It’s hard to think of SpaceX or Tesla without considering the man behind the scenes, Elon Musk. The same goes for Microsoft Office and Bill Gates. These entrepreneurs have succeeded in creating what is known as a “personal brand.” It can feel less risky and invasive to develop a strong brand for your merchandise or your company because building a personal brand can make you more vulnerable. While it may push you out of your comfort zone, a strong personal brand can go a long way in winning customers.

The first step in building a personal brand is to consider your “unique selling proposition.” What is the one thing that makes you stand out from the pack? It may be a reflection of your unique talents, your rags-to-riches story, or your energy and charisma. You can then make efforts to convey your persona in a consistent and sincere way (emphasis on sincere—few things are more off-putting than fakery when it comes to personal branding).

Here are some tips for crafting an effective personal brand:

    • Tell your story. Jeff Bezos, Amazon CEO, started his luminous career by selling used books out of his garage. The former leader of Starbucks, Howard Schultz, grew up in a housing complex for the poor. These stories stick with us and add a human element to a company. They say that everyone has a story to tell. As an entrepreneur, it’s important to share your origin story. Let your target audience know about your passions, your history, and anything else that they may identify with.
    • Develop a brand statement. As an entrepreneur, you need to get good at describing yourself in a few sentences. These sentences can be used to introduce you at community events or employed as descriptions at the bottom of articles you write for online or print publications. You can also include these statements in your brochures, newsletters, or other collateral materials. As you write your brand statement, make sure to take into account your target audience (the people that you want to appeal to). Your statement should include ways that you can help your target audience and reasons that they should pick you over your competitors.
    • Engage online. In order to communicate your brand, you need to have a strong internet presence. Blogging is a given but there are other ways to contribute online. You can leave comments about articles that are relevant to your industry, join social media conversations, and share success stories about your business. Most people who are on the internet are not communicating regularly; they are simply poking around at other people’s comments. If you are consistent in your online participation and your message, your persona will begin to take shape.
    • Toot your own horn. Don’t be shy about your successes. If you launch a new product, set a sales record, get published, or add a new customer, let people know. You can convey these milestones through your blog, press releases, and more.
    • Contribute to communities. Where is your target audience congregating? Find out and go there. You can become engaged in online groups or organizations in your area. However, don’t join just for the purpose of promoting yourself; people will see right through it. Only join if you plan to make positive contributions.

When you have the courage to own who you are and share it with the public, you add personality and heart to your company. It takes some work to convey your personal brand, but it can bind people to your business in meaningful ways that will endure long-term.

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