The Beginner’s Guide to Personal Branding
When I began my MBA, we were constantly being told to ‘brand ourselves’. Executing a personal brand is no different than branding a business. All of the usual activities that go along with branding a company apply here – defining a value proposition, segmentation, targeting and positioning. The only difference is that this is no ordinary business, it’s the Business of You!
When conceiving your value proposition, you must ask yourself what you have to offer that no one else does. When a business writes a value proposition, it defines what value it delivers to the customer. It looks to solve a problem or responds to a need.
What do you have to offer that no one else does?
In this case, think of your customer as your current or potential employer. Which of their problems are you solving, or which need are you responding to? Answering these questions will help you to focus your energy where it would be best used, and target opportunities that best fit your strengths.
Segmenting and Targeting Your ‘Customers’
Once you have your value proposition, the next step is to define your customers. For businesses, this is an especially important step because this helps to decide how to relate to customers and identify how to maximize the value of a customer to the business.
When you wrote your value proposition, who were you envisioning reading it? Perhaps your customers can be broken down by industries (ex. the mining industry), functional areas (ex. anything technical) or primary activity (ex. market research firms).
When you have your potential customers figured out, you must decide which is most valuable to you. This chosen customer will become your ‘target market’ and will guide your direction going forward.
Your Positioning Statement
Now that the value proposition and segmentation is complete, the final piece of the puzzle is to position yourself in the market. That is, how do you fit in among the other billions of people out there? When businesses position themselves, they use a formula to create a sentence that positions their business and guides the direction of the company.
Positioning statements are usually along the lines of: “To [target market], [Brand] is the [frame of reference] that [point of difference] because [support].” How this looks in practice is, “To Busy Families, McDonald’s is the fast and friendly restaurant that feeds the whole family, because we have something for every taste.”
For a person, a positioning statement might be: “To Oil and Gas companies, Mary is the Marketing Specialist that can transform your business because she has over 10 years of experience in social media strategy and implementation.” Experiment with phrasing to find a positioning statement that helps you stick out from the competition!
Now, Spread the Word!
Once you’ve answered the three questions above, get out there and tell people about it! Perhaps write your value proposition and positioning statement at the top of your personal website, LinkedIn profile, or networking business cards. Market yourself wherever and whenever possible!
Do you have a personal brand? How did you build it? Let me know in the comments!