When It Comes to Small Business Branding, You Are Your Brand
Here’s a well kept secret successful marketers know and where small business branding comes into play: customers don’t buy a product. They buy you.
Your personality. Your experience. The unique qualities only you possess.
There was a time when “branding” meant a corporate-looking logo and a slick catalog, but in today’s online marketplace, the real value is not in appearing to be a big company, but rather in just being you. And your personality shines through in a variety of ways.
I was at a conference recently where some of the top experts in the field of small business branding were teaching us how to effectively brand what we do online. Here are some tips they shared that you may find useful:
Your Authentic Voice
How you speak and write and even how you act on camera or in an audio interview has the power to instantly identify you to your audience. You can see this in action if you scroll through your Facebook feed. It’s easy to know who has posted a particular image or status update, just by recognizing the voice with which they generally speak. This is crucial to small business branding.
Here’s an even more important aspect of your “voice” though: it has the power to attract a specific audience. In recent years, a few high profile coaches and product sellers have become celebrities of a sort, largely because of their harsh, “don’t hold back” language. Ash Ambirge over at The Middle Finger Project makes no apologies for her use of offensive words, and her fans love her for it. And those that don’t? Well, as she says right on her home page, her site and services are “not for humorless bores.”
Snarkiness and foul language is not the only way to go, though. Carrie Wilkerson has built her brand almost entirely on her ability to be kind and generous. She always has a nice word, never appears defeated or overwhelmed, and is an inspiration to her fans and clients.
While very different in their approach, these two women have one thing in common: authenticity. It’s clear that if you were to meet either of them in person, they would speak and act exactly as they do online. And their brands are stronger for it.
Your Story and Small Business Branding
How did you get to where you are today? The backstory – which to you might seem boring and uneventful – is a powerful tool that can help solidify your brand and attract just the right audience.
Melissa Ingold tells of being a struggling single mother, and of creating an online business rather than simply choosing to work one dead-end job after another. Her success is an inspiration to her audience, and is a huge part of her branding.
Kelly McCausey speaks often of how she got started online when she was looking for a way to earn just a few extra dollars every month to keep the lights on. Creating graphics at $5 each quickly turned into a full-time online career.
Gary Vaynerchuk is an example of someone whose personal brand somehow became a little bigger than life. He says”…
“For those that don’t know me, in my earlier days as a budding businessman and entrepreneur, I took my passion for wine and turned that into one of the biggest shows and channels on YouTube. That show landed me appearances on The Conan O’Brien Show, Ellen, CNN, etc. while amassing a social following of millions and establishing me as a “guru” (I’m not a guru) of sorts in the Social Media, Marketing, and Personal Branding worlds. From there, I became an early investor in platforms like Twitter, Tumblr, and Facebook and co-founded VaynerMedia, which is now a 600 person digital agency that represents the social presence of brands like Pepsi-Co, General Electric, and Anheuser-Busch InBev.”
And my story includes details of how I worked for twenty years as a classroom teacher while simultaneously working in real estate. After multiple bouts with cancer and a serious work injury I was ready to change my life completely and became an online entrepreneur.
Your story doesn’t have to be dramatic, and you certainly don’t have to share more than you’re comfortable with, but it does have to be yours. Be your true self, and you’ll never have to worry about attracting the right audience. They will self-select, and your perfect client will find you.
I’m Connie Ragen Green and I work with new online entrepreneurs to help them get into profit as quickly as possible with information products, affiliate marketing, marketing for small businesses, blogging, authorship, and more. Download your Online Entrepreneur Blueprint and get started right away.