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From Seth Godin to Richard Branson: learning personal branding from the best

Mathew J Maniyamkott
28th Feb 2018
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Elon Musk announced that he will be selling flamethrowers at $500 apiece, and within the next few days, he sold all his 20,000 production units, amassing a total revenue of $10 million. Musk also sold out 50,000 Boring company baseball caps priced at $20 each. There was no sales funnel and no great marketing spend behind the sales of any of these products. The entire sales cycle rode simply on the name and brand that Elon Musk has garnered for himself. Just like that, he was able to sell $11 million worth of products to the general public. That is the power of a personal brand.

Another great example is Gary Vaynerchuk who started branding himself by joining the Twitter bandwagon and later with his ‘DailyVee’ vlogs on YouTube. Gary’s tactics are much-loved by many and despised in some circles for being too loud. However, there’s no denying that his persistent branding has helped Gary increase the bottom-line of VaynerMedia, his company.

As an entrepreneur, it is important for you to create a personal brand for yourself as you can leverage it for many things, from effective marketing to even crisis management. If you are known to be an entrepreneur of repute (which is an effect of your personal brand), people will be likelier to trust you in the case of a crisis, mistake or some mismanagement.

Here are some ways for you to build your personal brand:

Think of yourself as a brand first

It is important that you think of yourself as a brand first. Do you have a skill set which makes you an expert and encourages people to listen to your work? If the answer to that question is a resounding “yes”, then prepare material that people would be ready to consume. Keep sharing such content on different social media platforms, respond to people’s questions, and give away a few hours a week for free consultation. Before you know it, there is a small set of people who follow you dedicatedly, and with each video and piece of content, your personal brand will slowly build. Just to be clear here, a personal brand is not about selling your products and services blatantly, but rather about creating a following.

Put your name on the internet – literally

Think of Neil Patel, Seth Godin, Grant Cardone, Gary Vaynerchuk, and other big names in the business world, and one thing common to all of them is that they have a website registered under their own personal names. When people search for you, they are likeliest to use your name, and what better way to direct traffic to your website than to have your very name as a domain name? Building on this idea further, you can also use social media accounts in your name to represent your brand. Share your expertise on these platforms and use your (website’s) name extensively so that people keep visiting it.

Be yourself

You might have noticed that Gary Vaynerchuk is fond of using swear words, something quite a few people don’t appreciate. However, Gary proves that you don’t have to sound nice just because that is the accepted norm in society. Be someone whose authenticity you can be proud of when you stand in front of the mirror. If there are gesticulation and other minor things that are unique to you, do not try to hide them. Celebrate and accept your flaws when you deliver your content, as long as it doesn’t affect the quality of your message.

Produce content consistently

With one of the world’s most popular blogs and the author of 18 books, Seth Godin is a name that very few in the marketing world fail to recognise. Apart from blogging and writing books, Seth also founded Squidoo, an article-sharing site with a revenue-sharing model (later acquired by Hubpages), and Yoyodyne, an Internet-based direct marketing website acquired by Yahoo! in 1998. He is also one of the very few people inducted into the Direct Marketing Hall of Fame, an accolade that “honours direct marketing professionals whose outstanding career contributions have contributed to the practice, growth, and stature of the direct marketing community”.

Each of Seth’s books has been dissected for further study and set standards for marketing on their release. However, Seth would probably not be recognized if not for the consistency with which he blogs. He keeps pushing new content on a regular basis to his email subscribers; since he delivers a lot of value for his free readers, they don’t mind paying for his books and being a part of seminars and conferences where he is a constant feature. In fact, one could say that virtually all of Seth’s fame and success stems from his consistency. Similarly, strive to be consistent in delivering value to your followers, even when you start with zero subscribers in the beginning, and you will see the payoffs soon enough.

It is alright to be outlandish

Do you have streaks of behaviour that most normal folks might call crazy? Perfect – think of ways to add them to your personal branding. Few people have aced personal branding like Richard Branson of the Virgin Group. If you see his pictures anywhere, he is always smiling and in a fun mood. He opens himself up to the public, and all the PR stunts which accompany his company launches or his business dealings are a well-thought-out strategy.

A simple example of the strength his personal brand is the difference in follower counts between him and his company on LinkedIn. Richard has 13 million followers while the Virgin brand has just 1 percent of the figure. The Branson Center for Entrepreneurship is another example of him leveraging his personal brand. Richard runs about 400 companies, and if you take him away from the equation, they would likely look like just any other conglomerate. Richard Branson’s personal brand sets them apart.

A personal brand will evolve with every interaction and experience. You need to be on your guard and keep reinventing yourself. Have a clear story that you can talk about, and even if you have multiple areas of interest, do not let variety dilute the quality and lead to mediocre content. Brands aren’t built in a day – it takes a ton of patience, and you need to work on it each day. Make this a priority and you will eventually grow a following who could develop into your company’s clients and customers as well.

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