Here we are, back to continue talking about how to increase your perceived value in the marketplace by building a strong brand identity.
Maybe you created a SWOT matrix and listed attributes that make clients hire you and also weak areas that may give some clients pause? Perhaps you’ve taken stock of some major challenges that you face, but have also uncovered some opportunities to pursue?
I hope you’ve made a serious examination of services your clients actually need or think they need (not necessarily the same thing, as you know). You must be able to address their objectives in the story– the brand narrative–you’ll create to establish yourself as the go-to guy or gal who is an expert, a trusted adviser who can get the job done.
PACKAGE and PRESENT
You provide an excellent product (I know you do. That’s why you read this blog!). You owe it to yourself to showcase your talents by packaging your value proposition with care and flair. Communicate your unique competencies in ways that decision makers will perceive as conferring benefits to them. Express your professional credentials to differentiate yourself from the competition in ways that clients value.
In other words, don’t tout the fact that yours is the only store that offers bubblegum flavored ice cream if no one really wants it. Of course, if customers suddenly decide they love the stuff, then you’re golden!
When you’ve crafted a brand narrative that works for you, because it appropriately grabs the attention of your target audiences, spread the good news in a variety of ways that are consistent with your brand.
Showcase your accomplishments and get yourself some speaking engagements, get on a panel or two, propose and lead workshops. You are a well respected expert in your field and you must help the right people get to know and trust you.
Familiarity will work to build trust in your abilities. Trust in your abilities will bring requests for your expert advice and referrals. Referrals are yours to convert into loyal customers.
Take pains to develop a strong and consistent brand narrative and communicate this message to whomever can help you further your business interests.
ON LINE BRAND STRATEGY
Type your name and your company name into a couple of search engines. Are you there? What information is listed? Does it present an accurate impression of you?
Make sure that your brand identity on line is in synch with how you verbally package yourself. If there is a disconnect, work to fix it. Create a visible and flattering on line presence.
Create good profiles in the 2.0 media that support your brand identity and strategy. Be careful posting aspects of your personal life if using the more social media. You wouldn’t want anything to be misinterpreted by clients and prospects.
Finally, remember that your personal brand, like your life, will continue to evolve and will never be static (at least not if you’re doing it right!). Branding is an ongoing endeavor.
As your professional achievements expand and become more sophisticated or specialized and as changing business environments impact your clients’ needs, your brand narrative will change with the times. Freelancer, I know you’ve got what it takes to roll with the punches!
Kim presented the workshop “Your Personal Brand” at the Center for Women & Enterprise in Boston on July 14, 2009 http://www.cweonline.org