Business owners rarely see a reason to build on things like their LinkedIn profiles. “I’m not looking for a job.”, is a common response when asked why they don’t have one. But in today’s uber-competitive business climate, where even mom and pops are potentially competing on a global level, it’s more important than ever to be able to differentiate your business, and yourself, from the competition. This is done through personal branding.
Welcome to the World of Publishing
Like it or not, social media has given us all big platforms. If you’re not building, refining, and using yours, you’re missing an opportunity to connect with your potential customers. A business owner who’s not sharing insight about the industry, or the product she sells, will just be one of the many.
While you don’t need to write a book, you do need to publish content through your website and social media. Producing helpful resources is one of the most effective ways of differentiating yourself from your competition.
Your customers will ask, “Why should I do business with you?” Your content will answer for you, “Because I’m helping you to be successful.”
Be an Expert
I’ve worked with a lot of business owners who are afraid to “publish” their thoughts. Most of them built their businesses through hard work, not philosophical musings, so making that switch from business owner to thought leader is a large jump. However, that jump is a necessary one if you want your business to continue to grow somewhere other than your local neighborhood.
You don’t have to be a Rhodes Scholar penning the evolution of your industry. A simple knowledge of what you’re selling, and imparting it your ideal customer, suffices. Check out the story of Gary Vaynerchuk and the Wine Library.
If People Don’t Like You, or Know You, You’re Dead to Them
People do business with people they know, like, and trust. They have to know you’re out there to buy from you. They don’t have to like you the way they do their best friend, but they do have to like something about you.
But they don’t even know me personally. How can they like me?, you might ask.
That’s why you need a personal brand. Through a personal brand, through sharing helpful content under your name, by educating your customers so they can make the decision to buy, by getting out in front of your audience on social media, they are getting to know you, or the brand you’ve built, and you’ll amass a following.
If you are simply the man behind the curtain, no one will identify with you and you will look like every other vanilla business out there. While some people like vanilla, very few LOVE it. Don’t be vanilla.
To improve your connection to your target audience, create content that allows people to get to know you and solves their problems. The days of hard sell are done. Engaging the customer through content and conversations that educate and entertain will become the new, unique value proposition for most successful companies operating in the digital age.
Christina R. Green teaches small businesses, chambers and associations how to connect through content. Her articles have appeared in the Midwest Society of Association Executives’ Magazine, NTEN.org, AssociationTech, and Socialfish. She is a regular blogger at Frankjkenny.com and Event Manager’s Blog.
She’s a bookish writer on a quest to bring great storytelling to organizations everywhere.