Nowadays more than ever before, being a successful business owner is about making sure that your company name, identity, brand and even your personal brand (if you want to make it part of the attraction of doing business with you) can be found in every nook and cranny online.
Just over a year ago I launched this blog.
It wasn’t my first blog, but it was my first real step into personal branding. I knew and appreciated that a personal brand is something thats needed in today’s market, and did spend a bit of time on my branding throughout the few years prior, but never really focused on truly building my own unique brand online.
Since then I’ve landed opportunities for myself in the speaking industry, consulted and coached many amazing entrepreneurs, landed a book deal, started my third company and spent more than enough time replying to over 35,000 Twitter followers, 3,000 Facebook fans and an average of 30,000 readers to this blog every month.
And, I have to say – I freakin’ love it all..!!!
Why is an Online Brand So Important Today?
It took me a while to realize this, but building my brand has quite frankly turned out to be the best business move I’ve made in my entire career – and I don’t say that lightly, believe me.
In today’s business world people want to do business with other people more so than ever before! This is why it’s so important to focus on building a brand. Why? Because we trust people we know. We trust people that we have relationships with, and most of all – we like to do business with people we trust!
- Building a brand creates awareness of what we, as entrepreneurs and our business stand for.
- Building a brand gives us instant opportunities to create likability and to foster the growth of a fan base.
- Building a brand elevates our credibility, because we embrace being ‘out there’ for the world to find.
- Building a brand allows us to gain trust – the most important part of the ‘sales process’ – leading to more prospects, more customers and more profits!
Am I getting my point across? This is it people. The time has come for every entrepreneur to get serious about building an online brand (in case you’re not doing so already), so that we can enjoy the benefits of all these points, and more.
With this in mind I’m going to cut through all the fat and give you the bare essentials you need to get started with building your own online brand. I’m going to plot them out over 10-steps and based on the main reasons that I mentioned above, as the instigating factors for doing so in the first place!
Building Brand Awareness
Brand awareness is when people identify your brand to be yours under different conditions; whether they’re on Facebook, Twitter, or YouTube. The first step is making your brand memorable – and a blog is the perfect vehicle for doing that. So, let’s break that down a little.
Step #1) Have a Unique Blog Design – The key to becoming memorable is making a good first impression and having a unique blog design can do just that. You’ve got to think of a mix between great design, and the ability to have your blog stand out from the rest. Although having a uniquely designed blog is not more important than your brand’s message, it still plays a big visual role.
Step #2) Get a Proper Logo Designed – This doesn’t have to be overly fancy – I mean, look at mine… But, having something that symbolizes your brand’s image will help in building brand awareness and recognition. I’m all about discussion and relationship building, so I choose a semi-speech bubble style, with the focus on my brand colors.
Look at it – it’s simply brilliant!
Step #3) Think About Creating a Tagline – Although I don’t personally have one (this’ll change soon), a tagline is a phrase that lets your visitors know exactly what you’re about the minute they visit your site. This works best when the tag line states a benefit. For example, my tag line might read: “I’ll Help You Build a Virtual Team to Create Massive Amounts of Freedom in Your Business and Life!”. If you already have a tagline, I’d love to hear it in the comment section below, along with a link to your site.
Now that we’ve looked at how to build awareness for our brand, lets zoom in on creating some likability for ourselves, shall we?
Building Brand Likability
After making it easy for people to recognize your brand, you need to work super hard at getting them to like you. The best way to do this in todays market is by connecting with your audience on a personal level. I don’t know about you, but I’d much rather speak to a real person when calling a company than talking to a pre-recorded message. As new-age entrepreneurs if we want to be liked, we need to be personable.
The great thing is that you audience WANTS to be able to connect with you on a more personal level, and when they can do that, they’ll be more likely to do business with you. Here’s how you can continue to build your brand, and at the same time create some likability.
Step #4) Create an ‘About Me’ or ‘Start Here’ Page – This page is the perfect place to speak a little about yourself, so that your visitors can get to know you better. Ideally, you want to put your audience first here. So try focusing on a few benefits as to why they should stick around on your site. You can then feel free to toot your own horn a little. Just be sure not to miss the opportunity of converting the casual visitor into an email subscriber and have an opt-in offer somewhere on the page.
Here’s what mine looks like, above the fold (it goes on a little more!):
Step #5) Add a Facebook ‘Like’ Box – Giving people a way to connect with you through your Facebook page opens up the opportunity for them to reach out to you with a question, or feedback in a setting that they feel comfortable conversing in.
Step #6) Add Links to Other Social Media Channels – Don’t go crazy here, but remember that your brand continues to flourish off your main platform (ie. a blog). Twitter and Facebook are my main social media channels of choice, but I also provide links to my Google+ and LinkedIn profiles, just in case people would like to reach out to me using these mediums.
Step #7) Publish Online Video & Podcasts – Steps 5, 6 and 7 are all about being human. Here’s a scenario I think you’ll enjoy. Pretend there are two business experts. They both have blogs and they both put out really good content. But ‘Expert A’ also has a Facebook page, talks to you on Twitter and publishes video clips and podcast episodes regularly – while ‘Expert B’ does not. Which expert would you feel more comfortable calling up and hiring for consulting? If you picked ‘Expert A’ then you get where I’m going with this.
Online video and podcasts allow us to make very different personal connections with our audience. Seeing us ‘in the flesh’, or inserting us into their earlobes creates an immediate reaction that reading a blog post, or an eBook simply can’t.
Now that our likability is at an all-time high, its to to take this up a notch. It’s time to talk trust and credibility!
Building Your Brand’s Trust & Credibility
Now, you could be the coolest person on the planet, but that still doesn’t mean people are going to start throwing money at you. Your audience needs to trust you, before they will buy anything from you – as I said earlier, building trust is the single most important part of the ‘sales process’.
The sad thing is that this is where most people get stuck, because it’s the part that takes the most work.
Building trust in your brand is all about adding value to your community in the form of high-quality, extremely helpful, consumable (and sharable!) content. Let’s look at how you can use your platform (blog, YouTube channel, podcast) to build trust.
Step #8) Create Unique, Compelling Content – As strange as it may seem, some of the most successful blog posts I’ve ever written have been very simple to put together. I simple answer questions. Provide solutions to problems, such as 101 task ideas to outsource to virtual assistants, or the importance of thinking like a business owner, not a blogger. Creating this type of compelling content needs to be the cornerstone of your brand. If you help people, affect change in their mindsets and the way they conduct themselves in some way, you will quickly become the go-to source in your niche online.
Step #9) Have a Unique Free (Opt-In) Offer – While everything I’ve mentioned will help you boost your brand awareness and likability, the content should always be your main focus. Without great content, nothing else matters. Your audience will begin to trust you (and your brand) when they see that you’re out to HELP them. Having an insanely valuable piece of content to give away as an incentive to sign up for your email list is one of the fastest ways to build trust. There are still people using crappy material in an attempt to get email sign-ups. That’s not only damaging to your brand, that also destroy the relationship with your potential customer before it starts.
What I always suggest you do here is create something that you’d have no problems putting a price tag of at least $100 on. Then package it nicely and simply give it away for free – well, almost free… gotta get that email address!
In my case, I created a 7-Day video course that helps people get started with all the new media topics they need to inject into their business in todays ‘new economy’. So far, since going live I’ve had almost 8,000 people opt-in and get their hands on this highly actionable, helpful content.
Step #10) Be Yourself – Before I launched this site, I blogged regularly (where I started building my personal brand) for about 2-years. I was always holding back. I was worried about what my corporate clients would think. I was worried about what strangers would think!!! It sucked. I tell the story in Episode 22 of the New Business Podcast. When I made the move over to this site I promised that I would be all me, all the time. I wasn’t going to hold back anymore. I wasn’t going to be someone, act like someone that wasn’t truly ME.
Being yourself is by far one of the most important parts of building your brand. Nobody can duplicate you! You are the only one of YOU out there, and you need to use that massive ‘edge’ to your all-out advantage in the battle for peoples eyeballs, trust, loyalty and business.
Now I’m Taking the Bull By the Horns!
For the last year or so, there hasn’t been a week that has gone by where I haven’t received a compliment on the way I have built my brand online. The look and feel of it. The way that I stand behind it, and my P2P (People-to-People) philosophy of creating a fan base and working with customers. The consistency in design across multiple online channels – here are screenshots of my Twitter and Facebook profiles.
I’ve relished every compliment that has come along of course. However, along with those compliments have come questions – a ton of ’em!
Up until recently I could cope with giving advice as and when questions and queries came through to me. However, with everything else that has happened for me, my businesses and my overall brand in the last 12-18 months, I simply don’t have the time to answer the 250+ emails, as well as all the tweets and FB messages I get on a daily basis, one by one. I try – believe me – but, it’s becoming harder and harder.
Get Serious – Join My Branding Bootcamp!
Not so long ago I was chatting with a good friend of mine and he suggested I put together a quick course that people could run through in a relatively short space of time that would cover all the basics to building a brand online, as well as some more in-depth strategies and tips to take it to the next level, including making money from a brand. After thinking about it for a while, I decided to do it.
My ‘Branding Bootcamp’ covers everything that I mentioned briefly in this post (in a lot more detail), plus a whole lot more. The course learning is a mix of video, audio and written content which is all presented in a very easy-to-follow format (like this blog post) and also includes some amazing bonuses, too.
Check out the video above for a full course rundown!
If you’re serious about building a brand online, I’d love for you to check it out and hop on board – it’s exactly what I wished was around when I made the conscious effort to start building my own personal brand!
I’d love to answer any and all questions you’ve got on the subject of building an online brand, as well as hear from you on your branding success, too! Comment below.
Thanks for dropping by today!