How Can SMBs Benefit From A Personal Brand?


As a small business owner, you may think you don’t have to worry too much about creating a personal brand. Those ‘brand’ things are for bigger companies, the ones with budgets that rival a professional sports team. But the truth is, as a small business owner, you can benefit from creating a personal brand. In fact, you may even benefit more than the multi-million corporations.

How?

As a small business owner, developing a personal brand can help you and your company in the following ways.

You become an expert.

For better or worse, you are who people say you are. If you don’t take the steps to mold your own brand, someone may come along and help “mold” it for you. And it may not always be positive. By creating a personal brand, you help people get to know you for exactly what you want to be known for. Being active on your blog or site community, using social media, and taking steps to own your Google 10, can all be combined to give someone a compelling picture of who you are when doing research. Customers want to associate themselves with people they trust are experts in their field. By speaking and presenting yourself as an expert, you help elevate yourself onto a new pedestal and build social capital.

You become trusted.

Well, of course, you’ll probably say. If you’re an expert, then it means people trust you! But in social media, we’re not talking about that kind of trust. We’re talking about building relationships and friend trust. We’re talking about creating a brand around yourself that allows people to feel as if they know you – that they’ll trust your recommendations and not just that you know what you’re talking about. I think this is the strongest component as to why small business owners need to create personal brands. Because it takes you from business owner to friend. People don’t necessarily buy from experts. They buy from their friends and people they trust on a personal level. Creating a brand around who you are breaks down that cold third wall and lets people feel like they already know what you’re about.

Your community becomes an information hub.

By creating a personal brand, you also strengthen your site community. If you’re an expert, then it’s assumed that your community is an authority as well. Pretty soon you become the go-to hub for your particular topic. This will help you to gain blog subscribers, attract new leads, and generate great site discussions to build your community. The more authority you can bring to your community, the more that’s going to transfer over to your services and the more people will want to do business with you.

You become part of your story.

At some point, personal branding becomes storytelling. Through your brand, you give your customers something to hold on to. You bring them into your story and, by association, make your company a whole lot more interesting in their eyes. Jonathan Fields had a great post yesterday about business, branding and the art of storytelling that I think intersects really well here. I’d encourage you to give it a read. We’re seeing more and more businesses adopt this storytelling approach to marketing. And they’re doing it because it’s incredibly impactful. People want to do business with companies they have a relationship with. When you engage them in your story, you make them invested in what you offer.

You stand out.

Creating a personal brand helps make you memorable. It makes you stand out among all the other local companies that do what you do and it gives people a reason to come to you instead. A brand that’s memorable is easier to find and recall in our brain. That’s the company we go to when we’re in a pinch and are looking for someone to fill the need. It gives you a step up against everyone else out there.

Those are a few of the reasons why I think it’s so vital for small business owners to be proactive about building their personal brands. What have been your experiences with brands, either creating your own or interacting with the brands of others?

14 Comments ▼

Lisa Barone


Lisa Barone Lisa Barone is Vice President of Strategy at Overit, an Albany Web design and development firm where she serves on the senior staff overseeing the company’s marketing consulting, social media, and content divisions.

14 Reactions

  1. Lisa,

    Thanks for sharing. I think that these are all great pieces of advice for small business owners to consider and then act on.

  2. Lisa,

    Personal branding is crucial today.It makes things that much easier for potential clients and customers to find you-your products-your services..everything!

    Thanks!

    The Franchise King

  3. While the brand will initially center around the founder/owner, it’s also important to consider how you’ll make the brand independent (because you won’t always be there).

  4. Hey Lisa,

    These are great tips for small business owners. They often think that taking time to use social media is irrelevant, and takes them away from working on their business. But working on your personal brand IS working on your business, and most people don’t see your company – they see you. Having a recognizable brand that people trust is the easiest way to form relationships with your community, which will in turn lead to impact on your bottom line.

    Erin

  5. I have seen even one man army (Single Person) earning good if he has good knowledge and expertise, i think personal branding is must for everyone which in turn gives good returns…

  6. Small business needs to understand what is more important in the marketplace, the Brand or the Product: http://bit.ly/bZqWbJ

  7. Finally, I feel vindicated!
    I have been saying this to a potential business partner who I believe are sometimes jealous because I did this and it is integral to the story, the differentiation of our capabilities. Instead they learned recently in B-school (I have been out of B-school for 30 years and in the real world), that the business plan should not focus on the capabilities of one individual, even if that individual is branded, globally considered a thought leader in that industry, and published 9 times over with best-selling trade books.

    Maybe I need a new business partner instead of changing my perspective.

    Thanks I needed this article this morning!

  8. Hi Lisa. Thanks for sharing this. I would agree, personal brand is a powerful force in shaping the perception of a small business. It is easier for a small business owner to make their brand “personable”. I try to bring my own personality to our branding through the blog etc – think it makes an organisation seem more human.
    Best regards
    Barney

  9. Martin Lindeskog

    Lisa,

    I have to “chew” this post for some time. Plenty of things to think about. I will send a link to your post to the participants at my course in social media.

  10. Robert makes a great point about the company brand needing to exist independently of the owner.

    While I completely get the benefits of an owner being actively involved and visible, the idea of ‘creating a personal brand’ just sounds a bit calculated and cold. To be effective, a personal brand has to flow from a real desire to be involved, not just as part of a marketing strategy. Those that seem to have been most successful in creating a personal brand (Lisa Barone herself is maybe a good example of this?), seem to have done so by being themselves, and allowing the ‘brand’ to organically flow from that, rather than setting out deliberately to ‘brand’ themselves. I’d say the personal brand is most effective when it’s an offshoot of genuine, helpful (or in some way unique) community participation.

    Lisa – you seem to have developed a really strong ‘personal brand’ – would be interested in hearing how that came about….

  11. Thanks for sharing. I think this the best great pieces of advice for small business owners to consider and then act on.Having a recognizable brand that people trust is the easiest way to form relationships with your community, which will in turn lead to impact on your bottom line.

  12. Great post!

    Just what I have been looking for …

    Can you please give examples of such smbs who use personal brands ?

    Thanks,
    Sharel

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