For entrepreneurs competing in today's marketplace, having a strong marketing plan simply isn't enough. Your potential customers are exposed to as many as 5,000 ads per day and no longer depend on (or trust) companies to tell them what their needs are.

How can you cut through the thousands of other voices competing for your customer's attention and create a connection with your audience that lasts?

As customers grow weary of traditional advertising, they begin to turn to their trusted networks of friends, family, and experts for advice. Customers buy products and services not only because of what they deliver, but more importantly, because of what and who they represent.

Whether you are the leader of your company or just starting out in your career, investing in your personal brand is not only a good idea, it's a requirement to compete in today's market. Here are the top four reasons why your personal brand is a key driver to the success of your company and your own career.

1. Create a lasting impression. 

People trust people, not companies. No matter how many impressions your online ads get, the one impression that cannot be forgotten is the one built the old-fashioned way between two people.

Your position as an insider in your company gives you the unique opportunity to share your perspectives on things like company culture, the latest industry trends, and even tips on how you get through your day.

As a representative of your company, whether you are CEO or working in the marketing department, you have the power to forge these deeper relationships with potential customers by sharing your ideas and igniting conversations that will bring people back to your company (and to you) in the long run.

2. Positive reinforcement.

As you start becoming known for your ideas and establish a following online, you will become more of an asset to your company and begin to solidify your own reputation as an expert in your field.

When your own interests are fully aligned with the growth of your company, it creates a healthy reinforcement cycle. Your positive reputation is strengthened by your company's brand and vice versa.

3. Become an influencer. 

When you build a strong personal brand, more people will care about what you have to say. Not only will you have a dedicated following for your own content (blog, newsletter, videos, etc.), but you can now gain visibility on a wider scale by being published in respected publications and media outlets within your industry and beyond.

Many influencers start to package their content in various forms such as a book and/or online learning course to share their ideas with a bigger audience. When others start to see you as a leader, you can create new opportunities for yourself that may even move you beyond the business you originally began.

4. You can take your brand with you.

Even though you may originally start investing in your personal brand in order to serve your company, building a strong personal brand will benefit you no matter where the future leads.

Demonstrating that you can create an audience and hold your own in your field are invaluable assets to securing future job opportunities and may even open up paths that you never considered such as speaking or consulting in your area of expertise.

A personal brand is both an investment in your present and future. As the saying goes, "You can't go back and make a brand new start, but you can start now and make a brand new ending."

Published on: Aug 5, 2016
The opinions expressed here by Inc.com columnists are their own, not those of Inc.com.