the above points can be categorized into 3 stages
  • Envision: A clear objective, audience definition, and value proposition
  • Experience: Think from your audience perspective, the drivers, what they like, what content exposure, ..through research and analytics
  • Execute: The touchpoints, frequency, activity, etc.


It is worth noting that a pure marketing activity like branding has come to occupy an individual's activity and what it speaks about the future of work. I will share my thoughts about future of work in a latter post

In the meantime, I'd love to know your thoughts on personal branding.

Cheers!

Santosh


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