Your Personal Brand Needs a Growth Strategy We are in the digital age and there is little room to be silent about who we are and the businesses we are involved in.

By Cynthia Johnson

Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.

In recent years we have seen an increasing need for entrepreneurs and professionals to not only have a successful business, but they need to have a successful personal brand as well. We are in the digital age and there is little room to be silent about who we are and the businesses we are involved in. There is a need for self-branding, and it is growing everyday.

The issue that I see in most self-branding efforts is that people treat their personal brand differently than their business's brand.

Every business needs a growth strategy and an exit strategy. We need to know what we are doing, where we are going and at what point we walk away. A personal brand should be treated no differently than a business's brand. Our personal brand should not be limited to the first set skills we've perfected. So what do you need to accomplish this for yourself?

When preparing your personal brand strategy, plan, research, and create actionable tactics and realistic goals. This strategy may be the most important one that you ever create. Zach Binder, Chief Operating Officer at RankLab, chimes in on how to create a successful strategy, "A successful marketing strategy is not created out of thin air. It requires a combination of research, innovative tactics, and keen intuition as a marketer."

Related: 4 Ways to Make Yourself Memorable and Leave Great Impressions

Here are the steps in mapping out your personal brand strategy:

1. Market Penetration

In business, this would be taking the least risky growth strategy and a company would sell most of its current product to its current customers. For a personal-brand growth strategy, this would be walking into your first job, sticking to your niche within the company and doing it really well. This is an important step in your growth strategy. Find the first thing you do well and do it really well. Make sure that everyone around you knows what you do and how well that you do it.

2. Market Development

Step two in your growth plan is planning a way to reach more people with your expertise. A company doing this would start finding ways to sell more of its products to new regions. For personal-brand growth, this would be taking on more at work, working with other departments to help strategize together, or possibly taking a new job within your industry.

3. Alternative Channels

When a brand looks for alternative channels to grow its business, it is looking for new ways to reach customers. For personal-brand growth, this would be blogging, writing a book, volunteer work or speaking at conferences within your industry. This step requires that you start working to become a thought leader in your industry inside and outside of the office.

Related: When Building an Online Brand, Start With the Foundation

4. Product Development

This is my favorite step in creating a growth strategy for your personal brand. A company would create and sell new products, but as a person we learn new tricks. An example of this would be a digital-marketing professional who expands to business development, public relations or business consulting. This step in the process ensures that you don't get left behind as the industry changes, and the industry always changes.

5. New Products for New Customers

This strategy is common at major companies. You create products for the new customers. For instance, if you are a marketing professional who now does business consulting, you may begin expanding on new areas of your industry and knowledge based on the needs of your new customers. This growth plan allows for you to have more than one part-time position, multiple revenue streams and an increase reach or authority within your industry.

In today's world a personal growth strategy is necessary to keep from falling behind. As you move through these steps, they get increasingly more difficult. I suggest that you take one at a time, perfect the previous and then move forward. For some people stopping at step two or three is absolutely fine. Just remember to have an idea of where you are going and how you are going to get there.

Have you ever thought about creating a personal brand growth strategy? I would love to hear of some steps other people have taken!

Related: Entrepreneurs Must Always Have Answers for These 5 Questions

Cynthia Johnson

Co-founder and CEO of Bell + Ivy, marketer, speaker and author

Cynthia Johnson is co-founder and CEO of Bell + Ivy. She is a marketer, speaker and author.

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