Well, here we are. Who could have predicted that this year we would all be forced out of the office and into our homes because of a novel coronavirus? As someone who was already working from home, I know that I’m fortunate that my life didn’t completely turn upside down. For my fellow entrepreneurs— I know some of you may not have been so lucky. But here’s the good news: now is the perfect time to strengthen your personal brand strategy.
I’m willing to bet that in the last 5 months, you’ve been racking your brain trying to figure out how to keep your business afloat.
For some of you, this pandemic might mean temporarily closing your brick and mortar locations. For others, the stay at home order might mean missing out on networking opportunities. Or maybe your service business thrives on in-person meetings (I’m looking at you, my photographer friends).
Thankfully, we’re all fortunate enough to have the internet on our side to keep our businesses top-of-mind. By being present, consistent, and engaging in the digital realm, you can work towards boosting your personal brand and your business to new heights.
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If you’re thinking that a strong online presence and a revamped personal brand strategy can’t save your business— well, I’m here to show you how it can.
Why is personal branding vital in the post-coronavirus era?
If you’ve been paying attention to businesses online, you’ve probably noticed that more people are concerned with their personal brand more than ever.
You no longer have the option of in-person networking events and speaking engagements— so you have to have a substantial presence online to get through the noise.
In-person events will become less common. Virtual events and working from home is not going anywhere. So we have to learn how to make it work.
How to Use a Personal Brand Strategy to Boost Your Business
We all have our own personal brand anyway, so why not put it to good use?
Your personal brand is how others perceive you. If you’re not sure what others think of you or your business, that’s a pretty good indicator that you’re in need of a strategy session.
Your personal brand should work passively and actively to promote your business. For example, I write these blogs to give tips to my audience. And because I use SEO, I might be awarded a spot on Google’s front page. If that happens, I could be getting sales from a blog I wrote months ago.
My online presence also says a lot about who I am as a person and an entrepreneur. I can leverage this online persona to get featured in the press or to land a speaking gig for an online networking event.
Not convinced? Even retailers depend on the word of social media to get sales for their business. Take a look at these statistics from a 2019 Facebook survey (provided by Tailwind):
- 83% of users say Instagram helps them discover brand new products and services
- 81% say they research products or services on Instagram
- 80% ultimately decide whether to buy a product or service with Instagram’s help
That’s roughly 80% of (free) marketing that you’re missing out on by not promoting your brand on Instagram alone.
Here are a few other ways you can use your personal brand to boost your sales (and reputation) in the post-coronavirus era.
It’s Time to Network Online
If you had plans to go to networking events to boost your brand name, you’re going to have to replace those with digital events.
Platforms like Zoom have made it easy to partake in live conferences around the world. And it’s no secret that Zoom has become the go-to method for companies to host at-home meetings and even interviews.
The video communication platform rose 50% in daily uses shortly after the coronavirus shut down regular operations. In April, they “surpassed 300 million daily Zoom meeting participants”
You’ve probably even noticed how huge corporations like Progressive are using web calls as a backdrop for their commercials. It’s clear that these types of online communication systems have eased into our new “normal” and they’re not going anywhere.
So, how do these online networking systems work into your personal brand strategy? After all, it’s not like you can walk up to someone, introduce yourself, and work on building that instant in-person relationship.
Here are a few ways online networking can work to your advantage:
1. Attend a large online conference
Online conferences aren’t in any way new. Apple hosts its conference every year with free replays available shortly after. Companies like Later are now offering their social media conference in a virtual structure, and it’s entirely free.
While these types of conferences are largely a learning opportunity, online conferences still open doorways to network. Most of these events will offer a hub for communicating and sharing ideas after keynote events. You can join in the chatter by using relevant Twitter hashtags or by joining the conference Facebook Groups.
So don’t be shy— share your opinions and ideas. It’s also great practice to look for opportunities to add other attendees on LinkedIn. Some conferences will even allow you to chime in during Q&A sessions, which presents the perfect time for your brand to be heard and seen by thousands.
2. Join a digital networking memberships
These types of memberships are springing up left and right.
You can join local or national digital memberships such as Rising Tide Society (which has local chapters), BNI, or The Société. These groups usually range around $30 per month and include access to private Facebook networking groups, small digital conferences, and monthly workshops.
These smaller, local memberships are on par with in-person events. As opposed to fighting to have your voice heard at the big online conferences, these small groups usually hold Zoom meetings of less than 20 people. Just do a quick Google search or ask around and you’ll probably be able to find these digital membership groups in your area.
3. Host your own live webinar
You’ve probably seen these live webinars being promoted all over Facebook. These live webinars are usually a precursor selling a product or service, but when they’re done right, they can be insanely valuable to your brand.
Personally, I like to host FREE online personal branding masterclasses every month for my private Facebook group. Each month, I dive into a new topic about building your brand to attract the press and your ideal client.
Not only do these serve as valuable sessions for my audience, but it positions me as an expert in my industry.
A Personal Brand Strategy Means Being Present
Listen, I get it; social media is insanely time-consuming. Plus, with the ever-changing rules and algorithms, it’s can be difficult to grow your following.
However, the point of your social media presence is not to boast about the number of followers and likes you have— it’s about being available to your current and future clients
A personal brand strategy means being present. And the only real way we can do that right now is by being active on social media. The way to do this consistently is to have a strict posting schedule.
If you don’t think you can handle posting 7 days a week, that’s fine! Set yourself up for just 3, high-quality posts on your platform of choice.
Go Live on Social Media
An even better (and easier) way for your brand to stand out on social media is to go Live or to utilize Stories. This allows your clients to see you in real-time. This automatically gives them a feel of who you are and what your brand represents.
Plus, if you’re used to making that in-person connection with your vibrant personality or endearing stories, going Live and utilizing Instagram Stories is the next best thing!
Being present means you need to be actively engaging with your ideal client. That means commenting, liking, and sharing other posts on a daily basis. This not only keeps your brand top-of-mind, but it’s the only social media strategy that will actually grow your brand’s recognition.
You also need to make sure you’re not coming across as tone-deaf when posting on social media. There has been a lot of turbulence in 2020– on the economic and the social front. I don’t necessarily encourage you to shove your personal opinions in your audiences’ face, but try to come across as present and empathetic to any situation that arises.
Stay On Top Of Your Industry’s Trends
Speaking of your brand’s digital presence, if you really do want to boost your online sales, then you need to be on top of the trends.
This will change based on your industry, but there are a few recent trends that seem to be universal for any social media user.
For example, because of the coronavirus, more people are showing their everyday lives using the #workfromhome hashtag. It seems to act as a method of bonding within our collective quarantine status. It also serves a great weekly posting topic! Show your audience what your new at-home area looks like, give tips on how to stay productive, or use it as a way to sell a new at-home product or service.
One of my favorite resources to stay on top of trends is the National Today calendar. It might seem redundant, but speaking on topics like National Ice Cream Day is a great way to bond with your online audience. It also plays into your personal brand strategy because it effortlessly evokes that sense of realism and relatability.
You’re not just a faceless brand with no personality, after all.
I have plenty of resources and tips on how to stay on top of trends for your brand in this blog right here:
Start Selling Online
If you’re really struggling with your business because of the coronavirus, then utilizing your personal brand can truly be your saving grace.
If you’ve always relied on word-of-mouth or your physical location to earn your sales— now is a good time to revamp your brand’s social media presence.
A brick and mortar business can easily set up shop online to make sales. And being present online is the equivalent of greeting your customers at the front door. You can utilize the power of social media, influencer marketing, and your personal brand to boost your sales higher than you ever did as a brick and mortar.
And remember those statistics from earlier? People are already researching your business online before they even step foot into your store. And if you’re seeing a decrease in foot traffic because of the coronavirus, then it’s really time to show up on places like Instagram.
In fact, Instagram Shops became available in just the last couple of weeks. Now, you can literally make your entire shop available for purchase on Instagram. You can absolutely transition from a small local boutique shop owner into a thriving Instagram guru and double your online revenue selling the exact same products.
A strong personal brand is especially valuable if you’re a service-based business. You will be able to sell services with your online persona faster than a brand with no online presence.
Position Yourself as the Expert
If you had planned on networking or applying for speaking gigs, you can still do that! As I mentioned earlier, there are plenty of digital conferences and memberships available at your disposal.
However, you’re going to need to know how to position yourself as the expert. And you’re going to have to do that by implementing a personal brand strategy into your website and social media content.
Once people see the value you provide to your audience (videos, graphics, free masterclasses, blogs, etc), you won’t have to wait in line for your chance to lead one of these conferences.
How can you get your foot in the door to be a keynote speaker or a workshop leader? It’s simple: you need to provide valuable, authentic, and memorable content.
Video is going to be your best friend when it comes to your personal brand content strategy— especially these days. Those self-hosted webinars and masterclasses are all the rage right now, so that’s your next best bet for marketing your expertise.
If you can prove that you know how to teach or present your brand on your own platform, then landing speaking gigs online is going to be a piece of cake. This type of content is also going to speak volumes to journalists. They’re looking for sources who are reliable and upfront about their expertise.
Getting invited to speak at online conferences or getting featured in relevant, industry-leading publications should be a goal for any business owner. They help spread your brand recognition. And that leads to authority, trust, and ultimately, more sales.
However, it’s hard to hit these business benchmarks without a standout personal brand.
A personal brand strategy is going to open a lot of doors for your small business. Besides transitioning sales to the online format, it can help you land speaking gigs and press opportunities; both of which can skyrocket your business goals faster than you anticipated.