3 Ways Entrepreneurs Can Build a Successful Personal Brand
Free Book Preview: Unstoppable
Loved by agents in the real estate industry, Gary Vaynerchuk has solved the code of developing a personal brand. By turning his father's liquor store into an ecommerce business, Vaynerchuk grew Wine Library's revenues from $3 million to $60 million annually. Now the owner of VaynerMedia and Gallery Media Group, Vaynerchuk produces content on every available platform -- bestselling books, podcasts, a YouTube channel and social media -- believing that a brand is built in the court of public opinion.
That theory was tested earlier this year. Just a week after hosting real estate professionals at Agent2021 in Miami, Vaynerchuk created a firestorm when he seemingly criticized homeownership on the "Cannonball Mindset" podcast. He has since walked back his comments, but a controversial statement was enough to keep his name in the media.
Self-promotion like Vaynerchuk’s can help entrepreneurs build a personal brand that positively impacts their businesses. This can make raising money easier, hiring employees more successful and recruiting customers start earlier. If a startup lacks credibility because it’s so new to the market, a well-known, credible founder can open doors and close deals.
Building a personal brand through self-promotion is especially valuable in the early stages of company development. Business-to-business companies that are seeking niche customers can find a solid personal brand particularly helpful.
It's a trap to believe that all content produced must be perfect and work toward creating a “famous” presence online. At Luxury Presence, all our consumers want to push different brands. Some want to highlight a luxury lifestyle and property; others focus on family and personal life; still others want to create a highly professional image. We have to be great at adapting the tone and visual identity for clients across website design, copywriting and ad creative. It's a fun challenge.
A personal brand, according to Amazon founder Jeff Bezos, is “what people say about you when you’re not in the room.” Controlling a personal brand is tricky. Telling stories and sharing the important moments of building a company are good ways to create content to build a relationship. While entrepreneurs or founders of startups cannot fully control their personal brands, there are ways to manage an online presence so a brand has a higher chance of success.
Here are three key elements of creating a successful personal brand online:
1. Get linked to LinkedIn.
Over the years, LinkedIn has proved to be an underrated platform to generate high-quality leads for businesses. The organic reach offered by LinkedIn Content Marketing is impressive. Increase your brand awareness by regularly posting short articles or videos. Stories of failure turned to success, personal growth or problem-solving strategies perform especially well. Short 200-word articles with compelling headlines and attention-grabbing opening sentences will draw in readers; breaking an article into a few brief paragraphs will keep people reading.
Manu Goswami, CEO and founder of Trufan (formerly SuperFan), suggests searching Medium or other popular blog spaces to see what topics are trending and then using those topics as a jumping-off point for a blog post or video. A personal perspective on a current topic will keep the poster relevant.
2. Create a win-win relationship.
With the rise of collaboration between corporations and startups, leveraging the audience of other authorities in a particular field can be an excellent choice. According to a recent study done by Unilever Foundry, collaboration by corporations and startups is growing so quickly that they might be sharing physical space by 2025. One great strategy is to reach out to other authorities in the field to ask them for quotes -- with a promise to link back to their sites on your blog in return. A simple quote can lead to an invitation to do a podcast or co-teach a webinar, which will likely be shared with both audiences -- a win for everyone.
3. Get into a good habit.
A habit of producing weekly content is vital for building a solid personal brand. The format of the content (video, blog, whitepaper, e-book, etc.) is not as important as just consistently having new content. If ideas are a struggle, consider sharing business challenges and solutions with the audience or focusing on questions that are often asked by clients. A combination of entertaining and educational content is key.
Neil Patel, founder of analytics companies Kissmetrics and Crazy Egg, is an excellent example of the success of this approach. For years, Patel has published daily blog posts on topics related to his field of marketing, which he uses to build and solidify his image as an advertising guru. This image has allowed him to bring all of his business ventures directly back to himself and his agency, Neil Patel Digital.
Producing great content can feel challenging, especially when an entrepreneur is starting out. It can be helpful to remember that the work isn’t about self-promotion as much as it’s about giving back -- sharing stories or content that benefits the target audience. Social media is a place where startup founders and entrepreneurs should be themselves and authentically share a personal journey, complete with the mistakes and imperfections that make an otherwise unapproachable businessperson tangible and within reach. This is the type of connection that makes a personal brand a success.