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June 4, 2024

Episode 147: Why Every Small Business Owner Needs a Personal Brand & How to Build Yours


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In this episode of Priority Pursuit, Victoria shares something that many small business owners don’t like to hear: If you’re a small business owner, you need a personal brand. 

Now, many shy away from the idea of personal branding because they believe that their products or services should speak for themselves. However, establishing a personal brand is essential if you want to create long-term business success. 

Whether you need convincing or already have a personal brand that you want to refine, in this episode, Victoria shares both why you need a personal brand and how you can establish one. 

What is a personal brand?

While a personal brand is similar to a business brand, there are some key differences. 

A business’s brand is a business’s identity, image, and reputation. In other words, your business’s brand is a person’s gut feeling about your business and what comes to mind when people think of your business, your products, and/or your services. 

Your personal brand, on the other hand, is what comes to mind when people think about you as an individual. It’s the unique combination of qualities, values, expertise, and personality traits that make you the person you are and differentiate you from others. In other words, your personal brand is how you’re perceived by your audience, peers, and industry. 

Why Every Small Business Owner Needs a Personal Brand

You might be thinking, “Having a personal brand is a waste of time. People don’t need to know me. They need to know about my products or services.” However, there are several benefits to having a personal brand.

1. People buy from people, not businesses. 

First of all, people buy from people, not businesses. And, they don’t just buy from anyone; they make purchases from those they know, like, and trust. 

Today, consumers are increasingly looking for true connections with the individuals behind businesses before choosing to support a business. In fact, 77% of people are more likely to support a business when its founder has a strong personal brand and the founder’s personal values align with the consumer’s values.

Basically, having a personal brand as a small business owner allows you to humanize your business and foster relationships—even if they’re just virtual ones—with your audience so that they can know, like, and trust you. 

By simply sharing your story, your values, and what matters most to you, you can create a sense of connection and relatability that—ultimately—leads to sales. Because, again, when customers feel a personal connection to you, they’re more likely to choose your business over your competitors and become loyal, repeat customers. 

Essentially, having a personal brand allows you to differentiate yourself—especially in a crowded market—and connect with customers on a deeper level, which can help drive long-term success for your small business. 

2. Having a personal brand allows you to establish authority. 

Another reason you should build a personal brand is to establish authority. Through your personal brand, you can showcase your expertise, knowledge, and experience in your industry or niche. This helps position you as a leader in your field and as a trusted guide.

And, when you consistently use your personal brand to share valuable insights, tips, and advice with your audience, you can demonstrate your expertise and establish credibility, which aids in earning the trust and respect of your audience and helps them see you as a go-to resource. 

This is important because building this level of trust will help establish you as a sought-after expert and open doors for speaking engagements, collaborations, partnerships, and other opportunities that can increase both your and your business’s reach and profitability and even help you diversify your income.

3. When you have a personal brand, you can pivot. 

In addition to helping your business grow and establishing authority, having a personal brand can also enable you and your business to pivot

The last few years have been chaotic for the world as a whole, but they’ve been especially chaotic for small businesses. Now, more than ever, it’s important for small businesses to be able to adapt—regardless of the state of the world and economy. 

Having a strong personal brand gives you the ability to pivot and change course as needed. Because, whether you launch a new product or service, enter a new market, or start a new business altogether, your personal brand gives a solid foundation from which you can make strategic shifts because your loyal audience will be more receptive to changes and transitions and will likely be thrilled to support you along the way. 

How to Build Your Personal Brand: Define Your Brand Topics

While there are multiple benefits and reasons to develop a personal brand, how do you build one? 

1. Write personal brand Marketing Guiding Statements. 

If you’ve listened to (or read) a single episode of Priority Pursuit, you know that the best way to clarify your message and brand is to write your Marketing Guiding Statements. This is also true for your personal brand. 

Marketing Guiding Statements are written guidelines that position your brand and business as a trusted partner. And, the process of developing these statements gives you the information you need to write clear, concise, and effective messaging in a story-based framework. 

When you take the time to create Marketing Guiding Statements, you and your marketing team can refer to these statements as you work on writing website copy, blog posts, social media posts, or developing any other kind of content to make sure your marketing is customer-focused—rather than braggy or salesy—and has the power to convert your ideal customers. 

While your business needs Marketing Guiding Statements, so does your personal brand.

Chances are, your personal brand Marketing Guiding Statements will be very similar to your business’s Marketing Guiding Statements. However, we want to encourage you to write Guiding Statements for your personal brand so you can have easy access to clear messaging when you need it and so that you can ensure your personal brand speaks to your ideal customers—whether it be through the content you're developing or when you have in-person conversations.

Because we know that small businesses' marketing cannot succeed without clear messaging, we put together a free mini course that walks you through exactly how to write your Marketing Guiding Statements:  “The First Step to Effective Marketing for Small Businesses: Writing Your Marketing Guiding Statements.” You can use this course to write Guiding Statements for both your business and your personal brand. 

2. Identify your brand topics. 

While writing Marketing Guiding Statements will give you clear messaging for your personal brand, you also need to help people get to know you. After all, the point of having a personal brand is to humanize you and your business and to help your audience connect with you. 

You do not have to tell your audience everything about your life. But, defining and using brand topics is a strategic way to help prospects connect with you.

In case you aren’t familiar with this idea, brand topics are simply areas of your life and business that you share and that you want people to think about when they think of you and will be of interest to your ideal customers. 

In this episode, Victoria shares that her brand topics include: 

  1. Priorities 
  2. Marriage
  3. Motherhood (specifically being a working mom)
  4. Hattie (her dog)
  5. Supporting small, local businesses
  6. Self-worth/battling perfectionism
  7. Small business marketing education
  8. Small business SEO education

You’ll notice that some of these topics are directly related to her services as a marketer and SEO coach, while others are personal. 

Your brand topics will look different than Victoria’s because you want your topics to help your ideal customers feel connected to YOU. With this in mind, we want to encourage you to identify five to nine brand topics.

To choose your topics, think about your audience and what aspects of your life they will either relate to or find interesting and how you can serve them with helpful content. That said, don’t overthink this, and only share what you’re comfortable sharing. You simply want to pick brand topics that make your audience think things like, “Yeah. Me too,” or, “I love that he/she’s so passionate about this.” 

Victoria explains brand topics further in the audio of this episode, which can be found at the top of this page, on Apple Podcasts, on Spotify, or wherever you listen to podcasts. 

3. Establish a consistent voice. 

Something else you’ll want to do while developing your personal brand is to establish a consistent voice or tone. 

To do this, we recommend deciding how you want to talk and communicate with your clients and then keeping that voice consistent both online and in person. This prevents any disconnect and helps your potential clients know exactly what to expect when they work with you. 

For example, as Victoria shares in this episode, she is naturally a perky, bubbly person. So, when she was a wedding photographer, she made sure this voice came through in all of her content because she knew she could be overwhelming and annoying to shy, reserved brides. To prevent disconnect and help potential clients decide if they were comfortable working with her, she was sure to use the same perky, bubbly tone in all of her copy by using exclamation points and phrases she regularly used in person. 

Kelly, on the other hand, is very direct in everything she does. As a result, when she produces content or a member of our team assists her in developing a video or something for her personal brand, we're sure to make sure that this content is true to her direct, helpful, no-nonsense tone. 

Your English teacher probably told you not to write how you talk, but in this situation, you can. Promise!

With this in mind, take some time to determine how you want to communicate with your clients, and if it helps, write down adjectives to describe the tone you want to use and even phrases or words you want to incorporate.

When you have a consistent tone, you’ll attract the clients who are a good fit for you and repel the ones who aren’t. 

4. Establish a consistent visual brand. 

When establishing your personal brand, you also need to think about your visual brand. Now, you can create cohesion and success when your personal visual brand is consistent with your business’s visual brand. 

There are a few ways you can create visual cohesion and establish a consistent visual brand.

1. Use your business’s design elements. 

First, use your business’s design elements. This means sticking with the same colors, fonts, marks, and other design elements so that there’s cohesion between the content you share and what your business shares. This will help keep your visual brand consistent and clear. 

2. Establish a consistent photo & video style.

Next, keep your image and video style as consistent as possible with your business’s photo and video style. There are all kinds of photo and video styles out there, and none are necessarily “bad,” but having a clean image with natural skin tones next to a dramatic, warm image with deep shadows is going to create a disconnect in your and your business’s visual brand. 

If you haven’t already, we highly recommend deciding what you want your brand’s image style to be and only using imagery that fits that criteria. 

Also, please note that you don’t have to have a personal brand session done once a month. While we’d argue you should have one done at least annually, you can absolutely utilize photos and videos taken with your cell phone. By simply using the same presets or taking photos and videos in similar ways and in places with similar vibes, you can create consistency and cohesion.

And, this is important simply because having consistent photos and imagery will prevent your audience from getting distracted by inconsistencies in your visual brand so that they can focus on your messaging. 

3. Dress in a way that reflects your visual brand. 

Next, dress in a way that reflects your visual brand. This doesn’t mean that you should only wear clothing that has your logo on it. It simply means that you should show up online and in person dressed in a way that you want to be perceived. 

For example, if you want to be perceived as professional, add a blazer to your outfit or show up wearing business casual attire. If you want your brand to be perceived as high-end, wear high-end clothing or at least clothing that looks high-end. Or, if you have a lifestyle brand, feel free to show up in leggings and a sweatshirt.

There isn’t a wrong answer, but you want to make sure you aren’t creating a disconnect for your customers. For example, if you’re an event planner with a posh brand who plans million-dollar events, you likely shouldn’t ever show up in person or online in sweatpants and a messy bun. 

You’ve surely heard the saying, “Dress for the job you want to have.” Simply dress in the way you want your brand to be perceived. 

How to Communicate Your Personal Brand

Now, once you’ve established your personal brand, what do you do with it?

1. Determine where you need to show up. 

First, you need to determine what tools you’re going to use to build your personal brand. This could include social media, email, or even a website that’s specific to your personal brand. Then, you need to show up in these places consistently. 

Now, you likely don’t need to use all of these tools or show up on every social media platform. Instead, you simply need to choose and commit to the most effective tools for your ideal client. 

2. Use your Marketing Guiding Statements & brand topics to inspire content. 

After you know where you’re going to show up, you have to share content. 

You may have heard marketing educators recommend evenly distributing your brand topics on social media, meaning that if you look at your nine-square Instagram grid and have nine brand topics, each brand topic should appear once. 

If you need rigid guidelines like that, feel free to use them. However, in our opinion, that often leads to forced, somewhat-random content. 

Instead of doing this, we want to encourage you to simply keep your Marketing Guiding Statements and brand topics in mind and sprinkle them in or make mention of them when it makes sense. 

For example, as Victoria shares in this episode, “As I make notes for podcast episodes, if I can tell a marriage-related story that relates to the topic we’re covering, I’m absolutely going to do that. Or, if there’s a trending Instagram audio that would fit well with my motherhood, SEO, or any other brand topic, I’ll use that audio to create a reel.” 

Basically, as you create content of any kind for your personal brand, look at your Marketing Guiding Statements and your brand topics. Chances are, these items will inspire content, and having these elements in front of you will help you remember to incorporate them. This will make your content more relatable and memorable and allow your audience to feel more connected to your brand because they feel like they know you. 

Do you have to share every aspect of your life online to have a personal brand? 

We’re often asked, “Do I have to share everything about my life online?” 

And, the answer is no. You should only share what you’re comfortable sharing. 

For example, motherhood is one of Victoria’s brand topics. Over the years, she’s shared about her and her husband’s fertility journey, and now, she shares about being a work-from-home mom. However, she keeps her daughter’s information very private. She doesn’t share her daughter’s name or post photos or videos with her face. This is to protect her daughter’s privacy. So, while motherhood is part of Victoria’s brand, her daughter is not. 

She also shares about marriage, and while she has certainly felt called to share about some of her and her husband’s marriage struggles over the years in hopes of helping others feel less alone when their relationships aren’t “social-media perfect,” in this episode, she shares that there is much of her marriage that she will never share online.

As Victoria says in this episode, “It might seem like I share a lot on social media, but in reality, very little of my life sees the Internet. That said, I firmly believe that God gives each of us testimonies to help others. So, share what you feel called to share, and know that you can use your personal brand to make an impact if you so choose. But, you do not need to share every aspect of your life online.” 

Do you personally have to create the content for your personal brand?

Another question we’re regularly asked in regards to having a personal brand is, “Can someone else handle my personal brand for me?” 

And, the answer is yes—to an extent. While you can certainly have a social media manager or copywriter handle your personal brand for you, especially if you take the time to develop your Marketing Guiding Statements and brand topics, people notice inauthenticity. As a result, we want to encourage you to either personally create or at least have a heavy hand in the content for your personal brand. 

For example, while we have team members who are responsible for developing Treefrog’s social media content, it just wouldn’t make sense for them to write Victoria’s posts about marriage or motherhood or grab behind-the-scenes videos for her personal brand. It often makes more sense and is more authentic for Victoria to do these things. And, chances are, the same is true for you. 

Your personal brand needs to be a priority. 

We know this can feel like one more thing to add to your plate, but again, having a personal brand is so important to the long-term success of your small business that this is a wise investment of your time and/or resources. We’ve talked about the 80/20 rule in the past, which is the principle that in nearly all situations, 80% of results or consequences are a result of 20% of causes or effort. 

In business, this means that—typically—80% of profits and growth are a result of 20% of work. In other words, only 20% of what you do actually yields profits, while the other 80%—while still necessary—does not. 

With this in mind, we want to encourage you to think about your personal brand as being part of the 20%. Whether this means you need to create systems that allow you to prioritize your personal brand or you need to take other things off your plate, your personal brand needs to be a priority. 

After all, your personal brand is the gateway to deeper connections with your audience, the key to establishing authority, and the foundation that will enable you to make business and career pivots. Essentially, having a strategic personal brand can only help your small business. 

 

Links & Resources Mentioned in This Episode

 

Click to take our free mini course: “The First Step to Effective Marketing: How to Write Your Marketing Guiding Statements.”


 

The Priority Pursuit Podcast is a podcast dedicated to helping small business owners define, maintain, and pursue both their personal and business priorities so they can build lives and businesses they love.

You can find The Priority Pursuit Podcast on Spotify, Apple Podcasts, Amazon Podcasts, Stitcher, and wherever you listen to podcasts.

 


 

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Victoria Rayburn explains why every small business owner needs a personal brand in this episode of “The Priority Pursuit Podcast.”

 

 

Leverage Kelly’s marketing experience, insights, and leadership to grow your business.

As the founder and chief marketing strategist at Treefrog Marketing, a co-host of the Priority Pursuit Podcast, a StoryBrand Certified Guide, and fractional chief marketing officer, Kelly Rice has spent more than two decades helping small businesses take their companies to the next level by providing trustworthy leadership and building effective marketing strategies and systems.

She has dedicated her career to helping small businesses succeed because she knows, firsthand, how hard they work to make their communities a better place. 

Still, many people undervalue the strength and ingenuity of small businesses, but not Kelly. She believes they deserve to have a marketing partner and strategy that works as hard as they do.

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