Recently I got an email from a regular reader of my articles. She said that she loved the concepts and that she was ready to begin her own personal branding  campaign… but that she had no idea how to start. I shared some information with her, and today I am going to share it with you all. Below are the first steps to take when it comes to building a strong personal brand:
First, figure out where you are going. Who are your target customers? The brand you seek to build must cater to these customers—as you can imagine, if you are targeting teenagers, your personal brand will be very different than if you are targeting retirees.
Once you have identified your target market, you can begin drawing up the brand you seek to create. Some of this is already done for you, in the sense that your personality will be a big part of your brand. You will want to choose traits or abilities to highlight, but you don’t want to make them up. Effective branding requires you to be genuine—you can’t brand yourself successfully as something you are not. What traits can set you apart from your competition in ways that appeal to your target market?
You’ve got your brand figured out, so now it is time to launch your campaign, right? Wrong. There’s an important step to be taken first, and it is a step that too many people miss. It is essential that, before you launch your branding campaign, you test it on your audience. Is your brand believable and appealing to your target market? Do you come off as genuine? Is your personal brand memorable? You may not have the resources to test your brand on a focus group, but all of us have friends and family who will be happy to share their input! Seek out as many opinions as you can find, and solicit their honest feedback.
Once you have determined that your brand will appeal to your market, it is time to start living it out. It is not enough to simply create a website or launch a media campaign—if you are not reinforcing your brand on a regular basis, it is not going to grow. So before you spend money launching a media campaign, take the time to make sure you are doing the little things right. How are you answering your phone? How are you dressing? How are you conducting yourself in conversation? What type of first impression are you making? When you are confident that you are living your brand out each and every day, only then is it time to begin thinking about your campaign.
Personal branding  is an enjoyable and profitable pursuit. But for many people, getting started can be a challenge. The tips we have covered today will get you started in the right direction—feel free to contact me for more information!
JW Dicks (@jwdicks ) & Nick Nanton (@nicknanton ) are best-selling authors who consult for small- and medium-sized businesses on how to build their business through Personality Driven Marketing, Personal Brand Positioning, Guaranteed Media, and Mining Hidden Business Assets. They offer free articles, white papers, and case studies at their Web site. Jack and Nick have been featured in The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, USA Today, Newsweek, FastCompany.com, and many more media outlets.
[Image: Flickr user NotoriousJEN ]