In the ever-evolving startup landscape, companies must distinguish themselves and amplify their brand in the marketplace, even if it means creating their own Netflix-style episodic content. Why spend precious business resources on content creation? Cultivating buzz and credibility through this type of branding will go a long way when you're growing your startup.
For many entrepreneurs, a strong personal brand can be the cornerstone of success. A founder's personal brand shines a light on his or her startup, but business success is about more than brand awareness: It's also about credibility and trust. Consumers want to feel positively toward the leadership of a new company before becoming its customers.
According to McCann, 42% of Americans find brands less honest in 2017 than they did a couple of decades ago. Last year's follow-up study found that 56% of worldwide consumers say they now trust local brands more than global brands, a 13% increase since 2015. Survey respondents in both studies indicated hope that brands can have a positive impact on the world, but the key theme was the importance of honesty and identity. That's what a strong personal brand can provide to your business.
"If a startup lacks credibility because it's so new to the market, a well-known, credible founder can open doors and close deals," explains Malte Kramer, founder, and CEO of Luxury Presence, a real estate website, and marketing system. For that reason alone, making sure your personal brand is firing on all cylinders is a critical factor in growing your startup. Naturally, you'll need a great product or service, an effective marketing strategy, and so on, but your personal brand can make the difference between public acceptance and apathy.
So how do you go about building a strong personal brand? The first step is to discover how you're perceived today. Do a Google search. Ask the people in your network what they think your strengths are. How does that align with how you see your own strengths? Keep those gaps in mind as you move along in your credibility quest using the strategies below.
3 Tips for Boosting Your Personal Brand
1. Elevate other startup experts.
Showcasing the expertise of other smart people actually builds your own credibility. While competition is an essential component of entrepreneurship, collaborations and mutual support can make startups successful. By showing that you respect other players in the startup space, it puts your brand in a positive light.
For example, Drybar founders Alli Webb and Michael Landau host a podcast called "Raising the Bar." They interview founders across the country, helping listeners learn about entrepreneurship, business risks, and work-life balance. By elevating the expertise of fellow founders, Webb and Landau boost credibility for other new business owners and highlight their own values. A key part of their branding is contributing to the ongoing national conversation about how to bring more efficiency, convenience, safety, fun, and progress to the world through great business ideas.
2. Educate your social media followers.
By serving as a helpful educational or informational resource to your followers on social media, you create a bond of trust. That trust carries over into their trust for your company. You can educate your followers in any domain in which you have the expertise, but it's best to look for areas where you can really make a difference in their lives. For that reason, sharing valuable insights on topics such as personal finance, career, health, and entrepreneurship itself can be great ways to build a grateful audience. Of course, if you happen to have a lot of SEO knowledge and your followers are in marketing, for example, then share that knowledge! Find out how you can add value.
Jasmine Star is a photographer who uses Instagram to promote her photos but also to inform her followers--in her case, by sharing entrepreneurial best practices from her experience working as a business strategist. Some of her captions can be as long as 300 words, which is unusual in the Instagram universe, but she's cultivated an audience of 298,000 followers who appreciate her educational style.
3. Express your expertise as a guest.
You don't have to confine your efforts to your own blog posts, videos, tweets, and other social media channels. You can also market yourself through guest posting. Submit your original content to online business publications or business blogs. This approach is the culmination of the last two points because it shows both solidarity with the business community and positions you as a source of knowledge.
Another nice feature of guest posting is that its free exposure, which, given the financial realities of startups, is a very attractive option for advertising. It's also a win-win for any business owners who want to elevate other entrepreneurs as discussed above. They're eager to get great new content up on their blog, so you are helping them as you increase your audience exposure.
Founding a startup is challenging enough without a lack of trust and credibility hindering consumer interest. The good news is that you don't need your own Netflix show to let the world know who you are.