Personal branding can certainly be a powerful tool for success. When you market your professional services as a one-man band (or one-woman band), you are effectively marketing yourself and having people buy into you. A strong personal brand will draw people and opportunities to you like a magnet; it’s both cheaper and more effective than any Yellow Pages listing.
The personal branding process is about zeroing in on what you are passionate about, carving out a niche for yourself, and consistently adding value to others. It’s not about you fighting the competition; it’s about you being a one-stop shop for your customer’s problems.
Here are seven benefits of personal branding to freelancers and consultants:
1. Staying unique in your marketplace
One of the best features of a strong brand is the sense of individuality and uniqueness it creates in the minds of others. As a small business owner, you cannot hide behind a big corporate logo. Your customers will easily be able to distinguish you from the competition, effectively differentiating your brand by itself. It’s important for you to prove that you can provide something that others cannot, so it’s a good idea to find a niche that you can demonstrate a deep knowledge of and expertise in.
2. Creating awareness for your services
Selling any product or service is nowadays down to brand differentiation. Try telling the food from Carluccio’s, Bella Italia, and Zizzi’s apart – it’s impossible. Your customers no longer see a great difference between products or services, but they do experience a difference in the brand. Just like a restaurant chain that uses interior decoration and imagery, your personal brand allows you to influence the perception of others on other levels.
3. Injecting personality into your brand and business
What makes plumber A different from plumber B? By adding more personality to your brand, you will add a more common ground to your customers. Your brand is deeply rooted in your authentic personal identity. Your aim with personal branding is to be known for who you are, what you stand for, and what you do for others. Think about what makes you you. Identify your best or most memorable qualities that you want to be known for and then work on building your identity as a freelancer around them.
Your personal brand online and offline should be a fair reflection of the value you can add to customers and people in your network.
4. Providing a roadmap to success
Imagine having a Cicero by your side, always showing you the right path in business. Your brand can become a guiding light for your professional life. The personal brand plan that you put in place will serve as a roadmap to success and will be there as a reference for you along the journey. Once you have identified what is that you want to achieve, it will make it much easier to work towards achieving your professional goals. Your actions and communications will be fully engrossed in the consistency and authenticity of your brand.
5. Creating a buzz to increase interest from the market
How about having a great reputation that precedes you? If someone said you are having a meeting with Richard Branson, you’d probably be very excited although you don’t know him. You have the opportunity to generate more business and grow your customer base effortlessly by ensuring your personal brand is discussed, read, seen, and heard. Once the word-of-mouth marketing machine starts, you will get referrals and leads like never before. Creating the buzz will take a good deal of effort and only a long-term action plan with a consistent message will ensure you edge closer to your goal every day.
6. Becoming an expert or thought leader in your field
Bear your customer in mind when you look to gain name recognition in your area of expertise. Ensure that your name leaves a lasting positive impression that sets you apart from the competition. To have a great brand you not only have to be good, but you also have to be different. The differentiation typically comes from aiming for a small niche of your field and completely dominating it.
Over time you will gain credibility, respect, and even admiration when your name and personal branding statement are repeated to individuals in your target audience. Staying visible online and offline will provide you with expert status and your strong brand will help you excel in your industry.
7. Achieving more sales, from better clients, in less time
Making more money in less time sounds like a dream to most people. Yet, most professionals don’t make a conscious effort to promote their own brand. Your magnetic brand will allow you to attract new customers and others opportunities without even picking up the phone. Once you are well positioned and your personal brand is strong enough, you can raise your fees and choose your clients – a luxury for most consultants and freelancers.