#1 Do a SWOT analysis
When I work with clients on their personal brands, I start with a SWOT analysis, filling this out during our initial conversations together. I identify where they are at versus where they want to go… where are the gaps and the opportunities? And what strengths are they starting from? What are the risks?
Using this famous framework will give you a very clear picture of where you need to focus… and if you find there are parts of the SWOT that are hard to fill out, that will point to areas you need to research, such as to understand the market and the competition more deeply.
#2 Clarify your value proposition
I talk and write about this all the time: No communication plan will work well unless there is a clear brand strategy behind it. Whether it’s a new website or a re-worked CV, if you are not clear on what makes you stand out and what value you bring through your skills and experience, you will miss the mark with your communications.
Clearly expressing your value proposition involves not only pinpointing what is important about what you bring, but a thorough understanding of what your target audience (such as ideal client or potential employer) values the most. Communicating value means going deeper than saying ‘I have attention to detail’ or ‘I’m reliable and hardworking’. It even goes beyond listing specific areas of expertise. You have to ask yourself, ‘So what?’ – why do these qualities matter to the stakeholder? What change does it make or result does it achieve for them?
Many people find it hard to put their value proposition into the right words. Some struggle with identifying where the value lies, because they aren’t used to talking about themselves… while others know what the value is but don’t know how to express it clearly and impactfully. This is why many choose to work with a personal brand consultant, whether it’s for a career or business goal.
#3 Put together a personal brand communication plan
Once you are clear on your brand messages, how do you plan to get them out to your audience? This must involve not only consideration of the launch, but how you will continue to strengthen your message and visibility consistently over time.
As explained in our Personal Brand FAQs, it is not about being all over every social media platform and using every marketing tool out there. Doing one or two things that suit your goals and audience, things you can learn to do very well, will get you far better results.
On the other hand, you shouldn’t simply update your LinkedIn profile, apply for publicly advertised jobs or create a website without consideration for its visibility on Google. Simply doing any of these as a ‘set and forget’ will get you limited results, if any. Your target audience’s understanding of your brand, and their ability to remember you over time, comes from a long-term approach to communication that leverages the basics.
To create your communication plan, pinpoint the essentials first – such as an official web presence through a website or LinkedIn profile. Then think about how you will draw people to those hubs, such as through regular social media posts, articles or videos. If you are applying for jobs, how will you communicate what you can do and what you are looking for beyond responding to job listings or working with a recruiter? How will you be more proactive about meeting the right people and getting your CV in front of potential employers?
#4 Produce content ready for launch
The final pre-launch step is to get your content ready to put out there when the time is right.
You can prepare:
- A draft of your website content, as well as getting the design set up
- Personal imagery and content through a photo/video shoot
- A bank of stock images for your website and social media
- The design of social media banners, business cards, your CV, speaker profile or other documents and online collateral
- Drafts of blog posts or articles to send to media outlets
- A positioned bio for your LinkedIn profile
- A detailed content plan with ideas for posts and articles
- Some of your content ready to post, such as infographics, social media tiles and hashtags
While all of these steps can be learned and there are many resources online, those who choose to work with service providers to support their build-out do so because they know they will increase their likelihood of getting it right from the start, looking professional and saving time. Where possible, get support to speed up the process and results, so that when you are ready to launch, you can make an impact.