5 Self-Branding Tips for Small Business Owners

The Importance of Self-Branding for SMB Owners

Every business owner knows that the odds are stacked against them when starting out; more than 50 percent of startups fail in their first four years.

When businesses do end up failing, the entrepreneur behind them is equally destroyed; that is, unless they were busy building their personal brand as well.

The Importance of Self-Branding

SMB owners must understand that personal branding far exceeds the desire to accumulate more wealth and actually translates into a multitude of benefits that would be difficult to achieve otherwise.

Personal branding can help entrepreneurs become authorities in their field, separate from what their company offers. By becoming a public figure, business owners can develop new and fortuitous relationships and connections, recapture momentum if a business does fail, or even create entirely new businesses much faster.

People like Bill Gates and Tony Hsieh have created powerful personal brands that revolve around their personalities and values rather than their infamous corporate enterprises; this is part of what gives these men staying-power in the public eye.

As an entrepreneur, your best bet at establishing long-term career success is to shape and promote your own personal brand in tandem with your business’s identity.

If you are aching to become an authority in your niche, a thought leader, or otherwise notable individual, here five methods for bringing this dream to life.

Self-Branding Tips

Find Branding Master Mentors

One of the best ways to successfully achieve anything is by looking to those who have already achieved success; absorb their knowledge, learn their secrets, and apply it to your strategy.

One of the biggest misconceptions about mentors, however, is that these need to be people you have face-to-face interactions with and personally know.

While this certainly is ideal, mentors and mentor-mentee relationships come in many shapes and sizes. These people can be personal associates, but they can also be digital influencers, keynote speakers, or authors of books that you have reaped rewards from.

In a Huffington Post interview with Tai Lopez, one of today’s most prolific and sought-out investors, entrepreneurs, and digital business influencers, he candidly proclaims that his fervent book-reading is what allowed him to tap some of the world’s greatest minds and gain mentorship, knowledge, and direction. These valuable tools allowed him to attain his massive success and build a robust personal brand.

The key is finding mentors who have successfully built strong personal brands and who resonate deeply with you; this will allow you to really internalize much of their teachings.

Find Your Social Niche

It’s undeniable that social media is one of the most essential aspects of business and branding today – personal or otherwise.

Most entrepreneurs, however, rush into establishing a website, figuring out logos and branding elements, and making their mark as a thought leader.

Urgency is not your best friend when establishing your brand. Be intention, and focus on things like:

After you have accomplished these objectives, start cranking out valuable content that will help your audience and provide obvious value. If you are a cook, start posting images of dishes on Instagram with the recipe as the description. If you are aiming to be an influencer in the realm of psychology, start catering to your audience with Facebook Live. Want to make how-to carpentry videos? Then YouTube is where you need to be.

After you start building your audience through valuable and pragmatic information, then you can start creating the actual elements of your brand. But finding your voice and your audience is the most powerful first step.

Create a Personal Website

Now it’s time for your digital zip code. Websites are a necessity for anyone who is cultivating their personal brand. Without a website, the internet controls your brand reputation as there is no central source of info when someone Googles your name. Without a definitive destination, bad press might be the first search result; this will surely turn off most would-be visitors.

Don’t rely on social media to be your home; that’s leased real estate. You don’t own your image there, you are only borrowing that space to spread the word. Your website is your domain, literally; don’t do this process without creating a rock solid web presence.

Whenever possible, create a website with a URL that is consistent with your full name (firstandlastname.com) so that when people search for you, it will be the first result.

On your site, be sure to include professional photos of yourself, a bio framing yourself as an industry expert, links to your personal brand’s social channels, and a link back to your company website.

Additionally, if you have any external articles or blogs you’ve written, link to these as well. You should have more content on your site than just some external links, but we’ll get to that in a moment.

Since you’re just starting out, you don’t need to hire a development firm to build some A-1 destination; start by using a service like Wiseintro or Squarespace as they are quick, easy, affordable, and look amazing.

Provide Value through Content

In addition to the content you have been cranking out on social media, you are going to need to provide your website visitors with an abundance of valuable information as well.

This means that you need to implement a blog or vlog section to your site where you can build a portfolio of thought-leadership-type pieces that provides your audience with unique and pragmatic knowledge and tools. Be sure to share these materials across your social properties as well to drive additional traffic and engagement.

Additionally, to help give your audience something more substantial to chew on, implement a piece of specialized content like an eBook, premium checklist, or similar download. These can be given out for free in exchange for an email address. This way you can begin to build an email database of interested prospects for the next phase.

Remember, the ultimate goal of your site is to reinforce your personal brand while providing visitors with unparalleled value through content and other offerings.

Launch Your Product

To ensure that your personal brand does not just become an affiliate portal, develop your own products or services to sell to your audience.

The biggest thing that this will provide to your brand is credibility and credence; not money (though that is a nice perk).

For most personal brands, the best offerings to sell are knowledge. This could be books, speaking events, in-person or online courses, and similar ways of transmitting in-depth information.

As you begin to cultivate and refine your personal brand through content, recognition, and the natural evolutionary process, you will begin to develop new and exciting opportunities that unchain you from relying on the sole success of your company. Through this route, you can become a success in your own right, and find an entirely new career path that can lead to much more profitable and stimulating pursuits.

Self Branding Photo via Shutterstock

This article, “5 Self-Branding Tips for Small Business Owners” was first published on Small Business Trends

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This Tattoo Artist Has Found a VERY Specific Niche

Takeaways from This Niche Market Example

Chinese tattoo artist Shi Hailei has found a very specific niche for his business. He offers free tattoos to moms who want to cover up scars from C-sections.

Inspired by a Brazilian tattoo artist who offered free tattoos to cover up scars from domestic violence and abuse, Hailei wanted to use his talents to give back in some way. And since China has the highest rate of C-sections per birth in the world, he thought it would be fitting to offer tattoos to help those moms regain some of their self-esteem instead of turning to creams or other products to reduce the appearance of those scars.

Since the tattoos are free, it’s not like the offering itself is bringing in a ton of extra revenue for Hailei’s business. But if the women have a positive experience, they could be likely to return for other tattoos or even refer friends. And the positive attention he’s gotten for this initiative can’t hurt either.

Takeaways from This Niche Market Example

This story demonstrates a couple of important points for small businesses. First, Hailei found a niche that’s extremely relevant to his target audience. And secondly, his desire to give back and help people, even in a seemingly small way, is something that any business can potentially replicate and learn from.

Tattoo Artist Photo via Shutterstock

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What is Content Curation and How Can You Use it For Your Small Business?

What is Content Curation?

When it comes to marketing, the general consensus is content is king. Every business under the sun is facing increasing competition, and it’s getting harder and harder to stand out. However, by publishing and sharing added value content, companies are able to get a leg up on the competition and provide marketing leads with far more than a ham-fisted, hard sell.

But coming up with truly original and useful content that adds value can often be pretty tricky, and some business owners understandably struggle. That’s why more and more companies are now focusing their efforts on content curation rather than creation for their content marketing efforts.

What is Content Curation?

Simply put, content curation is the process of sifting through huge amounts of digital content, gathering all the best bits and repackaging them in an organized and significant way. For the record, “repackaging” does not mean attempting to claim the content of others. Full credit must always be given where it’s due.

Yet by cherry-picking select pieces of juicy, existing content and re-sharing it in a format that is compatible with your company’s unique marketing strategy, you’ll be able to capitalize off the expertise of others in order to provide your own business with credibility as an industry thought leader.

How Do You Use Content Curation?

Now that you know the answer to, “What is content curation?”, there are plenty of ways small business owners are able to fit it snugly into their marketing efforts. And once you’ve found the web’s top sources of dynamic, industry-specific content, you can set up RSS feeds and push notifications to ensure you’re always up-to-date on all the freshest material.

One of the most common emerging trends has been to publish daily or weekly company blog posts and collect and republish snippets of useful, industry-related resources from across the web. This is an incredibly simple method of content curation — but it’s also pretty effective. By creating a one-stop shop for would-be consumers, businesses are able to save web users loads of time and keep leads from bouncing off their websites.

This type of content curation is also used quite effectively in terms of email marketing. If your company has got a mailing list of leads, weekly or monthly newsletters are a great way to bring traffic to your site and establish your business as a thought leader without trying to make a hard sell. It doesn’t take a whole lot of effort to track down and repackage useful snippets from across the web, but it can pay big dividends in terms of getting users to click through to your site regularly.

This sort of content curation might be relatively new to you — but there’s a pretty good chance you’ve been unknowingly using content curation for years in the form of social media.

Social media sites are a fantastic way to showcase your product landing pages and spread the good word about your company’s services. But one of the best ways to build up a decent following is to share content from other accounts that will engage your followers and stimulate discussion. By sharing ideas and stories from established thought leaders and like-minded businesses, you can create your own online community that will inevitably build invaluable sales leads.

At the end of the day, content curation is generally a trial-and-error process. You’ve got to get a good feel for what your consumers or followers want or need in terms of content and tinker with how to offer them value. But if you’re willing to play around and stick with it, content curation is an incredibly simple process that has the potential to offer your business big results.

Curator Photo via Shutterstock

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Crocs Effort Shows How to Rehabilitate a Brand

Croc's Brand Repositioning Efforts

Crocs (NASDAQ:CROX) is fighting to save its brand. But it’s going to have to get past a lot of negative opinions first.

The company’s stock has been steadily declining for the past five years. And it hasn’t turned an annual profit since 2013. So now, the company is turning to some popular celebrities like John Cena in an effort to reposition its brand.

Crocs is also turning to social media to try and change its image with consumers.

But the repositioning effort isn’t likely to be easy. There are a lot of Crocs haters out there. In fact, there’s even a dedicated #crocshaters hashtag on Twitter. And changing minds that drastically can sometimes be an uphill battle.

Sometimes a Brand Repositioning is Needed

Where the Crocs brand ends up still remains to be seen. But it’s important for small businesses to note the effort here. When your business is struggling, sometimes it’s necessary to make some big changes to try and reposition your brand. You just have to monitor the pulse of consumer opinions when it comes to your product or service. And if you can make the necessary changes to appeal to those consumers, you may just be able to turn things around in a positive way.

Crocs Photo via Shutterstock

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How Do Your Email Marketing Automation Efforts Score?

How Do Your Email Marketing Automation Efforts Score?

Thanks to the rise of analytic dashboards, email marketing automation is easier to measure after the fact.

However, what if you want to measure your email marketing automation efforts from the bottom up? How do you know if you’re using the most effective techniques to capture leads and encourage conversions? You can read a hundred online articles to find out or, you can use the handy scorecard from the Email Marketing & Marketing Automation Excellence 2017 Report below:

Click to view a larger version…

Email Marketing Automation Scorecard
Source: Email Marketing & Marketing Automation Excellence 2017 Report

Breaking Down the Email Marketing Automation Scorecard

Moving from left to right, columns two through six indicate a maturation in both an business’ email marketing and marketing automation techniques. While it may not be necessary for your small business to move all the way to “Optimised”, moving as far as necessary will surely boost the results from your email marketing efforts.

Pray and Spray

Every small business has to begin somewhere and the red column is the one that most occupy at the start. This is the “dip your toe” stage of email marketing, the time when you take your first foray into using the channel and the period when you’re likely learning the most about the basic tools, actions, and techniques that you’ll build upon in the later columns.

Targeted Emailing

Most small businesses move to the yellow column when they begin to realize the value of email list segmentation. Once you begin to segment your list, you can incorporate different templates, multiple campaigns, and test different offers/value added benefits to see which works best with each segment.

Starting to Automate

The yellow column adds a lot of complexity to your email marketing efforts. That’s why many small businesses begin to look for ways to automate the process as they move into the blue column. This can get pretty powerful as email marketing automation enables you to set up triggers to automatically:

  • Send targeted emails for purposes such as abandoned cart recovery;
  • Vary the content sent within each email based on specific list member factors; and
  • Personalize the offer/value added benefit at the subscriber level.

Starting to Integrate

Some of the activity in the purple column focuses on the continuing the email marketing automation process including reactivation of past subscribers as well as the automation of the journey across their lifetime as your customer.

A good chunk of the rest of the purple column activities focuses on integration. Integrated marketing enables you to boost the effectiveness of your efforts by linking multiple channels, like social media and offline approaches, into one campaign.

Finally, the purple column introduces A/B testing, an automated methodology used to discover which email design and/or content is most effective at driving results. A/B testing tests one thing at a time so only one factor will be different between the emails your subscribers receive.

Integrated Lifecycle Targeting

The green column is the ultimate form of email marketing automation. Here, your small business has automated everything it can, integrated it as tightly as it can across channels, and continuously monitors customer interactions for opportunities.

The green column also marks a step up in your email marketing testing. Multivariate testing is similar to A/B testing except you test more than one variable at a time. For example, you might test variances in both the design and the content at the same time to see which version of your emails is more effective.

Measuring Up

While it may seem like the goal here is for every small business to reach the green column, nothing could be further from the truth.

The blue column is where many small businesses stop, and rightly so, in their email marketing automation journey. Moving forward to the final two columns is a big undertaking and frankly, the smaller the business, the less necessary they’re likely to be. Using your valuable time to move forward just isn’t worth it if the return does not equal the effort.

That said, if you have a large customer base, or want to try to see if it’s worth your time to move forward, there can be a lot of value in moving ahead.

Email Photo via Shutterstock

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