The 5 Pillars of a Successful Personal Brand

Be your authentic self and give people their money's worth. Your brand will grow itself.

learn more about Jacqueline Whitmore

By Jacqueline Whitmore

Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.

Marketing is the act of getting people to know who you are, what you stand for and why they should buy from you. As the saying goes, it's not who you know, it's who knows you. Your success in business hinges on your brand: the inner core of your business and yourself. Try these five tips to stand out from the crowd.

1. Sell the sizzle, not the steak.

In today's economy, it is equally as important to sell the idea of a product (the sizzle) as it is to sell the actual product (the steak). Your customers and clients are busy. You want to capture their attention on the spot, no matter how preoccupied they may be. To do this, use professionally-designed and written web and collateral materials designed to sell the sizzle and lure the prospect into wanting more.

You only have a few words to get your message across, so make each word count. If writing and designing are not your specialty, hire a professional. And remember, you get what you pay for.

Related: 8 People You Should Hire to Grow Your Startup Fast

2. Be known as the expert in your industry.

The online world makes it easy for entrepreneurs to market themselves, yet it can be difficult for consumers to decipher who is qualified and who is not. Increase your visibility and credibility by becoming the expert in your industry.

Perhaps you've noticed that those who specialize in something get more business and can charge a higher price. Take brain surgeons, for example. If you had a brain tumor you would seek the most qualified brain surgeon to perform treatment and you'd expect to pay a premium for the best. If you are unique or can do something the average person in your industry does not do, you can charge a higher price. You increase your net worth when you have a good reputation for top-quality work.

Learners are earners. Develop your expertise through ongoing classes and seminars. Share your expertise with others via your website, press releases, articles, social media, newsletters, blogging and guest authoring. Become a speaker, media guest or write a book. These marketing tactics will increase your expert standing exponentially.

3. Be persistent and consistent.

From TV ads to grocery store labels, we are exposed to approximately 5,000 ad messages a day, according to research from Yankelovich Research . When we go to a networking meeting, such as a Chamber of Commerce or a BNI event, we are exposed to hundreds of others trying to get their message across. Be persistent and consistent to cut through this clutter. Develop your laser-focused branding message and deliver it again and again the same way.

Consistency is key. Come up with a consistent brand style, including colors, logo, tag line and mission. Set a brand standard. Try various marketing methods to see which ones pull in traffic and conversions the best. Look at where your competitors are spending their money, then decide if you should should do the same. What's right for them might not be right for you and your business.

Related: How to Build a Brand Experience for Customers

4. Let your product sell itself.

Go into any grocery store on the weekend and you'll most likely see someone handing out samples of their product. Sampling is a great way to let customers try your product without making a big commitment. Offer a free initial consultation or trial period, give out samples or tastes, or invite customers to an open house where they can see your product or service firsthand.

The Reciprocity Rule is powerful. When you give something, you oftentimes get something greater in return.

5. Engage with your community.

Whether it's an online community or your local one, get out there, engage and give back. Sponsor a local youth athletic league or charity race. Volunteer to serve on boards, or make donations to your favorite local non-profit organizations. The more people get to know you and trust you, the more likely they are to recommend your products or services. To paraphrase Woody Allen, 80 percent of success is showing up.

Related: 3 Ways to Engage Your Site Visitors

Jacqueline Whitmore

Author, Business Etiquette Expert and Founder of The Protocol School of Palm Beach

Jacqueline Whitmore is an etiquette expert and founder of the Protocol School of Palm Beach in Palm Beach, Fla. She is the author of Poised for Success: Mastering the Four Qualities That Distinguish Outstanding Professionals (St. Martin's Press, 2011) and Business Class: Etiquette Essentials for Success at Work (St. Martin's Press, 2005).

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