Courtney Eckerle

Marketing Career: How to grow your personal brand in three steps

June 23rd, 2017

It can be difficult to think about yourself as an entity, or as something to market. When making the decision to build your personal brand, it’s important to focus on a few defined key points.

Your personal brand is a clear expression of your own value proposition, and you should be able to articulate it as clearly as you would for your own company.

Focus on how you bring and create value and find different ways to capitalize on that. I’ll discuss three of them below.

Step #1. Find your medium, and be yourself 

The upside of every human not being a unique, special flower is that there are bound to be a ton of people out there like you, who are interested in the same things you are. Maybe they’re even interested in what you have to say on those topics.

If you’re a great writer, try penning a post on a platform like LinkedIn that can help you gain notoriety (the good kind) among your professional peers. It’s supremely easy to post, and it surprises me that more marketers don’t take advantage.

You see that “Write an article” button at the top of your LinkedIn homepage? Click it, and you’re sent right to an easy article posting page.

Once on the publishing page, you can write, add images and video as well as a cover photo to help differentiate your post — and make sure to include all of those things.

After you’ve posted, and hopefully had some success with this method, another option is to use that article success to approach marketing publications that you respect. See if they would be willing to publish an article penned by you. While MarketingSherpa doesn’t accept outside submissions, there are plenty of great blogs out there that are hungry for good content.

If writing isn’t your thing, try video. That can be a quick and easy way to grow your profile, especially since people get to connect with you face-to-face.

Some good examples of this type of content are the videos published by our sibling site, MarketingExperiments, which feature Flint McGlaughlin, Managing Director, MECLABS Institute (our parent organization), live optimizing landing pages that people have submitted.

Not only is optimization a topic Flint has a genuine interest in and excitement for, but it also sets him up as a thought leader on those issues. People see his face and get to know him through the screen.

That interest and trust that develops through video helps when he is speaking at both internal and external events — in fact, he even optimizes pages live at MarketingSherpa Summit. This is always one of the most popular sessions.

Step #2. Look for the right opportunities to appear on the big stage

Putting out content is great, but you need a way to drive people there. There is no better way to build up credibility than getting up on stage.

There are a lot of marketing and business conferences out there, and that translates into a lot of speaking opportunities. Explore which ones focus on your area of expertise, or choose a crowd you’re comfortable speaking in front of — maybe at a conference you’ve attended many times.

It can be very helpful to look over the event website, or get in contact with event organizers, to get an idea of what will be expected of you as a speaker and what the process leading up to the event will be.

For example, we have an Event Content Coordinator who works with MarketingSherpa Summit speakers from the time they’re chosen up until the stage, to shape the presentation content. There is also a moderator who will be on stage with them to facilitate it. This gives our sessions a conversational feel, but has the added bonus of making nervous speakers more comfortable.

Because of this process, we’ve been a good fit for speakers who have a great story to tell, whether they’re experienced or not. It has also been ideal (we’ve been told) for marketers who are busy, and need support in preparing to speak.

We’re very up front about our process because it’s so important to make sure it’s a good fit on both sides — if an event doesn’t detail this, you should inquire.

Speaking should always be a good experience where you come off as prepared, capable and your best self, otherwise it’s going to do more harm to your personal brand than good.

Once you have one successful speaking event under your belt, the rest will follow. Event organizers like to stack the roster with speakers they know will be successful, so using that credential on the next application will put you ahead.

Step #3. Forget your comfort zone

Maybe you’re not comfortable with a lot that goes along with personal branding, especially the inevitable public speaking. There’s a lot of truth to the Jerry Seinfeld joke that at a funeral, most people would rather be in the coffin than giving the eulogy.

Like all good things in life, the best of it exists outside of your comfort zone.

Most of the memorable articles/videos/speeches I’ve read or seen in the professional world have actually been quite personal, and draw from those experiences to make a bigger point about the business world.

Those details are great hooks to help people connect with you. One day, you’re just “Karen from marketing”— one in a million Karens in marketing. Then the next, you’re “Karen, who wrote that amazing article about how quitting smoking made her a better marketer.” You get the idea.

Take a story in your life where you did something different, or went against the grain, and let that lead the way. Give people a reason to remember you, to keep coming back to see what you’re up to, what you’ve published or commented about recently.

It can be an uncomfortable thing, removing your professional façade and revealing something about your true self. But because so few people do, it’s where you can find great opportunities.

You might also like…

Apply to be a speaker at MarketingSherpa Summit 2017

Social Media: 4 steps to build your personal brand using LinkedIn

Marketing Career: 5 tips for building a personal brand

Personal Branding: The five elements of being seen as a thought leader through crowdsourcing

Courtney Eckerle

About Courtney Eckerle

With a focus on aspirational, customer-first marketing, Courtney’s goal has been to produce clear, interesting and actionable external content for MarketingSherpa readers. This has included writing over 300 case studies, moderating live event interviews, and producing video content. She earned her Bachelor of Arts in English Literature, Mass Communications and Film Studies from Saint Mary’s College in Notre Dame, Ind., and was a correspondent for USA Today College prior to joining MECLABS Institute.

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