Personal branding, self-branding, self-positioning, whatever you choose to call it, it’s really about personal marketing. Why would you want to do that? It’s a great way to market your business in a way that can cost you nothing. You see it in action constantly. Donald Trump, for example, uses his name on his buildings, but he also has it placed on products that he endorses. While you mightn’t be prepared to go that far, let’s look at some ways of using personal marketing.
Remember, prospects are everywhere
Whenever you travel, attend a sporting event, go to a parents’ night at your local school or even wait in line at a bank, it’s possible there is a potential customer among the group. So always be willing to talk to people. You never know who you might be talking to. Naturally not everyone is going to be a potential customer but even if somebody isn’t a prospect for your business they may well know of another person who is.
This doesn’t mean pushing yourself onto anybody and everybody with a business card in your hand, but it does mean keeping a business ear tuned in to the conversations you are having. It’s really a matter of your mindset.
Develop your elevator speech
It pays to prepare a little story about you and your business that’s interesting and only takes a minute or less to go through. Most conversations eventually get into a “What sort of work do you do?” phase and that’s your chance to tell others about yourself. “I solve people’s mobility problems by working out the most cost effective way to maintain their cars” is a lot more interesting opening line than “I’m a mechanic”! You could discuss the way your workshop assesses how clients use their cars, who uses which vehicles for what purpose, and how you use that information to suggest a maintenance schedule that provides best value for money. The car that just does the weekly shopping doesn’t need the same level of expenditure as one that is used for constant long trips. People will be impressed and intrigued – they’ll certainly remember you.
Show a real interest in the people you talk with and take the time to hear their story. Listen carefully and you’ll always learn something. Ask additional questions if you think there’s more to learn since some people only tell part of their story and wait until they’re encouraged before they say anything else.
Help whenever you can
The old maxim, “those who help others, help themselves”, definitely holds true in business. If you realise during a conversation that you can be of some assistance to the person you’re talking with, it’s an opportunity to get to know them better. This extends to those you’re already doing business with. You might have a solution to their biggest business problem, and suddenly find you have a great new customer, or a new business affiliate.
Share your expertise
Whatever your line of business, you’re an expert in it. Before you disclaim this, just think about it. You know more about what you do in that business than anybody else who isn’t in the same business. If you can make up an interesting presentation about what you do, others will gladly listen.
Contact local organisations and offer your services as a guest speaker. Begin with any that you’re already a member of and go from there.
Join Twitter and start posting short comments – you’re limited to 140 characters so it doesn’t require a long essay on the subject! Check out what others in your industry are saying and comment.
When it clicks, personal marketing places you in a one-on-one situation with a prospective customer who shares many of the same concerns about running a business that you have. If you can be informative, interested and helpful you’ll find your business growing and possibly make new friends at the same time.